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James Shaerf

James Shaerf

Year of call: 2021 (Solicitor of England and Wales (non-practising), 2012)

Called in 2021 (Solicitor of England and Wales (non-practising), 2012)

James joined Chambers in 2022 having practised for more than a decade as a solicitor in major law firms in Paris and London, acting as counsel in more than 20 international arbitrations and in large-scale commercial litigation. Since coming to the Bar, James has appeared led and unled in the High Court (Commercial Court and Chancery Division), in international arbitrations, and (unled) in the ADGM Courts.

James accepts instructions in commercial litigation and international arbitration (commercial and investor-state) matters, with particular experience in disputes relating to energy, construction, banking, commodities, and civil fraud.

James’s recent publications include:

“Australian appeal court rules on functus officio” in Global Arbitration Review (7 March 2023) (with David Brynmor Thomas KC)

“Delay Claims – Law” in Dealing with Delay and Disruption on Construction Projects (Sweet & Maxwell: July 2020) (with Oliver Marsden and Bryan Dayton).

“Making losses good – navigating the legal uncertainty of mitigation of damages in international maritime arbitration” (Paper on mitigation of damages under English and French law selected to be delivered at the International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators, Rio di Janeiro, March 2020).

“Unjust Enrichment as a Primary Rule of International Law” in General Principles and the Coherence of International Law (Brill: 2019) (with Dr Ben Juratowitch KC).

James has additionally presented conference papers and lectures in recent years on damages and evidence in international arbitration, sovereign immunity, and legal ethics.

James speaks fluent French and is happy to accept instructions with a Francophone element. 

Areas of expertise


James accepts instructions in commercial cases of all stripes.

Cases of note:

  • •    Instructed as part of the Claimant’s counsel team in NMC Health PLC (in administration) v Ernst & Young LLP – an ongoing c. £2.5 billion Commercial Court claim against auditors arising from a substantial fraud being committed against, and the subsequent collapse of, a substantial healthcare business in the United Arab Emirates.  In connection with this matter, James has appeared on his feet on heavily contested applications in the Commercial Court on three occasions, as well as in the ADGM Court.
  • Instructed to appear on behalf of liquidators in the Insolvency and Companies Court to conduct the public examination of a director. 
  • Palladian Partners LP & Ors v The Republic of Argentina & Anor [2023] EWHC 711 (Comm) – acted on behalf of successful claimants in proceedings in the Commercial Court (Financial List) relating to GDP-linked securities issued by Argentina concerning the operation of the securities following Argentina’s decision to rebase its GDP.  Currently instructed for the claimants on the Republic of Argentina’s appeal to the Court of Appeal.
  • Acted unled in Chancery Division proceedings, Hayre v Minhas, seeking a proprietary injunction and ancillary disclosure orders. 
  • LCIA proceedings for a major hedge fund arising out of the rehypothecation of securities held by a recently collapsed prime broker (English law).
  • Chancery Division proceedings on behalf of the trustees of a Guernsey trust pursued by the liquidators of offshore companies holding security interests over trust assets.

International Arbitration

James has more than a decade’s experience acting as counsel in international arbitrations in a variety of sectors, including energy, real estate, mining, telecommunications, banking, and defence.

Cases of note:

  • ICC proceedings relating to the enforcement of a English law guarantee in respect of performance of a contract for hotel management in France (English law, Paris seat).
  • Instructed in a commodities dispute under the Refined Sugar Association Rules, in respect of a substantial dispute regarding shipments of sugar to Cameroon (English and Cameroonian law). 
  • ICSID proceedings against Croatia relating to a real estate complex in Dubrovnik
  • ICC proceedings for an Egyptian oil and gas company relating to non-delivery of gas to a downstream purchaser (English law)
  • LCIA proceedings for a Russian client over the fraudulent dilution of a shareholding in the holding company for telecommunications assets (English law, with satellite BVI and Cyprus litigation)
  • Ad hoc proceedings on behalf of a middle eastern government in relation to a defence offset agreement.
  • ICC proceedings for an African businessman in a commercial dispute arising out of the operation of a large African precious stones mine (English law)
  • SCC proceedings for a Russian confectionary company in a post-M&A dispute regarding misstatements in sales accounts (English law)
  • UNCITRAL proceedings on behalf of a central Asian state in relation to a dispute regarding a commercial real estate project


James has significant experience appearing in complex and technical construction disputes, including expert determinations.  James also regularly advises in relation to construction adjudications under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

Cases of note:

  • Currently acting on multiple construction adjudications concerning major real estate development projects. 
  • Acting in Chancery Division proceedings relating to insurance cover for latent defects in commercial real estate development. 
  • ICC arbitration and expert determination proceedings for a consortium of Asian engineering and construction firms relating to a petrochemical plant in north Africa (Algerian law)
  • SCC proceedings for a Russian oil and gas business related to the construction of gas turbines for use in a Moscow power plant (English law)
  • LCIA proceedings for a European oil and gas multinational relating to the construction of a semisubmersible mobile offshore drilling unit for drilling operations off the Libyan coast (English law)
  • ICC proceedings for a major European building materials company in a post-M&A purchase price-adjustment dispute and related expert determination (English law)