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Maurice Thompson



Maurice Thompson

Maurice Thompson


Maurice heads Clyde & Co’s Australian “Energy, Marine, Natural Resources” group and its Australian “Aviation” group and is the Founder and Chair of Clyde & Co’s unique international cross-sector “Global Drones Group”. He has 29 years’ experience.

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Maurice heads Clyde & Co’s Australian “Energy, Marine, Natural Resources” group and its Australian “Aviation” group and is the Founder and Chair of Clyde & Co’s unique international cross-sector “Global Drones Group”. He has 29 years’ experience.

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Maurice has nearly 30 years' international experience in the energy, maritime and natural resources sectors. He has particularly notable expertise advising on high-stakes disputes in the oil & gas and commodities sectors. Clients have described him as being 'second to none' in those sectors, leveraging his qualifications and experience of practicing in the USA, UK, South Africa, the Middle East and China to provide a first-class service for multi-jurisdictional matters.

He has acted for clients with interests or disputes arising out of projects in the JPDA in the Timor Sea, ICHTHYS, Wheatstone, Gorgon, Kitan Oil Field, Bayu-Udan, Greater Sunrise and the Australian North West Shelf. Such disputes are typically high value and often concern ‘real time’ matters involving collisions, allisions, vessel groundings, salvage, general average, demurrage and other liquidated damages issues, as well as complex decommissioning matters, vessel arrests and the defence of same. He has previously held the position of principal external legal counsel on the Marine Emergency Oil Spill Response Team for oil & gas majors BHP and Saudi Aramco. One client has publicly described him as being a "ridiculously qualified lawyer with global experience who easily sees the big picture but can cut to the chase or dive into weeds no one else has even thought of, as required." Another has simply observed publicly that "his expertise is knowing exactly what we need."

He is a noted international thought leader in the drones/UAV and insurance space. In 2019 he pitched the idea to Clyde & Co’s Senior Management to establish a cross-sector drones/UAV offering. It was a revolutionary idea. Clyde & Co’s “Global Drones Group”, founded and Chaired by Maurice, now has a roll-call of partners, senior consultants and senior lawyers across the world who are specialists in their fields and have turned their attention to the unique issues that drones/UAV are presenting in their sectors. Clyde & Co is the only law firm globally that has a dedicated cross-sector drones/UAV offering. In August 2021 he co-authored a 23 chapter text book published by Routledge (London) titled: “Drone Law and Policy: Global Development, Risks, Regulation and Insurance”. He has been engaged by insurance majors, corporates, insurtech companies, governments and regulators to assist in compliance, policy creation, registration, regulation and insurance policy wordings with regard to drones/UAV.

His lateral thinking and thought leadership saw him pitch the idea to Clyde & Co in 2016 of what is now the market leading subrogation insurance recoveries entity in Dubai (i.e. ‘Gulf Recoveries Limited’), now rebranded ‘Clydes Recoveries’ to further utilise its versatility across a broader spectrum of claims internationally.

Maurice has a solid reputation with litigation funding companies worldwide. He has pitched 10 complex matters to funders, each with damages claimed of between $100m and $400m, with a 100% success rate in achieving funding. His funded cases range from shipping disputes, toxic marine torts, international coal trading disputes, industry wide fisheries disputes, offshore construction and biosecurity.

In his aviation practice, Maurice acts for airlines and their insurers, notably defending multiple Australian Court proceedings arising from claims emanating from the MH17, MH370 and Germanwings 9525 catastrophes.

Maurice holds an LLB(Bond), an LLM(Shipping)(Hons) from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, an LLM(Admiralty)(Distinction) from Tulane University in the USA, has completed specialist courses in ‘Maritime Law’ and ‘CIF & FOB Contracts’ at Southampton University in the UK, and in ‘International Trade Law’ at Melbourne University, is qualified in Australia, England and Wales and worked in China and the Middle East for six years.

Legal directories “Chambers & Partners”, “Doyle’s Guide to the Australian Legal Profession”, the “Financial Review”, “Legal 500”  and “Who’s Who Legal”  have  all variously rated Maurice a leading, Band 1 or preeminent lawyer in shipping law, aviation law and international trade law. Legal 500: “Maurice combines his sound academic and practical skills with a commercially sensible approach”; is “relentless, always striving for perfection”, and is “excellent with clients”. Chambers & Partners: “Maurice is very knowledgeable  –  he knows the ins and outs of a complex industry. He is able to interpret our situation and provide targeted advice.”



  • Successfully represented a chemical company claimant in an AUD120 million claim against the vessel "APL Sydney", its owners, insurers and the port authority. The claim concerned the negligent fouling of a major gas pipeline by the vessel's anchor and negligence in the management of the vessel in port and established 'new law' internationally relating to the limitation of a shipowners' liability.
  • Successfully defended an Australian/Chinese minerals exporter in respect of a multi-million dollar claim by Chinese vessel owners arising under a COA involving force majeure and frustration defences following the exporter's global financial crisis related decision to scale back production at one of its mines and close another, and exporting less product than otherwise agreed in the COA.
  • Successfully defended the Master, crew and German owners of the "ANL Pioneer" in the largest oil pollution prosecution case in Victorian history.
  • Successfully acted for a Lloyd's Syndicate in the defence of a claim by an assured under the H&M policy in respect of the loss and recovery of an AUD13 million navy owned submarine rescue vehicle off Western Australia and an accompanying 'sue and labour' claim for  AUD20 million.

Offshore oil & gas and offshore construction

  • Successfully acted for a Norwegian offshore LNG production facility contractor/operator in an AUD13 million claim in the Australian courts arising out of an onshore and offshore construction dispute with a global engineering and project management company.
  • Successfully defended a global oil & gas drilling contractor in a AUD$300 claim commenced by a major global oilfield operator relating to allegedly defective works and services, and successfully prosecuting a cross-claim for AUD$6 million.
  • Advised the Brazilian subsidiary of a major Norwegian oil services company in respect of a USD 50 million claim and arbitration against a global engineering company for various breaches of contract and non-payment relating to the provision by the subsidiary of power generation modules for installation of FPUs for operation in Brazil.
  • Successfully arbitrated in London and recovered against the Nigerian Government in a US$350 million arbitration on behalf of a global oil & gas drilling contractor for various breaches of contract and non-payment of invoices.


  • Successfully defended a Netherlands based commodity trader in a complex series of cases in the Australian courts involving forward physical contracts and futures contracts of wheat and issues of derivatives under the Australian financial services law.
  • Successfully acted for a French commodity trader/purchaser in a claim up the contract string against Australia's largest wheat marketer for a breach of contract, which followed the latter calling force majeure under the sales contract during the closure of the port of Brisbane following the 2010 Queensland floods and failing in its collateral duties post such a claim for force majeure. Simultaneously defending a significant claim for demurrage from the CFR purchaser/charterer exploiting significant differences between the sales contract and the CFR purchaser's charterparty.
  • Engaged by the Australian government’s bulk wheat exporting regulator to conduct an exhaustive legal review of the chartering practices, sales contracts, freight agreements, settlements of demurrage and detention, and licensing benchmarks for all export shipments by Australia’s major wheat exporter over an 18 month period.


  • Engaged by Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO)( i.e. an international organisation providing regulatory aviation safety and security services across the Pacific Region in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, and with associate member states Australia, Fiji and New Zealand) to advise in respect of Drones Compulsory Third-Party Liability Insurance and related liability issues, and produce a ‘blue-print’ for the enactment and then implementation of legislation and regulation for drones/UAV use across the South Pacific.
  • Engaged by a global drones manufacturer to advise and negotiate on its behalf in respect of manufacturing opportunities in Australia and as to the interface between registration/use/insurance of drones globally.
  • Engaged by a global logistics behemoth to provide Australian legal advice with regard to a confidential global offering that is reliant on the use of drones/UAV.


  • Major loss of flights – acting on behalf of the airlines in defence of various next of kin claims brought in Australia in relation to the MH17, MH370 and Germanwings 9525.
  • Advised the Commonwealth Department of Environment on legal issues and risks associated with ‘AAD Flight Following’ program, being the program run by the Australian Antarctic Division of the Department (AAD), whereby their communications operators provide cross-jurisdictional third party relay communications services to Airservices Australia for AAD and non-AAD aircraft in the Antarctic region.
  • Provided coverage and indemnity advice and successfully acted for insurers in a claim by an airline in respect of a catastrophic failure of one of the aircraft’s engines during a flight and damage to the engine.


  • Assurance et réassurance

  • Aviation

  • Commerce et biens de consommation

  • Droit maritime

  • Drones

  • Énergie et ressources naturelles

  • Infrastructures



  • Arbitrage international

  • Litiges commerciaux