James is a leading junior with extensive experience of property litigation at all levels up to and including the Supreme Court, as well as arbitration, mediation and other forms of ADR.
He accepts instructions in all areas of real property and landlord and tenant law, and has particular expertise in the use of land for telecommunications infrastructure under the Electronic Communications Code (Sch. 3A CA 2003) and its predecessor code.
James is particularly interested in the intersection of modern technology and property law, having advised on and appeared successfully in disputes concerning Airbnb lets, and having built a busy practice working with mobile network operators in telecommunications litigation and advising on site-specific and portfolio-wide legal matters.
He also retains a keen interest in rights to light, having worked with the Law Commission as a research assistant developing its proposals for reform (Law Com. 356) prior to his career at the Bar. He also has particular experience of more complicated possession claims, including in appeals to the High Court against possession orders, and urgent High Court claims in respect of particularly large and/or sensitive areas.
More generally he provides advice and representation in a wide-range of matters including business tenancies, insolvency, mortgages and receivership, adverse possession, leasehold enfranchisement, development contracts, easements, restrictive covenants, land registration, trusts of land, proprietary estoppel and professional negligence.
- Oceanfill Ltd v Nuffield Health & Cannons Group Ltd  EWHC 2178 (Ch) James appeared as sole counsel for the defendants (against Stephen Jourdan KC and Imogen Dodds) in this application to the High Court considering a claim against guarantors of Virgin Active’s liabilities under an assigned lease following the well-publicised entry of the Virgin Active companies into a novel s.26A Companies Act 2006 “cross-class cramdown” restructuring plan and their resultant release from liability to pay the rents on certain of their gym premises. James argued that the true effect of the plan and/or the terms of the relevant guarantee meant that the guarantor defendants had been released from liability to a like extent. Deputy Master Arkush found for the claimants but has granted permission to appeal noting the case raises novel issues of wider importance (appeal outstanding).
- CTIL v Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd; CTIL v Ashloch & AP Wireless II (UK) Ltd; On Tower UK Ltd v AP Wireless II (UK) Ltd  UKSC 18;  1 W.L.R. 3360 (Supreme Court) James appeared as junior counsel for CTIL (led by John McGhee KC and Oliver Radley-Gardner KC) in two of the three conjoined appeals leading to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision which substantially endorsed CTIL’s arguments and reversed the “wrong turn” taken by the Court of Appeal in Compton Beauchamp, confirming that an operator in occupation of land is not thereby precluded from obtaining new Code rights over that land under Part 4 of the Code.
- Oceanfill Ltd v Nuffield Health & Cannons Group Ltd (BL-2022-171) (Deputy Master Arkush, 1 July 2022) James appeared for the defendants (against Stephen Jourdan KC) in this application in the High Court considering a claim against a former tenant as guarantor of Virgin Active’s liabilities under an assigned lease following the well-publicised entry of the Virgin Active companies into a novel s.26A Companies Act 2006 “cross-class cramdown” restructuring plan and their resultant release from liability to pay the rents on certain of their gym premises. James argued that the true effect of the plan and/or the terms of the relevant guarantee meant that the guarantor defendants had been released from liability to a like extent. Judgment is presently reserved.
- Goodenough College v Nuffield Health Wellbeing Ltd (H65YX924) (17 May 2022) James successfully resisted an application for summary judgment by a landlord for substantial arrears of rent accruing during the defendant’s forced closure as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, arguing that a stay should be granted instead to allow time to explore arbitration under the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022 and to await clarification on the law in a forthcoming judgment of the Court of Appeal.
- EE Ltd & H3G UK Ltd v Stephenson & AP Wireless II (UK) Ltd  UKUT 167 (LC);  4 W.L.R. 116. James appeared for the successful operators (led by Graham Read KC) in this important judgment on the scope of Part 5 of the Code, confirming the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to make orders for termination and replacement of code agreements (particularly older “subsisting” agreements) without the need for the operator to aver a site-specific need for such an order. The Tribunal also provided important guidance that the presumption against changes to terms of agreements on renewal established by the House of Lords in O’May v City of London Real Property Co Ltd  2 A.C. 736 should not, in contrast to the position governing s.35 of the 1954 Act, apply in respect of Part 5 renewals under the Code.
- Reay & Reay v Taylor v Taylor REF/2019/0903 (21 Sept 2021) James appeared for the successful claimants in this trial before Judge Jackson in the FTT (Property Chamber) (Land Registration) of their opposed application for a determination of the boundary between their and the defendants’ property pursuant to s.60 LRA 2002, and successfully resisted a late application for rectification of the operative conveyance.
- EE Ltd & H3G UK Ltd v Hackney LBC  UKUT 142 (LC). James appeared alone for the successful claimant operators in this dispute over the terms of an access to survey agreement sought by the operators against the respondent landowner council. Martin Rodger KC (Deputy Chamber President) accepted James’s submissions that his earlier dictum in EE Ltd & H3G UK Ltd v Islington LBC (No. 1)  UKUT 0361 at  that the terms of an agreement imposing interim Code rights should “put the full risk of the operation on which the operator wishes to embark on the operator and none of the risk on the site provider”, and the requirement in para 23(5) of the Code to include the terms appropriate to minimise loss and damage caused by the exercise of Code rights to relevant persons – did not require the inclusion of a term in the agreement sought that would have obliged the operators to give a wide-ranging indemnity against all liabilities, costs, expenses, damages and losses arising out of or in connection with the agreement.
- Vanquish Properties (UK) Limited Partnership v Brook Street (UK) Limited  EWHC 1508 (Ch);  L & TR 33 in which James advised and appeared for the successful defendant tenant in a break clause dispute concerning a significant proposed development in the City of London (led by Guy Fetherstonhaugh KC).
- Bermondsey Exchange Freeholders Limited v Kevin Conway (County Court at Lambeth, November 2016), in which James successfully represented the claimant landlord in a claim for an injunction to prevent a tenant from letting his flat to short-stay guests via Airbnb and similar web services. Upheld on appeal  4 WLUK 619, HHJ Luba KC.
Education, Awards and Qualifications
- MA Law (First Class) – Christ’s College, University of Cambridge (2012)
- Diploma in French Legal Studies – Université de Poitiers (ERASMUS Scheme) (2011)
- BPTC – Kaplan Law School, London (2013)
- Called to the Bar 2013, Inner Temple
- Major Exhibition Award (BPTC Scholarship): Inner Temple
- De Hart Prize: Christ’s College, University of Cambridge
- James is fluent in French, and is a classically-trained pianist and cellist.
- James is a member of the Chancery Bar Association and the Property Bar Association.
James writes and speaks regularly on current legal issues, and has assisted with the preparation of recent Blundell lectures on topical issues in property law including Lady Justice Carr’s 2022 lecture on professional negligence “The Supreme Court on SAAMCO: has it reached the summit?”
Further highlights include:
- Navigating the Lease Renewals Pilot N.L.J. 2018, 168(7786), 13-14 (with Caroline Shea KC)
- Game of Drones (Bill of Middlesex, Spring 2017 p.14) (with Ciara Fairley)
- Charging Orders on Land, S.J. 2017 161(15) 27 (with Stephanie Tozer KC)
- Implied terms: from "characteristically inspired discussion" to authoritative guidance (Case comment) L. & T. Review 2016, 20(1), 4-12 (with Toby Boncey)
- Under Occupation 165 NLJ 7675 (with Joseph Ollech).