East Anglia:
01245 280 880
020 7520 6000
Tom Forster QC

Tom Forster QC

Call: 1993     Silk: 2018

T: 0207 520 6000    E: chambers@18rlc.co.uk

Tom is noted as “a superb barrister, always responsive, creative and ready to go the extra mile” in the most recent edition of Legal 500.

He provides specialist representation and advice in high-end serious and complex fraud and associated asset freezing / confiscation proceedings. He currently defends in HMRC’s largest prosecution of alleged multi-million pound tax evasion (Operation Amazon) and acted for the defence in the FCA’s flagship prosecution of insider dealing (Operation Tabernula). He also has a proven track record in advising and acting for the SFO and FCA.

In addition, he advises corporates and individuals upon self-reporting and corruption responsibilities.

He practices in the public law sphere and in particular is instructed as a Special Advocate in the High Court / Administrative Court / SIAC in cases involving issues of national security and human rights. He currently acts as a Special Advocate in a claim for damages where it is alleged individuals were unlawfully detained and subjected to torture.
He also practices in the regulatory field, notably in Environmental Protection and Health and Safety. In 2017 he acted for the Environment Agency in confiscation proceedings securing a multi-million pound Order for the Agency.

As to general crime Tom is instructed in the most serious cases involving homicide, organised crime and terror offences.

Finally, Tom has a wealth of experienced in advising upon and representing clients before regulatory tribunals. He is regularly instructed by the General Medical Council (GMC) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) amongst others.


Complex Fraud

Tom built a reputation as a busy senior Junior instructed in cases of the most serious and complex fraud and related civil, public and regulatory work. He has carried this through into Silk. His clients have included domestic financial services institutions including banks, high net worth individuals and government agencies. His practice areas include asset recovery, bribery and corruption, money laundering, restraint and confiscation and criminal fraud litigation.

Tom has significant experience of cases involving money laundering, both domestically and offshore.

He has advised financial services institutions and banks upon their compliance with AML requirements and led for the Prosecution in cases of serious and complex money laundering with an international dimension. He is experienced in dealing with large scale disclosure exercises. He appears as an advocate in both criminal and civil courts and tribunals.

He is nominated to the SFO’s “A” Panel of Advocates.

Current examples of high-profile work include:

  • R v X (2019) Tom is instructed to represent an MP in proceedings brought as a result of alleged irregularities in claims for expenses under the Parliamentary allowances scheme.
  • R v Anwyl and ors (2016 to date: Operation Amazon) Instructed as defence Junior Counsel, and has now taken over the reins of the lead Silk, in what is HMRC’s largest flag ship prosecution of an alleged cheat on the Revenue – £107m tax at risk – focusing on the operation of a marketed investment scheme whereby limited liability partnerships incurred expenditure in research and development projects resulting in claims for sideways loss relief. The case is particularly notable for its complex digital disclosure problems which resulted in the important leading authority upon the topic of Disclosure and Abuse of Process: R. v. R and ors (Practice Note) [2016] 1 WLR 1872.
  • R v. Khan and ors (2018: Operation Wisp). Instructed as leading Prosecution Counsel in this complex fraud on the UK immigration system whereby insiders were corrupted and used to facilitate a wholesale assault on immigration controls by the use of sham marriages and other tools. The case was notable in that an organised crime group corrupted insiders who owed duties to administer immigration controls.
  • R v Hind and others (2016: Operation Tabernula) Instructed to defend in the FCA’s key prosecution arising out of Operation Tabernula which focused upon insider trading by senior bankers in London based investment banks. [Press Links: The Guardian]
  • R. v. Hale and ors (2016) Led for the prosecution in a multi-handed conspiracy to defraud high net worth individuals of several million pounds and associated money laundering through offshore banking platforms. Instructed by CPS Organised Crime Division.
  • EA. v. X and ors (2015-16) Represented the Environment Agency in restraint proceedings concerning a number of company directors following the contamination of land during construction of a large distribution centre in the Bristol area.

Bribery and Corruption

Tom has significant experience of cases involving bribery and corruption, particularly with an international dimension. He has been instructed by the SFO in this area and has also advised corporate clients upon self-reporting and corruption responsibilities. Recent examples of high profile work include:

  • R v XXX and X Ltd (2013) Led for the prosecution in this case of corruption focusing on bribes paid for support contracts on BP oil rigs and off shore services worldwide.The prosecution alleged that the company’s most senior executives and Chairman were complicit and the case was therefore heavily defended by experienced Silks. [Press Links: The Telegraph]
  • SFO Investigation into BAE Systems (2009-2010) Instructed as Prosecution Junior Counsel in this case which attracted acute media/public interest both nationally and internationally.

Professional Disciplinary & Regulatory
Tom is experienced in regulatory practice: in particular he practices in the fields of Environmental protection and Health and Safety. As Junior Counsel he was appointed to the A-G’s Regulatory Panel and receives instructions from both the Environment Agency (EA) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As a Junior he was regularly instructed to appear at inquests in Coroners’ Courts, mainly for companies following fatalities in the work place or to defend cases brought by the EA (e.g. waste management) or the FSA (e.g. handling and preparing meat and other food stuffs). Recent examples of high profile work include:

  • EA v Melksham Metals Recycling Ltd (2017) Instructed by the EA to conduct confiscation proceedings resulting in a multi-million pound order against the director where the Court was persuaded the veil of incorporation had been torn away.
  • HSE v. Boswells Academy Trust (2016) Prosecuted a large secondary school in relation to systemic failures to control and manage asbestos in school buildings.
  • R v XX Ltd, X and X (2013) Prosecuted section 2 and 3 Health & Safety at Work Act charges against a company and its directors following a fatal accident during a motorsport event when the deceased was killed by way of ligature strangulation.

Tom has an enviable depth of experience before various professional disciplinary/fitness to practice tribunals including (a) Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, (b) Bar Tribunals Adjudication Service and (c) Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Recent instructions from the GMC include health, conduct and clinical cases. He recently presented a case before a FTPP against a cardiologist alleging clinical failings in the conduct of a coronary angiogram.

Other Specialisms
Human Rights

Tom regularly acts on behalf of Claimants/Appellants in national security related civil litigation, and in particular in cases involving control orders, terrorism prevention and investigation measures, national security deportations and exclusions, terrorist asset freezing and claims for damages in connection with alleged unlawful action by Government departments/agencies.

In 2018 he led in a challenge brought by an Afghan national against the Ministry of Defence refusing him protective assistance following Her Majesty’s Forces withdrawal from theatre. He is currently instructed as a Special Advocate for 15 Claimants seeking damages from Her Majesty’s Government in relation to alleged unlawful detention pursuant to either immigration detention pending deportation and/or control orders and/or alleged unlawful interference with the right to liberty following the imposition of UN asset freezing sanctions. [Press Links: The Guardian ]


Legal 500

“A superb barrister, always responsive, creative and ready to go the extra mile.”

“Client’s respect his no-nonsense attitude and keen intellect, and his advice is second to none”

“He is extremely hardworking, unflappable, approachable.”  Legal 500, 2018: Tier 1 Silk in both Business and Regulatory crime, and General Crime

“A fantastic junior who is responsive when it comes to producing meaningful advice, and realistic with clients.” Legal 500, 2017: Tier 1 Junior in Business Crime

“Fantastic advocate and hardworking and tenacious” Legal 500, 2015

Chambers and Partners:

“He is a straight-talking lawyer who makes succinct points logically and clearly” Chambers and Partners 2018

“Tom is extremely bright, hard-working, reliable and great to work with.” Chambers and Partners 2018

“He is a very careful thinker who knows which way to go and is very easy to get on with.” Chambers and Partners 2018

“A barrister on the SFO’s A panel who is lauded for going above and beyond the call of duty to secure great results in financial criminal cases. He acts for both the defence and prosecuting authorities.” “Strengths: Fantastic to work with, he’s realistic and has an exceptional grasp of the key issues in a case.” “He’s hard working, clear in his advice, and his written and oral presentations are beyond reproach.” Chambers and Partners 2017, London (Bar), Financial Crime Band 1

“A defence specialist who has undertaken numerous complex cases of the most serious nature, including matters relating to child prostitution and other serious organised crime.” “Strengths: He is excellent with clients. He’s really clever, hard-working and sensible. He’s realistic about his cases and keeps people calm. Very bright and a good all-rounder.” Chambers & Partners 2017, London (Bar), Crime, Band 2

“A pleasure to work with, with good strategic vision.” Chambers and Partners 2017 London (Bar): Fraud: Crime (including money laundering and asset forfeiture)

“Has exceptional grasp of complex issues.” Chambers and Partners 2017, London (Bar): Business and Regulatory Crime 2017 (including Global Investigations)

“He has a fine tactical brain and good client care skills.” Chambers and Partners 2017, London (Bar): Crime

“Showcasing an impressive breadth of work in the white collar crime and organised crime spheres.” Strengths: “Clever, hardworking and has the ability to see the wider picture and an absolute master of the detail.” Chambers and Partners 2015

“He is thoroughly prepared, vastly experienced, and he just seems to grasp the detail of a case very quickly” Chambers and Partners 2014

Publications, Lectures and Traning

Contributing Editor: Archbold 2019;

Contributing Editor: Fraud: Law, Practice and Procedure: OUP


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Criminal Bar Association

Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers

South Eastern Circuit



Professional Appointments

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2017: CPS Extradition Panel.

2016: CPS Grade 4 Specialist Panels: Fraud, Confiscation/Asset Recovery, Organised Crime.

2013 to date: SFO Panel: A List.

2012: A-G Regulatory Panel: B List.

2012: Recorder of the Crown Court.

2010: A-G Panel of Special Advocates.