View full CV

Practice Summary

Sonia Tolaney QC is widely regarded as one of the leading Commercial Silks at the Bar. She is the "go-to silk for numerous financial institutions" and is "regularly instructed on the most substantial and topical disputes". She recently acted in the high-profile Covid related dispute: Travelport v WEX (in relation to a £1.7bn acquisition). Currently she is acting for Vale, a Brazilian mining company seeking to recover $1.8bn from Beny Steinmetz, for Sothebys in various matters and for Deutsche Bank in the Commercial Court claim brought by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation against a number of LIBOR panel banks. Sonia is also acting for a variety of financial institutions (including ABN AMRO, AIB, Barclays, Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Lloyds and JPMorgan) in a range of complex banking and insolvency disputes including disputes concerning FX, ISDA, currency trading, syndicated credit agreements, waterfall and other Lehmans disputes and jurisdiction. In 2016, Sonia was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge (QBD) and specifically authorised to sit in the Commercial Court. In 2020, Sonia was appointed as the Attorney General of the Duchy of Lancaster. She is a Bencher of Middle Temple (2013) and served as the elected Chair of the Commercial Bar Association (2019-21).

Sonia has "an enviable reputation" for her "very compelling and incredibly focused advocacy" and "lethal cross-examination". She is a hugely experienced advocate, having appeared in a vast number of high profile applications, trials and appeals, including (recently),Travelport v WEX (the construction of a material adverse effect clause in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic); Privatbank v Kolomoisky (Court of Appeal, a complex jurisdiction dispute concerning the “sole object” test), Sabbagh v Khoury (Commercial Court, interpretation of CPR 14, withdrawal of concession made in a jurisdiction challenge). LLB Verwaltung (Switzerland) AG v Group Seven & Ors (Court of Appeal, dishonest assistance, vicarious liability); ECU v HSBC Commercial Court, collateral use of documents, Deutsche Bank v Savona (scope of conflicting jurisdiction clauses) Edgeworth Capital v Aabar Investments (Commercial Court, enforceability of security agreements in relation to a loan of c£100m), Deutsche Bank v Unitech (Commercial Court, enforcement of swaps); the high profile RBS Rights Issue Litigation (a substantial Prospectus claim in the Chancery Division); Rosneft v HM Treasury & ors (a judicial review brought by Rosneft against the FSA in relation to EU sanctions; the case was referred to the CJEU); Barclays Bank v. Ente Nazionale Di Previdenza Ed Assistenza (Court of Appeal; a complex jurisdiction dispute which considered a number of important questions of EU law); Goldman Sachs v Videcon (Court of Appeal) (a significant decision on ISDA close out provisions); Deutsche Bank v. Sebastian Holdings /Vik (Commercial Court) (multiple decisions concerning contempt and enforcement of a substantial judgment debt); and Midtown Acquisitions LP v. Essar Global Fund Ltd (a complex jurisdiction dispute involving US law).  

She combines her powerful advocacy skills with formidable legal analysis, commercial sense and tactical judgment. She has been described as "one of the brightest stars at the Bar" who is "brilliant academically", with "crisp and flawless paperwork", "tremendous intellect" and "great tactical sense and litigation ability..." "a big name" who is "at the top of any right-thinking person's wish list". Solicitors comment that "When the other side sees her on her feet in court, they know they've already lost the battle...her courtroom skills are simply head and shoulders above most others..". "Quite simply brilliant at her job…".

Sonia was awarded the “Commercial Litigation Silk of the Year” 2017 (Chambers UK Bar Awards 2017). She was awarded the "Banking Silk of the Year" 2015 (an award for which she was also nominated in 2014 and 2019) (Chambers UK Bar Awards). In 2014, she was awarded The Legal 500 "Commercial Litigation Silk of the Year (and nominated for that award again in 2017). 


What the Legal Directories say 

"She is going from formidable strength to formidable strength. Her cross-examination skills are first-rate and so is her ability to read a court and judge how to put a point across, She is phenomenal." Chambers UK 2022, Commercial Dispute Resolution 

"She is unbeatable and one of the cleverest people at the Bar. She's incredibly commercial, user-friendly and an excellent advocate. She's smooth and clients love her." "She has the ear of the court, has fantastic instincts, cuts through the case law to get to the point and knows exactly how to judge a court." Chambers UK 2022, Civil Fraud 

"A standout commercial practitioner, who's one of the top silks of her generation. She is very good with clients and also a real lawyer's lawyer, who is very good at grappling with difficult legal points." Chambers UK 2022, Commercial Chancery 

"She is charming, has a great presence and good judgement." "She pulls off the impossible and wins against the odds. An utterly compelling advocate." Chambers UK 2022, Banking & Finance 

"She is very good at cutting out the irrelevant details and focusing on the small amount that matters. She gives very clear, steady and logical advice, and is very persuasive in court." "She is top-class - an extraordinary lawyer." Chambers Global 2021, Commercial Chancery Dispute Resolution

"The complete package as a QC," "she is a powerhouse who is a very impressive advocate. She is very tenacious and really gets to the heart of things." Chambers Global 2021, Commercial Dispute Resolution

"One of the leading barristers of her generation. Her advocacy is excellent and she is always a pleasure to work with." Civil Fraud, Legal 500 2021-2022

"Very clever, she understands banks and their businesses, leads a counsel team well and is an excellent advocate." Banking & Finance, Legal 500 2021-2022

"She is quite simply the gold standard. A brilliant advocate who always gets her tone spot-on." Commercial Litigation, Legal 500 2021-2022

"Sonia is an excellent leader who sets out a clear strategy. She is a fantastic advocate who is well respected by the judiciary." "A thorough, commanding advocate who sees issues clearly in a wider context." Chambers & Partners 2020 - Commercial Dispute Resolution

"Obviously an incredible intellect. She picks up the issues very quickly and with commercial sense. She was very good at getting to the crux of the issue. On her feet, she's very assertive and has excellent delivery, particularly against opposing counsel, and is very measured and controlled." Chambers & Partners 2020 - Commercial Chancery Dispute Resolution

"Outstanding – she can win an unwinnable case, and is responsive, creative but utterly determined to bottom out the difficult issues." Banking & Finance, Legal 500 2020-2021

"Sonia is absolutely superb and first-rate. She is excellent on paper and has a very commercial style of advocacy which is incredibly effective." "One of the most effective advocates out there. In terms of bringing the Bench round there are not many who can beat her; you would use her every time if you could." Banking & Finance, Chambers UK 2020 

"Obviously an incredible intellect. She picks up the issues very quickly and with commercial sense. She was very good at getting to the crux of the issue. On her feet, she's very assertive and has excellent delivery, particularly against opposing counsel, and is very measured and controlled." Chancery Commercial, Chambers UK 2020 

"A charming and devastating advocate." "She knows how to manoeuvre a courtroom very well. You have to have eyes at the back of your head to get around her." Civil Fraud, Chambers UK 2020 

"Sonia is an excellent leader who sets out a clear strategy. She is a fantastic advocate who is well respected by the judiciary." "A thorough, commanding advocate who sees issues clearly in a wider context." Commercial Dispute Resolution 2020 

"Not only is she technically superb and a silky smooth advocate, she is just such a pleasure to work with." Banking & Finance, Legal 500 2019-2020 

"Ferociously clever and at the very top end of the commercial Bar." Commercial Litigation, Legal 500 2019-2020 

"Hugely responsive, strategic, and an excellent advocate on paper and in court." Civil Fraud, Legal 500 2019-2020  

"Incredibly bright." Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2019-2020

"Delivers her advocacy in a clear and convincing manner." "She reads the judge brilliantly,  picks out the key points in a case, and really understands what the client wants to achieve." Commercial Dispute Resolution, Chambers UK 2019

"She reads judges brilliantly and is fantastic on her feet. She really understands what clients want to achieve and helps them get there. She is very hard-working." "A terrific advocate." Civil Fraud, Chambers UK 2019

"An iron fist in a silk glove." "She is an extremely impressive advocate, who is softly spoken but devastating. Her addresses to the court are compelling and clear, and she always makes clients feel that she is completely on their side." Chancery Commercial, Chambers UK 2019

"A hard-working, powerful advocate, who is charm personified. She's fluent and deceptively tough." "Extremely bright and confident, she engenders the immediate respect and trust of clients."  Banking & Finance, Chambers UK 2019 

She has impeccable judgement, works hard, and takes the right points before the judge.’ Banking & Finance, Legal 500 2018-2019

Always excellent – approachable, practical, with a really clear view as to the best approach.’ Commercial litigation, Legal 500 2018-2019

‘Can turn her hand to anything and is also such fun to work with.’ Civil Fraud, Legal 500 2018-2019

‘Very experienced.’ Professional Negligence, Legal 500 2018-2019

"Sonia has an excellent way of presenting complex issues so they can be digested by judges, and she's very commercial." "Astonishingly tenacious, and fun to work with."   Chambers UK 2018 - Commercial Dispute Resolution

"Her main strength is that she is fantastic on her feet.  She has a good sense of which points the court is interested in and is very quick to adapt on her feet when necessary." - Chambers UK 2018 - Restructuring/Insolvency

“One of the brightest and best of her generation” The Legal 500 2017 – Commercial Litigation

"Very commercial and a superb advocate, she's particularly gifted at bringing clarity where there's complexity. That's her hallmark."   Chambers UK 2018 - Banking & Finance

"Very able, charming and delightful to work with." "She quickly earns the respect of solicitors and clients alike." - Chambers UK 2018 - Fraud: Civil

“Equally good on her feet as she is in writing” The Legal 500 2017 – Civil Fraud

"Quite simply brilliant at her job, while also being a pleasure to work with." - The Legal 500 2017 - Banking and Finance

"A serious presence in the market and a great strategist." "She is clear, concise and authoritative, as well as very user­ friendly." Chambers UK 2017 - Commercial Dispute Resolution

"She has the ear of the court and can make submissions that go down like sweetmeats." "An incredibly persuasive advocate with an excellent courtroom manner in terms of presenting a reasonable face to the court. She knows what points to concede and what to pursue." Chambers UK 2017 - Banking and Finance

"She is very user friendly, formidably clever and also very engaged." "She quickly earns the respect of solicitors and clients alike." Chambers and Partners 2017 - Civil Fraud

"She's fantastic, absolutely fantastic. It's a pleasure to work with her because she's very personable. She is incredibly easy­ going but it's like steel in a silk glove."  Chambers UK 2016

"She is a force to be reckoned with.Tactically brilliant and very open to discussion. She understands very quickly what you're asking of her and delivers exactly the product you need."    Chambers UK 2016