Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd

Lord (John) Thomas, who retired in 2017 as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, is an international arbitrator and President of the Qatar International Court. He practiced for 24 years as a barrister at the Commercial Bar, 12 as a QC, and was a Judge of the Commercial Court from 1996-2003. He has given important appellate judgments in arbitration cases including the 2021 decision in Betamax v State Trading Corporation (public policy in the enforcement/setting aside of awards), Sucafina v Rottenberg (partial awards) and Emmott v Wilson (confidentiality).

Before joining the bench and during his 24 year career as a barrister his practice focused on international commercial disputes, finance, banking, insurance and reinsurance, shipping, shipbuilding, professional negligence and regulation.

Recent Appointments

  • Sole Arbitrator in an LCIA arbitration involving UAE entities who had defaulted under a contract governed by English law;
  • Co-arbitrator in an LCIA arbitration involving allegations of fraud under a shareholders agreement;
  • Presiding arbitrator in a complex expedited arbitration under the ICC rules involving international pharmaceutical companies;
  • Providing an ENE opinion in relation to alleged negligence resulting in a claim becoming time-barred;
  • Providing an ENE opinion relating to whether a “Regulatory Event” occurred under a securitisation agreement.


  • Trinity Hall, Cambridge BA (law) 1969
  • University of Chicago Law School, Commonwealth Fellow, JD 1970
  • Barrister (Gray’s Inn, Bencher 1992), Essex Court Chambers 1972-1996; QC,1984; Recorder 1987.
  • Appointed by HM Government to inquire into Mirror Group Newspapers when owned by Mr Robert Maxwell, 1992
  • High Court Judge, Commercial Court 1996-2003; Judge in charge in 2002-3.
  • Lord Justice of Appeal (2003-2011). Senior Presiding Judge of England and Wales (2003 – 2006),Vice-President of the Queen’s Bench Division(2008-2011)
  • President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (2008 – 2010)
  • President of the Queen’s Bench Division (2011-2103)
  • Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales (2013-2017)
  • Chair of the Welsh Government Commission on Justice in Wales 208-2109; Report: Justice in Wales for the People of Wales, October 2019.
  • Law Foundation of New Zealand Distinguished Fellow,  2019

Current Positions

  • International Arbitrator under LCIA and ICC Rules and ad hoc
  • President, Qatar International Court ( )
  • Chair, Financial Markets Law Committee, London ( )
  • Chair, Steering Committee of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts ( )
  • First Vice President, European Law Institute (ELI), based in Vienna ( )
  • Joint Chair: Principles for a Data Economy with the American Law Institute,  2021: (
  • Member of the House of Lords, UK Parliament;
  • Chancellor of Aberystwyth University


  • President
    • London Shipping Law Centre
    • ARIAS (UK) (the AIDA Reinsurance and Insurance Arbitration Society)
  • Past President of the British Insurance Law Association, a Vice-President of the British Maritime Law Association
  • Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a Fellow of the Universities of Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Swansea and Bangor, and Honorary Doctor of Law of the Universities of Wales, South Wales, the West of England and Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales
  • Founding Member and Patron of the International Law Book Facility