Peter is an advocate and adviser with wide experience, who now specialises in contract litigation, particularly concerning complex commercial or high technology areas, including information technology, data protection, construction and engineering, the regulation of business and of professionals, and other disputes involving foreign and domestic parties, more than one area of law (he also has a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, and at one time worked as a corporate lawyer in New York City), complicated issues or facts, or other difficulties.

Recent comments in the legal directories include:

“Esteemed silk with a particular specialisation in disputes arising from alleged software defects. He is highly regarded for his work for private developers, customers and major government bodies. Data protection work forms an increasingly large aspect of his practice”, “A very heavy hitter”, “A barrister with a first-class intellect who is great for difficult cases.” (Chambers UK, 2018)

First rate” (Legal 500, 2016)

very experienced and very easy to deal with” (Chambers UK, 2016)

He’s forceful in putting forward his client’s interests, and also has the commercial judgement to find a sensible, agreed way forward in a case” (Chambers UK, 2015)

“very thorough” (Legal 500, 2015)

“is highly rated by commentators as a barrister who brings ‘innovation and creativity’ to his cases” (Chambers UK, 2013)


Peter has extensive experience of advising and acting for businesses, insurers, and individuals in commercial litigation in both the Queen’s Bench and Chancery Divisions of the High Court, including interim and final remedies for breach of contract; the interpretation and drafting of commercial contracts, and insurance, company law, employment, and other issues arising in relation to commercial transactions and disputes.

  • Your Response Ltd v Datateam Business Media Ltd [2015] QB 41 (CA): succeeding in argument that a company managing a database of subscribers for a publisher was not entitled to exercise a possessory lien over the contents of the database in the absence of any contractual right to do so – the Court agreed that there is no common law lien over intangibles
  • Re C Ltd (2015): advising whether the sale of shares in a company providing medical services within the NHS, for a price including the value of goodwill, is prohibited by the statutory ban on selling the goodwill of an NHS medical practice
  • Re B Ltd (2016): advising an aviation fuel broker on the prospects of success in seeking rectification of a trading agreement
  • Re Z Ltd (2014): advising a company on its options after it discovered fraud by a senior employee
  • Elvanite Full Circle Ltd v AMEC Earth & Environmental (UK) Ltd [2013] 4 AER 765 (TCC): succeeding in argument that opponent was not entitled after judgment to double the amount specified in the applicable Costs Management Order
  • Proctor & Gamble v Ghost Brand Ltd (2011 Ch): acting on behalf of a defendant seeking to uphold its contractual right to use certain trademarks assigned to it by the administrators of a now defunct company
  • Faraday Underwriting Ltd v Reliance Scrap Metal Merchants (Parkstone) Ltd (2010 QB): acting for insurers who had paid the legal costs of defending criminal proceedings against the insured following death of a worker in an explosion at a scrap yard, to gain repayment from the insured upon learning that the defence had been dishonestly concocted

Information Technology and Data Protection

Peter appeared in his first contested IT case in 1984 (defending a software house against a claim in the QB for damages brought by its motor dealer customer), and for very many years has specialised in and been recommended in the directories for litigation over alleged defects in bespoke and customised software. He advises and represents central and local government, other UK or overseas users, or software houses, in disputes relating to the supply of computer software and related intellectual property and other issues, in the UK and Hong Kong. He innovated the use of the form of order known in some quarters as a ‘Susman Order’, which avoids some of the expense and difficulty of a search and seizure order by requiring the defendant to lodge with its own solicitor mirror images of all its computer software pending an application for disclosure of this material to the claimant’s expert.

He has been ranked in the Legal Directories as a ‘Leading Silk in IT’, and has been shortlisted for IT Silk of the Year for the Chambers UK Bar Awards.

From 2006 to 2010 he chaired the Bar’s IT Panel, which gives advice to the Bar on IT matters and represents the Bar in liaising with government and other professions on IT matters. He has lectured and written on IT and the law (e.g. ‘What tends to go wrong in IT contracts’). He is a member of the Society for Computers and Law.

Representative Cases

  • Re D (2017) : drafting on behalf of a charity proposed  amendment to the Data Protection Bill 2017
  • Re The V Organisation (2017): advising on data protection in relation to its computerised database of members, the new EU General Regulation, and the expected effect of Brexit
  • LFF v Persons Unknown (TCC 2015): seeking orders for disclosure of computer systems overseas with the aim of discovering the identity of malicious hackers
  • Re D Inc (2015): advising a software house whether it was entitled to a further licence fee from a client required by its regulator to set up an offsite disaster recovery resource
  • Fairstar Heavy Transport NV v Adkins (2014) Bus LR D2, [2013] EWCA Civ 886: succeeding in argument that a company was entitled to disclosure from its previous CEO of the content of electronic communications sent or received by the CEO on behalf of the company
  • Verizon UK Ltd v UT&T Ltd (2013 QB): acting for reseller of SKYPE services which alleged overcharging over a period of years by the provider of internet services
  • Z Ltd v Republic of Y (2012 arbitration): acting in an arbitration in the Republic of Y for a software house claiming against the Government of the Republic £6 million additional payment for out of scope functionality added to a successful IT project
  • F v D (2011): advising a government department on its possible remedies where the software house has failed to deliver on time under a multi-billion pound contract
  • TH Baker & Co Ltd v SDK Jewellers Ltd (2011 TCC) acting for Internet seller of jewellery and watches in obtaining an interim injunction against a rival who in extracting (“scraping”) the client’s price data from its Website in order to undercut those prices was alleged to be causing the client’s Website to crash and the client to lose sales accordingly
  • SAM Business Systems Ltd v Hedley & Co [2002] EWHC 2733 (TCC): acting for software house resisting counterclaim for defective transaction settlement software supplied to firm of stockbrokers – scope of exemption clause
  • Psychometric Services Ltd v Merant International Ltd [2002] FSR 147 (Ch): acting for software house resisting providing source code for website software in advance of payment
  • Anglo Group Plc v Winther Browne & Co Ltd (2000) 72 Con LR 118 (TCC): acting for the supplier of distribution software sued by a user for scores of alleged defects in standard software – the Court redefined the duties of an expert in an IT case
  • The Boots Company Plc -v- Amdahl (UK) Ltd [2000] All ER (D) 1669, [2000] EWCA 277 (CA) acting for a national retailer suing a supplier for breach of a promise made in the course of tendering for the updating of an electronic point-of-sale system to buy back the system at a discount at the end of the year

Finance and Consumer Credit

Peter has been active in consumer credit law since the 1970s, when he conducted a series of conferences to inform and warn lending institutions and others on the implications of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 as it was about to come into force.

A few years later he was engaged to draft documentation for second mortgage lenders, and has since extensively advised upon and has been engaged in drafting documentation to meet the changing requirements of the secondary legislation in this field. His article attacking the poor drafting of one round of secondary legislation, entitled “Another Fine Mess” appeared in [2005] NLJ 770 (20 May 2005).

He now advises and acts for institutions whose business is lending, other institutions who arrange or extend credit, and business and individuals to whom credit has been extended, in relation to failures to comply with legislative requirements, and related and other problems.  In particular, he has appeared in a number of county court cases on behalf of a credit hire company, particularly in the important case of Orley v Viewpoint Housing Association (below).

He has been ranked in the Legal Directories as a “Leading Silk in Consumer Credit.”

Representative Cases

  • C v C Bank Plc (2015): advising a company on its prospective claim for losses of up to £3 million suffered as a result of the mis-selling by a bank of an interest-rate swap
  • Re U Ltd (2014): advising whether a financial services product presents regulatory problems where the finance company requires remote access to the details of the customer’s account for the purpose of advancing and recouping loans
  • M v J Ltd (2014):  advising corporate lender on the individual borrower’s contention that repayment of a multi-million pound loan advanced for a residential redevelopment is precluded by failure to comply with the statutory requirements for regulated credit agreements.
  • Re D Pty Ltd (2013): advising an overseas company intending to trade in carbon credits on the risk under English law of its business model being viewed as involving a fraudulent Ponzi scheme, unlawful pyramid selling, unlawful dealing in securities, or unlawful consumer credit transactions
  • Britannia Car Hire Services Ltd v State Securities Plc (2010 Ch): seeking relief against forfeiture on behalf of an insolvent car hire company whose stock of cars for hire was held on a series of lease-purchase agreement.
  • Orley v Viewpoint Housing Association (2010 Gateshead County Court): successfully arguing that a credit hire transaction could be the subject of recoverable damages following a road accident, because a separate contract and notice of right to cancel did not breach the Contract Cancellation Regulations 2008

Public Procurement

Peter has both lectured and advised on public procurement law, and has advised, for example, on relation to a tender competition between 5-a-side football promoters each seeking the right to use an education authority’s school pitches. Other examples are set out below.

Representative Cases

  • Re R Local Authority (2015): advising the local authority whether the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, reg 72, permits extension of the operative period of its outsourcing agreement without the need for a fresh public procurement tendering exercise
  • Lift and Engineering Services Ltd v S Ltd (2011 TCC): acting for the incumbent lift company when its rival was about to be awarded a local authority contract to maintain the lifts in blocks of flats, after apparently concealing previous involvement with failed enterprises and when the tender documents failed to warn of the TUPE implications of a successful bid
  • Re E (2011): advising a charity which contracted with a local authority to care for drug addicts, but was replaced by another body following a public procurement tendering exercise


Peter has long and extensive experience in property disputes, particularly those involving the use of freehold or leasehold land in a commercial context.

Representative Cases

  • Re I Ltd v W Ltd (2015): advising residential developer on the implications of the discovery on other land nearby of an unexploded naval shell and empty steel cases
  • Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime v Cassidy (2014 Ch): acting for the Metropolitan Police Football Club in seeking to establish in court proceedings its right to continue its over 100 year use of its Imber Court ground
  • B Ltd v J Trustees (2014): advising a commercial tenant whether a contractual right to erect a partition without the landlord’s consent covered an extension to an existing mezzanine floor
  • Odedra v Ball (2013 TCC): acting for householders in suing their neighbours for damages for depreciation in the value of the householders’ property following an extensive leak of heating oil from neighbours’ land, when all of the considerable physical damage had been remedied by the neighbours’ insurers
  • Re N Farm (2012): advising a prospective residential developer whether the sight lines required by the planning authority could be assured by way of a prescriptive easement

Professional Negligence

Peter advises and acts (usually but by no means exclusively on behalf of the claimants) in professional negligence claims, including those against accountants, architects, solicitors, surgeons and surveyors.  He is described as having a “thorough knowledgebase” (Chambers UK, 2015)

Representative Cases

  • N v. M LLP (2014): advising a property developer, gazumped over purchase of a development site, on its prospects of success in suing its solicitors for professional negligence in failing to exchange contracts promptly and before it was gazumped
  • X LLP v. D Ltd (2014): advising the vendor of an industrial site whether its solicitors were professionally negligent in answering enquiries before contract to the effect that the land was not polluted, rather than to the effect that it was believed not to be polluted but that the purchaser must rely on its own enquiries
  • Elvanite Full Circle Ltd v. AMEC Earth & Environmental (UK) Ltd (2013) 148 Con LR 127, [2013] EWHC 1191 (TCC): acting for a claimant suing its planning consultant for negligent failure to progress its application for planning permission for an industrial redevelopment
  • Trustees of the B Settlement v H Plc (2011 Ch): advising Trustees in relation to a proposed action against investment advisors for negligence in cashing in investments in a particular way, without regard to the loss of the tax advantages of doing it as those investment advisors had originally advised

Professional Discipline and Regulation

Peter advises and represents both professionals faced with disciplinary or regulatory proceedings, and professional bodies faced with regulatory issues.

From 2006 to 2015 he was Vice-Chairman of the Appeal Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales, in which capacity he chaired panels hearing appeals from that body’s Disciplinary Committee. He is a former member of the Bar Council’s Professional Conduct Committee.

Representative Cases

  • ACCA v X (2015 appeal tribunal): acting for an accountant on his appeal against a disciplinary tribunal finding on the ground that the tribunal wrongly applied the test for dishonesty
  • Baxendale-Walker v Middleton [2011] All ER (D) 242 (Apr), [2011] EWHC 998 (QB): acting for struck off solicitor in seeking to resist the striking out of his claims against The Law Society and a firm of accountants for conspiracy and against the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal for misfeasance in public office
  • LSC v Loomba [2012] 2 AER 977 (Admin): acting for solicitors sued to recoup old legal aid payments on account

Broadcasting and Telecommunications

Peter was standing counsel to Ofcom in its start-up period from 2003 to 2005, and has knowledge and insight in the area of broadcasting, telecommunications, and related reputational issues.

Representative Cases

  • Re X Ltd (2011): advising the owner of a television channel on the scope and implications of the statutory requirement that a licence holder be a ‘fit and proper person’
  • Re T (2007): acting for a religious group that claimed that its character and activities had been seriously misrepresented in a television documentary
  • Re I Management Ltd v U Plc (2006): acting for a building owner in its claim that on the proper interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Electronic Communications Code, it was entitled to require a telecommunications company to remove its mobile phone mast from the roof of the building

Construction and Engineering

As well as sitting as a Recorder in the Technology and Construction Court to hear construction and engineering disputes (for example, Tunnel Refineries Ltd v Bryan Donkin Co Ltd and Alsthom SA (1998) CILL 1392), Peter has over 35 years’ experience of advising and acting in court and arbitrations for and against builders, engineers, their employers, and the architects, quantity surveyors and other professionals they engage, including advising a number of hoteliers on allegedly defective newly built swimming pools and extensions, and more recently acting for employers suing builders and architects over faults in a newly built large house in North Yorkshire, and acting for an American in a dispute over the multi-million pound restoration she commissioned of a 17th century house in Mayfair. Peter is often asked to advise on problems arising in the course of building or engineering work that are outside the usual allegations of defects and delay.

Representative Cases

  • O Ltd v Housing and Communities Agency (2015): advising redeveloper what expenditure could be properly offset against the Agency’s claim to clawback part of a redevelopment grant
  • Re B Ltd (2014): advising a company on terms of proposed contracts to provide heating systems using renewable sources of energy that will entitle the other party to Government grants
  • E Ltd v B Ltd (2013): advising a company that had expended considerable resources in the hope and expectation of participating profitably with another company in a successful tender to a government department for the supply of metering technology, on the prospects of recovering compensation when ultimately excluded from participation
  • Y Ltd v R Ltd (2010): advising an architect, when the developer by whom he had been engaged required warranties on the quality of his work beyond what he was already obliged to give, how to persuade his professional indemnity insurers to extend cover accordingly

Arbitration, Mediation and Early Neutral Evaluation

Peter is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is experienced as an arbitrator, mediator and early neutral evaluator. Between 1987 and 2016 he sat as a Recorder (deputy judge) in the specialist jurisdiction of the Technology and Construction Court (a division of the High Court in London), and in civil and criminal cases. Between 2006 and 2015 he sat as vice-Chairman of the Appeal Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (chairing panels which hear appeals from the Institute’s Disciplinary Committee). His role in ADR is informed by his private practice expertise in commercial, IT and other high tech areas, and professional regulation.



More about Peter Susman QC

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