James’s particular speciality is civil fraud in the context of private law chancery and commercial litigation. This includes both the relatively rare cases where fraud needs to be alleged explicitly and the commoner cases where there is a substantial element of dishonesty (or at least conduct of questionable probity), but where the appropriate legal remedy does not lie in a claim in which fraud must be proved, as well as advising as to which of the two categories that any given case falls into.
James is the author of the entries in Westlaw’s Insight encyclopedia on the tort of deceit and fraudulent misrepresentation, dishonest assistance and knowing receipt.
James also undertakes work in the broader field of chancery and commercial litigation, including contentious probate, real property, landlord and tenant, art and luxury assets and commercial contract.
James is also an advocacy trainer for the Middle Temple and also teaches on the South-Eastern Circuit's advanced advocacy course at Keble College, Oxford as well as having responsibility for civil advocacy training in chambers. James is involved in producing and setting the standard for questions in the civil litigation component of the Bar Professional Training Course.
Practice areas and recent work
James’s recent work in this field includes advising on a possible claim in fraud against a major bank arising out of the LIBOR affair in the context of a swap transaction, advising in relation to secret commissions in the context of payment protection insurance (“PPI”) mis-selling, appearing in applications for Bankers’ Trust orders following the fraudulent appropriation of money, advising and settling pleadings in an ongoing case involving alleged fraud, undue influence and breaches of fiduciary duty in a private property transaction, and advising in relation to multiple, unrelated claims concerning questionable property transactions made in the course of failed romantic relationships each involving substantial alleged dishonesty. James spent three years at the start of his career practising criminal law before going straight, and so has considerable experience of testing allegedly dishonest evidence in court.
James has also recently delivered seminars to firms of solicitors on the topic of reducing the risk of fraud in conveyancing and related transactions and what to do when it does occur, after having successfully appeared for a firm of solicitors who had been the victim of an e-mail interception fraud to obtain a freezing injunction very urgently against a defendant identified only by the account number of the bank into which the money was transferred. (In any case where this occurs, time is of the essence: for urgent inquiries out of hours, please contact James’s clerk on 0207 421 8000).
Wills and probate
James regularly undertakes work in the field of contentious probate and contentious matters regarding the administration of estates. James has recently been involved in cases where wills have been challenged on grounds including lack of testamentary capacity, forgery, undue influence and want of knowledge and approval. James is currently advising in a case concerning murder and the forfeiture rule, as well as cross-jurisdictional issues.
James has recently appeared and advised in multiple cases in which a deceased person’s dwelling has been let by some beneficiaries of the estate where rental incomes have not been distributed in accordance with the beneficial entitlements, cases involving the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, cases in which there are serious allegations of misappropriation of estate property made against administrators of the estate, and a claim against a person said to be an executor de son tort. James has also been involved in several cases concerning claims for fees relating to adult social care, including disputes relating to charges said to be imposed by the Local Authority and attempts by local authorities or relatives to set aside transactions made during a deceased’s lifetime on grounds of forgery, undue influence and want of capacity.
Art and luxury assets
James has been involved in setting up the Art Due Diligence Group, an organisation founded and designed by the head of art law in chambers, Jessica Franses, to mitigate risks in high value art transactions by providing a standardised process akin to the process that is commonplace in land conveyancing.
James’s recent work in this field includes appearing successfully for the claimant in a substantial trial for the recovery of valuable jewellery and antiques taken and not returned by a close relative of the claimant, who suffered from dementia, which involved contested expert evidence, appearing in two connected claims involving competing claims to ownership of a classic motor car, advising in relation to a dispute about whether a painting by a notable Russian artist was the subject of a gift during the lifetime of a deceased person and, together with Jessica Frances, advising on limitation issues in relation to a case concerning Nazi looted art.
James’s practice in this field includes landlord and tenant disputes, cases concerning trusts of land (including constructive trusts in cohabitation cases), land related fraud, and disputes relating to incorporeal rights over land, such as rights of way.
James’s recent cases in the field include a dispute over an alleged encroachment on a shared driveway, a dispute concerning whether alterations to a rear access of a row of houses caused by redevelopment amounted to substantial interference with the right of way in question, a dispute regarding an easement for a flue to commercial restaurant premises involving an urgent injunction application, contested claims for a new tenancy under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, contested claims for the recovery of arrears of rent against the estate of a deceased person, claims relating to dilapidations and hearings relating to contempt of court arising out of breaches of an injunction in a landlord and tenant matter.
James has a particular interest in commercial cases in which some element of dishonesty or want of probity is suspected or alleged. James has recently been instructed in a claim in the High Court relating to the purchase of an accountancy firm in which the parties alleged significant dishonesty against each other and which in part turned on the construction of a number of informal contractual arrangements, a claim and counter-claim in relation to the interior design of a public house involving allegations of defective work the honesty of which allegations was contested by one of the parties, a successful claim by a plant hire company to recover a debt from an individual following an unorthodox and unofficial form of “administration” of its customer, a claim for substantial unpaid fees of an interior designer in the context of a counterclaim for breach of contract, as junior to Richard Wilson, Q. C., an international arbitration relating to a multi-million pound energy contract, claims by professional accountants to recover unpaid fees in the context of counter-claims for breaches of contract, advising in relation to a possibly fraudulent commercial transaction at a motor car auction, and claims relating to the sale of goods in an industrial context.
- Landlord and tenant
- Wills and probate
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Appointments & Memberships
- Chancery Bar Association
- London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
- Fraud Lawyers' Association
- Bar Pro Bono Unit
- Chambers' Bar Council Ambassador
Art Incorporated v. Gulbenkian (2018, Chancery Division)
A claim in deceit against an art dealer who received US$1.3m for a sculpture never supplied, reported in the press here
Jo Frances v. Flitch of Bacon (2019, County Court)
A claim and counterclaim relating to interior design works at a public house in Essex run by a well known chef relating to unpaid invoices and allegedly defective work, reported in the press here, here and here.
R. v. Eze & Anor.  EWCA Crim 324
Convictions for fraud by false representation were overturned where a judge had given potentially confusing directions to the jury.
Khan v. Nationwide Solicitors  E. W. H. C. 841 (Q. B.) 2014 WL 1097083
A person was not a partner where he and two others out of four persons mentioned on a partnership agreement had signed the document.
Maqsood v. Mahmood  E. W. C. A. Civ. 251 (White Book 3.4.4)
A High Court judge was right to strike out a proprietary claim based on restitution.
Richmond Adult Community College v. McDougall  EWCA Civ 4
For the purposes of disability discrimination, a recurrence of the condition said to amount to the disability in question occurring subsequent to the act of alleged discrimination complained of could not be relevant to whether that condition was, at the time of that act, likely to recur for the purposes of whether the claimant was a disabled person.
Education and Qualifications
- LL. B. (hons., first class) Reading, 2001
- B. C. L. (Oxon) 2004