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Rob Lawson QC



Rob Lawson QC

Rob Lawson QC


Profil complet

Rob is a barrister. He was called to the Bar of England & Wales in 1989 and was in independent practice at the Bar continually from 1990 until he joined Clyde & Co in February 2017. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2009.

Throughout his legal career, Rob has focussed upon the world of, and law relating to, aviation. He has broad experience in this sector with regards to: carrier liability; regulatory and licensing issues; product liability disputes; inquests; insurance coverage; finance and leasing disputes; contractual, treaty & statutory interpretation; and general commercial disputes. In addition to advisory work, undertaking litigation and advocacy, from time to time Rob also acts as an arbitrator and as a mediator (for which he holds CIArb accreditation).

Rob has acted and advised in relation to many of the most notable aviation related disputes governed by English law fought over the last three decades. He has also assisted with the written advocacy and provided advice in relation to cases proceeding in other jurisdictions, including: the High Court of Australia; the Common Law Division and Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria; the Court of Appeal of Singapore; the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal; the High Court of the Commonwealth of Dominica; the High Court of Malaya; the Air Transport Licensing Authority of Hong Kong; the District Court of Hong Kong; and the Supreme Court of India.

Rob has been widely recognised as a leading aviation practitioner. He was named 'Transport: Individual (London) of the year' for 2020 by Legal 500; as 'Aviation – Regulatory Lawyer of the year' for 2020 by Who's Who Legal; and in 2014 was identified by Who's Who of Aviation Lawyers as one of the 10 most highly regarded individuals in the World for contentious aviation. He has also been acknowledged as a leading lawyer in aviation by Chambers & Partner's Guide to the UK Legal Profession, The Legal 500, Expert Guides to the World's Leading Aviation Lawyers, Legal Experts, Best Lawyers in United Kingdom, International Who's Who of Aviation Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal: Transport, The Lawyer and Airline International's Aviation Counsel. Whilst at the Bar he was also recognised in independent directories as a leading practitioner in Travel, International Arbitration, Product Liability and Professional Discipline.

Rob’s published works on air law include:

  • 'Brexit – will the flying public notice any meaningful difference?' (2021).
  • ‘The Potential for Exposure of Air Carriers to Passenger Liability in Respect of COVID-19’ Air & Space Law, Vol 45, Special Issue (2020), p. 143.
  • 'The Montreal Convention 1999 at 21: has it come of age or passed its sell-by date?' Air & Space Law, Vol 45, No. 3 (2020), p.265.
  • 'COVID-19: état des lieux au 1er mai 2020 de la réponse du Royaume-Uni.' Revue Française de Droit Aérien et Spatial, 2020, Vol 293, p.14.
  • 'Will COVID-19 prove to be a great disruptor to progress of the EU State Aid policy?' (2020).
  • Behind and Beyond the Chicago Convention: The Evolution of Aerial Sovereignty (Wolters Kluwer, 2019), Chapter 'Does an Immovable Object Meet an Irresistible Force? An EU Perspective on the Apparent Tension Between the Protection of Airspace Sovereignty and the Notion of Private Sector Transnational Carriers'.
  • Research Handbook on International Aviation Law (Edward Elgar, forthcoming), chapter ‘The Asian Model Under Threat: Foreign Ownership And Control In The Wakes Of Jetstar Hong Kong’.
  • The Aviation Law Review, 4th Edition (2016) - 8th Edition (2020), chapter ‘The United Kingdom’.
  • ‘The Montreal Convention 1999 and the decisions of the ECJ in the case of IATA and Sturgeon - in harmony or discord?’, Air & Space Law, Vol 36, No.2 (2011), p.99.
  • ‘UK Air Passenger Duty held to be consistent with the Chicago Convention’, Air & Space Law, Vol 33, No.1 (2008), p.3.
  • Halsbury’s Laws of England - title ‘Aviation’, Volume 2(3), 4th Edition Reissue (2003), also published with adaptation as The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia - title ‘Aviation’, Reissue (2003).

Rob speaks regularly on the international air law conference circuit. He is Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and was Chairman of its Air Law Group from 2010 to 2016. He is also a fellow of the International Academy of Trial lawyers and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.


Significant matters in which Rob has acted include:

  • In relation to the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions:
    • Ford v. Malaysian Airline System Berhad [2014] 1 Lloyd's Rep 301 (CA) – 'accident'
    • Barclay v. British Airways Plc [2010] QB 187 (CA) – 'accident'
    • Laroche v. Spirit of Adventure (UK) Ltd [2009] QB 778 (CA), [2008] 4 All ER 494 (QBD) – time bar, 'aircraft'
    • Re Deep Vein Thrombosis and Air Travel Group Litigation [2006] 1 AC 495 (HL), [2004] QB 234 (CA), [2003] 1 All ER 935 (QBD) – 'accident', airline liability for DVTs; successful defence of class action acting for 26 of the 27 carriers orginally sued.
    • GKN Westland Helicopters Ltd v. Korean Air [2003] 2 Lloyd's Rep 629 (QBD) – interface of the convention with CPR Pt 36
    • Morris v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines [2002] 2 AC 628 (HL), [2002] QB 100 (CA) – 'bodily injury'
    • Disley v. Levine [2002] 1 WLR 785 (CA), [2001] PIQR P10 (QBD) – 'aircraft'; 'passenger'; carriage 'for reward'
    • Rolls Royce Plc v. Heavylift-Volga Dnepr Ltd [2000] 1 Lloyd's Rep 653 (QBD) – scope of carriage by air; 'aerodrome', article 25 recklessness
    • The Post Office v. British World Airlines Ltd [2000] 1 Lloyd's Rep 378 (QBD) – entitlement of Post Office to sue pursuant to the Convention re mail flights
    • Chaudhari v. British Airways Plc [1997] EWCA Civ 1413 (CA) – 'accident'
    • Deaville and others v. Aeroflot Russian International Airlines [1997] 2 Lloyd's Rep 67 (QBD) – Jurisdiction; stay of foreign proceedings
    • Milor SRL v. British Airways Plc [1996] QB 702 (CA) – Jurisdiction, forum non-conveniens
    • Gurtner v. Beaton [1993] 2 Lloyd's Rep 369 (CA), (1990) 1 S&B Av R VII/499 (QBD) – article 25 recklessness; apparent authority
  • In relation to Regulation (EC) No.261/2004:
    • Gahan v. Emirates [2018] 1 WLR 2287 (CA) – territorial extent; connecting flights
    • Dawson v. Thomson Airways Ltd [2015] 1 WLR 883 (CA) – applicable limitation period; obligation to follow EU law
    • Huzar v. Jet2.Com Ltd [2014] 4 All ER 581 (CA) – 'extraordinary circumstances'
  • In relation to public international air law/ the Chicago Convention 1944:
    • R (Kibris Turk Hava Yollari) v. Secretary of State for Transport [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 340 (CA), [2010] 1 All ER (Comm) 253 (QBD) – Sovereign territory; suspension of treaty rights; obligation to respect treaty rights of other signatory states; the right to fly to Northern Cyprus
  • In relation to the admissibility of Annex 13 air accident reports in civil proceedings:
    • Rogers v. Hoyle [2015] QB 265 (CA)
  • In relation to travel law/ ATOL Regulation:
    • R (The Association of British Travel Agents Ltd) v. Civil Aviation Authority [2007] 2 All ER (Comm) 898 (CA), (2006) ACD 49 (QBD) – 'package'; successful judicial review of CAA's legal interpretation
  • In relation to slots:
    • The purchase by British Airways Plc from the administrators of Monarch Airlines Ltd of Monarch's entire portfolio of take-off and landing slots at London Gatwick airport (2017)
  • In relation to route allocation/licensing:
    • Air Transport Licensing Authority of Hong Kong’s Public Inquiry re Application for a Licence by Jetstar Hong Kong Airways Ltd (2015) – Principal Place of Business; successful objection to licensing of Jetstar Hong Kong
    • Civil Aviation Authority Scarce Capacity Allocation Certificate Decisions 1/12 (Moscow), 1/10 (Cairo) & 1/09 (Kiev)
    • Civil Aviation Authority Air Transport Licences and Route Licences Decisions 2/99 (Zurich/Geneva), 4/98 (Moscow) & 3/98 (Cape Town)
  • In relation to product liability:
    • The Nimrod Review (aka the Haddon-Cave Review, 2009) and the related inquest into the loss of Nimrod MR2 XV230 (2008) – airworthiness of Nimrod MR2 aircraft type, safety case adequacy; the watershed in military aviation saftey regulation
    • Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise v. Honeywell Ltd and others (QBD) – responsibility for the Dreamliner fire at Heathrow airport, 2015
    • Lambson Aviation Ltd v. Embraer Empresa Brasiliera de Aeronautica SA [2001] All ER (D) 152 (QBD) – responsibility for the Knight Air flight 816 fatal air accident
  • In relation to matters of contract:
    • Odyssey Aviation Ltd  v. GFG 737 Ltd [2019] EWHC 1980 (Comm) – jurisdiction to award statutory interest
    • Aircraft Purchase Fleet Ltd v. Compagnia Aera Italiana SPA [2018] EWHC 3315 (comm) – renunciation of contract; impossibility of performance; successful defence of US$260 million damages claim
    • Donkers v. Storm Aviation Ltd [2015] 1 All ER (Comm) 282 (QBD) – proper law of indemnity provision in a ground handling agreement; recovery of foreign social insurance payments
    • Mehboob Travel Ltd and others v. Pakistan International Airlines Corp [2013] EWHC 2120 (QB) (QBD) - compromise
    • Global 5000 Ltd v. Sarang Wadhawan [2012] 2 All ER (Comm) 18 (CA), [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 190 (QBD) – contractual gateway for service out of the jurisdiction; whether guarantee given
    • Monarch Airlines Ltd v. London Luton Airport Ltd [1998] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 403 (QBD) – construction and reasonableness of an airport operator's exclusion clause (in standard market form)

Rob also has considerable experience in conducting ICC, LCIA and ad hoc arbitrations covering a wide range of commercial disputes (including insurance coverage).

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Rob is chair of the firm's Aviation Global Practice Group. His practice covers all aspects of aviation related liability, regulation and contentious commercial work.

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