James specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration, banking and financial services, civil fraud, energy, and regulatory & professional disciplinary law. He has substantial experience of high-value, complex commercial litigation and arbitration, and regularly appears as sole counsel for applications and trials, as well as acting as a junior in larger legal teams.

Much of James’s work is international, including recent cases in the Bahamas, BVI, Bermuda, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Cyprus, Guernsey, Jersey, and several Middle East jurisdictions.

James has been recognised by Legal 500 as a leading junior in the UK, UAE and Asia Pacific regions, including for Financial Services Regulation, Commercial Litigation, and Energy.


‘He is extremely hardworking, produces excellent written submissions and is extremely good in legal analysis.’

Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018

‘An impressive advocate who is highly intelligent and knowledgeable; a delight to work with.’

Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020

James undertakes a wide range of banking and financial services work, both contentious and non-contentious.

Current and recent instructions include:

  • US$70m bank fraud in Malaysia involving Norwich Pharmacal/Bankers Trust applications in numerous jurisdictions (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • Medsted Associates Ltd v Canaccord Genuity Wealth (Intl) Ltd: acting on appeal and quantum trial concerning fiduciary duties of brokers (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • Advising on subordinated debt in a shipping finance dispute in Hong Kong. 
  • Advising a European central bank on resolution action under the Banking Resolution and Recovery Directive.
  • Hong Kong Stock Exchange v X: advising on regulatory proceedings brought by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • Al-Khorafi v Sarasin-Alpen and Bank Sarasin: 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 (with Hodge Malek QC and Yash Bheeroo).
  • X v Guernsey Financial Services Commission: acting in judicial review of the GFSC concerning disciplinary action against a Guernsey firm (led by Richard Lissack QC and Robin Barclay).
  • Advising the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman in relation to pensions transfers.
  • London Stock Exchange v X: acting for a nominated adviser defending disciplinary proceedings by the LSE.
  • Acting for ICAP in relation to LIBOR fixing investigations by the FCA and international regulators (with Hodge Malek QC).
  • Acting for RBS/NatWest as part of a s.166 skilled person team in the FCA-approved review of sales of Interest Rate Hedging Products.
  • Advising on a shipping finance appeal in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court in Malaysia, Kish Acme Tower Co v Maybank (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • Advising a South Korean oil company challenging a $700m English law security deed.
  • Plevin v Paragon Finance [2014] UKSC 61: assisting in the leading Supreme Court case on PPI and the Consumer Credit Act (led by Hodge Malek QC and James Strachan QC).

In non-contentious work, James advises on all aspects of FCA/PRA 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 has a particular interest in Islamic Finance, and has advised in relation to Sharia law in commercial disputes connected with various Gulf States.

James’s commercial practice includes commercial litigation and arbitration in England and internationally, particularly in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Caribbean. His work spans disputes in banking and financial services, fraud, energy, IT, telecoms and media, unfair prejudice petitions and 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.

Current and recent work includes:

  • Medsted Associates Ltd v Canaccord Genuity Wealth (Intl) Ltd: appeal and quantum trial concerning fiduciary duties of brokers (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • US$2+ billion fraud and breach of contract claim concerning the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas.
  • Sale and purchase dispute concerning an open-cast coal mine in South West Wales (sole counsel).Unfair prejudice petition concerning a start-up technology company (sole counsel).
  • Simpkin v Berkeley Group Holdings plc [2017] 4 WLR 116: high-value director’s bonus dispute; successfully defended an injunction application to restrain use of alleged LPP documents stored on employer’s IT system.
  • Bladeroom Group Ltd v Facebook: applications to obtain evidence under the Hague Convention in support of U.S. proceedings concerning alleged theft of trade secrets (sole counsel).
  • O.W. Bunker litigation: acting for a major creditor in relation to insolvency proceedings in Dubai and the UK.
  • Al-Khorafi v Sarasin-Alpen and Bank Sarasin: 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 (with Hodge Malek QC and Yash Bheeroo).
  • £3.5m GCCCAC arbitration in Bahrain under Saudi substantive law and Bahraini procedural law (sole English counsel).
  • NMDC v Kagalovsky: US$4.5m claim under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 concerning a dispute over control of a TV station in Ukraine (led by James Ramsden QC).
  • Freezing injunction relating to the Al-Bader oil fraud, Kuwait Oil Tankers Company v Al Mutawa (led by James Ramsden QC).

Civil fraud is a core part of James’s practice. Current and recent cases include:

  • US$70m bank fraud in Malaysia involving Norwich Pharmacal/Bankers Trust applications in numerous jurisdictions (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • US$2+ billion fraud and breach of contract claim concerning the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas.
  • Bascunan v Elsaca: US$60m fraud claim alleging theft of bearer shares and funds from bank accounts, spanning the BVI, New York and Chile (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • NMDC v Kagalovsky: US$4.5m claim under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 concerning a dispute over control of a TV station in Ukraine (led by James Ramsden QC).

James regularly advises regulated businesses on anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing and bribery 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. 

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. Recent work includes:

  • Representing an international oil company in two $800m arbitrations concerning tract participation in an offshore oilfield (led by Sean Wilken QC and Jess Connors).
  • £3.5m GCCCAC arbitration in Bahrain under Saudi substantive law and Bahraini procedural law (sole English counsel).
  • £260m oil & gas joint venture dispute spanning Singapore, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

James regularly acts for firms, individuals and regulatory and professional bodies 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 has also advised and acted in a number of cases relating to aviation regulation and regulation of the gaming industry under the Gambling Act 2005. He is a contributor to Jordan’s Regulatory and Disciplinary Proceedings (8th, 9th and 10th editions). 

Financial Services

Recent work includes:

  • Hong Kong Stock Exchange v X: advising on regulatory proceedings brought by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • London Stock Exchange v X: acting for a nominated adviser defending disciplinary proceedings by the LSE.
  • Roberts v FCA [2015] UKUT 0408 (TCC): acting for Mr Roberts, former CEO of Catalyst Investment Group, on appeal from Upper Tribunal (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • X v Guernsey Financial Services Commission: acting in judicial review of GFSC concerning disciplinary action against directors of a Guernsey firm (led by Richard Lissack QC and Robin Barclay).
  • Acting for ICAP in relation to LIBOR fixing investigations by the FCA and international regulators (led by Hodge Malek QC).  

Solicitors

James has acted for the Law Society/SRA on intervention challenges, interim applications, 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 firms to advise on compliance and money laundering issues.

Current and recent work includes:

  • Anjum v Law Society (High Court intervention challenge).
  • 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) (acting for respondent to SRA’s High Court appeal after SDT struck out allegations as an abuse of process) (led by Greg Treverton-Jones QC).
  • Advising on a wide range of regulatory matters including compliance, anti money laundering, self-reporting duties, client money and Alternative Business Structures.

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

Accountants & 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 significant experience of regulation under the Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, and associated legislation such as the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017. He advises operators on issues such as anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing, UK and international sanctions, payments, cheques and s.81 of the Gambling Act, online gaming, unfair contract terms, problem gambling and social responsibility.

Aviation 

James has experience advising on various aspects of ICAO, EASA and CAA regulation, as well as acting for airlines and individuals in commercial disputes involving aviation. He acted in the following judicial reviews:

  • R (Barraud) v CAA: judicial review concerning airspace changes at Gatwick Airport; permission granted and directed to proceed in the Court of Appeal given importance of the issues; later settled (led by John Steel QC).
  • R (Oxford Aviation Services) v Secretary of State for Defence and CAA [2015] EWHC 24 (Admin): judicial review concerning regulation of civilian aircraft using military aerodromes (led by John Steel QC and Duncan Sinclair).

Electoral Law

James has been instructed in a number of high-profile electoral law cases, including advising in relation to the EU Referendum, the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly elections, and the Boundary Commission’s review of constituency sizes. James has acted on election petitions in relation to the Tower Hamlets mayoral election and King’s Park (Hackney) local election in 2014. He was sole counsel for the successful petitioner in one of the major election petitions involving postal voting fraud, Ali v Bashir [2013] EWHC 2572.

  • COMBAR
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Financial Services Lawyers Association

Islamic Finance Qualification, Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (2014)

GDL and BPTC, City University (2010/11)

MPhil, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Pembroke College, Cambridge (2009), Distinction (top in year)

MA, English, Merton College, Oxford (2008), Double First

First prize, Times Law Awards (2012)

Phoenicia Scholarship, Bar European Group (2012)

David Karmel Scholarship (2009), Bedingfield Scholarship (2010) and Mould Senior Scholarship (2011) from Gray’s Inn (top scholarship each year)

Lee Essay Prize (second place), Gray’s Inn (2011) City University Prize for Public Law (2010)

Members’ English Prize for best dissertation, University of Cambridge (2009)

Arts and Humanities Research Council Studentship (2008-2009)

Fowler Prizes for performance in Finals (2008) and Moderations (2006)

College Exhibition (2006) and Postmastership (2007)

Contributing editor, Phipson on Evidence (20th edition, forthcoming)

Contributing editor, Mithani: Directors’ Disqualification

Contributor, Regulatory and Disciplinary Proceedings (8th, 9th and 10th editions)

Co-editor, Atkins Court Forms: Financial Services  Contributor, Butterworths Financial Regulation Service (EU financial services chapter)

Malek, Potts and Dzwig, “UK Bank Resolution”, in INSOL International - Bank Resolution: Key Issues and Local Perspectives (2019)

Malek and Potts, “The competing interests between bank and borrower when a bank in resolution sells debt”, Journal for International Banking and Financial Law (vol.32, no.5, May 2017)

“Client money claims against brokers”, Journal for International Banking and Financial Law (July 2015)

Malek and Potts, “Putting the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive to the test”, Journal for International Banking and Financial Law (vol.30, no.1, January 2015)

James is committed to pro bono and volunteers with the Legal Response Initiative (advising developing countries at UN Climate Change Conferences) and the Bar Pro Bono Unit. Before starting pupillage, James undertook internships with the Legal Aid Commission of Sri Lanka and the Public Law Project.