Theodor van Sante

Theodor van Sante

Call: 2009

"Very organised and clear in his advice, he's a calm advocate who's always on top of the detail in a case. Courts listen to him."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2023)

"Theo is prompt and very sharp, and has a tremendous ability to get on top of the detail quickly."

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2023)

"Theodor provides clear, highly pragmatic advice and has an excellent manner with clients. His technical knowledge in this area is exceptional."

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2023)

"Theo has an encyclopedic knowledge of the FCA handbook and its application."

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2023)

"Very good re brokers and other Financial Services professionals."

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2023)

Practice Overview

Ranked as a leading junior in the 2023 directories variously across five practice areas, Theodor has a broad commercial litigation practice with particular specialisms in financial services, banking, and insurance matters.

He also has wide experience of judicial review challenges, Court-sanctioned transactions, regulatory compliance advice and enforcement matters, concerning financial services, insurance and proceeds of crime.  In doing so he has acted for regulators, regulated firms and customers.

Theodor has been described as a junior with a powerful brainefficient with his time and commercial in his approach, with a great ability to simplify a complex and multi-faceted set of facts. He is ‘prompt and very sharp, and has a tremendous ability to get on top of the detail quickly’.

He provides ‘clear, highly pragmatic advice’, which is ‘practical and easy to understand’ and ‘organised and clear’.  He  has an excellent manner with clients’, is 'listened to by clients on calls and very responsive to instructing solicitors', and ‘his input helps to steer a client though an area of huge regulatory complexity’.

Theodor is ‘a calm advocate who’s always on top of the detail in a case. Courts listen to him’, organised, well-prepared, passionate, persuasive and assertive’, 'very good at identifying inconsistencies and contradictions in the respondents' case and has impressive powers of forensic analysis' and makes his submissions forcefully and effectively.

He is particularly noted for his financial services, consumer and insurance regulatory experience. His 'technical knowledge in this area is unsurpassed and ‘exceptional’, he is fabulously insightful into how the regulator sees disputes, ‘has an encyclopedic knowledge of the FCA Handbook and its application’, and is 'very good on insurance principles'. This extends to professional negligence disputes for which he is described as ‘very good re brokers and other financial services professionals’.

His experience of working on both sides of the fence – for the regulator and regulated entities – is of great benefit in his cases’.

Theodor has strong experience in banking and finance disputes, including both investment banking disputes as well as retail banking. He is been consistently ranked in Legal 500 since 2020 as a leading junior for his work encompassing consumer and regulatory disputes involving banks and is described as efficient with his time and commercial in his approachanda junior with a powerful brain’.

Theodor has experience of banking and finance litigation at the highest level of complexity, having been instructed in multi-billion pound litigation by RBS in the RBS Rights Issue Litigation and the SFO in PCP Capital Partners LLP v Barclays.

Theodor has also been instructed in finance cases involving fraud, including on the $65 million Commercial Court claim in PGI v Dillard & Ors concerning breaches of warranties given on the acquisition of the Liongate hedge fund business by PGI, arising out of the Bernie Madoff fraud. He was also instructed in NCA v Odewale & NatWest [2020] EWHC 1609 (Admin) concerning recovery of the proceeds of ID thefts from NatWest and for various banks in USA v Abacha [2014] EWHC 993 (Comm).

He also regularly appears for banks in customer banking disputes, including the reported decisions in: GBQ v Mortgage Express [2018] EWHC 2536 (Ch), Fondazione Enasarco v Lehman Brothers Finance SA [2014] EWHC 34 (Ch) and Shah v Royal Bank of Scotland International Limited [2013] EWHC 2431 (QB).

Theodor is author of several chapters on banking law in leading practitioner texts, including on financial advice by banks and securities law and has been instructed to prepare expert reports on English banking law to foreign Courts in Paris and New York.

Theodor also has experience of urgent interim applications in banking matters, including in relation to preservation of security (which in one instance included an entire airfield) and obtaining injunctions in urgent cases.

Theodor has wide experience in financial services cases and advice, having been seconded to the FSA and the FCA and recently instructed on various high-profile pieces of litigation with regulatory issues, including the RBS Rights Issue LitigationPCP Capital Partners LLP v Barclays, and PGI v Dillard & Ors.

Ranked in Legal 500 2022 as a leading junior for financial services work, he has been described as having great ability to simplify a complex and multi-faceted set of facts. Organised, well-prepared, passionate, persuasive and assertive and being fabulously insightful into how the regulator sees disputes.Histechnical knowledge in this area is unsurpassed. His advice is practical and easy to understand. He has a very good client manner.

Theodor is presently instructed on a number of high-value cases as junior Counsel concerning financial services regulation, including a multi-million pound disputes about liabilities for PPI mis-selling in Allianz v JD Williams, litigation in Lee & ors v James Hay & ors arising out of the Berkeley Burke case-law for pension operators and trustees, and several high-value insurance cases. He also has experience acting as sole Counsel, including the sole authority considering the pensions exemption for collective investment schemes in Ian Gray v Investments Ltd [2016] EWHC 724 (Ch).

Theodor has also been regularly instructed to advise on and act in financial services transactions. This includes instructions from the FCA on a number of Part VII transfers under FSMA, including most recently Re Prudential Assurance Company Ltd following the decision in the Court of Appeal, in Re Legal and General Assurance Society [2020] EWHC 756 (Ch) and Re Rothesay Assurance Ltd [2016] EWHC 44 (Ch).  He also has acted on two recent schemes of arrangement in Re Equitable Life Assurance Society [2019] EWHC 3336 (Ch) and Re Royal London Mutual Insurance Society [2018] EWHC 3803 (Ch).

Present instructions including a number of further such transactional cases involving Part VII transfers and/or schemes of arrangement, both for the regulators and firms.

Theodor also has a wide-ranging advisory and enforcement practice, providing advice on compliance across the span of regulation.  This has included:

  • advising a challenger firm on the entirety of its authorisation process and approval of relevant senior managers to the PRA and FCA;
  • advising individuals on enforcement proceedings concerning breach of requirements applying to approved persons concerning acceptance of inducements;
  • advising on authorisations, permissions, variations of permission, waivers and modifications, establishment of UK branches and passporting, and change of control approvals, by various established firms and their groups;
  • advising on potential schemes of arrangement concerning regulatory liabilities;
  • advising a new investment platform on regulatory compliance concerning the issuance of tokenised securities;
  • advising on the implementation of redress schemes intended to be imposed on or agreed with a number of types of firms;
  • advising a publicly listed company on the pursuit of market abuse in its shares;
  • advising a major property fund on regulatory compliance for selling the fund in the UK and European markets;
  • advising a major fund on compliance with regulatory requirements in relation to its remuneration policies;
  • advising firms on regulatory compliance with a number of aspects of fund regulation, including AIFMD, the structuring of various types of collective investment scheme, including UCIS, ACS, AUT and OEIC entities;
  • advising a major international bank on derivative trade clearing requirements and the application of EMIR;
  • advising on the regulatory implications of the structuring of various regulated businesses, including moving the headquarters to other jurisdictions and the design of compliant international sales channels;
  • advising on unfair terms in the context of regulated firms;
  • advising numerous different lenders, ranging from small businesses, to schools, to family partnerships, through to major banks, on compliance with consumer credit and FCA lending-regulation.

This advisory experience extends to considering applications for judicial review in relation to decisions of ombudsmen and regulators, having been instructed by the FSA in relation to the most high-profile judicial review case in recent times, the PPI judicial review: R (British Bankers’ Association) v FSA & FOS [2011] EWHC 999 (Admin).

Theodor has a strong practice spanning both traditional insurance litigation as well as advice, litigation and transactional work arising from insurance regulation. Ranked as a leading junior in Legal 500 2022 for insurance work, he has described as admirably prepared and made his submissions forcefully and effectivelyand very good on insurance principles‘.

Present and recent instructions include a dispute concerning coverage under two professional liability policies; an arbitration concerning liabilities of over £100m under a policy of political risk insurance; a Commercial Court dispute in Allianz v JD Williams concerning insurance mis-selling liabilities of over £50m; an arbitration dispute concerning liabilities of over £60m for insurance mis-selling; the AXA v Genworth litigation; and advising a major insurer on regulatory liability. Other examples of insurance regulatory work are set out in Financial Services section.

Recently, Theodor has been instructed by on a number of Part VII insurance-business transfers under FSMA, including most recently the on Re Legal and General Assurance Society [2020] EWHC 756 (Ch) and Re Rothesay Assurance Ltd [2016] EWHC 44 (Ch). He also has experience acting on other transactions involving insurers, including schemes of arrangement, including in Re Equitable Life Assurance Society [2019] EWHC 3336 (Ch), and Re Royal London Mutual Insurance Society [2018] EWHC 3803 (Ch), a scheme of arrangement concerning the compromise of guaranteed annuity returns.

Present instructions including a number of further such transactional cases involving Part VII transfers and/or schemes of arrangement, both for the regulators and firms. Past involvement includes transfers involving: Fuji, AIG, Chevanstell, Marine & General Mutual, Nipponkoa, Rothesay, Steamship Mutual, Cash4Health, Starr, Baloise, Royal London, Equitable, Swiss Re, Utmost, Monument Life and ReAssure.

Theodor has a wide practice encompassing professional negligence of many forms, principally focusing on negligence by financial professionals, lawyers, accountants and valuers.  Ranked as a leading junior in Legal 500 since 2021 for professional negligence, in particular with reference to negligence by financial professionals and disputes arising within the context of finance and financial services, he is described as fabulously insightful into how the regulator sees disputes.

Present and recent instructions encompassing allegations of negligence against professionals include:

  • Commercial Court litigation in Allianz v JD Williams concerning allegations of professional negligence concerning the handling of insurance complaints;
  • Lee v James Hay & Ors concerning duties of care owed by pension operators and trustees in relation to investments held in a SIPP;
  • an arbitration concerning allegations of professional negligence concerning the selling of insurance;
  • Ian Gray & Associates v Investments Ltd [2016] EWHC 724 (Ch) concerning a dispute about negligent advice on regulatory compliance;
  • Deutsche Pfandbriefbank v BNP Paribas REA in litigation concerning valuations of commercial property in ‘Little Britain’ in the City of London and securitisation of the acquisition;
  • PGI v Dillard & Ors concerning breaches of warranties concerning standards of professional conduct in the operation of a hedge fund;
  • LRC Holdings Ltd v BNP Paribas REA in litigation concerning valuations of commercial property concerning the Royal Mint site in the City of London and securitisation of the acquisition;
  • Raymond Bieber & Ors v Teathers Limited [2012] EWHC 190 (Ch) in litigation concerning the professional operation of film finance partnerships.

Theodor also maintains a practice in advising on negligence or other breach of duty in the context of insolvency actions by professionals engaged in insolvency, including office-holders, administrators, liquidators and solicitors and valuers, including concerning the entering into of settlement agreements and disposals of property.  He was also instructed in Chancery Division litigation in 1st Land (in liquidation) v Grossman & Ors for the liquidators of 1st Land concerning the failed development of Sixfields Stadium for Northampton Town Football Club.

  • Theodor has a working knowledge of French and basic Dutch.

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