Tom’s practice spans all core areas of Chambers’ work, with a particular focus on property, insolvency and private client matters. He regularly appears in the Chancery Division of the High Court and in the County Court across the country, as well as before more specialist tribunals such as the Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal.
Tom is Appointed Junior Counsel to the Crown C Panel, effective from 1 September 2020.
Before coming to the Bar, Tom qualified and practised as a probation officer, working in a number of settings to provide rehabilitation, advocacy and support for ex-offenders. He also represented the probation service in the Old Bailey and Court of Appeal. From these diverse experiences, Tom brings to his practice an ability to adapt his advocacy and advice to the needs of his lay client.
Tom’s insolvency practice encompasses both personal and corporate insolvency, and he acts for office-holders as well as individuals and directors. His experience includes:
- Applications to set aside antecedent transactions.
- Applications for validation orders.
- Applications for possession and sale of property falling within the bankruptcy estate.
- Applications to set aside statutory demands and for injunctions restraining the presentation of winding up petitions.
- Bankruptcy petitions.
- Winding up petitions.
- Annulment and rescission applications.
- Claims against directors for misfeasance, breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duties.
Tom acted for the local authority in Lock v Aylesbury Vale DC  EWHC 2015 (Ch), which provides authority that a petitioning local authority has the burden of showing a prima facie case that the bankruptcy would serve some useful purpose where it has been suggested that the debtor has no assets.
Tom is frequently instructed in applications relating to the registration of charges at Companies House and for the restoration of companies to the register.
Tom accepts instructions in all kinds of property disputes. He has represented landlords, tenants, mortgagees and mortgagors, and has experience of dilapidation claims, applications for the renewal of business leases, construction disputes, claims to recover deposits, boundary disputes and applications for injunctive relief.
His recent experience includes:
- Acting for a charge holder in possession proceedings defended on the basis of undue influence, duress and unconscionable bargain.
- Acting (led by Edward Denehan) for a tribunal appointed manager in litigation concerning the manager’s authority to disconnect several flats in a large block of flats from the block’s original heating and communal hot water system following a project to renew the system initiated by a Right to Manage Company that previously managed the block.
- Acting (unled) for the tribunal appointed manager in subsequent service charge disputes before the First Tier Tribunal.
- Successfully obtaining an interim injunction on an urgent basis requiring a landlord that had purported to exercise a right of re-entry immediately before the start of the academic term to restore possession of the property to a tenant that provided tutoring services.
- Successfully challenging a civil financial penalty imposed by a local authority on a landlord in relation to alleged failure to comply with licensing requirements for a house in multiple occupation.
- Obtaining possession orders against trespassers in commercial premises.
- Appearing for the legal owner of a property in a TOLATA claim concerning a disputed declaration of trust.
- Frequent appearances in residential possession hearings and commercial forfeiture proceedings.
Tom also has a broad advisory practice and has recently advised on matters including the existence and scope of easements, the enforceability of restrictive covenants, the beneficial ownership of properties, adverse possession, and nuisance.
Tom has a particular interest in public and local rights of access over land. He has written and lectured on the law of common land and rights of common, has experience of town and village green inquiries and advises public authorities, landowners and interest groups in relation to public rights of way.
Tom is frequently instructed to advise on issues arising from the administration of estates both in contentious and non-contentious contexts. He has experience of advising on claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and has also advised on the removal of personal representatives, claims disputing the validity of wills on the basis of lack of capacity, undue influence and want of knowledge and approval, and on the construction of wills.
Recent experience includes:
- Acting for a professional executor in proceedings brought against his predecessor executor to account to the estate for sums received.
- Acting for an executor in proceedings challenging his exercise of a power of appointment.
- Drafting proceedings against an executor for devastavit.
- Advising on and appearing in infant settlement proceedings.
Tom also has experience of mediations concerning disputes relating to trusts and estates, and has assisted parties in reaching settlements.
Tom frequently acts in his own right in contractual disputes in the County Court and High Court. He has also assisted in several civil fraud claims and gained experience of obtaining injunctive relief in the course of commercial litigation, in particular freezing injunctions and anti-suit injunctions.
Recent experience includes:
- Acting for the victim of an online scam in proceedings to preserve and recover sums fraudulently procured from her.
- Drafting and acting in restitutionary claims.
- Successfully defending proceedings brought against a casino to recover sums paid pursuant to contracts purportedly avoided by mistake.
- Drafting and acting in debt claims.
- Acting in proceedings to enforce judgment debts.
Tom has experience of acting in mediations, both before proceedings have been issued and after.
Tom has acted in proceedings for the registration and enforcement of foreign judgments and in applications dealing with the adequacy of service out of the jurisdiction. He has advised on the court’s jurisdiction to determine proceedings concerning property located outside of the jurisdiction and is always interested to receive instructions with a multi-jurisdictional element.
Tom has delivered training to local authority staff on the law of common land, addressing topics including the system of registration, permissible works, the requirements for deregistration and compulsory acquisition, and adequacy of land to be provided in exchange for common land.
BPTC (Outstanding) -BPP – 2015
GDL (Distinction) – BPP – 2014
BA (Hons) English Literature (2:1) – St John’s College, University of Durham – 2006
Scholarships & Awards
- Baron Dr Ver Heyden Prize for performance on the BPTC (Middle Temple)
- Cohen Scholarship to study the GDL and BPTC (BPP)
- Excellence Award to study the BPTC (BPP)
- Chancery Bar Association
- Property Bar Association
- Honourable Society of the Middle Temple
Thomas Cockburn is an independent self-employed barrister registered with the Bar Standards Board of England; whose practice is governed by the Code of Conduct of the Bar of England and Wales which code can be found at www.barstandardsboard.org.uk; has full professional liability insurance provided by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Limited (ref BM 2930/074) (details of the world-wide cover are provided at www.barmutual.co.uk); is registered for VAT (reg. no. 277586642 ); and can be contacted during chambers opening hours by telephone at 02074045055 or by e-mail at email@example.com.