Photo of Sonia Nolten

Sonia Nolten

Call 2002

sjn@2tg.co.uk

+44 (0)20 7822 1200

"Approachable, practical and commercial"

Chambers Uk 2017

"...exceedingly clever and down to earth with it."

Chambers UK 2017

"...good at cutting to the key issues."

Chambers UK 2017

"Someone to have on your side when facing a difficult judge."

Legal 500 2017

"Highly intelligent and commercially very astute, she is fabulous at papers and an excellent advocate."

Legal 500 2017

Practice Overview

A “ferocious cross-examiner” who “impresses with her attention to detail…her commerciality [and] her first-class knowledge of the law”, Sonia is a tough and experienced commercial practitioner specialising in insurance and reinsurance, professional negligence, property damage and commercial fraud.

Sonia has been involved in a succession of high-profile cases, including appearing in the Supreme Court in the Employers’ Liability Trigger Litigation.

She is recommended in the legal directories as a leading junior in insurance and reinsurance, professional negligence and property damage.

Insurance & Reinsurance

Sonia has very significant experience in insurance and reinsurance. She is listed in Chambers UK as a leading junior in this area, where she is praised as an advocate who “provides good technical analysis of the issues, and is very thorough.”

She represented MMI from first instance all the way through to the Supreme Court in the EL Trigger Litigation [2012] UKSC 14. This £150m+ litigation was the subject of extensive national media interest, and was twice named by The Lawyer as a “Top Ten Case”. It concerned the liability of EL insurers to pay for asbestos-related disease arising out of exposure many years previously, and provided an important clarification of the law on contractual construction, including the admissible factual matrix, how the commercial purpose of a contract is to be ascertained, and the parameters of custom and practice.

Sonia also appeared in the leading case on policy triggers in public liability insurance, Bolton Metropolitan MBC v Municipal Mutual Insurance Ltd [2006] 1 WLR 1492. Recent reported cases include Smyth v St Andrews [2012] EWHC 2511 (QB) (arson, fraudulent devices) and Bate v Aviva [2013] EWHC 1687 Comm (fire, non-disclosure, FSMA).

Sonia is regularly instructed in disputes arising out of a wide range of covers (eg professional indemnity, business interruption, public liability, EL, litigation protection, property, motor). She deals with construction and coverage disputes, subrogation issues, non-disclosure, brokers’ negligence, and fraudulent claims.

She is particularly sought after for her expertise in life and health insurance (see further below).

Life & Health Insurance

Sonia’s work on life and health insurance forms an important part of her insurance practice, with Chambers UK noting that she “is a junior of choice for many major insurers” in this highly specialised niche market. She is regularly instructed on large value and complex claims, often against leading counsel.

In addition to relatively straightforward permanent health cases where the extent of disability is disputed, Sonia has substantial experience of the more factually and legally complex disputes which arise under this class of insurance. She regularly advises on group insurance policies, privity of contract between insurer and employee, and limitation (an issue of particular complexity given that the obligation is usually to pay monthly).

On the life/critical illness side, she has dealt with fraudulent claims, suicides (including inquests), disputes between insolvent policyholders and their trustees in bankruptcy, policies written under trust and cases raising issues of joint/composite insurance.

Sonia has fought three such cases to trial in 2013 including a £1.7 million permanent health claim, a £0.75 million critical illness claim raising complex medical issues, and a claim where fraud was alleged against the policyholder.

Property Damage

Sonia is recommended by Chambers UK as a leading junior in Property Damage. Commentators note “her expertise in TCC claims relating to floods, fires and explosions”, remarking that “She impresses with her attention to detail and her commerciality… She is meticulous and has a first-class knowledge of the law. She is extremely good in court and a ferocious cross-examiner.”

Over the years Sonia has been instructed in numerous high-value claims arising from floods, fires, explosions, defective design, product liability and subsidence. She brings to bear substantial expertise in dealing with the expert forensic evidence required for such actions, in part derived from her experience of dealing with fraudulent damage claims on the insurance side.

Sonia’s multi-disciplinary commercial practice means that she is frequently instructed in damage claims involving policy coverage points (relating in particular to CAR insurance) and/or complaints about the conduct of professionals.

Professional Negligence

Sonia has for many years been highly recommended by the Legal 500 for her work in this area, with commentators describing her as a standout junior”, and as a responsive, clear-thinking advocate who is “extremely hardworking”.

She has acted in many professional negligence actions requiring her insurance/banking expertise. She is most frequently instructed where there is an underlying chancery/commercial flavour, where allegations of fraud have been made or when professional indemnity cover is disputed. In the recent economic downturn she has acted in numerous valuer claims, testing the boundaries of contributory negligence by lenders (prime and otherwise), and advising on the complex issues which arise when fraudulent conveyancing is suspected, or the loan in question has been assigned and/or securitised.

She has represented both lawyers and their clients in many contexts, particularly where fraud or coverage issues are in play.

Commercial Dispute Resolution & Commercial Fraud

Sonia has a lively commercial litigation practice. Most recently she has appeared in the Supreme Court in BAI (Run off) Limited (In Scheme of Arrangement) v Durham (and 5 other actions)[2012] UKSC 14, which provided an important clarification of the law on the construction of contracts, concerning the scope of the admissible factual matrix, the determination of the commercial purpose of a contract and the parameters of custom and practice.

She has been instructed in numerous other commercial disputes raising issues including: restitution, the construction and validity of penalty, liquidated damage and insolvency clauses, guarantees, undue influence and capacity to contract, directors’ duties, duties of administrators and receivers, CMR conditions of carriage, rectification and misrepresentation.

Sonia is frequently instructed in actions raising allegations of fraud in a commercial context, including claims in deceit, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of trust, knowing receipt, dishonest assistance, conspiracy, conversion and receipt of bribes.

Sonia has acted for and against banks in a range of banking and financial services claims including: fairness of standard terms, breach of mandate, bills of exchange, and the obligations imposed by FSMA and POCA. In Titan Steel Wheels v Royal Bank of Scotland [2010] EWHC 211 (Comm) she was instructed in connection with Titan’s appeal against the judgment of David Steel J in a case concerning the fairness of the bank’s standard terms and conditions excluding liability for advice given on a complicated currency swap contract.

Banking & Finance

Sonia has acted for and against banks in a range of banking and financial services claims including: fairness of standard terms, breach of mandate, bills of exchange, and the obligations imposed by FSMA and POCA. In Titan Steel Wheels v Royal Bank of Scotland [2010] EWHC 211 (Comm) she was instructed in connection with Titan’s appeal against the judgment of David Steel J in a case concerning the fairness of the bank’s standard terms and conditions excluding liability for advice given on a complicated currency swap contract.

Many B&F claims involve commercial fraud, and as a result Sonia is familiar with claims in respect of deceit, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of trust, knowing receipt, dishonest assistance, conspiracy, conversion and receipt of bribes.