James Pearce-Smith


James Pearce-Smith

Call 2002 (Inner Temple)
Qualifications MA (Cantab), Admitted as a Solicitor 1994
Professional Memberships Chancery Bar Association

Expertise


James acts for businesses in a wide range of commercial disputes.  His clients range from SMEs to supermarkets and cover many industries, including the agricultural sector.  He also has considerable experience of commercial disputes from his time as a solicitor.

Examples of James’ recent work include:

  • Airbus v Withey [2014] EWHC 1126 (QB) – acting for Airbus in a 4 week trial at Bristol Mercantile Court in a claim for bribery, secret commission, conspiracy, dishonest assistance etc against employee of Airbus and his associates in their individual capacities and also against their companies.
  • Clear Edge v Elliot [2011] EWHC 3376 (QB) – acting for 3 former employees in a claim to prevent them joining a rival company.
  • Dunford v Cogent (2010) – acting for four farmers against a supplier of defective bull semen.  James appeared for the farmers in a 10 day trial at the Mercantile Court in Bristol.
  • Somerfield v Inbev (2011) – acting for a supermarket in a claim against a supplier.
  • V8 Club v Seraly (2010) – acting for a group of businessmen suing the directors of a company on their guarantees.  7 day trial in the County Court.
  • Leycroft v AE David (2009) – acting for defendant company in a dispute concerning a joint venture between two companies.  4 day trial in the High Court.
  • Clark v Thomas (2008) – representing the claimants in an 8 day trial in the Cardiff Mercantile Court in a dispute between investors/directors in relation to a plastic-recycling business.

Recommendations

  • “He is great to deal with; he has an eye for detail and is robust but commercial.” “He’s excellent – he gives very, very user-friendly and clear advice.” Chambers UK, Commercial Dispute Resolution (2018)
  • “Acts for individuals and companies in insolvency matters.” Legal 500, Commercial, banking, insolvency and Chancery law (2017)
  • “James is recommended for providing jargon-free advice.” Legal 500, Commercial, banking, insolvency and Chancery law (2016)
  • ” ‘James is technically very good and capable of providing case-changing analysis.’ ‘He has impeccable attention to detail, but at the same time he is very commercial and practical in his advice.’ ” Chambers UK, Commercial Dispute Resolution (2016)
  • “James is a very good advocate with impressive cross-examination skills.” Legal 500, Commercial, Banking and Insolvency (2015)
  • “James specialises in large commercial disputes and professional negligence claims. He has additional experience in the construction and engineering sector, and has represented independent builders, employers and national house builders. ‘He’s very thorough, very good with clients and very user-friendly.’ ‘He’s able to turn matters round very quickly. He has a very logical mind and is very bright.'” Chambers UK, Commercial Dispute Resolution (2015)

James has a thorough background in company law from his time as a solicitor.  He regularly acts for shareholders in shareholder disputes, including unfair prejudice petitions and disputes concerning share purchase agreements and shareholder agreements.

Examples of James’ recent work include:

  • Pulsar v Pringle (2014) – Acting for company in claim against former director/shareholders, and also for shareholders in related unfair prejudice petition.
  • Huxtable v Jury (2011) – acting for a shareholder in unfair prejudice petition concerning a company formed as a joint venture to operate a waste disposal site.
  • Gedge v Cresswell (2010) – acting for a shareholder in unfair prejudice petition concerning a family company formed to invest in property.

Recommendations

  • “His advocacy skills are first-rate and he’s a good cross-examiner.” Chambers UK, Company (2018)
  • “James’ commercial practice encompasses shareholders and partnership disputes on behalf of individual directors and shareholders. ‘He is very competent and thorough.’ ” Chambers UK, Company (2016)
  • “James assists clients with a wide range of shareholder disputes. He represents individuals who are both directors and shareholders of companies. ‘His drafting is very clever, absolutely novel and very clear.’ ‘He does more than is asked of him.'” Chambers UK, Company (2015)
  • “James is very intelligent, friendly and very good at cross-examination.” Chambers UK, Company (2014)

James has acted in a number of construction disputes.  His clients include national house-builders, independent builders and employers.  He has appeared in trials and arbitrations, and in relation to the enforcement of adjudication decisions.

Examples of James’ recent work include:

  • Jones & Maher v Jones (2011) – acting for the employer in a claim relating to work to renovate a listed building.  1 day trial in the High Court (Cardiff TCC) on a preliminary issue regarding the scope of the builder’s duty of care.
  • Russell Brickwork v Lavender (2012) – acting for the employer in a 4 day arbitration concerning the construction of a new home.
  • Breakspear v Skinner (2010) – acting for the employer in a dispute concerning the construction of a large pond.  7 day trial in the County Court.
  • Munt v Lloyd (2009) – acting for the builder in a claim concerning works to renovate and extend a private dwelling.  9 day trial in the High Court (Bristol TCC).
  • Waterhouse v Bakri (2009) – acting for the builder in a claim concerning work to renovate a private dwelling, culminating in a 3 day trial in the county court.
  • Cedar v Zenith (2009) – acting for the employer in an application concerning the enforcement of an adjudication award.  2 day hearing in the High Court.
  • Dudman v Taylor Wimpey (2008) – acting for house-builder in dispute concerning the construction of a new house.

Recommendations

  • “Very responsive – a local favourite for construction–insolvency crossover issues.” “Approachable and technically very sound on legal and commercial matters.” Chambers UK, Construction (2018)
  • “Experienced in construction disputes.” Legal 500, Construction, planning and environment (2017)
  • “James is detailed in his advice.” Legal 500, Construction, planning and environment (2016)
  • “James gets on well with clients and inspires confidence.” Legal 500, Construction, planning and environment (2015)
  • “James has strong cross-examination skills” Legal 500, construction, planning and environment (2014)
  • “James is technically very impressive, provides clear and concise advice, and is approachable. ‘A very good advocate.’ ‘A very intelligent barrister with good command of detail.’ ” Chambers UK, Construction (2014)

James regularly acts and advises in insolvency matters.  He has acted for both companies and individuals in applications to set aside statutory demands and to obtain injunctions to prevent presentation or advertisement of petitions, and has appeared at the final hearings of petitions.  He advises on issues arising in insolvencies, such as claims by liquidators or trustees to set aside prior transactions.  In addition he has acted for shareholders bringing winding-up petitions in conjunction with unfair prejudice petitions.

Examples of James’ recent work include:

  • Uppal v van Oppen (2012) – acting for respondent to bankruptcy petition, resulting in petition being dismissed.
  • Green v Steed & Steed (2011) – acting for bankrupt in claim against solicitor for failing to take steps to prevent the bankruptcy.
  • Gedge v Cresswell (2010) – acting for a shareholder in unfair prejudice and winding-up petition concerning a family company formed to invest in property.

Recommendations

  • “James is a very good advocate with impressive cross-examination skills.” Legal 500, Commercial, banking and insolvency (2015)
  • “James is a very able former solicitor.” Legal 500, commercial, insolvency and property (2013)
  • “James is ‘very bright’ and is ‘good with clients.’ ” Legal 500, Commercial, insolvency and property (2012)

James regularly advises partners in relation to partnership disputes.  He has also given a lecture on the treatment of post-dissolution profits.

Examples of James’ recent work include:

  • Ballard v Ryder (current) – acting for a partner in a partnership dispute centring on a claim that property belongs to the partnership rather than to individual partners.
  • Parsons v Parsons (2010) – acting for a partner in a dispute concerning a family partnership which operated a hotel. 7 day trial in the County Court.

James has particular expertise in professional negligence disputes.  He specialised in professional negligence claims as a solicitor (see ‘Background’ below), and has continued to do so as a barrister. He currently acts for a number of major lenders, including Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Nationwide BS and Platform Home Loans, in claims against solicitors and valuers. He is on Platform Home Loans’ panel of approved counsel.  In recent years James has acted for lenders in more than 60 claims against solicitors and valuers, many of them complex claims concerning substantial commercial loans.

James also has considerable experience of acting for claimants in non-lender claims, especially in numerous claims against solicitors for negligent conveyancing, negligent advice in relation to business agreements, and the negligent conduct of litigation. He has also acted for claimants in claims against other professionals, such as accountants, surveyors and architects.

James generally acts for claimants, but is also instructed from time to time to advise professionals in claims against them.

Background

James joined Dibb Lupton Broomhead on qualification as a solicitor in 1994 where he specialised in professional negligence claims against solicitors and valuers as a member of DLB’s building societies team. In 1996 he joined the commercial litigation department of Burges Salmon where, amongst other things, he continued to act for lenders and other claimants in professional negligence claims. He was seconded to Nationwide BS’s in-house legal team for 4 months in 1997. He had conduct of two of the claims in Nationwide BS v Balmer Radmore [1999] PNLR 606.

Recommendations

  • “James maintains an excellent reputation for advising on professional negligence claims in the financial services sector. He is especially active on lender claims and he advises many national banks. ‘He has a good brain and he’s a very good advocate.’ ” Chambers UK, Professional Negligence (2016)
  • “James focuses his practice on commercial litigation and property disputes. He has considerable expertise in professional negligence claims, having practised as a solicitor in this area for several years, and is often engaged by lenders to pursue claims against solicitors and surveyors. ‘He is well prepared, knowledgeable and good on his feet.’ ‘He has a very logical mind; he’s very bright. If you were going for a very tricky point of law you should probably go to James.'” Chambers UK, Professional Negligence (2015)
  • “James and has developed a niche specialism in professional negligence lender claims. ‘He was a solicitor prior to being called to the Bar, and that experience really shows through.’ ‘He is a very good technician – he clearly drills down into the detail of claims and masters the technical details, and is hugely effective.’ ” Chambers UK, Professional Negligence (2014)

 

James regularly acts and advises in property disputes, ranging from commercial landlord & tenant disputes to boundary and easement disputes.

Examples of James’ recent work include:

  • Lytton v Gurman (2011) – acting for private lender in claim to enforce a charge over a property.  3 day trial in the County Court.
  • Sawyer v Mann (2010) – acting for a farmer in a dispute concerning a right of way over a private drive to the adjoining farm.  The issues included the construction of a deed granting the right and the obtaining of a right by prescription.  The claim settled on the 7th day of a trial in the High Court.
  • Moon v Mountwaine (2010) – acting for the purchaser of a house in a dispute concerning an overage clause and an obligation to apply for planning permission to develop the property.  3 day trial in the County Court.
  • MacLeod v Brooks (2010) – acting for house owners in a dispute concerning a boundary, a parking easement and a right of way over part of their garden.  Issues included the construction of a deed, the existence of a quasi-easement and prescription.  3 day trial in the County Court.
  • Pearce v Hunns (2010) – acting for a property owner in a boundary dispute.  2 day trial in the County Court.
  • Kerdene v Purnull-Exell (2008) – acting for landowner in a claim for possession of land which the defendant claimed to have acquired by adverse possession.  2 day trial in the County Court.

Recommendations

  • “James is a very able former solicitor.” Legal 500, commercial, insolvency and property (2013)
  • “James is a former solicitor who is ‘very forensic, clear in his analysis’ and ‘will certainly go the extra distance to help the client.’ Recently, he acted for the claimant in Khan v Corby, a case surrounding a claim for possession of a property pursuant to a private mortgage.” Chambers UK, real estate litigation (2013)
  • “James is ‘very bright’ and is ‘good with clients.’ ” Legal 500, commercial, insolvency and property (2012)

Practice Overview

James, a former solicitor, is an experienced litigator who specialises in commercial and property disputes.  His practice includes shareholder and partnership disputes, construction disputes and insolvency, and he is often instructed in complex disputes which span more than one of these disciplines.  He has particular expertise in professional negligence claims.  He also deals with more traditional chancery work, such as disputes in relation to trusts and wills.

James regularly appears in the High Court, in particular the Bristol Mercantile Court. He has considerable experience of representing clients at trials in the High Court and the County Court, and also of acting for parties on interim applications, including urgent ex parte injunctions.

Recently James has acted for Airbus in a major secret commission trial, for Dyson in two confidential information cases involving ex parte injunctions and search orders, and for Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and Nationwide BS in a large number of substantial professional negligence claims. James has also been instructed in many cases by SMEs and by private individuals.

James is also a trained mediator.

Background

James transferred to the bar in 2002 after more than 7 years as a commercial litigation solicitor. He originally trained as a solicitor with city firm Travers Smith Braithwaite, and joined Dibb Lupton Broomhead on qualification in 1994 as a member of their building societies litigation team. In 1996 he joined the commercial litigation department of Burges Salmon where he specialised in high-value, complex commercial and corporate disputes and professional negligence claims.

James considers that his experience as a solicitor has proved invaluable to his career as a barrister, providing him not only with a rigorous grounding in the art of litigation but also with a practical insight into the needs and expectations of clients and solicitors and the commercial realities of the business world.

Before embarking on his legal career James read history at Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating in 1990 with a 2.1. As a schoolboy he won the top scholarship to Radley College.

Interests

James lives with his wife and two small children in Gloucestershire.  When time allows, James plays cricket for Malmesbury Cricket Club (where he can still just about hold an end up) and hockey for Westbury & UB Hockey Club (where he is sinking back down through the teams and away from the forward line).