James Davies is an experienced commercial and traditional chancery barrister with an established County Court and High Court practice. His practice encompasses commercial litigation, company and shareholder disputes, insolvency and wills and trusts disputes. Prior to coming to the Bar James qualified as a Chartered Accountant specialising in SMEs. Many of his cases feature complex financial elements or multi-generational family business disputes which draw on this expertise: “he’s brilliant on detail. He’s particularly good where there is a debate over figures or where there are issues over complex transactions” and “methodical and thorough in high-value disputes”. He has been consistently ranked in Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for commercial litigation.
James acts as the editor of the Surveyors and Accountants chapters of the Encyclopaedia of Professional Partnerships by Sweet & Maxwell. He is a regular contributor to LexisNexis PSL and LexisNexis Webinars.
James also has an established practice as a mediator, having successfully mediated a number of business and chancery disputes.
James’ experience extends to factoring agreements, guarantees, the Commercial Agent Regulations, franchising and disputes under long term supply contracts. It includes cases with allegations of financial misconduct. Most of his cases involve a significant financial element and can turn on the operation of a company’s internal controls and accounting systems.
Recent work has included:
- A jurisdiction dispute following termination of a commercial agent’s retainer in Norway.
- 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.
- 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.
- Appearing for a franchisor at trial on the termination of a franchise agreement, including an injunction for enforcement of restrictive covenants.
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.
His 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.
- Everitt v Budhram  Ch 170 – 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.
- Singh v Hicken  EWHC 3277 (Ch) representing a trustee in bankruptcy in an appeal against the decision of a County Court judge refusing permission to Mr Singh, a discharged bankrupt, to challenge his trustee’s remuneration. The case is the first appellate guidance on the application of permission.
Trusts, Wills & Estates
James has a significant trusts and probate practice encompassing the Inheritance Act, applications to remove executors, construction disputes, capital taxes, and contentious probate. When acting in financially complex claims he is able to use the analytical skills he learned as an accountant. James has also acted in claims involving the alleged misuse of Lasting Powers of Attorney over the deceased’s affairs.
Cases have included:
- A successful application for court approval of a deed of variation for infant beneficiaries which resulted in an inheritance tax saving of circa £2 milliom.
- 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.
- Acting for a beneficiary in relation to a dispute over construction of a will turning on S.33 Wills Act 1837. Successfully framed the issues to identify the very specific intention that needed to be shown to escape the consequnces of Section 33. It was not satisfied by the general expression “as survive me” in the will. Reported as Burns v Bean  WTLR 795.
- Acting for a charity beneficiary under a contested probate dispute which involved a complex capacity dispute and video footage of the deceased executing the will.
- Acting for the second wife of the Deceased in a claim under the 1975 Act. Under the terms of the Deceased’s ancillary relief settlement he had agreed to leave his home, in which his second wife lived with their young son, to his son by an earlier marriage. The case involved arguments about Section 11 and the anti-avoidance provisions of the 1975 Act. Reported as Sismey v Salandron  WTLR 281
Company & Partnership
James has considerable experience of dealing with a full range of company disputes, including breach of fiduciary duty claims, minority shareholder disputes and disputes under share purchase agreements. James has particular expertise in dealing with disputes which turn on the observance of formal requirements under the Companies Act and Articles. In addition to his contentious practice James also has a significant drafting practice, including investment agreements, shareholder agreements, and amendments to articles.
His work has included:
- 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 and subsequently in related s.994 proceedings through to a successful mediation.
- 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. Cited in the White Book.
- Acting for a founder director/ shareholder in a West End design 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.
Initially coming to mediation as an advocate, James trained as a mediator in 2015. Prior to coming the bar James was a Chartered Accountant with a particular emphasis on family owned companies. He is now a fellow of the ICAEW. He is able to draw on this commercial expertise, combined with fifteen years of practice in commercial and chancery litigation, to identify the central issues in disputes, and pragmatic solutions to them. James has mediated a broad range of disputes, but he has a particular emphasis on director/ shareholder disputes and disputes concerning accountants. He is also the sub-editor of the Accountants Chapter of the Encyclopaedia of Professional Partnerships published by Sweet & Maxwell. He has acted as an expert assessor on the IBA-CDRC Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition in Vienna.
Mediations have included:
- Boundary disputes
- Disputes over accountants’ practice sale agreements
- Accountants’ fee disputes and related professional negligence claims
- Director/ shareholder disputes in creative, technology and construction businesses
- Misfeasance claims by a liquidator against directors
- Family loan disputes
- 1998 BA (Hons) Jurisprudence Hertford College, University of Oxford
- 2001 Qualified as a Chartered Accountant (ICAEW)
- 2003 Bachelor of Civil Law Hertford College, University of Oxford
- 2004 BVC Bristol Institute of Legal Practice
- STEP Advanced Certificate in Trusts Disputes
- STEP Certificate in the Taxation of Trusts
- STEP Advanced Certificate in Cross Border Estates
- STEP Advanced Certificate in UK Tax for International Clients
- 2003 – Lord Denning Scholar
- 2016 – Qualified Mediator
- Chancery Bar Association
- International Bar Association
- R3 (Member)
- STEP (Full Member – TEP)
- ICAEW (Fellow)
What the directories say
“James is extremely user-friendly. He is very technically strong and able to analyse an issue and get to the heart of things.”
Chambers UK Bar 2024 – Commercial Dispute Resolution; Band 2
“James has an understated charm which glosses over how he’s read every page and knows everything. He is very astute. His previous life as an accountant gives him a forensic approach to looking at disputes.”
Chambers UK Bar 2023 – Commercial Dispute Resolution; Band 2
“James is very knowledgable and well-known.”
Chambers UK Bar 2022
“Intrepid and imaginative.”
Legal 500 UK Bar 2019