Call: 2017

James Shaw

Practice overview

James is a specialist commercial litigator with particular experience in shareholder claims, other corporate disputes and cases involving allegations of fraud or dishonesty. His work is often international in nature and he is regularly instructed as sole counsel across his specialisms.

James also has a strong practice in related areas, notably insolvency, construction, and executive-level employment disputes. You can find further detail on James’ experience within each of the specialist area tabs of his profile.

James’ current and recent instructions include:

  • Acting as junior counsel in a c.£80 million contractual dispute arising out of the liquidation of public sector contractor Carillion. Led by Paul Reed QC and Sri Carmichael.
  • Acting as junior counsel in unfair prejudice proceedings under s.994 Companies Act 2006 (value confidential). Led by Paul Strelitz.
  • Assisting as junior counsel in High Court (London Circuit Commercial Court) proceedings arising out of a Share Purchase Agreement and raising allegations of executive-level dishonesty and counter-allegations of constructive dismissal.
  • Acting as sole counsel in a High Court (Commercial Court) claim to enforce a foreign judgment at common law (value c.$79 million).
  • Acting as sole counsel in High Court (Chancery Division) proceedings concerning alleged ultra vires exercises of powers by a company and its directors.
  • Acting as sole counsel in a High Court (Commercial Court) shareholder dispute arising out of a management buyout (value c.£2.5m).
  • Advising as sole counsel on the enforcement of various syndicated lending agreements and related guarantees in respect of loans of c.$90 million, including advising on English law limitation, conflict of laws, and jurisdictional issues.
  • Assisting (unled) in the litigation of a substantial offshore dispute following the alleged post-acquisition constructive dismissal of the CEO of an international company.
  • Acting for a defendant to a claim involving fraud and forgery issues in the context of a contractual claim for specific performance, declarations, and damages.
  • Drafting witness evidence in response to application for worldwide freezing orders and other relief in the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division).

James has experience working on high-profile and sensitive matters, including at a leading silver circle law firm, litigating a range of complex and high-value commercial, fraud, and other disputes, often for UHNW clients and/or in a highly sensitive reputational context.

He is also a member of the Government’s ‘Junior Junior’ panel.

Outside of work, James enjoys football, snooker, cooking, and travelling.

Areas of expertise

  • Commercial dispute resolution
    • Commercial litigation

      Commercial litigation

      James specialises in commercial litigation. He has a particular interest in corporate disputes, including post-M&A claims, and claims involving allegations of fraud, dishonesty, and/or other executive-level and fiduciary wrongdoing.

      Recent Work

      • Acting in an £80 million contractual dispute arising out of the liquidation of public sector contractor Carillion. Led by Paul Reed QC and Sri Carmichael.
      • Acting as sole counsel in a claim to enforce a foreign judgment at common law for c.$79 million.
      • Advising as sole counsel on the enforcement of complex syndicated lending agreements and related guarantees (value c.$90m).
      • Acting as sole counsel in a High Court (Commercial Court) shareholder dispute arising out of a management buyout (value c.£2.5m).
      • Assisting as junior counsel in High Court (London Circuit Commercial Court) in proceedings arising out of a Share Purchase Agreement and concerning allegations of dishonesty and executive-level wrongdoing.
      • Assisting Nigel Jones QC and Sri Carmichael in proceedings arising out of a multi-million dollar fraud claim.
      • Acting as sole counsel in High Court proceedings concerning the validity and enforcement of loans and raising issues of director wrongdoing.
      • Assisting a senior member of Chambers in respect of a post-acquisition SPA claim, including allegations of breach of warranty, misrepresentation, and deceit (among others).
      • Obtaining judgment for c.£500,000 as sole counsel in High Court (ChD) proceedings concerning allegations of unjust enrichment following the collapse of a proposed international investment.

      James also worked on a range of complex and high-value commercial matters prior to joining Chambers, including commercial fraud litigation, oil & gas arbitrations, regulatory investigations, and commercial chancery disputes.

    • Civil fraud & asset tracing

      Civil fraud & asset tracing

      James has excellent experience of bringing and defending claims involving allegations of fraud or dishonesty, including prior to joining Chambers.

      Recent Work

      • Acting at trial as sole counsel in a claim involving fraud and forgery issues in the context of a contractual claim for specific performance, declarations, and damages, including experience dealing with expert handwriting evidence.
      • Acting as junior counsel in High Court (London Circuit Commercial Court) in proceedings arising out of a Share Purchase Agreement and concerning allegations of dishonesty and executive-level wrongdoing.
      • Drafting witness evidence in response to application for worldwide freezing orders and other relief in the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division).
      • Advising as sole counsel on the ‘asset stripping’ torts and wrongful and fraudulent trading.
      • Assisting Nigel Jones QC and Sri Carmichael in proceedings arising out of a multi-million dollar fraud claim.

      Prior to joining Chambers, James gained substantial civil fraud experience at a silver circle litigation firm:

      • Assisting in litigating civil fraud claims arising out of a €100m fraud perpetrated against the investment vehicle of an UHNW individual: Group Seven & Anor v Nasir & Ors.
      • Advising on allegedly fraudulent investment schemes similar to those exposed in the above litigation.
      • Assisting with defending a civil fraud claim worth over $70m arising out of the failed sale of an oil rig and raising conflicts of law issues, the illegality defence in the context of breach of EU and US sanctions, and abuse of process on grounds of political persecution
      • Assisting in the successful defence of professional disciplinary proceedings involving allegations of dishonesty and financial manipulation.
    • Banking & finance

      Banking & finance

      James is developing his practice in banking and finance litigation and has good experience of the kinds of issues which arise in this area. He has a particular interest in claims arising out of the trading of cryptocurrencies.

      Recent Work

      • Acting for a well-known currency exchange platform in litigation concerning contractual termination fees.
      • Drafting Particulars of Claim on behalf of a lender seeking to enforce various contractual indemnities and personal guarantees in relation to a loan of c.£1 million.
      • Drafting an Advice on the prospects of obtaining an extended civil restraint order against a borrower.
      • Advising in respect of chattel mortgages in respect of goods held in foreign jurisdictions.
      • Assisting in litigating dishonest assistance and vicarious liability claims against bank personnel and their employers.

      James also accepts litigation and advisory instructions concerning secured lending arrangements, including appearing in matters regarding the enforcement of legal mortgages over residential property.

    • Companies, joint ventures & partnerships

      Companies, joint ventures & partnerships

      James has excellent experience in this area and has a particular interest in boardroom disputes. He frequently appears on a range of matters in the Companies Court (ChD).

      His recent experience includes:

      • Acting as sole counsel in a High Court (Commercial Court) shareholder dispute arising out of a management buyout (value c.£2.5m).
      • Acting as junior counsel in unfair prejudice proceedings under s.994 Companies Act 2006 arising out a joint venture (value confidential). Led by Paul Strelitz.
      • Acting as sole counsel in Chancery Division proceedings concerning the alleged ultra vires exercise of powers by a company and its directors.
      • Acting for the Claimant in proceedings concerning the alleged wrongful retention of shares, raising contractual, trusts, and restitutionary claims.
      • Advising and acting in a number of proceedings involving allegations of breaches of directors duties.
      • Defending applications for pre-action disclosure in respect of threatened unfair prejudice proceedings under s.994 Companies Act 2006.
      • Making various applications under the Companies Act 2006, including for restoration to the register of companies and for rectification of the register of charges.
      • Assisting a senior member of Chambers in advising a majority shareholder of regarding alleged mismanagement of company affairs by its directors.

      James’ experience in contentious insolvency matters (including director misfeasance issues) supplements this area of his practice well.

    • Employment & executive disputes

      Employment & executive disputes

      James accepts instructions relating to employment and executive disputes and has a particular interest in cases involving breaches of restrictive covenants or misuse of confidential information.

      James has strong experience of disputes involving high-level employees and CEOs. For instance, he is currently instructed to assist in a substantial offshore dispute involving the alleged constructive dismissal of the CEO of an international company following its acquisition by foreign investors, including considering issues of legal privilege, novel issues around state secrecy laws, and disclosure principles in the context of electronic data collection.

      His other recent experience includes:

      • Assisting as junior counsel in post-acquisition High Court proceedings concerning alleged executive-level wrongdoing following the purchase of a company, involving allegations of constructive and wrongful dismissal.
      • Appearing in the Employment Tribunal in various contractual, whistleblowing, and dismissal claims.
      • Drafting Grounds of Resistance in a claim for wrongful dismissal, discrimination and victimisation, and advising on state immunity and other jurisdictional issues.
      • Drafting an Opinion on the enforceability of various anti-competitive restrictive covenants within the partnership agreement of a major LLP.
      • Assisting in a claim relating to alleged disability and gender-based discrimination.
    • Franchising

      Franchising

      James welcomes instructions in franchising matters, which are complemented by his significant commercial litigation and advisory experience.

  • Insolvency & restructuring
    • Corporate insolvency

      Corporate insolvency

      James has experience of acting and advising on a wide range of corporate insolvency matters, including claims concerning the sale of company assets at an undervalue, directors’ misfeasance, antecedent transactions, and obtaining orders for sale. He also regularly appears in contested and uncontested winding up petitions.

      James regularly appears in the High Court (Insolvency and Companies Court) for this purpose.

      James is currently instructed (unled) to assist in a claim worth over £14m considering cash flow insolvency, directors’ duties, and corporate governance issues in the Channel Islands and internationally.

      Recent Work

      • Instructed (unled) to assist in a claim worth over £14m considering cash flow insolvency, directors’ duties, and corporate governance issues in the Channel Islands and internationally.
      • Advising on wrongful trading and the ‘asset-stripping’ economic torts against directors.
      • Drafting Particulars of Claim in a misfeasance claim under s.212 Insolvency Act 1986 against registered, de facto and shadow directors, alleging preferential and undervalued transactions and breaches of fiduciary duties.
      • Advising on the effect of s.127 Insolvency Act 1986 on a transaction and the merits of a ‘change of position’ defence.
      • Assisting a senior member of Chambers in an international shareholder dispute arising out of the sale of a state-controlled company’s sole assets at a significant undervalue.
    • Personal insolvency

      Personal insolvency

      James has excellent experience of personal insolvency matters and regularly acts for creditors, trustees in bankruptcy, and debtors.

      His recent experience includes contested bankruptcy petitions, applications to set aside statutory demands, obtaining orders for sale and validation orders, applications to annul bankruptcy orders, and resisting urgent applications for stays of execution.

    • Directors’ disqualification

      Directors’ disqualification

      James has experience of advising in respect of director disqualification and accepts instructions from all interested parties, including directors, office-holders, and, where appropriate, concerned creditors.

  • Construction & engineering

    Construction & engineering

    James has good experience across a range of construction disputes and is comfortable advising and acting in construction litigation, adjudications (including adjudication enforcement), and arbitral disputes.

    He also has a growing practice in matters where construction disputes and insolvency processes intersect.

    Recent Work

    • Acting as junior counsel in a c.£80 million contractual dispute arising out of the liquidation of public sector contractor Carillion. Led by Paul Reed QC.
    • Advising on insurance coverage in respect of a fire at commercial premises in Scotland, raising issues of contractual construction and the application of s.11 Insurance Act 2015. Led by Paul Reed QC.
    • Advising and acting for the Claimant in respect of contractual and restitutionary claims against an Employer where the main contractor had become insolvent.
    • Acting for a main contractor in restraining the presentation of a winding up petition by a sub-contractor seeking to exert pressure for payment on the grounds that (i) the sums were genuinely disputed and (ii) no crystallised debt had arisen under the relevant payment provisions.
    • Advising a director of a construction company in respect of personal guarantees, including as to the scope and application of the rule in Holmes v Brunskill.
    • Drafting an Opinion on the enforceability of liquidated damages provisions within a large oil and gas contract and the application of the ‘prevention principle’.

    He is also regularly instructed on professional negligence claims against a range of construction and property professionals. Further details can be found within the Professional Liability tab on his profile.

  • Professional liability
    • Property & construction professionals

      Property & construction professionals

      James has excellent experience of claims involving allegations of professional negligence or misconduct and is regularly instructed as sole counsel in such disputes.

      Recent Work

      • Acting and advising as sole counsel in a dispute concerning allegedly defective services by a firm of surveyors overseeing a large project at residential premises in London.
      • Acting as sole counsel in defending a negligence action against a property management company following multiple unsuccessful attempts to evict tenants.
      • Drafting an Advice in a claim for negligent asbestos disturbance and trespass.
    • Legal professionals

      Legal professionals

      James has excellent experience of claims involving allegations of professional negligence or misconduct and is regularly instructed as sole counsel in such disputes. He has a particular interest in professional negligence disputes involving solicitors and other legal professionals.

      Recent Work

      • Appearing in a number of claims against conveyancing solicitors relating to the failure to obtain relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax in residential property transactions, raising (inter alia) issues concerning the construction of tax statutes and ‘loss of chance’ principles.
      • Drafting an Advice on a potential negligence claim against a firm of solicitors acting in the proposed purchase of commercial premises, including consideration of the effect of certain provisions of the Localism Act 2011.
      • Acting for a Defendant seeking a wasted costs order against a firm of Claimant solicitors arising out of failed personal injury litigation.
      • Acting for solicitors seeking payment of unpaid fees where allegations of poor service and negligence are made by former clients.
  • Costs litigation

    Costs litigation

    James’ core specialisms regularly throw up costs issues and he has advised on and acted in a wide range of costs cases.

    Recent Work

    • Drafting a security for costs application in respect of a substantial counterclaim.
    • Acting in an application for wasted costs against a claimant’s solicitors following late discontinuance of a claim.
    • Assisted PJ Kirby QC in the Trucks Cartel Litigation (Road Haulage Association Ltd & Ors v MAN SE & Ors [2019] CAT 26), in which the Competition Appeal Tribunal decided a novel point of law with industry-wide consequences for litigation funders.

    Prior to joining Chambers, James was part of a team acting for the Third Party Respondent in an application for a non-party costs order against a litigation funder and alleged controller: Barker v Baxendale-Walker [2017] 10 WLUK 593.

  • International

    International

    James has worked on a range of international litigation across a number of jurisdictions in Europe & the Channel Islands, the USA, Middle East, China and West Africa. He is developing a practice with a strong international element and is comfortable dealing with issues which frequently arise in cross-border disputes.

    Recent Work

    • Acting as sole counsel in a claim worth c.$79m seeking to enforce a foreign judgment at common law.
    • Assisting (unled) in a substantial claim in the Channel Islands concerning corporate activity in multiple European, Asian and West African jurisdictions, advising on a range of cross-border disclosure, privilege, and jurisdictional issues.

Qualifications

BA, Jurisprudence (St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford)

Bar Professional Training Course (University of Law, London)

Scholarships & Prizes:

  • Major BPTC Scholarship (Astbury Award), Middle Temple
  • Performance Award, University of Law
  • Access to the Bar Award, Middle Temple

Publications

Contributor to Insurance Broking Practice and the Law (edited by CMS Cameron McKenna)

Professional associations

  • COMBAR (Commercial Bar Association)
  • YIAG (Young International Arbitration Group)
  • ConTrA (Contentious Trusts Association)
  • ThoughtLeaders4 FIRE & Disputes
  • Advocate Panel Member (formerly Bar Pro Bono Unit)

News

Preserving causes of action in an insolvency context: reasonable diligence and the Limitation Act

22/07/2021

What is the meaning of “good will”? The Court of Appeal continue the debate

04/11/2020

Business as usual? Early lessons learnt in handling litigation remotely

20/04/2020

Priya Gopal and James Shaw become members of Hardwicke

02/10/2019

Practice: Pleading awful

10/04/2019

Articles

Preserving causes of action in an insolvency context: reasonable diligence and the Limitation Act

22/07/2021

What is the meaning of “good will”? The Court of Appeal continue the debate

04/11/2020

Misunderstandings and doctrinal overgrowth: WM Morrisons Supermarkets plc v Various claimants

23/04/2020

Business as usual? Early lessons learnt in handling litigation remotely

20/04/2020

Employment issues arising in a global pandemic

31/03/2020

Past events

#HardwickeBrew – Individual Voluntary Arrangements

10/06/2021

#Hardwicke Brew – What Brexit Means for Litigators: Enforcement of Foreign Judgments and Service of Proceedings after Brexit

21/04/2021

Sarah Clarke and James Shaw speaking at Simon Gore’s Company and Insolvency Conference 2021

24/03/2021

#HardwickeBrew – Insolvency – 2020: The Nine-Month Nightmare Before Christmas and What Might Be in Your Stocking for 2021

17/12/2020

J2J Construction: Payment provisions

16/12/2020

#HardwickeBrew – Insolvency/CDR – Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act – Insolvency Termination Clauses

23/07/2020

J2J Commercial: Obtaining and resisting injunctions: strategies, pitfalls and the duty of full and frank disclosure

18/06/2020

J2J Insolvency Half Day

25/02/2020

Videos

J2J Insolvency Half Day

25/02/2020