James has a broad commercial and chancery practice, with a particular interest in domestic and international commercial disputes, arbitration and offshore litigation.
He specialises in cross-border disputes, private international law and trust litigation. Since starting practice, James has regularly worked with teams in different languages and on issues relating to a number of different offshore jurisdictions including The Bahamas, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.
He has a breadth of experience of high-profile commercial litigation: he is regularly instructed in the Chancery Division and Commercial Court and has appeared (led) in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
James is bilingual in Italian and a native speaker. As a barrister, he is regularly instructed in commercial matters involving Italian language and with Italian speaking clients. Previously, James has worked as a research assistant to leading Italian academics, Prof. Guido Alpa (La Sapienza Università di Roma) and Prof. Attila Tanzi (Università di Bologna).
He has extensive academic experience, particularly in contract law. Before joining the Bar, James taught law at Oxford University, teaching a number of subjects including contract law to undergraduate students across different colleges. Since starting his practice, James has conducted a series of training sessions with leading international law firms on the interpretation of guarantees and performance bonds and is also a contributing editor to Wilmot-Smith on Construction Contracts (4th Edn.)
Areas of expertise
James has developed a broad commercial practice across a range of different sectors, with a particular interest in matters involving complex questions of private international law.
Alongside his trial work, James is very experienced advising and/or preparing a range of different procedural matters in the Chancery Division or Commercial Court and regularly acts in commercial disputes involving international clients. This includes, for instance, applications for freezing injunctions, security for costs, amendments to statements of claim and applications for a counterclaim.
Recent instructions include:
- Advising and drafting pre-action correspondence in relation to a proposed claim involving complex questions of company law, allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, account of profits and equitable compensation.
- Advising an Italian company in a claim for declaratory relief made in England relating to purported information and advice given by a financial consultancy firm.
- An application to register two Bahamian costs orders under section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1920;
- Application for an interim charging order following judgment on the substantive claim in the Chancery Division.
- Acting (early 2020 – early 2021) as consultant counsel for the Financial Ombudsman Service, providing numerous advices on a range of matters relating to financial services law and regulation.
James has a keen academic interest in commercial law more generally: he has given a number of training sessions to leading international law firms on recent developments in the bonds sector (with a particular focus on the decision in Yuanda (UK) Company Ltd v Multiplex Construction Europe Ltd  EWHC 468) with Alexandra Bodnar (Keating Chambers). Alexandra and James have written on this topic and for further information see here (part one) and here (part two). He is also a contributing editor to Wilmot-Smith on Construction Contracts (4th Edn) and has edited the first chapter dealing with issues relating to contract formation. Prior to practising at the Bar, he taught (amongst other subjects) contract law to undergraduate students at the University of Oxford.
Cases of note:
- Gian Angelo Perrucci v Orlean Invest Holding Ltd  EWHC 2038 (Comm), London Circuit Commercial Court (KBD), led by Andrew Holden (XXIV Old Buildings) - Acted for the Defendant responding to a summary judgment/strike out claim in relation to multi-million pound dispute over the termination of a consultancy agreement between a Swiss resident and a BVI company (Defendant also brought an application to amend its statement of case). Click here for the judgment.
- Athena Capital Fund SICAV-FIS S.C.A. & Others v Secretariat of State for the Holy See  EWCA Civ 1061, Court of Appeal, led by Charles Hollander KC (Brick Court Chambers) with Samar Abbas Kazmi (Atkin Chambers) – James appeared in the appeal of the case management stay below in the same matter where ongoing criminal proceedings were taking place in the Vatican City State (see below).
- Gabriele Volpi & Delta Ltd v Matteo Volpi  EWCA Civ 464, Court of Appeal, led by Andrew Holden (XXIV Old Buildings) - James successfully represented the respondents in an appeal where the Court gave an important summary of the proper approach to appeals on questions of fact as well as the principles relating to the presumption of advancement. Click here for judgment.
- Athena Capital Fund SICAV-FIS S.C.A. & Others v Secretariat of State for the Holy See  EWHC 3166 (Comm), Commercial Court, led by Michael McParland QC with Samar Abbas Kazmi (Atkin Chambers) - Application to challenge jurisdiction or stay a claim for declarations where the context of the claim was a criminal investigation and later trial taking place in the Vatican City State. Click here for judgment which contained an important consideration of the approach to jurisdiction under the Brussels Recast Regulation, Civil Procedure Rule (CPR) 6.34 and the principles governing a case management stay.
- Gabriele Volpi & Delta Ltd v Matteo Volpi  EWHC 2143, Chancery Division, led by Andrew Holden (XXIV Old Buildings) - James successfully represented the claimants in their claim for the repayment of a CHF 6m loan in relation to the purchase of an apartment near Lugano, Switzerland after a four-day trial. Click here for judgment.
- PJSC Rosgosstrakh v Starr Syndicate Ltd & Others, Commercial Court, led by Michael McParland QC with Samar Abbas Kazmi - Acted for reinsurers operating in the London market in resisting enforcement of a set of Russian judgments obtained by a Russian insurance company.
James has substantial experience of international arbitration matters, including both ad hoc and institutional arbitrations as well as associated appeals and challenges to the supervisory court. He has built up particular experience of matters relating to a number of different jurisdictions across Europe, the Middle East and offshore jurisdictions such as The Bahamas.
He has a particular interest in trust arbitrations and how they operate in different jurisdictions. James has practical experience of trust arbitration (see below) and has co-authored the Chancery Bar Association’s response to Law Commission Consultation Paper 257 which reviewed the Arbitration Act 1996 and advocated (amongst other things) adapting the provisions of the Arbitration Act 1996 to cater specifically for trust arbitrations (see here for the full paper).
Recent experience includes:
- LCIA Arbitration: acted for a BVI company in respect of a US$150m loan dispute with another BVI company. Led by Michael Black KC with Andrew Holden at XXIV Old Buildings.
- LCIA Arbitration: acting as a Tribunal Secretary in a construction dispute for sums allegedly due under a dredging and reclamation works contract between two UK incorporated companies.
- The Bahamas, arbitration challenges and appeals: assisting in relation to a series of challenges and appeals made pursuant to sections 89, 90 and 91 of The Bahamas Arbitration Act 2009 arising out of a trust arbitration. James is led by Michael Black KC (XXIV Old Buildings) with Andrew Holden (XXIC Old Buildings), with local counsel. The dispute involves complex and some novel questions of Bahamian arbitration law and has included:
- An application to stay an ongoing arbitration made pursuant to the Arbitration Act 2009 or the court’s inherent jurisdiction;
- Responding to an application for security for costs pursuant to s92(6) of the Arbitration Act 2009;
- Determining whether the court can grant permission to appeal an arbitral award under the Arbitration Act 2009.
- UNCITRAL arbitration (Bahamas seat, ongoing): acting for the settlor in a high-value trusts arbitration concerning a dispute over a series of distributions made by the trustee of Bahamian trusts to the settlor and beneficiary (led by Elspeth Talbot-Rice KC, Michael Black KC with Andrew Holden at XXIV Old Buildings Chambers). The dispute involves complex questions of trusts law including rectification, breach of trust, knowing receipt and dishonest assistance.
- DIFC-LCIA Arbitration: assisting Rachael O’Hagan (as part of pupillage) in the preparation for a hearing determining quantum in a large-scale construction dispute.
Trusts, International and Offshore
Since starting practice, James has built up substantial experience of offshore and international work with ranked industry leaders. He has gained a range of experience of international trust litigation and of advising or assisting with matters involving different jurisdictions such as The Bahamas and Bermuda and/or matters involving cross-border elements.
He has a particular interest in trust arbitrations and how they operate in different jurisdictions such as The Bahamas. Alongside his practical experience, he is a co-author of the Chancery Bar Association’s response to Law Commission Consultation Paper 257 which reviewed the Arbitration Act 1996 and advocated (amongst other things) adapting the provisions of legislative framework to facilitate trust arbitrations in England & Wales (see here for the full paper).
- Advising the Plaintiff in a major trust litigation in the Supreme Court of The Bahamas (with local counsel) concerning a dispute arising out of two Bahamian trusts. Led by Simon Taube KC (Ten Old Square Chambers) and Andrew Holden (XXIV Old Buildings) (and previously Eason Rajah KC of Ten Old Square Chambers).
- Advising a protector of a series of trusts (English and Bermudian) as to his rights and duties as a protector, as well as his position following his removal from office by the trustee and beneficiaries. Led by Andrew Holden (XXIV Old Buildings) with local counsel.
- Advising and assisting in relation to a series of challenges and appeals made pursuant to sections 89, 90 and 91 of The Bahamas Arbitration Act 2009 arising out of a trust arbitration. James is led by Michael Black KC and Andrew Holden at XXIV Old Buildings (with local counsel). The case addresses a number of novel questions of Bahamian arbitration law.
- UNCITRAL arbitration (Bahamas seat): acting for the settlor in a high-value trusts arbitration concerning a dispute over a series of distributions made by the trustee of Bahamian trusts to the settlor and beneficiary (led by Elspeth Talbot-Rice KC, Michael Black KC with Andrew Holden at XXIV Old Buildings). The dispute involves complex questions of trusts law including rectification, fraud on a power, breach of trust, knowing receipt and dishonest assistance.
- Advising a BVI company on jurisdiction issues and the merits of a proposed claim to enforce a Bermudian promissory note in England against a proposed English party.
- Advising a BVI company on jurisdiction issues in relation to a proposed claim to enforce a Swiss loan agreement in England against a proposed English party.
- Advice and research on the choice of law principles governing a series of complex transactions including the assignment of shares by a Liechtenstein foundation in a BVI company to another BVI company.
Administrative and Public
James has been involved in a number of high-profile cases since being taken on as a tenant in 2018 and has gained experience of matters involving complex questions of constitutional law and European Union law.
Notable instructions include:
- Advising on various questions of EU free movement law following a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), including the effect of Regulation 1346/2000 (‘Insolvency Regulation) on the interpretation of EU free movement rights and the principles governing the scope of Article 45 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in the context of pensions and insolvency.
- Junior counsel to the Infected Blood Inquiry chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff.
- Junior junior instructed by the Government Legal Department, with respect to the judicial review challenge to the third runway at Heathrow.
Cases of note:
- Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal  UKSC 22, Junior counsel for the interested parties in the Supreme Court led by Sir James Eadie KC, Kate Grange KC and Catherine Dobson - The decision concerned the effect of s67(8) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 as well as parliament’s ability to legislate to oust the High Court supervisory jurisdiction in certain circumstances. For more information click here.