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Call: 2011
James McWilliams


James has a busy commercial and chancery practice which sees him regularly instructed in high-value disputes in the Commercial Court and Chancery Division of the High Court.

His experience covers business agreements and general commercial disputes (including arbitration), civil fraud, company and partnership matters, insolvency, media and entertainment disputes, property litigation, professional negligence and claims against trustees and other fiduciaries. He is equally happy appearing as sole advocate or working as part of a larger legal team.

Recent instructions include a US$60m claim for breach of fiduciary duty, a successful application to discharge a worldwide freezing order and, as sole advocate, an application on behalf of a leading university for Norwich Pharmacal/Bankers Trust relief.

In 2014, James undertook a three-month secondment to PCB Litigation LLP where he worked on, amongst other things, a £1bn Commercial Court claim for an indemnity and a multi-billion dollar international arbitration concerning a mining dispute.

James read History at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge where he received several academic prizes and graduated with First Class Honours in 2009. That same year, he won the Maitland Advocacy Prize. He completed both the Graduate Diploma in Law and the BPTC at City University, London during which time he was awarded the Inner Temple Major and Princess Royal Scholarships.


    Commercial Litigation

James has a strong commercial practice that includes general commercial litigation, commercial fraud, banking and finance, jurisdictional disputes and arbitration. He is developing particular experience of applications for urgent pre-emptive relief in the context of commercial fraud claims.

His recent experience includes:

  • Acting for the defendant in a US$60m claim for breach of fiduciary duty (led by Tim Penny, 2015)
  • Acting for the defendant in a substantial claim involving allegations of business diversion and the taking of secret commissions (led by Charles Samek QC, 2015)
  • A successful application to discharge a worldwide freezing order for material non-disclosure (led by Charles Samek QC, 2015)
  • Advising an internationally published magazine in a contractual dispute with its printers (2015)
  • Acting for the claimant in a high-value claim for negligent misrepresentation in the High Court (2015)
  • Acting for the victim of a fraudulent transfer of title to a property in Land Registry rectification proceedings (2015)
  • Obtaining a freezing and proprietary injunction, passport order, bench warrant and surrender to the tipstaff order in the context of significant fraud claim (led by Charles Samek QC, 2014-ongoing)
  • A multi-million pound claim for sums due under a series of loan agreements and guarantees (2015)
  • Acting for the successful claimant in a five-day trial concerning the enforceability of a loan agreement and the scope of mortgagees’ duties (2014)
  • Obtaining Norwich Pharmacal and Bankers Trust type relief for the victim of a sophisticated fraud (2014)
  • A claim in deceit against the director of a tech start-up concerning a loan agreement (2014 –ongoing)
  • Seakom Limited v Knowledgepool Group Ltd [2013] EWHC 4007 (Ch). Acting for the claimant in a dispute concerning construction of a contract (led by Jamie Riley, 2013)
  • Defending a claim for in excess of $500,000 for sums due under an alleged loan agreement (2013)
  • Two claims against advertising agencies under contracts for the production of viral film advertisements (2013-2014)


James is regularly instructed on insolvency matters by officeholders, debtors and creditors. He has extensive experience of transaction avoidance claims, enforcement powers under the Insolvency Act 1986 including search orders and arrest warrants, applications for administration orders, all aspects of winding-up orders, setting aside statutory demands, bankruptcy petitions and applications for possession and sale of bankrupts’ homes.


His recent experience includes:

  • Advising an investor in an unsuccessful development scheme as to the rejection of his proof by the liquidator (2015)
  • Acting for the respondent in a claim to set aside a transaction at an undervalue (2015)
  • Applications under sections 364, 365 and 366 of the Insolvency Act 1986 against a bankrupt and a number of connected entities in the context of a long-running, rancorous bankruptcy (2013-ongoing)
  • Acting for the petitioning creditor on a disputed bankruptcy petition presented for substantial sums due under a guarantee where allegations of want of consideration, duress and undue influence were raised (2015)
  • A wasted costs application against solicitors responsible for bringing a misconceived application on behalf of an undischarged bankrupt (2015)
  • A substantial preference and transaction at an undervalue claim (2014-ongoing)
  • A contested application for possession and sale of the bankrupt’s home involving a significant dispute as to beneficial ownership of the property (2015)
  • An application for an administration order by an unsecured creditor (2014)
  • An application to prevent dissolution of a company in liquidation so as to enable it to be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter (2014)
  • A heavily contested application to resist an attempt by HMRC to place a company then in creditors’ voluntary liquidation into compulsory liquidation (2013)

    Company & Partnership

James frequently advises on and appears as an advocate in Company and Partnership matters, including shareholder and partnership disputes, claims against directors and directors’ disqualification.

His recent experience includes:

  • A claim against a former managing director of a significant company for business diversion and the taking of secret commissions (2015, led by Charles Samek QC)
  • Acting for a former director of a hedge fund in a US$60m dispute concerning allegations of breach of fiduciary duty (2015, led by Tim Penny)
  • A shareholders’ dispute concerning the rights to and exploitation of a well-known piece of software (2015)
  • An LLP dispute concerning the management of a private equity investment fund (2014-ongoing)
  • Advising on a petition for the just and equitable winding up of a quasi-partnership Company (2014)
  • A solicitors’ partnership dispute arbitration (2014)

    Media & Entertainment

James is rapidly building a successful media and entertainment practice.

His recent experience includes:

  • Acting for an international magazine in a contractual dispute with its UK printers (2015)
  • Acting for a singer in a contractual dispute concerning an option to manage as a result of his participation in a national talent competition (2015)
  • Acting for a high-profile Indian playback singer in a claim for infringement of her performers’ rights in a highly successful music video.
  • A multi-party contractual and intellectual property dispute in the Chancery Division concerning the copyright in a 1973 UK hit (2013-2014)

    Property Litigation

James completed pupillage at another leading commercial chancery set ranked amongst the top two in the country for its property practice. During his time there, he gained considerable experience of a wide range of property litigation work, including mortgage claims and fraud, disputes over commercial property developments, boundary disputes, leasehold enfranchisement and landlord and tenant. That experience makes James particularly well placed to handle commercial, fraud or insolvency disputes with a property element.

His recent experience includes:

  • Acting for the purchaser of a property sold by a vendor who had obtained title of the property by fraud in rectification proceedings brought by the rightful owner in the Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal (2015)
  • A two-day trial concerning the beneficial ownership of a property purchased in a sole name (2015)
  • A professional negligence claim against the solicitors in respect of their involvement in a fraudulent conveyance (2015)
  • Acting for the tenant of a commercial property in a complex rent dispute (2015) 
  • A claim by the victim of a fraudulent transfer of title to high-value London property subsequently charged by the fraudster to an innocent lender (2014-ongoing, led by Charles Samek QC)
  • A five-day trial for a secured lender involving allegations by the borrower that the mortgagee in possession had breached its duties to the mortgagor (2014-ongoing)
  • Bringing and defending possession claims by landlords, lenders, officeholders and creditors
  • TOLATA claims and co-ownership disputes.



  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Young International Arbitration Group
  • PILARS (Personal Insolvency Litigation Advice and Representation Scheme) committee member
  • CFLA