James Davies has a civil practice specialising in commercial, chancery and property matters. He appears regularly in the County Court and the High Court on interlocutory applications as well as fast track and multi-track trials. Further details of his specialist areas of practice can be found under his Commercial group and Property and Estates group profiles.
Before coming to the Bar James qualified as a Chartered Accountant. His professional practice included the audit of family owned companies (in particular construction businesses) and professional partnerships. James continues to remain up to date with industry developments and is able to apply his commercial experience to many of his cases. He is the co-author, along with Doctor Michael Reynolds, of “Partnership Disputes” published by Sweet & Maxwell.
James has been recommended in the Legal 500 since 2012 and Chambers & Partners since 2015 for Commercial and Chancery work on the South Eastern Circuit. He is “recommended for commercial disputes and insolvency matters”.
- Showing good cause – Leases and the costs of proceedings  NLJ 13
- Betterment - For better or worse?  NLJ 1635
- Landlord and Tenant: Déjà vu? Tenancy Deposits revisited  NLJ 1071
- Partnership Disputes  Sweet & Maxwell – with Michael Reynolds
- Making the Case for Validation Orders – July 2016 Lexisnexis
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James has a commercial practice covering a range of areas with a particular emphasis on insolvency and bankruptcy, appearing for petitioners, debtors and officeholders.
James is the co-author of “Partnership Disputes” by Sweet & Maxwell. He advises directors and shareholders on a broad range of disputes including: unlawful dividends, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of shareholders’ agreements and unfair prejudice petitions.
His experience extends to factoring agreements, guarantees, the Commercial Agent Regulations, franchising and high value sales of goods disputes.
James came to the Bar from a financial background having previously qualified as a Chartered Accountant. He has extensive experience of both corporate insolvency and bankruptcy, acting for debtors and officeholders and is a member of R3. He is able to use his accountancy skills in complex financial transaction cases, including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, preferences and transactions at an undervalue.
He has particular experience of capacity issues arising in the course of insolvency. He appears regularly in the County Court, the Bankruptcy Court and the Companies Court. He has also appeared in the High Court on insolvency appeals.
Recent work has included:
- Appearing for the liquidator on an application for a Berkley Applegate order to distribute client account monies where there had been a substantial shortfall on the client account
- Appearing for the successful petitioner on contested winding-up petitions in the High Court
- Appearing for the debtor in the determination of a trustee’s remuneration prior to an annulment application
- Representing a bankrupt at a Section 366 examination
- Representing a trustee in bankruptcy on appeal to the High Court on the meaning of 'needs' of the bankrupt in Section 335A of the Insolvency Act along with whether the court was entitled to consider the circumstances of the making of the original bankruptcy order on an application for an order for sale. The trustee’s appeal succeeded and the case is reported under Everitt v Budhram  Ch 170
- Advising a liquidator in a claim against the former director of a company wound up on public interest grounds for running a film financing scheme
- Advising the liquidator on an application to restore the company in order to allow a mis-selling claim to be pursued resulting in a distribution to creditors.
James’s professional negligence practice encompasses a number of specialised areas including claims against solicitors, accountants, tax advisers, architects and surveyors. James is able to draw on his previous experience as a Chartered Accountant in financially complex cases. James also has experience of claims relating to misuse of funds, including client account monies, by professionals.
The types of disputes James has acted in include:
- A claim against accountants for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty arising out of tax mitigation scheme which caused a substantial loss to James’s client
- A claim against a professional executor arising out of the negligent distribution of an estate
- Claims against solicitors in particular arising out of conveyancing and the conduct of litigation (including failure to advise adequately on funding and costs)
- A claim against a surveyor for signing off the final certificate on major works without adequate inspection
- A claim against a firm of accountants, and the accountant personally, for breach of fiduciary duty in relation to client account monies
- Seeking a freezing injunction against an accountant who had made unauthorised withdrawals from a client’s bank account.
Other recent work includes:
- Representing at trial in the High Court the seller in a breach of warranty/ fraudulent misrepresentation claim arising out of a share purchase agreement
- Appearing for a franchisor at trial on the termination of a franchise agreement, including an injunction for enforcement of restrictive covenants
- Acting throughout in a dispute concerning a shareholder agreement including representing at a four day trial at Central London County Court before His Honour Judge Dight
- Acting for a building contractor on a Part 20 claim against a major builders’ merchants for the supply of defective wood. The case also raised a procedural point arising out of an error in not joining the Part 20 defendant correctly. James succeeded at trial and successfully defended the judgment on appeal to the High Court
- Represented a household name waste disposal contractor in a trial concerning bribery of weighbridge operators including the use of covert surveillance footage and forensic reconstruction of deleted records
- Acting for a founder director/ shareholder in a West End consultancy in a minority shareholder dispute involving exclusion from management on a spurious basis. James acted from initial letter of claim through to a highly successful mediation
- Representing at mediation an international supply company in a claim against directors where large quantities of stock had disappeared following a liquidation.
Segar v Scott-Rees & Co.  CL 2759
Representing the Respondent firm in an appeal considering solicitor's liens in the course of active litigation where the client is unrepresented.
Everitt v Budhram  Ch 170
Representing the Respondent – appeal considered the meaning of 'needs' of the bankrupt in Section 335A of the Insolvency Act along with whether the court was entitled to consider the circumstances of the making of the original bankruptcy order on an application for an order for sale.
Mastermailer v Sandison & others LTL 21/4/2011
Representing the Appellant on an appeal to the High Court Judge against the Master’s decision to order security for costs in a complex case involving serious allegations against the former directors of a public company. Consideration of the extent to which on a security for costs application the Court must assume the claim will fail. Cited in the White Book.
Howden Joinery Ltd v Brain  3999 (QB)
Representing the Respondent, as he had at trial, where James had persuaded a Recorder to cure a defect in failing to join a Part 20 Defendant by joining them under CPR 19.2. James secured the dismissal of the appeal.
6th Dec 2018
Permission to Challenge a Trustee in Bankruptcy’s Remuneration
James Davies analyses the case of Singh v Hicken  EWHC 3277 (Ch); an appeal against the decision of a County Court judge refusing permission to Mr Singh, a discharged bankrupt, to challenge his trustee’s remuneration. Under Insolvency Rule 2016 18.35 the permission of the court is required before a bankrupt can make such a challenge.
James Davies represented Mr. Hicken both at first instance, where permission was refused, and on appeal to the High Court where the appeal was dismissed.
13th Mar 2018
Commercial update: Unlawful distributions to directors, and limitation
In order for limitation in a claim against a director to be extended under section 21, does he need to have direct control of assets taken from the company? James Davies considers the impact of the Supreme Court’s most recent analysis (Burnden Holdings (UK) Limited v. Fielding  UKSC 14).
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James practices across a broad range of property and chancery work with experience of advisory work, drafting and advocacy. He has a particular interest in landlord and tenant law, including the particular issues arising on historic ground rent claims. His practice also includes litigation arising out of conveyancing both in its own right and through professional negligence claims against solicitors.
He has a significant probate practice encompassing the Inheritance Act, applications to remove executors, construction of wills, and contentious probate. When acting in Inheritance Act claims he is able to use the analytical skills he learned as an accountant.
James is authorised to accept instructions direct from businesses, professionals and individuals under the Direct Access Scheme.
Recent work has included:
- Successfully representing a vendor in defending a claim for the return of a deposit in a conveyancing transaction where the vendor’s notice to complete was defective
- Representing the successful claimant in a week long trial concerning whether a sitting tenant was protected under the 1954 Act and the Standard Conditions of Sale. The claimant had purchased the property having been advised it was a residential tenant. The claim was brought against both the tenant and the vendor and succeeded against both
- Representing a beneficiary under a will in a two day trial under the Inheritance Act which involved consideration as to the extent of “reasonable” needs and whether parents could be said to have assumed responsibility to look after an adult child who had simply never left home
- Representing the defendant beneficiary in an Inheritance Act claim based on living together and financial dependency from initial advice through to a successful mediation
- Successfully removing an executor on the grounds of misconduct.
2nd Sep 2016
In the matter of D sub nom I v D (By his litigation friend the Official Solicitor), James Davies examines the approval of new guidance proposed by the Official Solicitor on the approach to be taken in Statutory Wills and dispensing with service.
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James has twelve years' litigation experience as a barrister, specialising in commercial and chancery litigation. He is repeatedly ranked in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.
Initially coming to mediation as an advocate representing parties, James trained in 2015 with ADRg as a mediator. Prior to coming to the Bar, James qualified as a Chartered Accountant. In 2016 he became a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. He is able to draw on his commercial experience when assisting parties to resolve business disputes and is sought after for his grasp of detail and ability to identify pragmatic solutions.
James' mediation experience, as an advocate or mediator, includes sale of goods claims, probate disputes, Inheritance Act claims, property disputes, landlord and tenant (commercial and residential) disputes, unfair prejudice petitions and shareholder disputes, multi-party disputes, professional negligence claims (including those against surveyors and architects) and disputes involving accountants.
Recent mediations have included:
- Dispute over unpaid accountant's fees and a professional negligence based defence.
- Dispute over jointly owned commercial property.
- Shareholder dispute between the founders of a company.
- Family dispute over whether money provided to help fund a property purchase was a loan or a gift.
- Inheritance Act claim with disputed allegations of living together and financial dependency being met by a needs based defence.
- A claim for livery fees and counterclaim for unpaid building work.
“A resolution was achieved thanks to your patience, understanding and mediation expertise.” - Quote from solicitor following a successful shareholder dispute mediation.
Leading junior who receives praise for his expertise in commercial disputes and property matters. He is noted for his expertise in cases concerning guarantees, partnerships and franchises. He is also frequently instructed in both corporate insolvency and individual bankruptcy cases. He regularly appears in the Bankruptcy Court, High Court and the County Courts.
"James gives very down-to-earth practical advice and is very approachable – you can always pick up the phone and run things past him." "The judges tend to like him a lot because he's very good at explaining the key issues and honing in on the areas that are particularly relevant to a claim."
Recent work: Appeared in Evans v Carter and Carter, acting for the trustee in bankruptcy in an application for an order of sale which raised complex unjust enrichment issues.
Chambers UK 2019/Commercial Dispute Resolution
Strengths: "He has very broad expertise and a huge amount of knowledge. The clients like him." "His knowledge of the relevant case law is second to none."
Chambers UK 2018/Commercial Dispute Resolution
'Renowned for his commercial dispute and property work. His areas of expertise include guarantees, partnerships and franchises. He also has a dedicated insolvency practice focusing on corporate insolvency and personal bankruptcy.
Strengths: "He is very meticulous in his advice and good at identifying key issues quickly. He's a wonderful technical advocate who has an excellent client manner, he puts people at ease and explains things very clearly." "He has a very patient, calm manner in cross-examination, and he's very methodical." '
Chambers UK 2017/Commercial Dispute Resolution
'Frequently advises and appears in a wide range of commercial and property matters. He has particular expertise in issues relating to guarantees, partnerships and franchises.'
Chambers UK 2016/Commercial Dispute Resolution
'Highly sought after for all kind of business disputes. He has particular expertise in relation to franchises, partnerships and guarantees.
Expertise: "He's brilliant on detail. He's particularly good where there's a debate over figures or where there's issues over deals involving complex transactions." "He is thorough, well prepared, accessible and always successful!"'
Chambers UK 2015/Commercial Dispute Resolution
'Intrepid and imaginative' and 'very client-friendly'.
Legal 500 2018/19/Commercial - Tier 1
‘Fearless and clever.’
Legal 500 2017/Commercial, banking, insolvency and chancery law – Leading juniors.
'Excellent to work with, he is methodical and thorough in high-value commercial disputes.'
Legal 500 2016/Commercial, banking, insolvency and chancery law – Leading juniors.
'He is quick to provide current, practical and commercially astute solutions to clients'
Legal 500 2015/Commercial, banking and insolvency – Leading juniors.
‘recommended for commercial disputes and insolvency matters’.
Legal 500 2013/14/Commercial and Chancery.
- BA (Oxon)
- BCL (Oxon) (Distinction)
- Lord Denning Scholar (Lincolns Inn 2003)
Professional qualifications & appointments
- Fellow Chartered Accountant
- Member of the Association of Business Recovery Professionals
- ADR Group Mediator
- Chancery Bar Association
- Professional Negligence Bar Association (PNBA)
James Davies is qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public and professional clients under the Direct Public Access scheme.More Information
Permission to Challenge a Trustee in Bankruptcy’s Remuneration
James Davies analyses the case of Singh v Hicken  EWHC 3277 (Ch); an appeal against the decision of a County Court judge refusing permission to Mr Singh, ...Read more
James Davies chosen to be expert assessor in Vienna at IBA’s hosted competition on Mediation and Negotiation
James Davies is acting as an expert assessor at the International Bar Association – Vienna International Arbitration Centre Mediation and Negotiation Competit...Read more
James Davies examines "The Importance of Making a Will and Tricky Issues" in LexisNexis Webinar
James Davies appeared in a LexisNexis Webinar entitled “The Importance of Making a Will and Tricky Issues”. James talked about statutory wills, in the con...Read more