James Malam

Call 2002


"Technically sound, accessible, thorough, reliable and commercial."

The Legal 500 2020
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Professional Negligence

James has extensive experience acting both on behalf of claimants and defendants in disputes involving professionals such as architects, civil and structural engineers, insurance brokers, surveyors, estate agents, solicitors, accountants and tax advisors. He has also worked with those of a more niche profession, such as agronomists.

Prior to joining chambers, James worked at Fishburns Solicitors, where he specialised in insurance and professional negligence work. Having experience of life as an advocate and working for a solicitors firm, James has a thorough grasp of the commercial realities of any case. This enables him to give considered, calm counsel. He is also able to get to the very essence of the matter rapidly and plot an intelligent, cost effective course of action for his clients.

Professional Negligence Cases

Example cases of note include:

Claim for c.£300,000 against conveyancing solicitor for failure to advise vendor on a clause in the sale contract which required the vendor to procure that a covenant restricting development of the land sold be lifted. Issues as to the adequacy of the advice allegedly given as to the existence of the covenant and whether an explanation of the effect of it was required. Question of whether damages should be determined on a loss of a chance basis.

Claim against a contract administrator arising from the restoration of a Grade II listed building following a substantial fire. Whether and when the contract administrator was obliged to review a scaffolding contract and consider whether it remained appropriate value for money.

Claim against an IFA arising out of its failure to properly advise on an imminent reduction in the sum insured under a critical illness policy. Questions of the standard to be reached by an IFA generally but also of its obligations under the FSA code of conduct.

Claim against an accountant for its advice on a film-finance-style tax mitigation scheme. Whether (having said expressly that it could not recommend the scheme but in fact informing the client of all the potential benefits of it) the accountant was in breach of duty in failing to give proper advice on the scheme and whether and what loss was suffered.

Claim against building surveyor instructed in connection with the purchase of a substantial farm house. Whether the surveyor was negligent in failing to advise of significant damp and settlement in the property in light of the vendor’s attempts to cover up several areas which might have caused concern.

Claim against litigation solicitors for negligently failing to issue proceedings within the limitation period. The underlying claim related to an insurance broker’s negligence regarding completion of a critical illness proposal form.

Claim against conveyancing solicitors for failing to advise of the binding effect of exchange of contracts 8 months prior to completion of the purchase. Claim for c.£125,000.

Claim against insurance broker for improperly enquiring as to, improperly taking down, or misstating to insurers, information given during telephone conversation with insured as part of proposal for insurance of four public houses.

Claim against an agronomist for negligent advice as to chemical treatment of winter oil seed rape crop and as to preparation of seed bed for drilling. Complex questions of agronomy expertise and causation.

Claim against conveyancing solicitors for failure to advise on the VAT effect of the sale of a room in a hotel investment/failure to ensure that the purchaser was one who would not cause VAT to be payable on the sale.

Claim against litigation solicitors who negligently caused c. £750 worth of costs orders to be made against their client and then did not satisfy the costs or inform the client of them. Whether damages could be recovered when the impact on the client’s credit rating allegedly caused a mortgagee to repossess c.£1m of buy to let property owned by the client.

While at Fishburns: 

Claim regarding an accountant’s tax advice preventing reliance on spouse exemption from IHT, c. £1.5m tax liability.

Auditors’ breach of duty, including failure to warn of systemic vulnerabilities in the company’s organisation and to discover forged receipts/invoices. Losses of c.£100k- £1.3m.

Claim for breach of fiduciary duty against an estate agent alleged to have diverted prospective purchasers of a hotel to a different vendor, sale of whose property would give rise to greater fees.

Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd v. Mott MacDonald Ltd [2009] PNLR 9: assisted in the defence of a £13m claim for negligent misstatement allegedly made to a design and build contractor by the structural engineer employed by the developer of a large entertainment/shopping development.

Day to day conduct on behalf of insurers of Danish arbitration regarding the negligent rehabilitation of a Nicaraguan road, including detailed examination of complex engineering issues, extensive interviews with/examination of engineering witnesses on various technical aspects. Claim for circa £10 million. I represented the civil engineer who designed/supervised the works.

Claim against an architect for the allegedly negligent design of a series of houses (approximately 10-15) built by a developer. Various alleged generic defects in the designs included the foot of the stairs being designed so that it was too close to the front door.