James has extensive experience acting both on behalf of claimants, defendants and insurers 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 backed professional indemnity work.
Professional Negligence Cases
Example cases of note include:
- Claim arising from alleged solicitor’s negligence acting for vendors in a share sale agreement, in that the solicitors failed to limit all warranties given to the vendors’ knowledge and belief where the business was complex with multiple sites and employees and three vendors did not participate in management. Complex and difficult causation issues as to the effect of the purchasers’ claim alleging numerous fraudulent misrepresentations, which allegations (if true) could have been pursued regardless of any limitation on the warranties. Claim for £4.3m.
- Defending claim by liquidators of well-known company specialising in modifying high-end 4x4s against the former administrators/liquidators of that company. Allegations of impropriety in how the administrators came to be appointed and as to the payments made by them to the appointing charge holder. Numerous and complex allegations, made more complex by their historic nature (the alleged misconduct was 9 years old) and the state of the documentation now available.
- Instructed by solicitors’ professional indemnity insurers in a claim arising from the grant of a lease of a Grade II listed boatyard. Alleged failure to advise that the landlord had no title to grant the rights of way stated in the lease such that the claimant’s business was not viable. Case involved expert reports in four separate disciplines and issues of scope of duty/the SAAMCo ‘cap’. Claim for c.£2.1m.
- Claim against an accountant for breach of a contract to value shares arising from the settlement of an unfair prejudice petition. Accountant’s breach permitted one of the parties in dispute in the unfair prejudice petition to resile from the settlement and resume the dispute. The unfair prejudice petition and the company were Scottish whereas the accountant was based in England. Complex issues of the effect of the Scottish judgment permitting resumption of the unfair prejudice dispute and its relevance to a claim against the accountant on the English contract.
- 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.
- 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 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 litigation solicitors who negligently caused c. £750 worth of costs orders to be made against their client and then did not satisfy the orders 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 claims, including failure to warn of systemic vulnerabilities in the company’s organisation and to discover forged receipts/invoices. Losses of c.£100k-£1.3m.