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Tom Forster QC

Tom Forster QC

Call: 1993     Silk: 2018

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

Tom Forster QC is commended as “a really intelligent and diligent silk who gains the trust of judges with his thoroughness and commitment to a case. He is an excellent choice for the weightier matter, as he can lead a team and drive a case forward.” in the internationally recognised legal directory Chambers and Partners UK [2021 edition]. He achieved the rank of Silk in 2018 and is a contributing editor to Archbold and sits as a Recorder.

Tom specialises in the fields of financial and serious organised crime, human rights, public law and regulatory law.  He brings his invaluable career experience of acting for all sides  –  claimants, defendants and prosecuting authorities – to the following practice areas:

  • Financial crime: regularly instructed across a wide range of business crime cases including complex tax evasion, corruption [DPA Agreements], insider dealing, cartels and money laundering including professionals’ obligations under AML Regulations. Expert in the field of the recovery of the proceeds of crime with a particular emphasis on restraint and civil recovery. Clients include companies, banks, senior executives, traders, bankers, solicitors, regulators and prosecutors.
  • Serious crime: expert in serious organised crime investigated by the SFO, NCA, FCA, and HMRC with an extensive track record in homicide cases including corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter.
  • Regulatory law: as a panellist on the A-G’s Regulatory List developed an excellent track record in fatality cases arising in the sphere of health and safety at work prosecutions. Also renowned for his work in the sphere of environmental protection including civil enforcement measures.
  • Human rights and public law: considerable experience conducting judicial review challenges in the criminal justice sphere, in addition to extensive practice as an A-G Panel appointed Special Advocate in civil cases involving issues of national security.
  • Professional Discipline: excellent track record 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 law 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/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.

Recent examples of high profile work include:

  • G. v. SFO and ors (2020) Tom successfully represented the SFO in this judicial review challenge to investigatory measures taken during its current probe into the 2019 collapse of London Capital and Finance Ltd. [PRESS REPORTS[BBC]]
  • R v Davies (2019) Tom was instructed to defend in this high profile prosecution of an MP brought as a result of irregularities in claims for expenses under the Parliamentary allowances scheme. [PRESS REPORTS[BBC]]
  • R v Anwyl and ors (2016 to date: Operation Amazon) Instructed as defence Junior Counsel, but took over the reins as the lead Silk, in what was 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 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 REOPORTS [The Guardian]]

Bribery and Corruption

Tom has significant experience of cases involving bribery and corruption, particularly with an international dimension. His first notable instruction in this field was by the SFO as Junior Counsel in its investigation into BAE Systems which attracted acute media/public interest both nationally and internationally. This acted as a springboard to further instructions to defend in such cases. He also advises corporate clients upon self-reporting and corruption responsibilities.

Regulatory Law

As Junior Counsel Tom was appointed to the A-G’s Regulatory List Panel and was regularly instructed by both the Environment Agency (EA) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the prosecution of the most serious environmental protection and health and safety offences. He has regularly appeared at inquests in Coroners’ Courts, mainly for companies following fatalities in the work place and defended cases brought by the EA (e.g. prosecutions of large waste management companies) and the FSA (e.g. handling and preparing meat and other food stuffs). He has defended civil enforcement measures in both fields.

He also acts for and advises individuals and public authorities [eg. UKAD] in the field of anti-doping in sport. His work in this area has continued into Silk.

Tom possesses an enviable depth of experience before various professional disciplinary/fitness to practice tribunals including the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service and Bar Tribunals Adjudication Service. He recently presented the high-profile case brought by the BSB against the Lord Advocate for Scotland. [PRESS REPORTS[BBC]]

Other Specialisms
Human Rights

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

Recent examples of high-profile work include:

  • G. v. SFO and ors (2020) Tom successfully represented the SFO in this judicial review challenge to investigatory measures taken during its current probe into the 2019 collapse of London Capital and Finance Ltd.
  • Kamoka litigation (2019) – Tom was instructed as a Special Advocate for 15 Claimants seeking damages from Her Majesty’s Government in relation to alleged unlawful detention pending deportation and/or the imposition of control orders and/or alleged unlawful interference with the right to liberty following the imposition of UN asset freezing sanctions. [PRESS REPORTS [The Guardian]
  • KAB v. MOD (2018) – Tom was the lead Special Advocate in this JR challenge brought by an Afghan national to the Ministry of Defence’s decision refusing him protective assistance following Her Majesty’s Forces withdrawal from the theatre of operations in Afghanistan.

Publications, Lectures and Traning

Contributing Editor: Archbold 2020;

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


Chambers and Partners UK [2021]:

“A really intelligent and diligent silk who gains the trust of judges with his thoroughness and commitment to a case. He is an excellent choice for the weightier matter, as he can lead a team and drive a case forward.”

“Diligent, thorough and stylish,” he is “a tough prosecutor.”

“He is very thorough, really easy to get on with and gives sound advice.”

“He is very good on strategy and has good judgement.”

“Has a nice jury manner and judges like him – he is trusted and has the judges ear.”

Chambers and Partners UK [2020]:

“A superb lawyer and a very good advocate. He has quite an acerbic sense of humour but there’s always a twinkle in his eye and juries like him.”

“Extremely good with clients, very well prepared and someone whose legal knowledge is very impressive.”

“Absolutely honed as an advocate and incredibly relaxed in his whole demeanour”.

“A barrister 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, and has experience of defending insider dealing cases brought by the FCA and tax fraud matters brought by HMRC. Mr Forster is also adept at related confiscation proceedings. He is noted for his effective advocacy and his high levels of client-care.”

Chambers and Partners UK [2019]:

“Tom is extremely bright, hard-working, reliable and great to work with. He is a very careful thinker who knows which way to go.”

Legal 500 [2021]:

“A driven and committed advocate, who thrives in the pressure of big cases. He is extremely hard working and his case management is second to none.”

“Incredibly easy-going, with a charming manner that belies a highly academic and tenacious mind.”

Legal 500 [2020]:

“He has a first-rate brain and a quiet, authoritative manner. Academic yet practical, and extremely straightforward to deal with.”

Legal 500 [2019]:

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

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

“He is extremely hardworking, unflappable, approachable.”


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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.


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Leading Silk in the Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar directories (see Recommendations)