Dermot undertakes a wide range of commercial disputes, principally in the following fields:
All aspects, but especially domestic and international sale of goods and associated product liability disputes, agency including commercial agents disputes, contracts of guarantee and indemnity, confidentiality, directors’ duties, employment contracts, contracts in restraint of trade, conflicts of laws, franchise agreements, carriage of goods, insurance, asset leases and mortgages of chattels, shareholder disputes.
Dermot regularly advises, and appears as advocate in the High Court, in connection with applications for injunctions and other forms of urgent relief. Typically these are applications for domestic and worldwide asset freezing orders, search orders, anti-suit and anti-arbitration injunctions, applications to restrain actual or threatened conduct in breach of contract, applications to enforce employment covenants, applications to restrain the presentation or advertisement of winding up and bankruptcy petitions, and applications to restrain activities in breach of regulatory regimes such as that under FSMA 2000.
Banking & Financial Services
Most aspects including bank’s duties, banking securities, investment advice, cheques and other negotiable instruments, mortgagees’ duties, financial mis-selling claims, consumer credit, and FSMA-regulated activities (for example applications for guidance, collective investment schemes, deposit-taking, prohibitions on financial promotions, and the regulatory obligations of insurers and insurance intermediaries).
Bankruptcy & Insolvency Law
Most aspects of both personal and corporate insolvency, including individual and company voluntary arrangements, administration and receivership.
- Advising offshore superyacht management business concerning meaning and effect of Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
- Acting for suppliers of construction materials and their insurers in c£3m product liability dispute concerning defective pressure-sensitive adhesive used in joinery fabrication, shop-fitting and general construction works. The adhesive, which had been newly developed with a high solids content, failed prematurely, resulting in extensive delamination. The contractors who had purchased the defective adhesive and who had used it in the course of their businesses claimed against the suppliers for the cost of the associated remedial works, and related losses. On recommendations made by loss adjusters who had been appointed by the suppliers’ insurers, the contractors’ claims were settled. Following these settlements, the suppliers took an assignment of the distributor’s cause of action against the assembler who had containerised the adhesive, and then sued the assembler as assignees to recover the settlement sums and other related costs and losses. The assembler in turn sued the adhesive manufacturer. The two actions were conjoined. Both the assembler and the manufacturer attributed the premature failure to workmanship errors by the contractors, and complained that the settlements were in any event unreasonably generous. They also blamed the failure on defects in the chemistry of the adhesive, for which they blamed each other: the assembler was alleged to have used containers which were contaminated with manufacturing residues, and the manufacturer was alleged to have used insufficient antioxidant and an unusual tackifier. The manufacturer also relied on a limitation of liability clause in its terms and conditions, the reasonableness of which the assembler put in issue under UCTA. Highly complicated materials failure and organic chemistry evidence. Following a trial of several test cases, but before judgment, the assembler discontinued against the manufacturer. Judgment subsequently given for the suppliers: all allegations of workmanship errors were dismissed and all the settlements were found to have been reasonable, both in principle and in amount (DIPT Ltd & Ors v Sanglier Ltd; Sanglier Ltd v Apollo Chemicals Ltd  EWHC 426 (TCC))
- Acting for the director and shareholder of a Cayman Islands company seeking to enforce against his co-shareholders in the Cayman Islands judgments that he obtained against them for damages and costs in proceedings in the Chancery Division in London, arising from a dispute concerning their wrongful refusal to permit him access to a family apartment in Central London.
- Acting for shareholder of offshore superyacht management business in obtaining urgent interim injunction from the High Court of the Isle of Man compelling majority shareholder to return shares which it had unilaterally acquired from the shareholder purportedly in the exercise of buy-out provisions in a shareholders’ agreement, pending arbitration proceedings by the shareholder contesting the majority shareholder’s claims (Tobin v Döhle (IOM) Limited & Anr  [judgment])
- Acting for three former employees of claimant energy broking business in substantial Chancery Division £multi-million dispute arising from their unlawful acquisition of significant quantities of confidential information copied from the claimant’s database and their commercial exploitation of that information by means of a competitor energy broker. Issues included how to search the data that was acquired during the execution of a search order/imaging order without infringing privilege and without acquiring the defendants’ own confidential information; scope and reasonableness of restrictive covenants; and valuation of negotiating damages.
- Acting for Swedish oil procurement company in claim in Commercial Court against US supplier seeking to recover EU customs duty paid following the importation of Libyan low sulphur fuel oil supported by certificates of origin which were subsequently identified as invalid under EU Generalised System of Preferences. Issues included effect of force majeure clause, and whether s26 of UCTA (which would have precluded an exclusion of consequential loss clause in D’s terms from being subjected to the test of reasonableness in s3 of UCTA) unlawfully discriminated against C contrary to Art.18 of TFEU.
- Acting for leading cotton arbitrator in the Commercial Court challenging “the 3 and 8 rule” of the International Cotton Association which limits the number of appointments that ICA arbitrators may accept, on the grounds that both limbs of the rule are unenforceable at common law for being in restraint of trade (Aldcroft v International Cotton Association  EWHC 642 (Comm)  QB 725  1 All ER (Comm) 721  1 Lloyd’s Rep 635)
- Acting for the Financial Conduct Authority in a series of cases restraining the activities of several “boiler room” businesses operating unlawfully in the UK, typically by engaging in unauthorised deposit-taking, establishing and operating unauthorised collective investment schemes, communicating inducements, and making false statements. Acting for FCA in ensuing applications for compulsory winding-up orders pursuant to s367 of FSMA.
- Acting for English company in Commercial Court on application for interim, and then permanent, anti-arbitration injunction to restrain Dutch supplier of almond meal from pursuing an arbitration before a specialist Board of Arbitration in the Netherlands, in breach of an arbitration agreement which provided for the arbitration of disputes before a specialist tribunal in England; related applications concerning the contempt of the respondent arising from its failure to obey interim injunction. (Whitworths Ltd v Synergy Food Ingredients & Processing BV  EWHC 4239 (Comm))
- Acting for claimant against various companies within an IFA group in respect of allegedly defective advice concerning tax avoidance film partnership and music recording artist partnership schemes. Complaints included inadequate steps to establish the client’s objectives and his attitude to investment risk; whether or not misrepresentations had been made to the client about the extent to which the schemes had HMRC approval; whether or not there had been manipulation of forms after they had been completed by the claimant; and as to the extent of liability under s39 of FSMA (Page v Champion Financial Management Ltd & Ors  EWHC 1778 (QB))
- Acting for legal consultancy in Commercial Court seeking to resist freezing injunction in aid of arbitration proceedings. Subject matter of freezing injunction was defendant’s alleged holding in a Kazakh cement company and monies lodged in support of bank guarantees to support related proceedings brought by the defendant in New South Wales. Major issue was whether claimant had obtained bank guarantees from a defendant in the Australian proceedings in breach of the Harman undertaking (the implied undertaking against the collateral use of documents obtained in litigation) (Emmott v Michael Wilson & Partners Ltd  EWHC 3690 (Comm))
- Acting for wealthy Russian national seeking to set aside asset-freezing injunction in aid of proceedings in another court in which solicitors were suing for unpaid fees and disbursements
- Acting for French company, owner of substantial chateau and grounds, to vary terms of asset-freezing order to enable property to be sold and for directions as to application of proceeds of sale
- Acting for palletised transport distribution services company seeking to resist application to restrain implementation of its notice purporting to terminate its contract with the claimant on the grounds that services had not been provided to contractual KPIs
- Acting for claimant in c£10m breach of contract claim arising from decision of national coach operator to terminate contract to provide coach services on the ground of alleged failures to comply with relevant EU regulations concerning drivers’ hours
- Acting for the Isle of Man liquidator of an historical member of the Merchant Navy Officers Pension Scheme as to whether he should admit in the liquidation a proof of debt from the trustees of the scheme in respect of the member’s liability to contribute to a significant deficit in the pension fund following court-approved amendments to the scheme’s rules and, if the proof should be admitted, in what amount. Case concerned the proper construction of the amendments to the scheme rules and whether they were intended to impose liability in effect retrospectively for a deficit that had accrued after the member had ceased to be under any obligation to make contributions to the scheme, and the evaluation of the scheme’s actuary’s calculations of the extent of the deficit, the sums required to make good the deficit, the member’s share of that sum, and interest.
- Acting for claimant in c£2m claim for breach of contract against national coach operator in respect of early termination of contracts to provide coach services from Midlands to 3 London airports. Complex issues about construction of contracts, and in particular the dispute escalation and termination provisions, and the use of performance evidence to justify the decision to terminate.
- Acting for financial services company defending claim for allegedly negligent mis-selling of equity release product.
- Advising residential property plc as to whether investment arrangements, which were used to fund the acquisitions of residential properties as part of a substantial, national, equity release scheme were unregulated collective investment schemes.
- Acting for goods-in-transit insurers in successful claim against sub-carriers to recover outlay where insured’s title to goods which were the subject of an FOB contract of sale was possessory only. Also involved questions about limitation of liability under the RHA Conditions of Carriage and common law obligations of carriers of abnormal loads.
- Advising fashion designer in connection with a dispute concerning the construction of an option in a franchise agreement relating to the territory of Hong Kong and its effect on proposed franchises relating to China.
- Acting for company suing former director for account of profits and damages arising from alleged breach of fiduciary duty in diverting business opportunities to his own business. Issues involved extent of a departing director’s duties pending expiry of notice of resignation (Foster Bryant Surveying Ltd & Anr v Bryant & Ors  EWHC 1232 (QB))
- Acting for director in substantial Chancery Division claim by syndicate of banks for misrepresentation arising from MBO of pharmaceutical business
- Acting for brewers at trial and subsequently in Court of Appeal seeing to enforce a charge against two sureties, who sought to defend the claim inter alia on the grounds that they had been released from the charge by reason of the implementation of an IVA by the principal debtor. Issues involved included undue influence of principal debtor and misrepresentation (Greene King plc v Stanley & Anr  EWCA Civ 1966  BPIR 491)
- The enforcement of English judgments in the Cayman Islands by registration: reconsidering the objections
- Dermot Woolgar successfully establishes reasonableness of sums paid in settlement of product liability claims for defective construction adhesive
- Dermot Woolgar successfully establishes reasonableness of sums paid in settlement of product liability claims for defective construction adhesive
- MBL Construction Law Conference 2019 – London
- LLB (Hons) (Manchester University)
- Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration (Chartered Institute of Arbitrators)
- Chair, Bar Council Overseas Territories Working Group
- Member, Bar Council International Trade Working Group
- London Court of International Arbitration
- Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
- London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association (Committee Member)
- Professional Negligence Bar Association
- Technology and Construction Bar Association
- Commercial Bar Association
- Administrative Law Bar Association
Co-author of chapter on Construction Insolvency in Emden’s Construction Law
“Regulation or Red Tape: the UK equity release market”: co-author (with Rob Sheldon and Liam Corrigan of DWF LLP) of chapter in Making the Most of Equity Release: Perspectives from Key Players, published by The Smith Institute, March 2012
“Still an Empty Concept?”: co-author (with Keith Shaw of Pinsent Masons LLP) discussing the implications of NYK Logistics Ltd v Ibrend Estates BV  EWCA Civ 683 on the meaning of “vacant possession”, published in the Estates Gazette, 23 July 2011
“The Seduction of Iconoclasm”: discussion of the exemptions for religious organisations in the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, published in Law and Justice 2007, 158, 64
“Citibank NA v MBIA Assurance SA & Ors  EWCA Civ 11”: co-author (with Justin Davis of Crown Office Chambers): Case Commentary published in International Corporate Rescue: Vol 4 (2007) Issue 5
“Dermot is a clear, methodical thinker who understands what arguments will win favour with the court.”
Legal 500, 2023
“Dermot Woolgar is a well-regarded junior with a vast expertise in property-related construction disputes. He regularly works on adjudication enforcement proceedings, disputes heard in the TCC and arbitrations. He has experience of acting both domestically and internationally.” “He brings a really practical angle; he is very good at taking a step back to make clear the practical implications of any decisions before the TCC judges.” “He considers things thoroughly.” “Dermot Woolgar is unflappable and very focused. He is excellent in his court presentation.”
Chambers and Partners, 2023
“Dermot is very personable, breeds confidence in all who instruct him and clients alike. When sat behind him in court you nearly always think you have instructed the superior counsel.”
Legal 500, 2022
“Dermot is one of the most methodical barristers I have ever come across. He is positive in his advice and has an excellent calming manner which is very reassuring to clients.”
Legal 500, 2021