James Ladbrook
    James Ladbrook
    Senior Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7419 6204
    Lyndon Tiller
    Lyndon Tiller
    Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7959 0895
    Contact the Practice Managers

    James has a broad commercial and chancery practice, encompassing commercial law, civil fraud, contentious trusts and estates, art and cultural property disputes, company law and insolvency, and professional negligence.

    He is one of a small handful of junior barristers recommended as “Rising Leaders” in Legal Week’s 2022 Private Client Global Elite directory.

    Alongside a substantial domestic caseload, James very frequently works with lawyers and clients from other jurisdictions, and advises and acts in matters involving international and conflict of laws elements. He has particular recent experience of disputes taking place in Guernsey, Jersey, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Hong Kong.

    Examples of James’s current and recent work include:

    • Adams & ors v FS Capital Limited & ors (High Court, ongoing): James acts (with Hugh Miall) on behalf of c.650 beneficiaries of 3 Jersey-law EFRBSs who seek the recovery of assets with a nine-figure book value on the basis that the sale of the assets was a fraud on the power.
    • Re A Bahamian Trust (Supreme Court of the Bahamas, 2021 and ongoing): James acts (led by Francis Tregear QC) in proceedings concerning a Bahamian trust in circumstances where the mental capacity of the settlor and the identity of the protector are contested.
    • JSC Uzhuralzoloto Group of Companies v Petropavlovsk Plc & ors (High Court, 2021): James acted, led by Aiden Casey QC and Daniel Warents in a claim for injunctive relief to prevent the sale of a shareholding in an iron ore mining company by Petropavlovsk Plc.
    • Molard International (PTC) Limited & another v Rusnano Capital AG (in liquidation) [2019] GRC 011 and [2019] GCA 077: James, led by Edward Cumming QC and assisting Rupert Morris, acted for a company in the Rusnano technology investment group which sought the termination of a trust of which it was the sole beneficiary, in circumstances where the trust deed contained a power to add beneficiaries.  The Guernsey Court of Appeal decision is the leading authority on a beneficiary’s ability to terminate a Guernsey trust under section 53 of the Trusts (Guernsey) Law 2007.
    • Fonds Rusnano Capital SA v CRGF GP Ltd (Guernsey Royal Court, 2019: judgment pending): James, led by Edward Cumming QC and assisting Sarah Brehaut, acted for Fonds Rusnano in this trial in the Guernsey Royal Court, seeking the dissolution of a limited partnership holding shares in the Chinese ride-hailing company, Didi Chuxing.

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

    Areas of experience

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    • Art, Cultural Property & Media

      James has rapidly developed a specialism in art and cultural property matters.  His work in this area includes cases concerning contractual interpretation, ownership disputes, fraud, and commission and agency agreements.

      Notable cases include:

      • An ongoing High Court dispute in which James acts for an art dealership seeking rescission and damages against an internationally acclaimed fine-art photographer on the basis of fraudulent misrepresentations and dishonest auction practices.
      • Acting for the owner of a very valuable sculpture by a renowned artist (worth c. £4 million) in a dispute concerning the terms upon which the sculpture could be resold
      • Hutchcroft & anor v Barrett (High Court, 2021): James acted, led by Edward Cumming QC, for the owner of a substantial collection of valuable couture, in a dispute concerning the nature of payments totalling c £1.4m made by a dress agency in Kensington. The agency alleged that the payments were dishonestly procured loans.
      • Hindle v Kitching (Guernsey Royal Court, Guernsey Court of Appeal, 2020): James acted, assisting Advocate Alison Ozanne, in a case concerning the disputed ownership of a vintage Jaguar sports car.
    • 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 experience in a wide range of civil fraud disputes. He has experience both applying for and resisting interim injunctive relief.

      Recent instructions 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 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.
      • Newcastle Investors Freehold Limited v HSBC (High Court, 2020): James obtained urgent Bankers Trust relief for a company that had been victim to an authorised push payment fraud.
      • Advising a client who had been the victim of a crypto-currency scam.
      • Advising in relation to a potential claim for dishonest assistance against a bank following a fraud in the value of $1.2 million.
    • 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.
    • 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

      A substantial part of James’s practice concerns contentious trusts, probate and estates disputes. In 2020, he spent three months on secondment to the private wealth disputes team at Mischon de Reya LLP, where he handled and advised on a wide range of succession, trusts, and mental capacity related matters.

      James is frequently instructed as sole counsel on domestic cases of a variety of sizes. He also has substantial experience working as part of a larger international team, assisting foreign lawyers in litigation in other jurisdictions.

      His experience spans claims for the removal of trustees and personal representatives; applications for accounts and the provision of trust information; claims under Part 64 in respect of the administration of trusts, including Beddoe applications; contentious probate actions, involving allegations of undue influence, want of knowledge and approval, lack of testamentary capacity, and defective execution; claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; disputes concerning trusts of land; proprietary estoppel claims; rescission and rectification claims.

      James’s recent cases 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.
      • In the matter of a Bahamian Trust: James is instructed in relation to a dispute concerning the identity of the protector of a Bahamian trust in circumstances where the mental capacity of the former protector is contested.
      • Semernina v D’Aponte (High Court, 2020): James acted (led by Tracey Angus QC) for the respondent executor and will trustee in an application for pre-action disclosure brought by the respondent’s sister in respect of a threatened claim for his removal.
      • Parks v Parks & another (Lewes County Court, 2020): James successfully obtained summary judgment (both at first instance and on appeal before HHJ Venn) 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.
      • Molard International (PTC) Limited & another v Rusnano Capital AG (in liquidation) [2019] GRC 011 and [2019] GCA 077  James, led by Edward Cumming QC and assisting Rupert Morris, acted for a company in the Rusnano technology investment group which sought the termination of a trust of which it was the sole beneficiary, in circumstances where the trust deed contained a power to add beneficiaries.  The Guernsey Court of Appeal decision is the leading authority on a beneficiary’s ability to terminate a Guernsey trust under section 53 of the Trusts (Guernsey) Law 2007.

    Other information

    • 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)