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I am a Partner in both the Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team and also the Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution team.
In the Will, Trust and Estate arena, I have built up years of experience on cases involving challenges to the validity of wills. These challenges may be based on a range of reasons, including lack of capacity, irregularities, undue influence and fraud, challenges to the conduct of trustees, executors, attorneys and deputies, claims for financial provision from estates by children, widows and widowers, cohabitees and dependents and disputes relating to family farming businesses.
In the commercial litigation arena, I am frequently instructed on disputes concerning business to business contracts, shareholder disputes and claims against directors, professional negligence claims and disputes relating to restrictive covenants. I also have experience in intellectual property claims, property disputes and fraud cases.
I have written in the Step Journal about trustees’ frequent dilemma about whether to disclose a trust related document or to withhold it. I offer a checklist of points for trustees to consider when faced with a beneficiary’s request for disclosure.
Disclose or Withhold: July 2014 edition.
Suggitt v Suggitt & Anor  EWCA Civ 1140
JW Grant and Co v Troy Foods Ltd  EWCA Civ 1702
Glen Dimplex Home Appliances Ltd v Smith and Ors  EWHC 3392 (Comm)
"Excellent technical knowledge', has been considered as 'one of the leading people in this area'". - Legal 500, 2018/19
"A very able litigator and incisive tactician” - Legal 500, 2016
“James’ strong professional response gave us the confidence to carry the case forward when, without his help, we might have given up. We could not have asked for any more.” - Client
“It has been a complicated, and sometimes a distressing case for us all, but James has diligently handled it on our behalf, with what I consider to be utmost skill and understanding.” - Client
“James quickly showed a thorough understanding and mastery of our case, having taken over from a previous lawyer. He has that perfect combination that is so rare today - a committed and dogged determination to fight for his client coupled with a very down to earth and modest personal style. His advice was impeccable and he displayed an unflappable and persistent attitude under considerable pressure to achieve a very positive outcome for us. We couldn’t recommend him highly enough.” - Client
“James’ brain works incredibly fast – he’s so quick to grasp the issues and work through all the angles. He’s a pleasure to work with and very effective” - Barrister, London
“James dots every ‘i’ and crosses every ‘t’. His preparation for even the smallest hearings is meticulous. He is a fighter who also gives sensible and pragmatic advice.” - Barrister, Leeds
“James reads the dynamics of a dispute and delivers a winning strategy.” - Barrister, London
“I have had the privilege of working with and against James a number of times over the last 10 years. Each time I am struck by the excellent quality of his work. The best instructing solicitor is one who has mastered the case and so can play an equal role, with the barrister, in providing an effective solution for the client. On each occasion I have worked with James he has mastered the case before he has even instructed me and I have observed him delivering the best result for his client. On each occasion I have worked against James he has displayed the professionalism and high standards I have come to expect of him.” - High Court Judge
I once witnessed my mother dispensing justice as a magistrate (and then falling down the stairs with all her papers) and have been hooked ever since!
Disputes of whatever nature are challenging for everyone involved. By far and away the most rewarding aspect of this work is fighting hard to achieve the client’s goals and sorting out the problems on terms with which the client is happy.
I coach rugby at my local rugby club, play the piano and spend as much time as I can with my family and friends. I like to get out and about in the countryside as much as possible, even if that means dragging my two slightly reluctant children with me!
“Proprietary estoppel claims are often tricky because when it comes to farming disputes, there’s rarely such a compelling piece of written evidence which supports one party’s argument over the other party.”
“In the Habberfield case the daughter was able to rely on this written evidence in support of her claim that she had been given many assurances over a number of years that the farm would be her own one day. This was clearly a piece of written evidence which helped persuade the Judge that Lucy’s claim was made out.”
“Without this type of critical documentary evidence, the Court is often left having to determine these types of cases largely on the evidence of the witnesses - much of which is rarely neutral.
“The fact that the letter came from a surveyor added even greater weight to the evidence presented, because it was independent of either claimant. It also added weight to the argument that the claimant had a legitimate interest in the business – something she had worked on for 30 years with comparatively low remuneration.”
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