Tom Vonberg

Called 2004

A highly approachable and impressive advocate

Legal 500 2021

About

Tom Vonberg specialises in catastrophic injury and fatal accident claims, insurance coverage disputes, products liability and professional negligence.

Tom has significant advocacy experience. He is comfortable advising in and presenting the most challenging cases at Court and he has worked alongside leading QC’s. He has appeared successfully in the Court of Appeal.

Tom is identified as a leading barrister in the legal directories Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.

He is described in the recent editions of the directories as:

“calm under pressure with a logical approach to cases. He has a great client manner.”

“excellent on points of law and advice, strong with clients and very approachable and accessible.”

“organised and, meticulous in his attention to detail.”

“able to simplify complex technical issues”

with a “commercial attitude” and “impeccable manner with clients”.

Previous editions have identified Tom as “a highly approachable and impressive advocate”, “well known for his handling of high-value personal injury claims”, “very good on his feet”“bright and good on tactical issues”, “adept at handling product liability cases” and with “experience of appearing in multi-party litigation”, “pragmatic with an excellent eye for detail” and “very good with clients.”

Before joining Parklane Plowden, Tom practiced at Devereux chambers in London for ten years.

Prior to coming to the independent bar, Tom was an employed barrister in the commercial disputes team of the offshore law firm Walkers Global.

Areas of Expertise

Accolades

Tom has significant experience of the full range of catastrophic and fatal injuries. He routinely appears in cases involving traumatic brain injury, spinal injury and in large dependency claims following fatal accidents.

 

Tom has also worked on a number of multi-party actions in relation to products liability, air and road accidents and in respect of injury and illness abroad.

The following is a selection of past and current cases.

 

Traumatic Brain Injury

Acting for a driving instructor in the High Court who sustained subtle brain injury, hyperacusis and speech interferencefollowing a road traffic accident.

 

Acted for the claimant in an occupiers’ liability claim in the High Court. The claim settled at JSM for £1.4m. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Foot Anstey LLP.

 

Acting for a Claimant who sustained traumatic brain injury including subdural haematoma when knocked from her push bike.

 

Acting for claimant who sustained head and bowel injuries when riding pillion on a motorcycle. Instructed by Stewarts Law LLP, Leeds.

 

Defending in an RTA claim in the High Court. The claim settled on the first day of trial for £1m after the claimant made a concession of contributory negligence. Led by Andrew Hogarth QC.

 

Instructed on behalf of a successful dentist and owner of his own practice following life changing head injuries. Appeared against leading counsel. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell QC.

 

Acting for the Claimant radiographer who was knocked from her bike and sustained extra-dural haematoma and a panoply of resultant neuro cognitive symptoms. The claim is being advanced on the basis of chance with respect to career advancement. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell, Newcastle.

 

Acting for the claimant in a bike vs. van collision involving issues of contribution surrounding the wearing of a cycle helmet. With Andrew Axon. Instructed by Thompsons.

 

Acting for the claimant passenger in a head on collision resulting in polytrauma. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acting for a claimant brain injured during a military fitness exercise class. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Defending a claim for £1.25m following hotel fall resulting in subdural haemorrhage requiring craniotomy. The claimant alleged profound cognitive disability and an inability to leave home unattended. She discontinued her claim and agreed to repay all interim payments following surveillance including of her running and weightlifting at the gym. Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

 

Acted for a junior registrar doctor who sustained traumatic brain injury by way of frontal sub-arachnoid haemorrhagewhen she was struck by a car as a pedestrian. The claim was premised on the basis of loss of a chance for career progression (to Consultant level) and for provisional damages associated with the epilepsy and the dementia risk. Instructed by BMA Law Limited.

 

Defending RTA claim for diffuse brain injury. Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

 

Spinal Injury

Acted for the claimant who sustained crush injuries at work requiring percutaneous stabilisation. Led by Steve Killalea QC. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acted for a claimant who sustained spinal and urological injuries following an RTA. The claim settled at JSM for £1.9m.

 

Acting for the Claimant who, in a construction site accident, sustained C4 incomplete tetra paresis (i.e. affecting all four limbs) with complete loss of motor and sensory neurology below C4. Leading counsel is Henry Witcomb QC.

 

Acting for claimant knocked from her motorbike resulting in spinal and open book pelvic fractures. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acting for a claimant tyre fitter who sustained traumatic brain injury, brachial plexus injury and spinal fractures when an HGV fell from its jacking points. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acted for a teenage claimant who sustained spinal fractures in a roll over RTA. Significant care needs are anticipated. The defendant has alleged dishonesty in view of alleged capabilities seen in surveillance.

Acting for the Claimant who was the London partner at a high-profile national divorce law firm following multiple soft tissue spinal injuries and which resulted in her being unable to sustain her career.

 

Fatality

Acting for the family of a grandmother killed whilst she was a pedestrian when the Defendant mounted the kerb at speed. Tom advised throughout and appeared at the Defendant’s contested application for life expectancy evidence made in light of the decision in Dodds v Arif [2019] EWHC 1512. The claim settled and was approved by the Court for twice the sum offered by the Defendant at a failed joint settlement meeting one year earlier. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6833927/BMW-driver-killed-grandma-mounted-pavement-jailed-six-years.html

 

Acted for dependents, including four protected parties, in a High Court action following a fatal accident at work when the deceased saved the life of a colleague but tragically lost his own. The settlement included substantial Court of Protection costs. Instructed by Trade Union Legal LLP. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-53025245

 

Acted for the claimant and dependent family in a claim following the death of their eighteen-year-old son. The settlement included damages for the family’s dependency on his future earnings in light of his unique contributions to the family prior to his death. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acted for a widow following her husband’s death when the uninsured Defendant performed a U-turn in the road. Tom appeared at the inquest. https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/people/dad-died-four-days-after-motorbike-crash-involving-uninsured-driver-inquest-hears-3208112

 

Acted for the family of man killed in a freak accident outside Berwick-upon-Tweed rail station when the station “header” sign snapped and struck him, fatally, to his head. The coroner’s inquest, at which Tom did not act, failed to call relevant witnesses and omitted material facts from the narrative verdict. The claim settled after preliminary hearings for 100% liability shared between the rail network and train operator. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acting for the widow of a motorcyclist killed when a car turned across his path. Tom appeared at the inquest. The dependency claim on earnings is significant. Accident reconstruction evidence has been instructed to address liability issues.

 

Acting for the dependents of a man killed in a high-speed collision whilst he was the passenger of a driver and relative he knew to be drunk. A discount of 20% for contributory negligence was agreed in line with the authority of Owens v Brimmell [1977] QB 859 and the liability and quantum settlements were approved by the High Court. https://www.timesandstar.co.uk/news/17467656.coroners-plea-inquest-crash-deaths-cousins/

 

Acted for the claimant after her husband was killed when his push bike was struck by a public bus. Claim settled following JSM and was approved in the High Court. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Acting for the dependants, including two young children of a woman killed when a motorcyclist. There is a very significant claim for dependency on services by the children.

 

Acted for the widow of a man killed in a road traffic accident. Claim initially defended on grounds of automatism (an epileptic seizure) but settled on a full liability basis.  https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/18794209.beloved-aycliffe-grandad-died-horror-head-on-crash/

 

Acted for the Claimant when his daughter was killed by a speeding driver as she emerged from a bus shelter. Defended unsuccessfully on the basis that the deceased acted deliberately. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acting for the claimant and three dependent children following the death of their father as he filtered through traffic on his motorbike. Instructed by Trade Union Legal LLP.

 

Acting for husband of wife killed when crossing the road outside a supermarket. Contribution alleged for failing to use a zebra crossing. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acted for the claimant against Thomas Cook Tours whose wife died from legionnaires’ disease contracted on holiday.

 

Acted at trial for a dependant minor following the death of his father in a joyriding accident. The claimant bettered his own Part 36 offer by £300 at trial. Tom appeared alone against a leading QC.

 

Acted for the family of a young man killed following a tyre blow out on a coach trip. The tyres fitted to the coach were nearly twenty years old. Tom appeared at the inquest. Evidence was called from a US based expert into the process of tyre degradation. The mother of the deceased successfully campaigned for the introduction of legislation as to the legal age of tyres used on public service vehicles. Instructed by Thompsons. https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2020-07-15/liverpool-mum-welcomes-government-tyre-ban-after-son-was-killed-in-coach-crash

 

Serious injuries

Acted for a female motorcyclist following “Open book” pelvic fractures and knee ligament damage which required harvesting and reconstruction. The injuries were sustained whilst she filtered through traffic. The claim was settled at a Joint Settlement Meeting with no discount for contributory negligence. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell, Newcastle.

 

Acting for a woman who sustained severe burns requiring skin grafting, degloving injuries, complex ankle fractures and post-traumatic stress disorder. She was an innocent bystander at a campsite when an intoxicated teenager drove a vehicle whilst uninsured into her. The teenager and other family member Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Plc are acting as the Road Traffic Act Insurer. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8966787/woman-injuries-teen-crashes-into-her/

 

Acting for a Claimant who suffered polytrauma including open fractures of the tibia and fibula sustained as a passenger in multi-vehicle collision on the M6.  Tom has already appeared at a successful interim payment application following a dispute between insurers as to the application of CPR 25.7(e)(i) and their likely respective liability for the purpose of an interim award.

 

Acting for the Claimant in the High Court for complex open comminuted leg fractures and significant tissue loss when she was a pedestrian and struck by the Defendant’s motorcycle. Liability remains in issue. The Claimant requires a silicone prosthetic and is substantially disabled. The quantum claim is being presented as an Ogden 8 “disability claim”pursuant to Section 1(1) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

 

Acting for an American off-shore drilling contractor in respect of a claim by a roustabout for serious injuries sustained during an accident on an oil rig. Instructed by CMC Cameron McKenna Nabarro.

 

Products liability and group claims

Acting in “vaping” claims against an e-cigarette seller following the explosion of Lithium-ion batteries. The claims have been brought under The Consumer Rights Act 2015. Instructed by  the product liability team at Irwin Mitchell LLP. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3516914/E-cigarette-exploded-father-s-pocket-foot-long-flames-like-Roman-candle-melted-cash-card-left-horrific-burns.html and https://www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/news/two-norfolk-men-reach-settlement-with-gorleston-shop-that-sold-1936492

 

Advising claimants regarding methylisothiazolinone (MIT) chemicals contained in cosmetic products and the liability of producers under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Instructed by Leigh Day, London.

“MS Boudica”. Acted for 35 claimants in claims under the Athens Convention brought in the Admiralty Court against Fred Olsen Cruise Lines following widespread sickness on a cruise ship. The claims were widely reported in the press. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/cruise-passengers-hit-by-mystery-bug-159996

 

Acting for a family against their home insurer following contamination by penicillium aspergillus spores which had not been eradicated by contractors after a sewage escape. Claim included a direct action for breaches of ICOBS (Insurance Conduct Business Sourcebook).

 

Acting for multiple claimants who were supplied a bodily piercing aftercare solution contaminated with pseudomonas aeruginosa. Claims have been issued against the supplier and producer under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

 

Acted for fifteen student claimants, plus the estates in fatal accident claims, against a tour company under the Package Tour Regulations following the rollover of a safari coach in Swaziland, South Africa. The accident was widely reported internationally.

 

Acted for a family whose house was burned to the ground and in which they sustained modest burn injuries when a defective hoverboard caught fire whilst charging. The claim was brought  on the basis of breaches of Sections 9 and 10 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Quantum for substantial property damage was defended until very shortly before the trial. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3405267/Exploding-hoverboard-nearly-killed-three-children-set-fire-house-charged.html

 

Other cases of interest

Howlett and another v Davies and Ageas Insurance Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 1696. Tom appeared unled for the successful insurer in the first ever Court of Appeal authority to consider the term “fundamental dishonesty” in the context of injury claims.

 

Acted in a secondary victim claim for the witness to a catastrophic injury sustained when a lift failed and fell several floors. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Slater Gordon LLP.

 

Advising the Insurance Corporation of the Channel Islands as to the allocation of damages in a against the local authority following child abuse. The claim was presented for £238 million and is thought to be the largest personal injury claim in British legal history. Issues concerned occurrence of damage, policy trigger wording and aggregation. Led by Andrew Burns QC. https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2018/06/13/abuse-victims-case-striking-and-complex/

 

Acted for the claimant in a stress at work claim against the probation service. With Robert Glancy QC.

 

Acted for the claimant who suffered amputation at work by the rotating arm of a waste silo. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Hugh James LLP.

 

Acted in the Isle of Man for the claimant on a public access basis in a claim for post-concussion syndrome brought against an employer. The claim settled for £775k at mediation.

 

Amendola v Keeling and Ors. Appeared for the claimant in an action to join a party out of time at the compulsion of an Article 75 insurer pursuant to Clause 14.1 of the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement 1999. Leading QC for the insurer.

Tom has been instructed in all manner of insurance coverage disputes. He undertakes work on points of discrete insurance law but also where the underlying claims concern personal injury or professional liability.

 

General insurance

Acted in a successful appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service against refusal of indemnity under household policy on grounds of non-disclosure for an underlying injury claim in excess of £1m. Instructed by Wilkins Beaumont Suckling, London.

 

Acting for Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance in a pre-action disclosure application for documents against third party insurer following avoidance of a policy of motor insurance. Led by Rob Weir QC;

 

Instructed to defend a claim by a bar owner for business interruption flooding. The claim was pleaded at more than £1m and settled, following interim hearings, for £20,000 costs inclusive.

 

Acting for a construction company in the High defending a Part 20 claim following property damage at a commercial premises.

 

“Buncefield”. Tom was instructed in relation to a number of property damage and injury claims arising out of the Buncefield explosions.

 

Advising the Insurance Corporation of the Channel Islands as to the allocation of damages in a against the local authority following child abuse. The claim was presented for £238 million and is thought to be the largest personal injury claim in British legal history. Issues concerned occurrence of damage, policy trigger wording and aggregation. Led by Andrew Burns QC. https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2018/06/13/abuse-victims-case-striking-and-complex/

 

Amendola v Keeling and Ors. Appeared for the claimant in an action to join a party out of time at the compulsion of an Article 75 insurer pursuant to Clause 14.1 of the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement 1999. Leading QC for the insurer.

 

Acted for a premiership rugby player against his income protection provider regarding an indemnity dispute. Led by Richard Harrison.

Tom is often instructed by the insurers of legal and financial professionals. He also acts for claimants against their own lawyers as well as brokers of financial products. The following is a selection of current and recent cases.

 

Lawyers

Acted for the claimant insurer against a claim’s handler in the High Court for negligent handling of 50,000 motor insurance personal injury claims. Instructed in relation to valuation evidence. The claim settled for £7m. With Richard Harrison. Instructed by Hogan Lovells.

 

Acted for the  “buy to let” claimants who were successful at trial in the High Court against their former solicitors. The claims concerned breaches of fiduciary duty in buy to let transactions.

 

Acted for the investor in “sale and rent back” property transactions. Claim concerned the scope of a solicitor’s duty to advise on the validity of contracts in the absence of a written retainer.

 

Successful claim against a firm of solicitors for the conveyance of an incomplete barn conversion where the vendor was a limited company.

 

Acting for the Claimant against her clinical negligence solicitors for mis-managed litigation where the underlying clinical negligence claim relates to gastric sleeve revision surgery and a resultant gastric leak due to staple line dehiscence. The professional negligence claim is backed by a home insurance policy. Instructed by Cohen Cramer Solicitors.

 

Representation in many other claims and defences where the underlying action was for personal injury and following which lawyers have been sued for all manner of reasons. This includes, negligent advice, negligent conduct (often resulting in strike out or court sanctions) and under settlement.

 

Financial and other professionals

Acted in the High Court defending IFAs in respect of Investors in the Protected Asset TEP Number 2 Fund. The claims arose following reclassification of an investment fund from low to high volatility. Instructed by DWF.

 

Obtained wasted costs against a claimant solicitor following his interim costs application post settlement in a broker’s negligence claim. Instructed by Reynolds Coleman Bradley LLP.

 

Acting in defences to broker’s negligence claims where there are alleged breaches of the Insurer’s Code of Business Sourcebook (ICOBS). Matters include the arrangement of fleet motor policies to professional indemnity cover.

 

Advised in “Keydata” claims against the professional indemnity insurer which argued aggregation following the mis-selling of financial products by brokers. With Colin Wynter QC. Instructed by Fenchurch Law, London.

 

Acted for one defendant in a twelve defendant claim for architect’s negligence following structural issues with an office tower built in The City of London.

Tom has experience of catastrophic injuries in the clinical context. He has spoken to medico-legal associations and to firms in-house on the law around patient consent, material contribution and acquired brain injuries. He has, where other juniors may not have, significant experience of clinical negligence trial advocacy. Some examples of current and recent work appear below.

 

Surgical

Acted for a doorman following a fight in which the claimant struck the kerb after a single punch. The dispute surrounded the causation of catastrophic brain injury as between the fight and the subsequent surgery. Led by Rob Weir QC.

 

Acted for a man who within hours of suffering a catastrophic stroke was negligently treated during brain surgery at hospital. Complex issues around divisibility of injury and care requirements in light of the decision in Reaney v University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust & Anr [2015] EWCA Civ 1119. Led by Rob Weir QC during the litigation, acted as sole junior at JSM. Instructed by Hudgell Solicitors.

 

Acted for a female firearms officer in which a postpartum sphincter injury was not repaired resulting in incontinence and an inability to return to work. The claim settled following exchange of joint reports.

 

Acted in the High Court for a professional ballerina who sustained division of a tendon during bunion surgery. The claim settled following the exchange of pleadings. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acted for a personal trainer who underwent incorrect lower limb facial repair (as opposed to fasciotomy) resulting in crippling injuries. The claim settled two weeks before a 5-day High Court trial. Led by Rob Weir QC. Instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.

 

Acting for defendant clinics (MYA, Surgicare etc) in various cosmetic surgery claims including bariatric surgery and breast surgery). Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

 

Acting for the defendant trust at the interim payment hearing for a child who suffered profound hypoxic ischaemic brain damage and four limb dystonic cerebral palsy. Instructed by Capsticks.

 

Diagnosis and treatment

Acting for an 8-year-old girl in her High Court claim against the hospital for mismanagement of acute promyelocytic leukaemia and sepsis.

 

Acted for a protected party who sustained pressure sores following a prolonged period of negligence. The settlement, which included a claim for 24-hour nursing care, was approved in the High Court and an anonymity order made in view of the decision in JXMX v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust [2015] EWCA Civ 96.

 

Acted for the NHS Trust in the defence of a claim following an alleged failure to follow a “nil by mouth” direction resulting in a patient fatality after she aspirated on her own vomit. Instructed by Kennedys Law LLP.

 

Acting for various claimants in “missed diagnosis” claims including breast cancer, rectal adenocarcinoma, peritoneal cancer, endocarditis and streptococcus sanguinis and left frontal glioblastoma. A number of these claims concern fatalities.

 

Acting for a defendant care home in respect of claims for sub-standard care. Instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.

Tom’s work in civil fraud spans injuries, insurance policies, professional negligence and other commercial situations.

 

Howlett and another v Davies and Ageas Insurance Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 1696. Tom appeared unled for the successful insurer in the first ever Court of Appeal authority to consider the term “fundamental dishonesty” in the context of injury claims.

 

Tom has acted for insurers in many other motor fraud cases at first instance and on appeal.

 

He also has significant experience of fraud against policies of insurance and in cases involving professionals. He was instructed in Morkot and others v Watson & Brown [2014] EWHC 3439 (QB) which concerned “gifted deposits” in the property market.

 

Whilst at the employed bar, Tom was part of the team instructed by a trustee defendant in the Alhamrani v Alhamrani litigation which was one of the longest ever running breach of trust claims in an offshore jurisdiction.

 

He also has significant experience of fraud against policies of insurance and in cases involving professionals. He was instructed in Morkot and others v Watson & Brown [2014] EWHC 3439 (QB) which concerned “gifted deposits” in the property market.

Whilst at the employed bar, Tom was part of the team instructed by a trustee defendant in the Alhamrani v Alhamrani litigation which was one of the longest ever running breach of trust claims in an offshore jurisdiction.

Chambers & Partners 2022 -Band 2 - "Excellent on points of law and advice, strong with clients and very approachable and accessible."

Legal 500 2022 - Tier 2 - "tom is calm under pressure with a logical approach to cases. He has a great client manner."

Chambers and Partners 2021 - Band 2 (Personal Injury) "He is very detailed in his approach." "He has a no-nonsense and commercial attitude and an impeccable manner with clients. His organisational skills and meticulous attention to detail are very impressive."

Legal 500 2021 -Tier 3 (Personal Injury) Pragmatic with an excellent eye for detail.

Chambers and Partners 2020 - Band 2 (Personal Injury) A respected junior, well known for his handling of high-value personal injury claims and insurance coverage disputes. He has experience appearing in multiparty litigation, and has appeared unled before the Court of Appeal. He is also adept at handling product liability cases. Strengths: "He's organised, meticulous in his attention to detail and has an impeccable manner with clients. He's able to simplify complex technical issues to provide clear and sound advice."

Legal 500 2020 -Tier 3 (Personal Injury) Pragmatic with an excellent eye for detail.

Chambers & Partners 2019 "A highly approachable and impressive advocate." "He's very bright and good on tactical issues. He always goes the extra mile, is very easy to deal with and is very good with clients." "He's professional and performs well even under pressure."

Legal 500 2019 "He has an excellent eye for a realistic prospect and is very good on his feet."

Personal injuries bar association.

International bar association.

Professional negligence bar association.

British insurance law association.

Howlett v Davies- interview with Lexis Nexis following Tom's success before the Court of Appeal arguing fundamental dishonesty. Please follow this link to view the article. This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Personal Injury on 15 November 2017

LLB, University of Durham. Authorised by the bar standards board to conduct litigation. Public access qualified.