Professional practice

The “clever and commercial” James Collins QC is “a great advocate and a great tactician” (Chambers Global 2013). He handles a wide range of commercial disputes in the High Court, appellate courts and in arbitrations in the U.K. and abroad, appearing as lead counsel, sole counsel and co-counsel or sitting as an arbitrator.

James advises and acts at all stages of the dispute resolution process, from strategy development, through pre-action and interlocutory applications (including Freezing Orders, anti-suit injunctions; protection of confidential information, restraint of conflicts and jurisdiction challenges), to trials and final hearings in the UK and abroad (including Bermuda, New York, Paris and Singapore), appellate and review hearings, and enforcement of judgments and awards.

 

What others say

Since taking Silk in 2012 James has been described as

  • An “extremely impressive barrister with a sharp mind, who is very easy to work with” Chambers UK 2015
  • A “very high-quality advocate” Chambers UK 2014
  • A barrister with “great analytical skills and cross – examination technique” Legal 500 2014
  • The “clever and commercial” James Collins QC is “a great advocate and a great tactician” Chambers Global 2013
  • An “excellent all-rounder for a variety of commercial matters” Chambers Global 2013
  • A barrister who is “able to see through the complexities of law and evidence, and map a course to the objective” Legal 500 2013
Examples of recent cases

Mid Essex NHS Trust v. Compass [2013] EWCA Civ 200. This dispute arose from the breakdown of a long-term PFI contract for catering and ancillary services at a hospital. James appeared as leading counsel for the NHS Trust at trial and on its successful appeal. It is the leading modern Court of Appeal case on good faith in commercial contracts.

JSC Ukrsibbank v. Polyakov [2013] EWHC 3877 (Comm). James is leading counsel for the defendant in this ongoing battle to discharge a US$100 million Worldwide Freezing Order granted in aid of foreign proceedings.

Vitol Bahrain v. Nasdec [2014] EWHC 984 (Comm). James acted for Vitol in this jurisdiction battle relating to two cargoes of oil worth US$120 million.

Integral Petroleum SA v. SCU-Finanz AG [2014] EWHC 702 (Comm). James acts for the defendant in this oil product supply/financing dispute. The successful application to set aside default judgment determined important conflicts of law issues. These are to be considered by the Court of Appeal in February 2015.

Cruz City 1 Mauritius Holdings v. Unitech Ltd & Others [2014] EWHC 1313 (Comm). James acted for the 5th Defendant, successfully challenging the jurisdiction of the English court. This case establishes important limitations on the ability of the English courts to grant post-award Freezing Orders in aid of enforcement. In particular, there is no jurisdiction to grant Chabra-type relief against foreign parties who were not party to the arbitration agreements or arbitrations.

Arbitration & related court applications

Recognised in the Legal 500, 2014 (International Arbitration: Counsel) as a barrister with “great analytical skills and cross-examination technique”, James has extensive knowledge and experience of arbitration law and practice:

  • He has represented clients in arbitrations in Bermuda, Canada, France, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S., under AAA, CEITAC, ICC, LCIA, LMAA and other procedural rules. These arbitrations have involved many of the areas identified below and have been subject to a number of different procedural and substantive laws (including the laws of Bermuda, England, France, Liechtenstein, New York and Singapore). Hearings have ranged from short interlocutory applications to trials lasting many weeks. At these hearings, James appears as lead counsel, sole counsel or co-counsel with overseas lawyers.
  • He has advised and acted in a wide range of arbitration-related court proceedings, including jurisdiction challenges (eg. A v. B [2007] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 237 and [2007] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 358); applications for injunctive relief in support of arbitrations (such as anti-suit injunctions and worldwide freezing orders eg. Cruz City 1 Mauritius Holdings v. Unitech Ltd & Others [2014] EWHC 1313 (Comm)); applications for other relief in support of arbitrations (eg. witness summonses); and proceedings to enforce both foreign and domestic awards (eg. Omnium de Traitement et de Valorisation S.A. v Hilmarton [1999] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 222; Colliers International v. Colliers Jordan Lee [2008] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 368).
  • James also sits as an arbitrator.
Banking & financial services

James has advised and acted for or against a number of banks and financial institutions (including Barclays, Goldman Sachs, HIG, Ocean Capital, Thames Capital and Yukos Capital) and HNWIs in a wide range of domestic and international banking and financial services disputes. This work has included:

  • Claims by funds and corporations in relation to debt and equity investments (typically cross-border), including claims relating to the misappropriation of assets by the investee.
  • Disputes between banks and hedge funds and their (typically HNWI) clients in relation to the management of funds, suitability of investments, termination of facilities, liquidation of security and guarantees (eg. JSC Ukrsibbank v. Polyakov [2013] EWHC 3877 (Comm)).
  • Inunctions to restrain the misuse of confidential information by potential investors (eg. Ocean Capital v. HIG Capital [2013])
  • Advising and acting for clients in relation to money laundering and POCA issues.
Civil fraud & asset tracing

James has advised and acted in a wide range of cases involving allegations of commercial fraud, including in the following sectors:

  • Banking and financial services (eg. JSC Ukrsibbank v. Polyakov [2013] EWHC 3877 (Comm))
  • Energy and natural resources (eg. Vitol Bahrain v. Nasdec [2014] EWHC 984 (Comm)).
  • Partnership, shareholder and share purchase disputes.
  • Shipping and shipbuilding disputes.
Commercial dispute resolution

In this field, James is recognised as an “excellent all-rounder for a variety of commercial matters” (Chambers Global 2013). This variety has included:

  • Substantial commercial contracts, including PFI and outsourcing agreements eg. Mid Essex NHS Trust v. Compass [2013] EWCA Civ 200 (the leading modern Court of Appeal case on good faith in commercial contracts).
  • Partnership, quasi-partnership and joint venture disputes (eg. Simmons Gainsford LLP v. Shah [2008] EWHC 2554 (Ch)).
  • Shareholder disputes, including fraud claims (eg. against a controlling shareholder or seller), SPA warranty claims (including accounting warranties), management disputes (eg. Sattar v. Sattar [2009] EWHC 289 (Ch)) and minority shareholder claims.
  • Bailment (eg. Gordon v. Gordon & Others, [2002] EWCA Civ 1884 (C.A.); Scheps v. Fine Art Logistics [2007] All ER (D) 270).
  • International trade, transport and commodities (see below).
  • Conflicts of interest, protection of confidential information and professional conduct. For further information see Professional Negligence (below).
Conflict of laws & private international law

James represents clients in a wide range of jurisdiction and conflicts disputes. This work has included:

  • Cruz City 1 Mauritius Holdings v. Unitech Ltd & Others [2014] EWHC 1313 (Comm). This case established important limitations on the jurisdiction of the English courts to grant post-award Freezing Orders in aid of enforcement of arbitral awards. In particular, there is no jurisdiction to grant Chabra-type relief against foreign parties who were not party to the arbitration agreements or arbitrations.
  • Integral Petroleum SA v. SCU-Finanz AG [2014] EWHC 702 (Comm). This case established which conflicts rules applied when seeking to identify the law that governed a dispute as to whether or not a foreign company was bound by the signature of one of its officers. The matter is to be considered by the Court of Appeal in February 2015.
  • Vitol Bahrain v. Nasdec [2013] EWHC 3359 (Comm) and [2014] EWHC 984 (Comm)). The first of these cases involved an anti-suit injunction. The second involved a jurisdiction challenge.
  • Haji-Ioannou v. Frangos [2010] 1 All ER (Comm) 303. This case determined the law applicable to issues of succession.
  • OT Africa Line v. Magic Sportswear & Others, [2005] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 252 and [2005] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 170 (C.A.). An anti-suit injunction was granted to restrain breach of an exclusive jurisdiction clause against parties and non-parties to the relevant agreement.
  • Itum v. Kteili & Others [2014] (BVI). This case established that, as a matter of BVI law, there is no “necessary or proper” party jurisdiction where the claims against the anchor defendants have been stayed in favour of arbitration.
Conflicts of interest & confidential information

Advised and acted in a wide range of disputes involving conflicts of interest, protection of confidential information and professional conduct rules. This has included advising solicitors and banks in relation to mergers and takeovers; advising solicitors in relation to Law Society investigations; advising and acting for solicitors involved in disputes with existing or former clients (for example Nick Sports v. AJ Morison (Longmore J, 3/2/00); Simon Winters v. Mishcon de Reya [2008] EWHC 2419 (Ch)) and clients against their former solicitors; advising and acting in cases involving accountants (for example Prince Jefri Bolkiah v. KPMG (a firm) [1999] 2 WLR 215, the leading House of Lords case on the protection of confidential information and information barriers.

Energy & natural resources

James has advised and acted in a large number of energy sector disputes (involving oil & gas, electricity, coal, uranium and wind farms) in cases involving the oil majors, Glencore, Kinder Morgan, National Grid, Odebrecht, Petrobras, Stena Drilling, Vitol and many others. This work has included:

  • Rig quality and management disputes, generator disputes and pipeline disputes. James has also sat as arbitrator, in Paris, in a dispute concerning a piping system installed at the petroleum jetties at Apapa, Nigeria.
  • Offtake agreements, supply agreements and oil and gas trading and transport disputes (eg. Contigroup v. Glencore [2005] 1 Lloyd’s 241; Vitol Bahrain v. Nasdec [2013] EWHC 3359 (Comm) and [2014] EWHC 984 (Comm)).
Insurance & reinsurance

“He is an extremely impressive barrister with an extremely sharp mind, who has extensive knowledge of the Bermuda Form” (Chambers UK 2015).

James has advised and acted in wide range of insurance and reinsurance disputes. This work has included:

  • A substantial number of Bermuda form arbitrations and other arbitrations where the substantive law of the insurance contracts has been the law of New York. This has involved hearings in London, New York, Toronto and Montreal. Underlying subject matter has included the liability of drug manufacturers, chemical companies, hospitals and a restaurant chain (amongst others) for a range of liabilities, including personal injury, discrimination and commercial disparagement.
  • Insurance and reinsurance arbitrations in England and abroad, including reinsurance claims arising from substantial audit and tax advice liabilities incurred by the Big 4 (formerly Big 5) accounting firms.
  • Insurance and reinsurance disputes in the English courts (eg. Charman v NCR v HIH [2003] Lloyd’s IR 337) including Lloyd’s litigation (eg. Price v. The Society of Lloyds [2000] Lloyd’s IR 453).
International trade, transport & commodities

James has advised and acted in a large number of cases involving many different aspects of international trade. This has included:

  • Disputes involving trade in commodities, including oil & gas, coal, coke, metals and grain (eg. Vitol Bahrain v. Nasdec [2013] EWHC 3359 (Comm) and [2014] EWHC 984 (Comm); Contigroup v. Glencore [2005] 1 Lloyd’s 241); the trade in other goods and services; and the documentary credits used to finance such trade.
  • International distribution and franchise agreements.
Offshore litigation

James has been called and appears in the courts in the B.V.I..Itum v. Kteili & Others [2014] established that, as a matter of BVI law, there is no “necessary or proper” party jurisdiction where the claims against the anchor defendants have been stayed in favour of arbitration. It is currently the subject of an application for permission to appeal.

James has also advised in relation to and provided expert testimony for cases in a number of other common law jurisdictions.

Professional negligence

James has advised and acted for numerous clients in cases involving allegations of professional negligence and misconduct. This has included:

  • Advising and acting in cases involving allegations of negligence and fraud against Magic Circle, international and national law firms.
  • Advising and acting in a wide range of disputes involving conflicts of interest, protection of confidential information and professional conduct rules, including (1) for solicitors involved in disputes with existing or former clients (eg. Nick Sports v. AJ Morison (Longmore J, 3/2/00); Simon Winters v. Mishcon de Reya [2008] EWHC 2419 (Ch)); and (2) for clients against their former solicitors or accountants (eg. Prince Jefri Bolkiah v. KPMG (a firm) [1999] 2 WLR 215, the leading House of Lords case on the protection of confidential information and information barriers.
  • Advising solicitors and banks as to their roles in mergers and acquisitions.
  • Developing and implementing strategies to dispose of claims in a manner most beneficial to the client (Eg. Bird & Bird v. Michael Wilson & Partners, which is to be heard by the Court of Appeal in February 2015).
Regulatory law & investigations

James has advised Magic Circle law firms in connection with a number of regulatory investigations concerning alleged breaches of conduct rules, conflicts of interest and confidential information.

Shipping & admiralty

James has advised and acted in large number of disputes before the English courts and arbitral tribunals involving shipping, shipbuilding, ship repair contracts and ship sale and purchase. This work has included:

  • Numerous charterparty, BL and COA disputes involving diverse subject matter including short delivery, cargo damage, hire, speed and consumption, safe port, drydocking, demurrage and bunkers. (eg. CSAV v. Hin-Pro Logistics, listed to be heard in the Court of Appeal in January 2015; Evergreen Marine v. Aldgate Warehouse [2003] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 597)
  • Shipping partnership, agency, management and supply disputes (eg. Addax BV Geneva v. Coral Suki SA [2005] 2 All ER (Comm) 137).
  • Shipbuilding, ship repair and ship sale and purchase, including technical disputes (eg. in relation to tank coatings, paint, wiring, piping, cranes etc.).
Career

2012  Silk

1995  Call: Gray’s Inn

1994  Essex Court Chambers

Education

1994    BVC, Inns of Court School of Law

1993    BA, Downing College, Cambridge