James Potts

Year of call:
2011
Email:
james.potts@39essex.com

Clerks:
+44 (0)20 7832 1111

James has a broad practice spanning commercial litigation and arbitration, banking and financial services, civil fraud, energy, regulatory & professional disciplinary law, aviation, procurement, and judicial review.

He regularly acts as sole counsel in trials and applications in the High Court, county courts and disciplinary tribunals, and has also appeared as sole advocate in the Court of Appeal. Internationally, James has experience of litigation and arbitration in the BVI, Singapore, Malaysia and a number of Middle East jurisdictions. He is admitted to practise in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) courts.

James is a contributing editor to Phipson on Evidence, Jordan’s Regulatory and Disciplinary Proceedings, and Butterworths Financial Regulation Service.

Banking & Finance


James undertakes a wide range of banking and financial services work, both contentious and non-contentious. He is an editor of the Financial Services volume of Atkin’s Court Forms (2014) and a contributor to Butterworths Financial Regulation Service (on EU financial services law) and the Journal of International Banking and Financial Law.

James has been instructed in a number of prominent financial services cases including:

  • Advising a European central bank on resolution action under the Banking Resolution and Recovery Directive
  • Application for permission to appeal to Court of Appeal in Roberts v FCA [2015] UKUT 0408 (TCC) (prohibition order against former CEO of Catalyst Investment Group Ltd)
  • Acting for Swiss Bank J. Safra Sarasin on appeal in the largest ever case before the DIFC courts, regarding alleged mis-selling of $200m of financial products, Al-Khorafi v Sarasin-Alpen and Bank Sarasin (with Hodge Malek QC and Yash Bheeroo)
  • Judicial review of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission concerning disciplinary action against a Guernsey firm
  • Defending disciplinary proceedings brought by the London Stock Exchange
  • Acting for ICAP in relation to LIBOR fixing investigations by the FCA and international regulators (with Hodge Malek QC)
  • Acting for RBS as part of a s.166 skilled person team in the FCA-approved review of sales of Interest Rate Hedging Products
  • Assisting in the leading Supreme Court case on PPI and the Consumer Credit Act, Plevin v Paragon Finance [2014] UKSC 61 (with Hodge Malek QC and James Strachan QC)
  • Acting against various banks in relation to IRHPs and PPI
  • Advising on a shipping finance appeal in the Court of Appeal in Malaysia, Kish Acme Tower Co v Maybank (with Hodge Malek QC)
  • Advising a South Korean oil company challenging a $700m English law security deed.

James regularly advises on complaints and challenges to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), and has acted for the FOS in a number of judicial reviews. He also has experience of investigations and prosecutions brought by the Serious Fraud Office, having appeared in SFO v Evans [2014] EWHC 3803 (Celtic Energy prosecution, led by Michael Beloff QC and Gabriel Moss QC).

In non-contentious work, James regularly advises on all aspects of FSMA regulation, capital adequacy, client money, takeovers and mergers, securities and derivatives, loan agreements, bond issues, guarantees, performance bonds, charges, letters of credit and consumer credit. He recently advised on a major bond issue by a social housing provider and on increased costs claims by a building society. He has a particular interest in Islamic Finance, and has advised in relation to Sharia law in commercial disputes connected with various Gulf States.

Commercial


James’s commercial practice includes commercial litigation and arbitration, banking and financial services, fraud, energy, professional negligence, intellectual property, applications under the Insolvency Act 1986 and Companies Act 2006, and applications for disclosure and interim relief such as freezing, delivery up and search orders.

Much of James’s work is international, particularly in the Middle East and Far East. This has included arbitrations under DIFC, LCIA, ICC and GCC Commercial Arbitration Centre rules. He has particular experience in conflicts of laws and jurisdictional disputes. In 2014 he spent 3 months on secondment to the litigation and arbitration department of an English law firm in Dubai.

Current and recent work includes:

  • US$60m fraud claim spanning the BVI, New York and Chile (led by Hodge Malek QC)
  • Acting for Swiss Bank J. Safra Sarasin on appeal in the largest ever case before the DIFC courts, concerning alleged mis-selling of US$200m of financial products, Al-Khorafi v Sarasin-Alpen and Bank Sarasin (with Hodge Malek QC and Yash Bheeroo)
  • £3.5m GCCCAC arbitration in Bahrain (sole English counsel)
  • Multi-million dollar arbitration concerning tract participation in an offshore oilfield (led by Sean Wilken QC and Jess Connors)
  • US$4.5m claim under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 concerning a dispute over control of a TV station in Ukraine
  • Shipping finance appeal in Malaysia, Kish Acme Tower Co v Maybank (led by Hodge Malek QC)
  • Advising a South Korean oil company on challenging a US$700m English law security deed (led by Hefin Rees QC)
  • Freezing injunction relating to the Al-Bader oil fraud, Kuwait Oil Tankers Company v Al Mutawa (with James Ramsden QC)
  • Various claims against banks in relation to Interest Rate Hedging Products
  • £260m oil and gas dispute spanning Singapore, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

James regularly advises on money laundering issues, most recently in relation to major casinos and during the sale of a £60m hotel. He has significant experience in relation to issues of disclosure and legal professional privilege, including advising on LPP during the Coulson/Brooks phone-hacking trial.

Regulatory & Disciplinary


James regularly acts for regulatory and professional bodies, individuals and firms on all aspects of professional and commercial regulation. He has particular experience in relation to financial services professionals, legal professionals, accountants and insolvency practitioners. He also advises on regulation of the gaming industry under the Gambling Act 2005. He is a contributor to the 8th edition of Jordan’s Regulatory and Disciplinary Proceedings (2015).

Financial services

James practises in all areas of financial services regulation, including advising firms on compliance, anti money laundering and investigations. He has acted in major regulatory cases including in relation to LIBOR and Interest Rate Hedging Products. He recently acted in Roberts v FCA [2015] UKUT 0408 (TCC) (concerning the collapse of Catalyst Investments). He acted for a firm subject to disciplinary proceedings by the London Stock Exchange. He has also acted in a judicial review of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission concerning disciplinary action against directors of a Guernsey firm. See the Banking & Financial Services section of his profile.

Solicitors and barristers

James has acted for the Law Society/SRA on a number of applications for disclosure and for delivery up and search orders against firms subject to intervention, as well as appearing for solicitors before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) and in appeals to the High Court. He is also instructed by solicitors’ firms on compliance and money laundering issues.

Recent cases include:

  • Law Society v Siddiqi (search and seizure order in respect of Saints Solicitors LLP)
  • Law Society v Li (application for information and documents under s.44B and Sch.1 of the Solicitors Act 1974)
  • Law Society v Pathania (disclosure and inspection application)
  • SRA v Manak & Dhillon [2016] EWHC 1914 (Admin) (defending the SRA’s appeal to the High Court after the SDT struck out allegations as an abuse of process) (led by Greg Treverton-Jones QC)
  • Advising solicitors on investigations by the SRA and matters ranging from the Legal Services Act 2007 and alternative business structures to legal professional privilege.

James was a Clerk to the Bar Disciplinary Tribunal (2014-17).

Accountants and insolvency practitioners

James regularly advises on matters relating to accountants and insolvency practitioners, including members of ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA and CIPFA. He acts for accountants and IPs subject to investigations and disciplinary proceedings, including appearing before ICAEW’s Disciplinary and Review Committees. He has advised regulators on issues such as appearance of bias, money laundering requirements, and tax avoidance schemes.

Gambling regulation

James has experience of regulation under the Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, including issues such as money laundering, payments, and social responsibility.

Administrative & Public


James has acted in judicial reviews including:

  • Acting for the Financial Ombudsman Service in a number of jurisdictional challenges
  • A judicial review of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission relating to disciplinary action against a Guernsey firm
  • R (Barraud) v CAA (airspace changes at Gatwick Airport) (with John Steel QC)
  • R (Oxford Aviation Services) v Secretary of State for Defence and CAA [2015] EWHC 24 (Admin) (regulation of civilian aircraft using military aerodromes) (with John Steel QC and Duncan Sinclair)
  • R (RMT) v Secretary of State for Transport (challenge challenge to franchising of the East Coast Main Line railway).

James has particular experience of election law, including acting in election petitions. He has acted for local authorities, candidates, election petitioners, and the Electoral Commission, and regularly advises on issues such as registration of political parties, election expenses, donations and party funding. Current and recent work includes:

  • Advising on election expenses for the May 2017 local government elections
  • Advising on the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly elections triggered by the resignation of the deputy First Minister
  • Advising on issues arising during the EU Referendum
  • Advising on the Boundary Commission’s review of constituency sizes
  • Acting as sole counsel for the successful petitioner in a high-profile election petition concerning postal vote fraud in Woking, Ali v Bashir [2013] EWHC 2572
  • Tower Hamlets
  • King’s Park, Hackney election petition.

International Arbitration


James regularly acts in international arbitrations as sole or junior counsel, and has experience of arbitrations under DIFC, LCIA, ICC and GCC Commercial Arbitration Centre rules. Current and recent work includes:

  • High-value arbitration concerning tract participation in an offshore oilfield (led by Sean Wilken QC and Jess Connors)
  • £3.5m GCCCAC arbitration in Bahrain (sole English counsel)
  • £260m oil & gas joint venture dispute spanning Singapore, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Aviation & Aerospace


James has acted in aviation-related judicial reviews, commercial claims for and against airlines, and in claims under EU law and the Montreal Convention. He has good knowledge of ICAO, EASA and CAA regulation, as well as aircraft financing issues.

Recent work includes:

  • Judicial review of the CAA concerning airspace changes at Gatwick Airport, R (Barraud) v CAA (with John Steel QC)
  • Acting for London Oxford and Biggin Hill airports in a judicial review that clarified the CAA’s statutory responsibilities for the safety of civil aircraft using military aerodromes, R (Oxford Aviation Services) v Secretary of State [2015] EWHC 24 (Admin) (with John Steel QC and Duncan Sinclair)
  • Acting for an airline in a claim regarding ticketing fraud.

Energy


James has acted in disputes in a number of energy sectors, including oil & gas, coal and renewables. Current and recent work includes:

  • Dispute concerning an introducer agreement in the oil & gas industry
  • Multi-million dollar arbitration concerning tract participation in an offshore oilfield (led by Sean Wilken QC and Jess Connors)
  • £260m oil & gas joint venture dispute spanning Singapore, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia
  • Successfully defending the SFO’s £160m prosecution of former directors of Celtic Energy and others, concerning restoration obligations for South Wales coal mines, SFO v Evans [2014] EWHC 3803 (led by Michael Beloff QC and Gabriel Moss QC)
  • Advising the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on reform of energy sector regulators including Ofgem and the Competition Commission.

Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

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