Professional practice

C&P 2017

James has a broad commercial and commercial chancery practice, with an emphasis on banking and finance and civil fraud. Much of his practice focuses on large-scale commercial litigation, often with a significant international element, involving conflicts of law and foreign law systems as well as issues of jurisdiction. He joined Essex Court Chambers in October 2016 from a leading commercial chancery set.

He is ranked by the directories (Chambers UK and Legal 500) as a leading junior in the fields of commercial dispute resolution, civil fraud, banking and finance, commercial chancery, and company and partnership. The directories describe him variously as “a very able lawyer and a junior with a stellar career ahead of him”, “a rising star” who is “delightful to work with and charming with clients”, “A great lawyer with a fine intellect, who is very hard-working” and “‘Extremely bright, practical, clear and a great team player”.

James has acted in several major cases over the last few years, including the BTA v Ablyazov, Berezovsky v Hine and Dar Al Arkan v Al Refai litigation. He is regularly instructed on disputes concerning civil fraud and asset tracing, banking and other financial litigation, and company law disputes of one sort of another (including shareholder disputes or claims against directors). James’s practice also encompasses international arbitration, general contractual and other commercial litigation, and insolvency (domestic and cross-border).

He appears regularly in the Commercial Court and Chancery Division of the High Court, and also in the Court of Appeal, both as a junior and as sole advocate.

 

What Others Say

James has been consistently recommended in Chambers & Partners for Commercial Chancery:

Has continued to enhance his growing reputation by acting in high-stakes cases

A great lawyer with a fine intellect, who is very hard-working

He works like there’s no tomorrow

Gives highly technical and extremely well thought-out advice

James is also recommended in Chambers & Partners for Civil Fraud:

Works very hard and is a good advocate

A well-liked junior with a strong commercial chancery practice

In addition, James is recommended in Legal 500 in the fields of Banking & Finance, Commercial Dispute Resolution and Company & Partnership:

Extremely bright, practical, clear and a great team player

A very able lawyer and a junior with a stellar career ahead of him

A rising star; he is delightful to work with and charming with clients

Examples of Recent Cases

BTA Bank v Shalabayev [2016] EWCA Civ 987: acted as sole counsel in a 2-day appeal in the Court of Appeal in the Ablyazov litigation in relation to a bank’s enforcement rights over property in the name of a third party.

Lycalopex (Dubai) Ltd v Merrill Lynch International (2016) (with John Nicholls QC): acting for a defendant bank and prime broker in a claim brought by a hedge fund vehicle, seeking damages in relation to alleged profit and other commitments given by the bank/prime broker in relation to equities and derivatives trading.

CitizenM LND St Paul’s Properties BV v Chil Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 771 (with John McGhee QC): appeal on a point of contractual construction in relation to dispute regarding hotel property development joint venture.

ICICI Bank Ltd v GVK Power and Infrastructure Limited (with Bankim Thanki QC): acting for a borrower in a Commercial Court dispute with the Singapore branch of an Indian bank (acting as facility agent) under a US$1 billion loan facility, regarding the proper scope of restrictions on the sale of assets under the facility agreement.

Koza Ltd v Koza Altin Işletmeri AS: acted (with Richard Morgan QC) in a dispute over shareholder control of an English subsidiary of a major Turkish conglomerate and the recognition of a Turkish trusteeship, with a related jurisdictional dispute.

Med Mining and Minerals Limited v Nusantara (2015): acted as sole counsel in a substantial Commercial Court trial (against leading counsel for both other parties) relating to the activities of a mining company in the Far East, involving contractual claims and alleged fraudulent breaches of fiduciary duty.

Dar Al Arkan v Al Refai [2014] 1 CLC 813 (Comm Ct); [2015] 1 WLR 135 (CA); (with David Foxton QC and Stephen Houseman QC): claims for conspiracy and breach of confidence seeking damages of up to US$1 billion from the publication on a website of serious allegations of banking and accountancy fraud. One of The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases for 2014 and 2015.

Erste Group Bank AG v JSC VMZ “Red October” [2014] BPIR 81 (Comm Ct); [2015] 1 CLC 706 (CA) (with Richard Snowden QC and Richard Morgan QC): substantial jurisdiction challenge at first instance and on appeal in relation to conspiracy claims brought by an Austrian bank against Russian state-owned entities.

Arbitration & related court applications

Acted in an ICC arbitration in a dispute over alleged contractual repudiation causing disruption to the activities of a gold mine in Guinea, West Africa

Acted for a Russian bank in relation to enforcement of an LCIA award by a Russian bank against assets in Cyprus and elsewhere in Europe, and ancillary relief to preserve assets

Acting in an UNCITRAL arbitration between US and Greek parties in relation to a currency exchange franchise

Acted in an LMAA arbitration involving a dispute over control of English ship-owning companies operated as vehicles for joint venture between Greek parties, plus related Court applications for interim relief under s.44 of the Arbitration Act 1996

Banking & financial services

James is recommended by Legal 500 as a leading junior in banking & finance. He has experience of banking & financial services disputes of a varied nature, including under LMA facility agreements, mortgage disputes (including possession proceedings), prime brokerage, derivatives, claims in relation to “vishing” scams and for recovery of mistaken bank payments, in the context of both commercial and retail banking. Cases include:

Lycalopex (Dubai) Ltd v Merrill Lynch International (with John Nicholls QC): acting for a defendant bank and prime broker in a claim brought by a hedge fund vehicle, seeking damages in relation to alleged profit and other commitments given by the bank/prime broker in relation to equities and derivatives trading.

ICICI Bank Ltd v GVK Power and Infrastructure Limited (with Bankim Thanki QC): acting for a borrower in a Commercial Court dispute with the Singapore branch of an Indian bank (acting as facility agent) under a US$1 billion loan facility, regarding the proper scope of restrictions on the sale of assets under the facility agreement.

Acted (with Robert Miles QC and Mark Howard QC) in claims for conspiracy and dishonest breach of fiduciary duty in relation to a Cayman investment fund of hedge funds.

Acting in a dispute between banker and an English plc customer over responsibility for losses from fraudulent payments brought about by a “vishing” scam.

Acting in a claim against a high street bank for recovery of payment made by mistake.

Civil fraud & asset tracing

James is recommended as an up-and-coming junior for civil fraud by Chambers & Partners. He has considerable experience of civil fraud and asset tracing, having acted in a number of major disputes in this area in the last 5-6 years, including experience of interim applications such as freezing orders, pre- and post-judgment receivers, Norwich Pharmacal and other disclosure orders in the asset-tracing context, and committal applications. Cases include:

BTA Bank v Ablyazov: acted (with several different leading counsel) over a number of years for the primary defendant and other parties in this major fraud litigation, in which the claimant has obtained judgments totalling several billion dollars. Highlights include BTA Bank v Shalabayev [2016] EWCA Civ 987 (acting as sole counsel in an appeal in relation to a bank’s enforcement rights over property in the name of a third party), BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2013] 1 WLR 1845 (CA) (recusal application); BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2013] 1 WLR 1331 (CA) (committal). Also acting for related defendant in a dispute over the scope of the freezing orders against the primary defendant.

Dar Al Arkan v Al Refai (with David Foxton QC and Stephen Houseman QC): claims for conspiracy and breach of confidence seeking damages of up to US$1 billion arising from the publication on a website of serious allegations of banking and accountancy fraud. One of The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases for 2014 and 2015.

Acted (with Robert Miles QC and Mark Howard QC) in claims for conspiracy and dishonest breach of fiduciary duty worth tens of millions of dollars in relation to a Cayman investment fund of hedge funds.

Erste Group AG v Red October (with Richard Snowden QC and Richard Morgan QC): conspiracy claims brought by an Austrian bank against Russian state entities involving allegations that a corporate borrower was stripped of its assets and forced into insolvency to avoid its liabilities under a US$80 million loan facility. Involved a substantial jurisdiction challenge at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.

Med Mining v Nusantara: acted as sole counsel in a substantial Commercial Court trial (against leading counsel for both other parties) relating to the activities of a mining company in the Far East, involving contractual claims and alleged fraudulent breaches of fiduciary duty.

Acting (with Thomas Grant QC) for the defendant in a claim brought by an international car hire company against an English automotive repair company under long-term service contracts, where it is alleged that the repair company dishonestly carried out millions of pounds of unnecessary work.

In the matter of Alex Hope: acting for a defrauded investor in FCA confiscation proceedings in the Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 following the defendant’s conviction (and the imposition of a 9-year prison sentence) for operating a Ponzi scheme misappropriating several millions of pounds from members of the public.

Acting for a Russian bank in relation to asset freezing relief against a Russian businessman in England.

Acting for a Russian bank in relation to proposed enforcement proceedings relating to an LCIA arbitration award against an individual borrower in Cyprus and other jurisdictions, including asset freezing relief.

Acting for a corporate banking customer, an English company owned by a foreign parent, in a dispute with the bank over the bank’s right to freeze the accounts on the grounds of suspected money laundering.

Commercial chancery disputes

James has been consistently ranked by Chambers & Partners in recent years as a leading junior for commercial chancery disputes, where he is described as a “great lawyer with a fine intellect, who is very hard-working”, who has “continued to enhance his growing reputation by acting in high-stakes cases.” He joined Essex Court Chambers in October 2016 from a leading commercial chancery set. Cases include:

James’s experience of commercial chancery disputes encompasses company and partnership law disputes in litigation and arbitration, and shareholder disputes in both contexts, as well as domestic and cross-border insolvency (including recognition of foreign insolvencies and applications by office-holders for information). He also has considerable experience of matters relating to trusts and property law. Cases include:

CitizenM LND St Paul’s Properties BV v Chil Ltd (with John McGhee QC): acting for a property owner, engaged in a limited partnership joint venture for the development of a substantial hotel in the City of London, in a dispute (in the Chancery Division and Court of Appeal) over the termination of the joint venture.

Med Mining and Minerals Limited v Nusantara: acted as sole counsel in a substantial Commercial Court trial (against leading counsel for both other parties) relating to the activities of a mining company in the Far East, involving contractual claims and counterclaims for breach of fiduciary duty made against the company’s directors and seeking several million dollars.

Erste Group Bank AG v JSC VMZ “Red October” (with Richard Snowden QC and Richard Morgan QC): substantial jurisdiction challenge based in part on the effect on English proceedings of a claimant’s participation in the foreign insolvency of two corporate defendants.

Acted in an LMAA arbitration involving a dispute over control of English ship-owning companies operated as vehicles for joint venture between Greek parties, plus related Court applications for interim relief under s.44 of the Arbitration Act 1996.

Acted (with Robert Miles QC and Mark Howard QC) for the claimants in claims for conspiracy and dishonest breach of fiduciary duty in relation to a Cayman investment fund of hedge funds. Involved a dispute over the application of the rule against recovery by a shareholder of reflective loss, and a double derivative claim made in respect of a Cayman company with a BVI parent.

Acted for a shareholder-director in a long-running unfair prejudice action in relation to two English companies, which produced two important decisions in this area in the Court of Appeal (see [2013] Bus LR 753 and [2013] 2 BCLC 46), including acting as sole counsel at a consequentials trial and subsequent non-party costs proceedings.

Acting for corporate and individual respondents against whom office-holders in a major offshore liquidation seek orders for examination and disclosure under s.236 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

Acting for the beneficiary of the estate of a deceased bank account-holder in a stakeholder claim brought by the London branch of a Greek bank, involving a dispute over the beneficial entitlement to the account balances.

Acting for a shareholder and director of a substantial family hotel business (with assets of hundreds of millions of pounds) in relation to proposed unfair prejudice proceedings.

Commercial dispute resolution

James is recommended by Legal 500 as a leading junior for commercial dispute resolution. He regularly acts (led and as sole counsel) in commercial disputes of all kinds, both in the context of litigation in the English Commercial Court and Court of Appeal, and in arbitration. Cases include:

Lycalopex (Dubai) Ltd v Merrill Lynch International (with John Nicholls QC): acting for a defendant bank and prime broker in a claim brought by a hedge fund vehicle, seeking damages in relation to alleged profit and other commitments given by the bank/prime broker in relation to equities and derivatives trading.

CitizenM LND St Paul’s Properties BV v Chil Ltd (with John McGhee QC): appeal on a point of contractual construction in relation to dispute regarding hotel property development joint venture in the City of London.

ICICI Bank Ltd v GVK Power and Infrastructure Limited (with Bankim Thanki QC): acting for a borrower in a Commercial Court dispute with the Singapore branch of an Indian bank (acting as facility agent) under a US$1 billion loan facility, regarding the proper scope of restrictions on the sale of assets under the facility agreement.

Acting in an UNCITRAL arbitration between US and Greek parties in relation to a currency exchange franchise.

Acting (with Thomas Grant QC) for the defendant in a claim brought by an international car hire company against an English automotive repair company under long-term service contracts, where it is alleged that the repair company dishonestly carried out millions of pounds of unnecessary work.

Company & insolvency law

James is recommended by Legal 500 as a leading junior for company and partnership disputes, where he is described as a “rising star” who is “delightful to work with and charming with clients”. He has acted in all types of company law disputes, including shareholder disputes, claims by and against directors, unfair prejudice proceedings and derivative claims. James also has widespread experience of corporate insolvency, both domestic and cross-border, including compulsory and voluntary liquidation, recognition of foreign proceedings and applications to court within an insolvency process.

Company and partnership cases include:

CitizenM LND St Paul’s Properties BV v Chil Ltd (with John McGhee QC): acting for a property owner, engaged in a limited partnership joint venture for the development of a substantial hotel in the City of London, in a dispute (in the Chancery Division and Court of Appeal) over the termination of the joint venture.

Acted in an LMAA arbitration involving a dispute over control of English ship-owning companies operated as vehicles for joint venture between Greek parties, plus related Court applications for interim relief under s.44 of the Arbitration Act 1996.

Acted (with Robert Miles QC and Mark Howard QC) for the claimants in claims for conspiracy and dishonest breach of fiduciary duty in relation to a Cayman investment fund of hedge funds. Involved a dispute over the application of the rule against recovery by a shareholder of reflective loss, and a double derivative claim made in respect of a Cayman company with a BVI parent.

Acted for a shareholder-director in a long-running unfair prejudice action in relation to two English companies, which produced two important decisions in this area in the Court of Appeal (see [2013] Bus LR 753 and [2013] 2 BCLC 46), including acting as sole counsel at a consequentials trial and subsequent non-party costs proceedings.

Acting for a shareholder and director of a substantial family hotel business (with assets of hundreds of millions of pounds) in relation to proposed unfair prejudice proceedings.

Insolvency cases include:

Erste Group Bank AG v JSC VMZ “Red October” (with Richard Snowden QC and Richard Morgan QC): substantial jurisdiction challenge based in part on the effect on English proceedings of a claimant’s participation in the foreign insolvency of two corporate defendants.

Acting for corporate and individual respondents against whom office-holders in a major offshore liquidation seek orders for examination and disclosure under s.236 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

Maindy Conservative Club Ltd v Minotaur Asset Finance Ltd: acting unled in proceedings in the Chancery Division involving a challenge to the appointment of a receiver by a floating charge holder in respect of an insolvent industrial and provident society.

Conflict of laws & private international law

James’s practice is international in nature and the majority of his cases involve issues of conflicts of law or jurisdiction.

Recent examples in the jurisdiction context include:

Dar Al Arkan v Al Refai [2015] 1 WLR 135 (with Anthony Trace QC and Charles Béar QC): jurisdiction challenge (Commercial Court and Court of Appeal) in relation to committal application brought against Saudi and Bahraini companies and their common director.

Erste Group Bank AG v JSC VMZ “Red October” [2014] BPIR 81 (Comm Ct); [2015] 1 CLC 706 (CA) (with Richard Snowden QC and Richard Morgan QC): substantial jurisdiction challenge at first instance and on appeal in relation to conspiracy claims brought by an Austrian bank against Russian state-owned entities.

Recent examples in the conflicts of law context include:

Med Mining and Minerals Limited v Nusantara: acted as sole counsel in a substantial Commercial Court trial (against leading counsel for both other parties) relating to the activities of a mining company in the Far East, involving claims for breach of directors’ duties under Indonesian law.

Erste Group Bank AG v JSC VMZ “Red October” (above): dispute between applicability of Russian and English law to tort claims under Rome II Regulation.

Acting in a stakeholder claim involving dispute over the application of Louisiana law to the validity of an alleged gift of funds in an English bank account.

Acting for a company in the CIS in claims against an international metals and mining conglomerate for breach of contract and economic torts under the law of the CIS state in relation to the operation of a mining complex in the CIS.

Dar Al Arkan v Al Refai: conspiracy claim involving allegations of unlawful conduct under Bahraini, Saudi and Malaysian law, and issues as to the actionability of a conspiracy to use means unlawful under foreign law.

Energy & natural resources

Acted in an ICC arbitration in a dispute over alleged contractual repudiation causing disruption to the activities of a gold mine in Guinea, West Africa.

Med Mining and Minerals Limited v Nusantara: acted as sole counsel in a substantial Commercial Court trial (against leading counsel for both other parties) relating to the activities of a mining company in the Far East, involving contractual claims and alleged fraudulent breaches of fiduciary duty.

Acting for a company in the CIS in claims against an international metals and mining conglomerate for breach of contract and economic torts in relation to the operation of a mining complex in the CIS.

Unjust enrichment & restitution claims

Acted in a restitutionary claim against a high street bank for recovery of payment made by mistake.

Acted for the claimant in a multi-million pound claim in unjust enrichment brought by a property developer against a major institutional property fund.

Acted for the claimant in a claim for restitution in relation to benefits conferred as part of pre-contractual negotiations where no contract materialised.

Career

2008 Call, Middle Temple

Education

2007 – 2008 BVC, Inns of Court School of Law (Outstanding, 2nd in year)

2005 – 2006 Graduate Diploma in Law (Commendation)

2001 – 2005 BA, St Catharine’s College Cambridge, Modern and Medieval Languages (French and German) (Starred first, 1st in year)

Awards

2008 Baron Dr Ver Heyden de Lancey Prize, Middle Temple

2008 Scarman Scholarship, Inns of Court School of Law (for 2nd highest results on the BVC)

2007 Queen Mother Scholarship, Middle Temple

2005 Mrs Claude Bennington Prize, Cambridge University, for highest result in university in Modern Medieval Languages

2005 Tasker Prize, St. Catharine’s College Cambridge, for outstanding merit in Modern and Medieval Languages

2005 St. Catharine’s College Cambridge Book Prize

2002, 2003 Kurt Hahn Prize, Cambridge University, for highest marks in university in German in Tripos Part 1A (2002) and Part IB (2003)