James Burton

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“He is very impressive, very good on his feet, easy to work with and very personable; he has got everything.”
Chambers & Partners 2014

Bar Awards_Enviro&Plan_junior_2015_72dpiJames Burton practises principally in environmental, planning, administrative and energy law, also insurable risk and related aspects of the common law. The nature of his practice often brings these complementary areas together.

James’ work is both domestic and international. Internationally, he has specific expertise in large scale toxic torts.

He frequently represents clients as their sole advocate and appears regularly in the High Court and Court of Appeal as well as at public inquiry and the criminal courts. He is equally comfortable working alone or as part of a large team in heavier disputes (in addition to major planning matters, James was part of the legal teams in the Abidjan Group Litigation and the Accident Group Litigation).

James’s administrative law experience includes appointments as an investigating officer in respect of matters relating to allegations of misconduct in public office. He is presently instructed for a number of petitioners in relation to the High Speed 2 Bill.

James was named ‘Junior of the Year’ in the Environmental and Planning category at the 2015 Chamber Bar Awards.


Ranked 3rd amongst junior planning barristers under 35 nationwide in the Planning Magazine Guide to Planning Lawyers 2012-13.


Ranked in Chambers and Partners as a leading junior in Planning Law and Environmental Law and in Legal 500 as a leading junior in Planning Law.


“Highly motivated, and has an excellent sense of strategy and tactics.” Legal 500 2015
“He is very impressive, very good on his feet, easy to work with and very personable; he has got everything.” Chambers and Partners 2014
“He is a brilliant planning junior and one to watch.” Chambers and Partners 2014
“He is always very clear and decisive.” Chambers and Partners 2014

Related Cases


Environmental & Planning

R (RWE Npower Renewables Ltd) v. Milton Keynes Council 17 April 2013 [2013] EWHC 751 (Admin)

The leading case on the meaning and extent of “Local Development Documents”, “Development Plan Documents/Local Plans” and “Supplementary Planning Documents”. Appeared for the Claimant, led by Gordon Nardell QC (note that the Defendant Council withdrew its appeal to the Court of Appeal). See also R (Miller Homes) v Leeds City Council [2014] EWHC 82 (Admin) (presently under appeal), in which James was again for the Claimant, led by Gordon Nardell QC, on a similar point.

R (Macrae) v Herefordshire [2012] EWCA Civ 457

LPAs’ statutory duty to give reasons for a grant of permission; impermissible to expect the public to search for reasons in documents other than the grant of permission where the grant was contrary to officers’ reports to committee; CPR 54.5 requirement that a claim for judicial review be brought “promptly” (in the event, the Court of Appeal, allowing the appeal, found it unnecessary to deal with the promptness argument). Appeared for the Claimant/Appellant below and on appeal, led by Richard Drabble QC on appeal.

R (Godfrey) v Southwark [2012] EWCA Civ 500 19 September 2012

Substantive legitimate expectation and material considerations in planning. Appeared for the Claimant/Appellant below and on appeal, led by Ian Dove QC on appeal.

“Wightlink” public inquiry [2011] (before Inspector Mary O’Rourke)

Appeared for Natural England at this significant inquiry which marks a watershed for the concept of adaptive management as part of mitigation that can lawfully be included within Art.6(3) appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive.

Tegni Cymru Cyf v Welsh Ministers [2010] EWCA 1635

Appeared for the Claimant, led by William Norris QC, in this s.288 challenge to a decision to refuse planning permission for a wind farm on noise grounds. An important case concerning the scope of ETSU-R-97.

R (Street) v Cardiff City Council [2010] EWCA Civ613

Represented a local Cardiff resident in his claim for judicial review of a decision of Cardiff City Council granting planning permission for a large balloon to be stationed by Cardiff Bay. Appeared at first instance in the High Court and then (successfully) in the Court of Appeal.

R (Miller) v North Yorkshire County Council and Tarmac [2009] EWHC 2172 (Admin)

Proceedings brought against the grant of planning permission for a 33 hectare extension to a sand and gravel quarry, concerning material considerations and the scope of officers’ reports.

Motto & Ors v Trafigura [2009]

A 30,000 claimant class action seeking damages for alleged environmental contamination in the Ivory Coast.


R (RWE Npower Renewables Ltd) v. Milton Keynes Council 17 April 2013 [2013] EWHC 751 (Admin)

See above.

R (Homesun, Solar Century, Friends of the Earth) v Secretary of State [2012] EWCA Civ 28.

The much publicised solar feed-in tariff litigation. Appeared (successfully) alongside the Claimants on behalf of two Interested Parties.

Tegni Cymru Cyf v Welsh Ministers [2010] EWCA 1635

See above

Motto & Others v Trafigura (the Abidjan Group Litigation) [2009]

See above.

Disaster & Group Litigation

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry v Stuntbrand Line and others [2011]

Heavy litigation between the Secretary of State and the shipping lines/P&I Clubs that stood behind them, arising out of the Rice and Thompson asbestos litigation.

Johnston & ors v TAG Farnborough Airport [ongoing]

200+ claimants seek compensation pursuant to the Land Compensation Act 1973 for alleged diminution in the value of their properties due to environmental “physical factors”, chiefly aircraft noise, fumes and vibration, caused by public works to expand and upgrade nearby Farnborough Airport.

Motto & Others v Trafigura [2009]

See above.

The Accident Group Litigation 2007

Professional negligence action on a grand scale. Brought by insurers to The Accident Group (“TAG”), against TAG Panel Solicitors

R v Balfour Beatty and Railtrack [2005]

Prosecutions arising out of the Hatfield rail crash.

Insurable risk

Oliva v (1) Mahmoud (2) Liverpool Victoria [2014]

Catastrophic brain injury suffered by a young Brazilian woman whilst working in London. The first known example of a periodical payments order tied to a foreign index (the index being a basket of Brazilian healthcare products and services, an approximation of ASHE 6115).

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