Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

James DuffyCall Date: 2005

James has been regularly instructed in some of the most high-profile and high-value commercial litigation in recent years, including:

  • Office of Fair Trading v Abbey National and others: acting for the Lloyds Banking Group (with Bankim Thanki QC, Richard Handyside QC and Edward Levey) in the OFT test case on bank overdraft charges, including appearing in the Supreme Court.
  • Crédit Agricole and FGIC v IKB: instructed by the German bank IKB (with David Railton QC and Derrick Dale QC) in relation to a fraud claim for damages in excess of $2bn in connection with various complex securitisation transactions and listed for a 10-week trial in the Commercial Court.
  • American Reliable and CNA v Willis: represented Willis (with Christopher Hancock QC, Bankim Thanki QC, Richard Coleman and Alexander Gunning) in respect of very substantial claims for damages of over $500m arising out of the PA LMX reinsurance market.

(All three were identified as top cases of the year by The Lawyer.)

In the last 12 months, James has, among other cases, acted for Barclays (with David Railton QC and Giles Wheeler) against UniCredit in a trial of a substantial ‘credit crunch’-related matter in the Commercial Court; been instructed by Vincent Tchenguiz in a £200 million damages claim against the Serious Fraud Office (with Bankim Thanki QC and Rosalind Phelps); and has continued to act for the City of Florence (with Patricia Robertson QC) in proceedings against three international investment banks concerning the public authority’s capacity to enter into various derivative transactions (and which has also been described as one of the top trials of 2013 by The Lawyer .)

In addition to his instructions as part of a larger counsel team, James also regularly acts as sole counsel, including recently in a substantial arbitration concerning the international coal trade and in the Commercial Court for Luton Airport in relation to a multi-million pound contractual dispute.

James has a broad commercial and civil practice in line with Chambers’ profile and is regularly instructed across a wide range of commercial and civil practice areas.

Areas of Expertise

  • Banking & finance
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Fraud: civil
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • International arbitration
  • Professional negligence
  • Aviation

Other experience

Secondment to Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, October-December 2006


Contributor to Sweet & Maxwell’s Civil Procedure Reports


German (basic)


James is recommended as a leading junior in the area of aviation and banking & finance by Chambers & Partners and in the field of aviation by the Legal 500 as “an excellent advocate”.

“Extremely commercial and bright, he’s a man you want on your team.” – Chambers and Partners 2019, Aviation

“Good on his feet and displays excellent strategic and technical ability.” “He is someone who can get to the heart of a problem quickly and efficiently, and he has a real ability to think outside the box.” – Chambers and Partners 2019, Banking and Finance

“Really responsive and very thorough in his handling of the material, he comes back to the instructing solicitor very quickly and makes a difficult case a lot smoother.” “A very sensible and clever advocate.” – Chambers and Partners 2019, Commercial Dispute Resolution

He is very commercial and approachable.” – Legal 500, Aviation

“A brilliant banking and finance junior – he’s great to work with, has a good sense of strategy, and drafts very well.” –  Legal 500, Banking and Finance

“Very personable, responsive and thorough – a good team player and highly intelligent.” – Legal 500, Commercial Litigation

“Brilliant on his feet and in his written work.” – Legal 500, Professional Negligence

“He is an excellent lawyer who is very good at contractual interpretation.” – Chambers UK 2016, Aviation

“He’s very good technically and at doing what needs to be done. He also has a good eye for the wider issues and the strategy, which is very helpful.” “He’s infectiously enthusiastic with real determination combined with excellent analysis and drafting skills.” – Chambers UK 2016, Banking and Finance

“He knows his stuff and has a good appreciation of client service” – Legal 500, Banking and Finance

‘‘Very responsive and collaborative – a great team player.’’ – Legal 500, Aviation

“Fiercely bright and extremely hardworking”. – Legal 500, Professional Negligence

“He knows his stuff, he’s very collaborative, he’s quick to turn papers around and he’s very sensible.” – Chambers UK 2015

“Clients really like him and have been really impressed with him. He’s certainly made his mark and is doing really well.” – Chambers UK 2015


  • BA Law, Christ Church, Oxford (First)
  • BCL, Christ Church, Oxford (Distinction)
  • BVC, Inns of Court School of Law (Outstanding)

Appointments, memberships, prizes

  • Prize for best performance in Contract Law finals paper (Oxford University, 2003)
  • John Radcliffe Exhibition for best College performance in Finals (Christ Church, Oxford, 2003)
  • Hugh Pilkington Scholarship (Christ Church, Oxford, 2004)
  • College Scholarships (Christ Church, Oxford, 2001-2003)
  • Lord Megarry Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn, 2005)
  • Lord Denning Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn, 2004
  • Member of the British Association for Sport and Law

Recent practice

Banking & finance

  • Barclays Bank v UniCredit  – [2012] EWHC 3655 (Comm). Acting for Barclays in its substantial claim against the German and Austrian subsidiaries of UniCredit (led by David Railton QC and Giles Wheeler). The two-week trial of the action concerned whether it was “commercially reasonable” for a bank to refuse to consent to the early termination of a securitisation transaction unless and until it had received five years’ fees.
  • Merrill Lynch v FlorenceUBS v Florence; Dexia v Florence – Acting for the City of Florence (led by Patricia Robertson QC) in its defence of claims issued by three investment banks involving the application of the court’s discretion in respect of claims for declaratory relief and the Italian local authority’s capacity to enter into certain derivative transactions. The trial of these claims is listed for 4-6 weeks. (Described as one of the top 20 trials of 2013 in The Lawyer.)
  • Alexander and others v Clydesdale Financial Services – Acted (with Andrew Mitchell QC and Tamara Oppenheimer) for Clydesdale Financial Services in connection with over 200 claims brought by consumers under s.75 and s.56 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 arising out of alleged mis-selling of timeshares.
  • Crédit Agricole and FGIC v IKB – Instructed (with David Railton QC and Derrick Dale QC) the German bank IKB in defending one of the largest credit crunch-related claims in the Commercial Court. The claim involved allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation in relation to a series of structured securitisation transactions and in which the claimants sought over $2 billion in damages. The case settled shortly before trial, which had been listed for 10-weeks in Michaelmas term 2011. (Described as one of the top 20 trials of 2011 in The Lawyer.)
  • Dhadhi and others v Barclays Bank – Acted (with Andrew Mitchell QC) for Barclays in respect of claims concerning wide-spread mortgage/valuation frauds and involving purchasers, solicitors and valuers. The trial of the action was listed for 5 weeks.
  • Office of Fair Trading  v Abbey National and others – [2008] 2 All ER (Comm) 625; [2009] 2 W.L.R. 1286; [2010] 1 A.C. 696.  Acted (with Bankim Thanki QC, Richard Handyside QC and Edward Levey) for Lloyds Banking Group in the test case brought by the OFT in respect of bank overdraft charges. James appeared in the Commercial Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in relation to the trial of certain preliminary issues. (Described as one of the top 10 cases of 2009 in The Lawyer.) He has advised and represented the bank on various aspects in relation to the ongoing litigation in the county courts.

James is frequently instructed in relation to a wide-range of banking and finance disputes of varying levels of complexity and size, including:

  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and others: instructed (with Brian Doctor QC) in relation to various applications in the Chancery Division in connection with this very substantial litigation concerning the fraudulent misappropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars by Mr Ablyazov and others from BTA Bank in Kazakhstan.
  • Advised (with Richard Handyside QC) a payment service provider for credit and debit card transactions in relation to its complex contractual arrangements with VISA and MasterCard among others.
  • MASNOL v Edward Symmons: acting (with Mark Simpson QC and Jamie Smith) in proceedings concerning the recoverability of the breakages costs of portfolio hedges.
  • Acting for Barclays Private Banking in its defence of a multi-million pound claim regarding the alleged mis-selling of commercial property investment funds.
  • Acted/acting for NatWest/RBS in a number of claims in relation to the alleged mis-selling of interest rate swap agreements.
  • Acted (with John Taylor) in relation to various claims for fraud and conspiracy in relation to substantial financial investments.
  • Instructed by Clydesdale Financial Services and Barclays as sole counsel in connection with various claims brought by consumers under s.75 and s.56 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 arising out of alleged mis-selling of products.
  • Advised a Luxembourg investment company in relation to claims arising out of the mis-selling of longevity contingent zero coupon notes.
  • Instructed by JP Morgan in respect of both a multi-million euro claim on a credit facility agreement and a claim for mistaken payment.
  • Acted for RBS in proceedings concerning the alleged misrepresentation of various loan facilities and guarantees. James was instructed as sole counsel for a trial listed for 1-week.
  • Acted/acting for numerous banks (including Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Capital One) in relation to various disputes involving Consumer Credit Act issues.
  • Appeared for Lloyds Banking Group in a claim concerning alleged negligent misrepresentations and advice.
  • Represented a lender in a substantial claim before the High Court concerning negligent advice.

Commercial dispute resolution

  • Crédit Agricole and FGIC v IKB;
  • Office of Fair Trading  v Abbey National and others;
  • Barclays Bank v UniCredit;
  • Merrill Lynch v Florence; UBS v Florence; Dexia v Florence;
  • Rawlinson & Hunter Trustees and others v Serious Fraud Office –
  • Acting for Vincent Tchenguiz and various corporate entities in a £200 million damages claim against the Serious Fraud Office (with Bankim Thanki QC and Rosalind Phelps). The trial, which will include claims for misfeasance in public office, is currently listed for 8 weeks in 2014.
  • Re: the Buncefield Incident – Shell v Total – Acted for Shell in the high-profile litigation arising out of the Buncefield Oil Depot fire in December 2005 (with Richard Handyside QC). James was instructed in relation to the quantum proceedings, drafting the claim for damages against Total amounting to over $150 million.
  • Quebec Tobacco Litigation – Acting (with Bankim Thanki QC) for a partner with Hogan Lovells in giving evidence in the class action before the Superior Court of Quebec against Imperial Tobacco.
  • UBM v GfK – Acted (led by David Railton QC and Marcus Smith) in relation to a multi-million pound claim concerning the proper construction of a share purchase agreement.
  • Ting v Akai Holdings – Acted (with Craig Orr QC) in interlocutory proceedings in Bermuda arising out of the collapse of Akai, Hong Kong’s biggest corporate bankruptcy. The case raised issues of res judicata, abuse of process and contractual construction. 

James’ practice covers a wide range of domestic and international commercial dispute resolution, in both arbitration and litigation, including:

  • Acted (with Richard Handyside QC) for the defendant in proceedings between two international private equity firms arising out of a transaction for the sale of an automotive business.
  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and others: acted (with Brian Doctor QC) in various applications in respect of claims of legal professional privilege over certain seized documents.
  • State Street v Mourant: acted for State Street in its claims under a share purchase agreement concerning the multi-national acquisition of various businesses.
  • Acted (with Marcus Smith QC) for a transportation business in relation to claims arising out of the purchase of a luxury chauffeur service.
  • Benedetti v April Holding: appeared as sole counsel in an application in connection with the long-running dispute arising out of the acquisition of Wind Telecom.
  • Acted for Ecobank Nigeria in its application to set aside a registration order which had been improperly registered in the English courts.
  • Acted for an international trading company in relation to claims for breach of fiduciary duty, dishonest assistance and tracing brought against its former director and advisors.
  • Acted for Aspinall’s Club, a high-profile London casino, in a number of disputes concerning the Gaming Acts and the Gambling Act 2005. 


  • Durham Tees Valley Airport v bmibaby – Acted (led by Akhil Shah QC) for the low-cost airline in a substantial dispute concerning the economic operation of low cost airlines and their contractual relationships with regional airports, following the Court of Appeal decision on liability ([2011] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 731). The case involved complex expert evidence in the fields of aviation network profiling and airport economics.
  • Shaker v VistaJet – Acted (with Akhil Shah QC) for VistaJet, a leading luxury aviation company for private jet charter and ownership, in a case concerning the aborted sale of an aircraft and which raised issues as to the enforceability of agreements to agree and contractual estoppel.
  • London Luton Airport v APCOA Parking – Acted as sole counsel for Luton Airport in its claim in the Commercial Court which involved the proper construction of a concession agreement.

Energy & natural resources

  • Re: The Buncefield Incident – Shell v Total – Acted for Shell in the litigation arising out of the Buncefield Oil Depot fire in December 2005 (with Richard Handyside QC). (See entry under Commercial Litigation.)
  • Acted as sole counsel in a five-day arbitration concerning the construction of a force majeure provision in an international coal supply agreement.
  • Acted for a manufacturer of electricity generators in relation to a substantial dispute with a company producing wind turbines which concerned the proper construction of a long-term supply contract.


  • American Reliable and CNA v Willis – Acted for over two years (with Christopher Hancock QC, Bankim Thanki QC, Richard Coleman and Alexander Gunning) for Willis in a claim brought by a reinsurer for losses in excess of $250m arising out of the PA LMX reinsurance market. The claim involved allegations of dishonest assistance, misrepresentation and negligence, as well as an appeal on a point of case management. (Described as one of the top ten trials of 2009 in The Lawyer 5/1/09.)
  • Morini Ltd v Moffatt Saunders – Instructed (with Mark Simpson QC) on behalf of an insurance broker in relation to a claim for negligence following a dispute as to the coverage of the policy.

In addition to work in connection with more substantial disputes, James is regularly instructed as sole counsel in relation to smaller scale disputes, across a range of insurance products and for a range of insurers, brokers and advisers (including the sale of life insurance policies, coverage disputes, and negligent mis-selling).

Professional negligence

  • American Reliable v Willis;
  • Morini Ltd v Moffatt Saunders.
  • MASNOL v Edward Symonds – Acting (with Mark Simpson QC and Jamie Smith) for a surveyor facing substantial claims for negligent valuation of commercial properties, including for the breakage costs of certain hedges entered into in relation to the loan portfolio.
  • Acted (with Craig Orr QC) for a private individual in bringing a claim in negligence against a well-known firm of tax advisors.

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