Mr J Christopher Thomas, QC
Head, International Dispute Resolution (Practice Skills)
Mr Thomas has acted as counsel or legal advisor in GATT, Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, WTO, and NAFTA disputes, having acted both for private industry interested in the outcome of a particular dispute, and directly for governments (both as complainants and as respondents). He has acted as a Canada-US Free Trade Agreement panelist, a GATT panelist, and argued the first State-to-State dispute to arise under the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement. He has appeared in proceedings before NAFTA and WTO Panels and the WTO Appellate Body.
Mr Thomas has appeared as counsel in fourteen investor-State disputes, four judicial review applications involving investor-State arbitration awards, and has acted as an arbitrator or is currently acting as an arbitrator in many investment treaty claims. He has also acted as an arbitrator, including as presiding arbitrator, in various other arbitral fora, ranging from LCIA commercial arbitration to dispute settlement proceedings under Canada’s Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).
In respect of the negotiation and drafting of international treaties, Mr Thomas has advised a number of States on such negotiations (including the Canada-US free trade negotiations, the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, the NAFTA negotiations, and other treaty negotiations).
After graduating from law school, he clerked at the British Columbia Court of Appeal and articled at Ladner Downs, Barristers and Solicitors. Thereafter, he taught at two Canadian law schools (the University of Ottawa (1984-86) and the University of British Columbia (1987-1989)), and worked for the Government of Canada (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade) as Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister for International Trade during the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement negotiations (1986-87). He then rejoined Ladner Downs, becoming a partner, until he formed Thomas & Associates (later Thomas & Partners) in 1993. In June 2008, the partners and associates of Thomas & Partners became partners and associates of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) and while carrying on his practice separately from that firm, Mr Thomas agreed to act as a consultant to BLG until 31 December 2012.
He has lectured in academic and professional contexts in Canada (the Vancouver Institute, the Canadian Council on International Law, the Canadian Bar Association and at various universities) and abroad (meetings of the American Society of International Law and various continuing legal education and skills development seminars at US universities, the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law Research, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies Conferences at Queen’s College, Cambridge, the Keidan-ran, the Singapore International Arbitration Forum, and at various International Bar Association conferences). He has also lectured at the National University of Singapore.
BA, University of British Columbia, 1977
MA, Sussex University, 1978
LLB, University of British Columbia, 1981
LLM, Columbia University, 1984