Practice

James has a broad commercial and company based practice. His work encompasses advice, drafting and representation for domestic and international clients across 4 Stone Buildings’ core practice areas, with a particular emphasis on shareholders’ disputes and civil fraud. Equally at home acting as sole counsel or being led, James regularly appears in the Chancery Division and the Commercial Court. Described by Chambers and Partners as “very, very good” and by Legal 500 as “a diligent, articulate and intelligent advocate”, he is ranked as a leading Junior for company law by both publications and is noted for his ability to “deal with complex work in a timely fashion” and provide “invaluable strategic advice” (Chambers and Partners)

Practice areas

Commercial dispute resolution

James provides advice and representation in connection with a range of commercial disputes and frequently appears in the Commercial Court. He has experience of both trial work and obtaining and resisting interim relief.  James’s recent work in this area includes:

  • Advising a party to a property development joint venture as to potential remedies against his co-venturer.
  • Acting (with Jonathan Crow QC) for the Claimants in a multi-million pound solicitors negligence claim relating to the purchase of a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.
  • Advising a company in the transport sector in relation to a commission claim by a purported sale agent.
  • Acting (with Jonathan Crow QC) for the defendants in a multi-million pound fraud claim and shareholders’ dispute over a successful family run bakery business.
  • Acting (with Jonathan Crow QC) for Sonja Kohn in her successful defence of the high profile claim brought by the liquidators of Madoff Securities International Limited against its former directors and third parties: Madoff Securities International Ltd v. Raven & Ors [2013] EWHC 3147 (Comm); [2014] Lloyd’s Rep. F.C. 95 (one of The Lawyer’s “Top 10 cases of 2013″).
  • Acting on behalf of the Receivers appointed in the high profile Commercial Court litigation between JSC BTA Bank and Mukhtar Ablyazov (alongside Gregory Denton-Cox, Andrew De Mestre and Robert Miles QC).
  • Acting (with Hilary Stonefrost and Robert Miles QC) for JP Morgan Europe Limited in its successful defence of claims brought against it by mezzanine lenders following a non-consensual restructuring under a syndicated finance agreement: Saltri III Ltd v. MD Mezzanine SA SICAR & Others [2012] EWHC 3025 (Comm); [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 661; [2013] 2 B.C.L.C. 217 .
Company law

James is recommended in both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 as a leading Junior in company law. Described as being “a first-rate practitioner” (Legal 500) “very diligent and very thorough” and “really great on the documents and the detail” (Chambers and Partners), he has particular experience of acting for clients at all stages of shareholders’ disputes, including in connection with derivative claims and petitions brought under section 994 of the Companies Act 2006. His recent work in this area includes:

  • Advising a shareholder in a multi-million baked-goods business as to potential remedies against a fellow shareholder.
  • Acting for the petitioner and claimant in a petition under s.994 CA 2006 and a number of related claims concerning disputes over a family business and jointly owned real estate.
  • Acting for a company resisting an application under s.125 CA 2006 to rectify its register of members.
  • Acting for a petitioner under s.994 CA 2006 through to a successful settlement in respect of a multi-million pound multimedia consultancy business.
  • Acting as sole counsel for the Claimants on an application which saw the High Court endorse the use of “predictive coding” in e-disclosure for the first time, in what has been described as a “landmark ruling”: Pyrrho Investments Ltd v MWB Property Ltd [2016] EWHC 256 (Ch) (“Landmark ruling on predictive coding in disclosure”)
  • Advising (with Richard Hill QC) a shareholder in a Scottish company in relation to an unfair prejudice petition brought before the Scottish Courts and a successful application by the shareholder in the Scottish Courts for injunctive relief to prevent a vote on a hostile resolution seeking to strip the shareholder of its voting rights.
  • Acting (with Andrew De Mestre and Orlando Fraser QC) for a claimant energy investment company in an account of profits, following the diversion from it of a number of business opportunities relating to a potentially revolutionary oil and gas technology, culminating in a six week Enquiry before Mrs Justice Asplin in 2015.
  • Acting (with Robert Miles QC) for a former public company in a multi-million pound claim against its former directors for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty.
  • Acting as sole Counsel for an alleged de facto director in an action brought by joint liquidators for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty in connection with an multi-million pound VAT fraud.
  • Acting (with Richard Hill QC) for the defendant shareholders in a dispute over the ownership of an electricity generating plant in the Quetta region of Pakistan.
  • Acting for the petitioner in section 994 proceedings brought in respect of a group of estate agency companies.
  • Advising and acting (with John Brisby QC) in relation to derivative proceedings brought by a healthcare software developer, including obtaining ex parte injunctions to prevent continued interference with the company’s business.
  • Acting (with Peter Griffiths) for the Respondent and successful Cross-Petitioner in proceedings under s.994 CA 2006: Re Abbington Hotel Ltd [2011] EWHC 635 (Ch); [2012] 1 B.C.L.C. 410.
  • Advising and acting (with Peter Griffiths) for the claimant and cross-respondent in proceedings in the Technology and Construction Court involving disputes in relation to a number of construction joint ventures and a derivative claim.
Chancery: commercial

With commercial litigation by no means confined to the Commercial Court, James’s practice also sees him regularly appearing in the Chancery Division in a range of commercial disputes. His recent work in this area includes:

  • Acting as sole trial advocate for the successful claimants in a contested charging order application to determine the beneficial ownership of a residential property and whether a purported trust deed was a sham document: Joint Liquidators of Reynolds DIY Stores Ltd v Reynolds (15 August 2017, unreported);
  • Acting (with Andrew De Mestre, Orlando Fraser QC and Richard Millett QC) for a claimant energy investment company in an account of profits, following the diversion from it of a number of business opportunities relating to a potentially revolutionary oil and gas technology, culminating in a six week Enquiry before Mrs Justice Asplin in 2015 and numerous subsequent interim hearings;
  • Acting (with Andrew De Mestre) to obtain disclosure of documentation and information from various third parties under the Court’s equitable jurisdiction to order the provision of information in relation to trust asset: Global Energy Horizons Corp v Gray [2014] EWHC 2925 (Ch).
  • Acting at first instance and on appeal (with Richard Hill and Nigel Tozzi QC) for the claimant in a claim against a number of major manufacturers in relation to a multi-billion dollar construction project in the Middle East : Mahmood v Mitsubishi Electric Europe BV & Ors [2013] EWHC 44 (Ch)
  • Advising and acting (with John Brisby QC) in relation to derivative proceedings brought by a healthcare software developer, including obtaining ex parte injunctions to prevent continued interference with the company’s business.
  • Acting (with Paul Greenwood and George Bompas QC) in the DXPCC v Prudential litigation.
Insolvency & restructuring

James regularly appears in Company and Bankruptcy Courts, acting for and advising debtors and creditors on a wide range of matters. In the bankruptcy field he has particular experience of COMI disputes and has successfully acted for a number of creditors seeking to prevent or overturn bankruptcy orders on COMI grounds. His recent work in insolvency and restructuring includes:

  • Acting for the respondent to an application by a US SIPA Trustee under Article 21 of the Cross Border Insolvency Regulations 2006
  • Acting (with Gabriel Moss QC) for the appellant in the appeal of the decision in Gertner v CFL Finance Limited [2018] EWCA Civ 1781, concerning an application to revoke one of the largest IVAs in English history by creditor value
  • Acting (with Orlando Fraser QC) for the Defendant to an application to revoke an IVA with a creditor value of over £500m, which considered the scope of the “good faith” principle identified in Cadbury Schweppes Plc v Somji [2001] 1 W.L.R. 615: see CFL Finance Ltd v Rubin [2017] EWHC 111 (Ch); [2017] B.P.I.R. 336;
  • Advising on English law matters arising in the context of claw-back claims brought before the Icelandic Courts
  • Advising creditors on an application to obtain allegedly confidential documents from a company in liquidation
  • Successfully acting for a number of creditors in COMI challenges on foreign debtors’ bankruptcy petitions, including a two-day witness action in the High Court (Eck v. Zapf [2012] BPIR 499).
  • Acting (with Hilary Stonefrost and Robert Miles QC) for JP Morgan Europe Limited in its successful defence of claims brought against it by certain mezzanine lenders following a non-consensual restructuring under a syndicated finance agreement: Saltri III Ltd v. MD Mezzanine SA SICAR & Others [2012] EWHC 3025 (Comm); [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 661; [2013] 2 B.C.L.C. 217 .
  • Successfully defending claims brought against a trustee in bankruptcy in respect of the trustee’s fees and management of the estate.
  • Advising (with John Brisby QC) an Icelandic Bank in relation to potential claims against an English financial services advisor in administration.
  • Advising and acting for petitioners and companies in relation to all stages of the winding up process.
  • Advising and acting for petitioners and debtors in relation to bankruptcy proceedings, including applications to set aside statutory demands.
  • Advising and acting for both petitioners and trustees in bankruptcy on annulment applications under s.282 IA 1986.
  • Advising the liquidators of a manufacturing company on potential claims against former directors under IA 1986.
  • Advising the liquidators of a printing company on the lawfulness of dividends paid to former directors under CA 2006.
  • Acting for the administrators of a group of care home companies on an application for the extension of the administrations.
Fraud – civil

Fraud does not confine itself to particular practice areas or divisions, and common to much of James’s work in both the Chancery Division and the Commercial Court are disputes involving serious allegations of dishonesty. James has experience of acting at all stages of such disputes, from the initial advice, to drafting pleadings, seeking or resisting interim relief, advising on case management and through to representation at trial. His recent work involving allegations of fraud or serious dishonesty includes the following:

  • Acting as sole trial advocate for the successful claimants in a contested charging order application. The claim relied in part on successfully showing that a purported declaration of trust was a sham: Joint Liquidators of Reynolds DIY Stores Ltd v Reynolds (15 August 2017, unreported);
  • Acting (with Jonathan Crow QC) for the defendants in a multi-million pound fraud and conspiracy claim and shareholders’ dispute over a successful family run bakery business.
  • Advising (with Robert Miles QC) a former shareholder in a public company in relation to potential claims under s.90 of FSMA 2000 and for insider trading and unlawful means conspiracy.
  • Acting (with Jonathan Crow QC) for Sonja Kohn in her successful defence of the high profile claim brought by the liquidators of Madoff Securities International Limited against its former directors and third parties: Madoff Securities International Ltd v. Raven & Ors [2013] EWHC 3147 (Comm); [2014] Lloyd’s Rep. F.C. 95 (one of The Lawyer’s “Top 10 cases of 2013″).
  • Acting on behalf of the Receivers appointed in the high profile Commercial Court litigation between JSC BTA Bank and Mukhtar Ablyazov (alongside Gregory Denton-Cox, Andrew De Mestre and Robert Miles QC)
  • Acting (with Rachel Oakeshott and Stephen Auld QC) for the claimants in a multi-million pound claim in deceit, conspiracy and professional negligence against a solicitor in connection with the purchase of a substantial piece of real property on the river Thames.
  • Acting (with Tom Gentleman and John Brisby QC) for the successful Defendant in a three week trial in the Queen’s Bench Division involving a multi-million pound contract dispute and findings of fraud against the Claimant (Butler-Creagh v. Hersham [2011] EWHC 2525 (QB)), including successfully obtaining ex parte injunctive relief in respect of a prospective costs liability.
Offshore litigation

James has experience of advising and acting for clients in relation to offshore litigation. His recent work in this area includes advising (with John Brisby QC) in relation to multi-million dollar trust litigation in the Bahamas, including a claim for the removal of a corporate trustee arising out of alleged breaches of trust.

Alternative dispute resolution

These are by their nature confidential but James is experienced in acting in both mediations and international arbitrations.

 

Additional info

Cases of Interest
  • Gertner v CFL Finance Limited [2018] EWCA Civ 1781; Creditors’ meetings; Good faith; Individual voluntary arrangements; Material irregularity; Non-disclosure; Settlement agreements; Voting rights. The case considered the application of the “good faith principle” identified in Cadbury Schweppes Plc v Somji [2001] 1 W.L.R. 615.
  • Lynch v Aldermore Bank Plc & Anor (16 November 2017, unreported); summary judgment / strike out; locus; security for costs. James successfully defendant a summary judgment / strike out application by the applicant bank. The Court considered whether an applicant seeking to challenge the admission of a proof of debt in his bankruptcy estate had to show a tangible interest in the bankruptcy or whether it was sufficient for him to come within the wording of r.6.105(2) of the Insolvency Rules 1986.
  • Mayr & Ors v CMS Cameron McKenna LLP [2017] EWHC 3264 (Comm); security for costs; adequacy of ATE and Deeds of Indemnity. James was led by Jonathan Crow QC in successfully resisting an application for security for costs. The case considered the extent to which After the Event insurance combined with a Deed of Indemnity was sufficient to demonstrate that no order for security for costs was appropriate. The decision has since been applied at first instance in Recovery Partners GB Ltd v Rukhadze [2018] EWHC 95 (Comm); [2018] 1 W.L.R. 1640.
  • CFL Finance Ltd v Rubin [2017] EWHC 111 (Ch); [2017] B.P.I.R. 336; Creditors’ meetings; Good faith; Individual voluntary arrangements; Material irregularity; Non-disclosure; Settlement agreements; Voting rights. The case considered the application of the “good faith principle” identified in Cadbury Schweppes Plc v Somji [2001] 1 W.L.R. 615. James also acted on the appeal to the Court of Appeal (see above).
  •  Joint Liquidators of Reynolds DIY Stores Ltd v Reynolds (15 August 2017, unreported); charging orders; sham documents; beneficial interests; constructive trusts; construction of trust deeds
  • Global Energy Horizons Corp v Gray [2017] EWHC 23 (Ch); Adjournment; Change of solicitor; Costs
  •  Pyrrho Investments Ltd v MWB Property Ltd [2016] EWHC 256 (Ch) Case management; Electronic disclosure; Software. The first ever UK Court endorsement of predictive coding for use in e-disclosure (“Landmark ruling on predictive coding in disclosure”)
  • Global Energy Horizons Corp v Gray [2015] EWHC 2232 (Ch) Account of profits; Breach of fiduciary duty; Conflict of interest; Loss of profits
  • Global Energy Horizons Corp v Gray [2014] EWHC 2925 (Ch) Breach of fiduciary duty; Control; Disclosure and inspection; Documents; Equitable jurisdiction; Non-party disclosure
  • Madoff Securities International Ltd v. Raven & Ors [2013] EWHC 3147 (Comm); [2014] Lloyd’s Rep. F.C. 95 Directors’ powers and duties; fraud; knowing receipt; dishonest assistance; restitution (one of The Lawyer’s “Top 10 cases of 2013″).
  • Mahmood v Mitsubishi Electric Europe BV & Ors [2013] EWHC 44 (Ch) Summary judgment; quantum meruit; consultancy agreements; contracts; civil procedure
  • Saltri III Ltd v. MD Mezzanine SA SICAR & Others [2012] EWHC 3025 (Comm); [2013] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 661; [2013] 2 B.C.L.C. 217 Non-consensual restructuring; duties owed by security trustee under intercreditor agreement; rights of senior and mezzanine lenders.
  • Eck v. Zapf [2012] BPIR 499 Bankruptcy; Centre of Main Interests; time for assessment
  • Butler-Creagh v. Hersham [2011] EWHC 2525 (QB) Contracts; deceit; fraudulent misrepresentation; real property
  • Re Abbington Hotel Ltd [2011] EWHC 635 (Ch); [2012] 1 B.C.L.C. 410 Shareholders’ agreements; Share valuation; Unfairly prejudicial conduct
What the directories and judges say:

Chambers UK Bar – 2019 Company Law, Band 2 

James is very, very good. Turnaround times are great, his attention to detail and drafting are brilliant and he understands what the client wants.

Legal 500 2019 – Company Law, Leading Juniors

“A diligent, articulate and intelligent advocate.’”

Chambers UK Bar – 2018 Company Law, Band 2 

“Extremely bright academically. He doesn’t lose sight of the wider commercial picture and provides invaluable strategic advice.”

Legal 500 2018 – Company Law, Leading Juniors

“A first-rate practitioner, who makes himself available at short notice.”

Chambers UK Bar 2017 – Company Law, Band 2

Handles a range of company-related cases. He takes instructions in non-contentious matters as well as disputes, and is experienced in Companies Court and High Court claims.

“The way he works with you is far beyond his years. He can ably deal with complex work in a timely fashion, and you really feel you can rely on him. His help has been invaluable.”

Recent work: Acted in Pyrrho Investments Ltd v MWB Property Limited and Others, a high-value breach of directors’ duty dispute.

Chambers UK Bar 2016 – Company Law, Band 2

Enjoys a broad practice handling litigation and advisory work involving company law. He has acted in the Companies Court on a range of applications and is regularly instructed in directors’ duties and shareholder claims.

“His turnaround time is fantastic. He’s extremely responsive and goes out of his way to be helpful.”

“He is an exceptionally good drafter and turns around some incredibly impressive pleadings which are first-rate.”

Recent work: Acted in a multimillion-pound breach of directors’ duty claim concerning inter-company loans and undisclosed interests.

Chambers UK Bar 2015:

An emerging name in chancery law, who has a strong reputation for his company law capabilities. He is particularly credited for his drafting skills.” 

Very diligent and very thorough.”

He’s really great on the documents and the detail.”

Career & appointments

James is a member of the Commercial Bar Association and the Chancery Bar Association.

Education & Awards

2003 – 2006     BA (Hons) Warwick
2006 – 2007     BPP Law School (GDC)
2007 – 2008     BPP Law School (BVC)