William McCormick QC

Call date: 1985 (QC 2010)

The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law FirmsWilliam McCormick QC - Ranked in Chambers & Partners UK Bar Directory 2016

Areas of Practice



LLB (Hons) University College Cardiff

Experience & Expertise

William spent the early years of his career in a completely mixed set of chambers before developing an exclusively civil practice. In 2000 he was instrumental in the establishment of Ely Place Chambers and served as Deputy Head until 2011 when he was elected Head of Chambers. He was appointed Queens Counsel in 2010 following a series of substantial defamation and commercial cases and since then has developed his practice in these and other areas. He is recommended in the legal directories for defamation and privacy (“has great legal knowledge and an uncanny ability to identify problems at an early stage”; “incisive and fearless”; “simply excellent with clients”) and company and partnership (“a tenacious and savvy advocate, who is quick to get to grips with the papers”).

He has appeared in the Courts of Appeal of both Trinidad & Tobago and the Dubai International Financial Centre.

He accepts conditional fee and direct access work, up to and including trial, in appropriate cases.

Current & Recent Work

Examples of William’s commercial caseload include

A successful appeal to the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal of the Bahamas in relation to the sale of a fund management business - Cordes v Sentinel [2008] UKPC 60;

Successfully resisting a claim to a share in a multi-million pound business based upon equitable estoppel/constructive trust principles and then a quantum meruit on the same basis - A v B [2008] EWHC 2687 Ch and [2009] EWHC 2859 (Ch);

Successfully resisting a claim for unfair prejudice relief and the setting aside of a share transaction in a 3 week hearing and in the Court of Appeal - Re Mister Dee International [2011] EWHC 1902 (Ch) and [2010] EWCA Civ 1408;

Obtaining an account from a defaulting director who diverted corporate opportunities to a new company bought by her after she had been dismissed for attempting a similar diversion - Killen v Horseworld Ltd [2012] EWHC 363 (QB)

Resisting claims for damages based on breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against the seller of a Dominican company - Energenics & Neuftec v Hazarika [2014] EWHC 1845 (Ch)

Representing a defendant in a case at trial and in the Court of Appeal arguing issues of illegality - Patel v Mirza [2013] EWHC 1892 (Ch) and [2014] EWCA Civ 1047.

Resisting the appeal of developer against judgment for damages based upon the failure to complete a residential project in Dubai – Dattani v Damac DIFC CA Mar 15

Representing Rangers International FC, The Rangers Football Club and its Chairman Dave King in the ongoing dispute with Mike Ashley and Sports Direct PLC. He secured the dismissal as an abuse of process of an application to commit Mr King to prison [2016] EWHC 85 (Ch), the striking out of parts of that substantive claim and the imposition of terms upon Sports Direct PLC when it sought to discontinue the balance on the eve of the trial. He represented TRFC, Mr King and a director of TRFC in the derivative action brought by Sports Direct on behalf of the SDI/TRFC joint venture company concerning the termination by TRFC of its merchandising rights agreemnt: [2017] EWHC 737 (Ch).      

As part of his professional negligence practice William represented the claimant in Court of Appeal in the ground-breaking case of Scullion v BoS (t/a Colleys) [2011] EWCA Civ 693 seeking to establish a duty of care to buy-to-let purchasers. He was retained to lead in the Supreme Court, but the case settled 2 weeks before the hearing.

He has also acted successfully on behalf of claimants seeking damages from banks and solicitors for mis-selling or mishandling of financial and property transactions.

Examples include:

An IT start-up seeking damages for loss of the chance to develop its product because its banker breached the conditions of the loan upon which it was relying.

Individuals and corporatiosn who sustained losses due to negligent advice about the level of risk of certain investments or the ineffectiveness of schemes presented to them as “tax efficient” or who were mis-sold interest rate “swap” products.

A high net worth individual who lost the opportunity to deal in shares following an IPO.

His commercial case-load in Trinidad & Tobago covers cases concerning the development/construction of multi-million pound hotel and villa leisure resorts and commercial disputes between high-profile individuals. One such matter was heard by the Privy Council - Real Time Ltd v Renraw Ltd [2014] UKPC 6.

Defamation & media work includes advising and representing high-profile individuals and corporations as claimants and defendants. As well as having represented Simon Singh in the ground-breaking action brought by the BCA, he has successfully resisted the intended use by Times Newspapers (in its defence of separate libel proceedings) of documents obtained in breach of confidence (MPS & SOCA v TNL & Gillard [2011] EWHC 776, 1566 & 2705);secured the award of £65,000 damages at trial for an individual accused of masterminding the Millbank riots (Cooper v Associated Newspapers & Evening Standard), and succeeded in having libel actions brought against Richard Dawkins struck out as an abuse of process: [2012] EWHC 3 (QB)).

He represented Tesla Inc in its long-running libel action against Top Gear ([2013] EWCA Civ 152); Sally Bercow in the claim brought by Lord McAlpine arising out of her twitter account ([2013] EWHC 1342 (QB)), and Dr Liam Fox in his claim for libel arising out of reports concerning Adam Werrity ([2013] EWHC 1435 (QB)). He defended Tamara Ecclestone’s former partner in the dispute in which each alleged mis-use of private information against the other and Ms Ecclestone sought unsuccessfully to reclaim the Lambourghini Aventador that she had given him as a birthday present.

He successfully represented Mr Miller in Miller v ANL; Flood v TNL; Frost v MGN [2017] UKSC 33 in which the attempt by various newspapers to strike down the recoverability of additional liabilities in publication cases failed.   

William has experience of disputes arising in the context of sporting events. He represented Sports Network Ltd in its dispute with Joe Calzaghe over the sums generated by his world title fights with Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jnr and has represented the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association in relation to claims for payment made by the 2006 World Cup Squad. He has advised individuals and organisations involved in motorsport (including Formula One) on contractual matters and has advised numerous sports persons on reputational matters.

William undertakes serious personal injury matters for both claimants and defendants. In 2012 he secured substantial awards for a teenage girl severely brain damaged after she walked out from behind a parked car outside her school and a boy who suffered serious and permanent burns from electricity arcing to his fishing rod when he trespassed across a railway line. In 2013 he achieved a £1.75m settlement for a man who walked out in front of a bus resulting in serious and permanent brain injury and in 2014 he secured damages for a man who watched his daughter and grandchildren die in a tower-block fire.

Directory Comments

“He really is a complete street fighter, and knows how to handle a jury.”
Chambers and Partners 2014
“energetic and hugely hard-working”
Chambers and Partners 2013
“simply put, extremely talented”
Chambers and Partners 2012
“infectiously enthusiastic”
“an ability to connect with the jury”
“breaks the mould and is a good choice if you need to argue a point in detail”
Chambers and Partners 2011
“has a lovely style – he’s calm, he’s measured, he’s clearly bright and he gets good results for clients.”
Chambers and Partners 2010
“extremely quick-witted”
“Terrier-like in his applications”
“keeps a cool head in tough situations, is exceptionally user-friendly and represents a star in the making”
“bright, enthusiastic and good to deal with”
Chambers and Partners 2009