James practises in administrative and public law; commercial and professional regulation; and commercial litigation and arbitration.
James has been profiled by Legal Week as one of its Stars at the Bar and nominated for both commercial litigation and banking and finance junior of the year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards. He has been named as “one of the leading senior juniors in commercial litigation ” (Legal 500) and “a rising star of the Commercial Bar” (Chambers and Partners). James’ public law practice is of equal depth. He is one of the Attorney General’s A Panel Counsel, appointed to conduct the most complex first instance and appellate advocacy for central government in all aspects of public law. James was previously a tutor and then college lecturer in public law at Oxford University and in 2019 was named by Finance Monthly as its UK public law lawyer of the year.
Alongside practice, James is an executive committee member of the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk (supporting human rights defenders worldwide). In 2018, in anticipation of Brexit, James was called to the Irish Bar (currently non-practising).
James has been consistently ranked in one or both of the Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 directories as a leading UK practitioner in each of his core areas of practice.
James’ public law and regulatory practice is wide ranging. He has a specialist practice in financial and legal services regulation (details of which are set out below); however his public law cases venture well beyond this. Having been a tutor and later lecturer in public law at Oxford University (St Hugh’s and Keble College), James has acted in dozens of matters concerning judicial review or statutory appeals, and has advised, or appeared for, national regulators (including the PRA, FOS, FSCS, FRC, and the SRA), central government (including the Home Office, Foreign Office, MoJ, HMRC, and DCMS), and a wide variety of claimants and interested parties, ranging from corporations and trade bodies to universities and private individuals.
James’ public law cases frequently concern commercial or regulatory subject-matter, but also address territory as diverse as parliamentary law, press regulation, international sanctions, civil justice reform, the recognition of foreign governments, higher education funding, healthcare, extradition, infringements of EU rights by public bodies, and claims for interferences with human rights. Highlights of practice are set out below.
Examples of past or ongoing matters:
(See also financial and legal services below for regulatory JR.)
James acts both for and against regulators in contested proceedings and advises regularly on financial regulatory issues, including FSMA and its subordinate legislation; the powers and competencies of the FCA, FOS and the FSCS; the Financial Services Handbook (in particular COBS, ICOBs, DISP, PRIN); the Payment Services Regulation collective investment schemes, and the territorial application of the FSMA regime. Examples of previous matters include:
James regularly advises both regulators and private persons concerning the obligations of legal service providers and the powers and public law duties of the SRA. He has acted in numerous judicial review or appellate proceedings concerning the SRA and the scope and effect of the regulatory framework. James also appears regularly (as sole counsel) in disciplinary prosecutions, including those concerned with dishonesty, the misappropriation of client funds and other serious misconduct. Examples include:
James’ commercial practice has covered a number of the most interesting commercial disputes to reach the courts in recent years, including the >£4 billion rights issue litigation arising out of the failure of RBS; the test cases on both PPI and bank overdraft charges (each of which had multi-billion pound consequences), and the leading Supreme Court authority on piercing the corporate veil and forum conveniens. He has been instructed in connection with a number of other matters heavily reported in the national press, including the controversial sale of BHS by the Arcadia Group; Tesco’s profit misstatement, and the LIBOR “rigging” scandal.
In addition to court proceedings, James has appeared in high-value international arbitrations, ranging from contested oil and gas industry contracts to disputes involving commercial trusts and the re-structuring of foreign debt.