James Ladbrook
    James Ladbrook
    Senior Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7419 6204
    Joel Banks
    Joel Banks
    Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7400 5780
    Contact the Practice Managers

    James has a broad chancery and commercial practice encompassing contentious trusts and estates, probate and inheritance disputes, civil fraud, insolvency, and commercial and company disputes.

    He regularly appears as sole counsel in the High Court and County Court, and is frequently instructed as a junior on complex and high value disputes. Alongside a substantial domestic caseload, many of James’s cases involve working with lawyers and clients from other jurisdictions, and on matters involving international and conflict of laws elements.

    James has twice been seconded from chambers for three months: first to the litigation team at Walkers (Guernsey) LLP, during which he worked on a wide range of commercial, civil fraud, and contentious trusts cases, gaining a detailed familiarity with the jurisdiction; and second to the private wealth disputes team at Mishcon de Reya LLP, during which he handled a varied caseload of trusts, probate and succession litigation.

    Examples of James’s recent work include:

    • Adams & ors v FS Capital Limited & ors (High Court, 2020): James acts (with Hugh Miall) on behalf of c.650 beneficiaries of 3 Jersey-law trusts who seek the recovery of trust assets in excess of £170 million on the basis that the sale and assignment of those assets out of the trusts was a breach of trust and a fraud on the power.
    • Molard International (PTC) Limited & another v Rusnano Capital AG (in liquidation) [2019] GCA077 (and ongoing): James acts (with Edward Cumming QC) as English counsel in Guernsey proceedings for a company in a Russian-owned technology investment group which seeks the termination of a trust of which it is the sole beneficiary.  The Guernsey Court of Appeal decision is the leading authority on a beneficiary’s ability to terminate a Guernsey trust under the Trusts (Guernsey) Law 2007.
    • Fonds Rusnano Capital SA v CRGF GP Ltd (Guernsey Royal Court, 2019): James acted (with Edward Cumming QC) in a two week trial in the Guernsey Royal Court, in which a company in the Russian-owned ‘Rusnano’ group sought the rescission of a $125 million limited partnership agreement on the basis of alleged fraudulent misrepresentations by the former member of Rusnano’s staff who owned the general partner.
    • Parks v Parks & another (Lewes County Court, 2020): James successfully obtained summary judgment (both at first instance and on appeal) against an adult child claimant under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, on the basis that there was no real prospect of establishing that the deceased’s will had not made reasonable financial provision for the claimant on the evidence that had been filed in advance of trial.

    Further details of James’s experience are set out below.

    Areas of experience

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    • Aviation

      James frequently appears in the County Court representing defendant airlines (including British Airways, Emirates, Icelandair, TUI, and easyJet) in claims made by passengers under EU Regulation 261/2004 and the Montreal Convention. He also has experience settling pleadings of such claims, both under the CPR and the European Small Claims Procedure.

      James’s wider experience in the aviation sector includes advising owners of an aircraft as to the correct interpretation of a contract for repair. During pupillage, James also worked on a claim in which the purchaser of a part-share in an aircraft sought US$4m for breach of contract and conversion.

    • Banking and Financial Services

      James’s commercial work frequently involves questions of banking law. He has recently advised in relation to a claim under a contract for the provision of an overdraft facility, and a claim involving a detailed analysis of international payment mechanisms. During pupillage, James gained a broad experience across a range of banking and financial services matters, including:

      • Mis-selling claims in relation to the sale of mortgages, pensions, savings products, and interest-rate swap products.
      • A judicial review of a final decision made by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
      • A claim involving the brokering of contracts for difference with a fraudulent and insolvent hedge fund.
    • Civil Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

      James has a particular interest in fraud claims. He has been instructed on a range of cases involving allegations of fraud and dishonesty, including:

      • Adams & ors v FS Capital Limited & ors (High Court, 2020): James acts (with Hugh Miall) on behalf of c.650 beneficiaries of 3 Jersey-law trusts who seek the recovery of trust assets in excess of £170 million on the basis that the sale and assignment of those assets out of the trusts was a fraud on the power. The claimants also contend that the recipient of the trust assets is liable to account as a constructive trustee.
      • Fonds Rusnano Capital SA v CRGF GP Ltd (Guernsey Royal Court, 2019): James was instructed in a two week trial in the Guernsey Royal Court, in which the plaintiff sought the rescission of a limited partnership agreement (pursuant to which $125 million had been committed to the partnership) on grounds including fraudulent misrepresentation.
      • Advising a client who had been the victim of an authorised push payment crypto-currency scam.
      • Advising in relation to a potential claim for dishonest assistance following a fraud in the value of $1.2 million.

      During pupillage, James gained experience in applying for and defending freezing and proprietary injunctions, and worked on a large number of civil fraud disputes, including:

      • A claim brought by an airline for deceit, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy against seven defendants.
      • Proceedings involving the fraudulent introduction of an insolvent hedge fund to a global brokerage firm.
      • A claim brought by an art dealer seeking the return of artworks which had been consigned on the basis of alleged fraudulent misrepresentations.
      • An alleged oil trading fraud involving claims for unlawful means conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contractual duty, dishonest assistance, and knowing receipt.
      • A claim against a former employee alleged to have been stealing company money throughout her employment.
    • Commercial Litigation

      James is building a broad commercial practice, and regularly advises, settles pleadings, and appears in court (both on interim applications and final hearings) on a wide range of commercial cases.

      James’s recent work has included:

      • Successfully defending at trial a claim for breach of a settlement agreement arising in the context of a construction contract.
      • Drafting a Defence to a claim for unpaid commission under an agency agreement.
      • Advising on a claim involving issues of equitable forbearance, rectification for mistake, and restitution on grounds of economic duress.
      • Advising in respect of a proprietary restitution claim following a mistaken payment.
      • Advising on a claim for breach of contract following a repudiatory breach of a service agreement.
      • Drafting a Defence to a claim alleging breach of implied terms of quality and fitness for purpose of goods supplied.
      • Drafting Particulars of Claim for the enforcement of an adjudicator’s decision following the incorrect performance of a contract for the construction of a block of apartments.
      • Drafting a Defence and Counterclaim for a couple facing a claim for unpaid invoices having withheld payments to a builder due to defective work.

      Cases James worked on during pupillage included:

      • Assisting Edward Cumming QC in Yukos International UK BV & Ors v Merinson [2018] EWHC 335 (Comm) concerning the interpretation and scope of Article 23 of the Brussels Recast Judgments Regulation.
      • Assisting Hugh Miall in Harvil Roofing Limited v Lakehouse Contracts Limited [2017] EWHC 3310 (TCC), a trial in the Technology and Construction Court of a claim against a building contractor for alleged breaches of an oral contract relating to the exclusivity of future work.
      • A claim by an investment banking advisor for unpaid success fees in relation to the introduction of a Chinese investor to a defendant property development company.
      • A claim brought against three pharmaceuticals companies for breaches of contract and fiduciary duty.
      • A claim for allegedly due commission payments following the sale of a business, engaging issues under the Estate Agents Act 1979.
      • A claim for breach of contract brought by a company acting as an intermediary in the egg production market against a couple running a free-range egg farm, involving arguments concerning contractual interpretation and penalty clauses subsequent to Cavendish Square Holding BV v Makdessi [2015] UKSC 67.
      • A claim for damages for breach of contract, conversion, and restitution for unjust enrichment concerning unpaid sums pursuant to a contract for the provision of telecommunications and security equipment and services.
    • Company

      James regularly appears in the County Court and High Court in applications brought under the Companies Act 2006 (including applications to restore companies to the register, to rectify the register, and applications in respect of company charges). He also often advises on matters engaging issues of company law.

      During pupillage, James gained experience of a range of company law matters, including:

      • claims alleging breaches of directors’ duties;
      • derivative claims;
      • unfair prejudice petitions under section 994 of the Companies Act 2006;
      • assisting Edward Cumming QC in the mediation of a dispute involving the exclusion of a director and shareholder from the management of a large family business.
    • Insolvency

      James regularly appears in the High Court and County Court in both corporate and personal insolvency proceedings. He frequently acts for petitioners, debtors, and supporting creditors on bankruptcy and winding up petitions and at other related insolvency hearings, including applications to set aside statutory demands and applications for injunctions to restrain the presentation of a winding up petition.

      James also regularly advises on insolvency proceedings and disputes arising under the Insolvency Act 1986, including, for example, void dispositions of property under section 127 of the Act, the antecedent transaction provisions at sections 238-245 of the Act, and claims under section 423 of the Act for transactions defrauding creditors.

    • Real Estate Litigation

      James’s cases often involve a real property dimension. He has particular experience of:

      • claims under TOLATA 1996 and other disputes involving the joint beneficial ownership of property;
      • possession claims (acting for landlords, tenants, mortgagors and mortgagees);
      • disputes over allegations of disrepair; and
      • mis-selling claims in respect of both residential and commercial property.
    • Trusts, Probate & Estates

      Trusts and succession litigation makes up a substantial and growing part of James’s practice. His experience includes:

      • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
      • Disputes concerning co-ownership of homes.
      • Contentious probate actions (engaging both formal and substantial validity issues).
      • Advising under the Non-Contentious Probate Rules.
      • Claims for the removal of trustees and personal representatives.
      • Claims in relation to the administration of trusts.
      • Applications for accounts and the disclosure of trust information.
      • A claim for the rescission of a trust on the basis of mistake or misrepresentation.
      • A claim for proprietary estoppel against the trustee of a will trust.
      • Rectification of wills under section 20 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982.

      Whilst a pupil, James also assisted Edward Cumming QC in Lehtimäki v The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK) and others [2018] EWCA Civ 1605, concerning the scope of the court’s inherent jurisdiction to supervise charitable companies.

    Academic History

    BA English Language and Literature (First Class, top 5 in university) – Brasenose College, University of Oxford

    MSt English 1550-1700 (Distinction) – Lincoln College, University of Oxford

    Graduate Dip. Law (Distinction) – Oxford Brookes University

    Scholarships and Prizes

    Lord Mansfield Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn’s top award, 2016)

    Winner, ESU-Essex Court National Mooting Competition (2016)

    Lord Brougham Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn, 2015)

    Hardwicke Award (Lincoln’s Inn, 2015)

    Sloane Robinson Graduate Scholarship (Lincoln College, Oxford, 2014)

    Professional Memberships

    The Chancery Bar Association

    The Commercial Bar Association

    Young Fraud Lawyers Association

    Panel member, Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit)