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James McKean  
+44 (0) 20 7419 8000

Practice Overview

James has a broad commercial-chancery practice, covering commercial litigation, trusts and estates, civil fraud, company, insolvency, and real property work.


His recent instructions include a successful appeal in a partnership dispute (Razaq v Baig [2019] 11 WLUK 513), acting in a multi-million pound share claim against senior counsel, and bringing proceedings to remove an administrator based on conduct in multiple jurisdictions.


Before coming to the Bar, James read history at Lincoln College, Oxford, coming fifth in his year and receiving the highest arts mark in his college. He then took a double-first in the accelerated senior status law degree at St John’s College, Cambridge, and received the two highest student scholarships awarded by Lincoln’s Inn. He has also worked in New Delhi and Shanghai.


James can be instructed on a direct access basis.


  • Commercial Litigation
    • James is currently instructed in various commercial actions, including a cross-border manufacturing dispute with jurisdiction and insolvency issues, a claim under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, and a substantial unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty claim arising from a hotel construction.


      His past instructions include assisting the Secretary of State for Transport in a claim brought by Eurotunnel which attracted national media attention, acting for an investment bank in a share trading dispute, and advising on a cross-border debt claim arising from patent litigation.


      During pupillage, James assisted in the following:

      • A three-week commercial trial in the High Court with David Warner and Kristina Lukacova – UK Learning Academy Limited v The Secretary of State for Education [2018] EWHC 2915 (Comm);
      • A £650 million claim brought by a hedge fund against a major bank;
      • A contract and undue influence claim concerning business interests in the United Kingdom, Guernsey, and Malawi.


      James writes for LexisPSL as a member of the panel of experts on Dispute Resolution.

  • Trusts and Estates
    • James is currently instructed in various trusts and estates cases, including a High Court claim involving several Guernsey and BVI trusts and an offshore shell company, an action to remove an administratrix and revoke a grant of letters of administration, and several mediations under the 1975 Act.


      Other recent instructions include acting for the trustees of a major charitable trust in a tender dispute, advising on interpretation and taxation issues in a circa £6.5 million estate, successfully acting for an administratrix in a bigamous marriage dispute, and advice on testamentary capacity and associated professional negligence.


      During pupillage, James assisted in the following:

      • An application for removal of executors and subsequent costs appeal with Alexander Learmonth – Griffin v Higgs [2018] EWHC 2498 (Ch);
      • A committal for will forgery with Alexander Learmonth – Patel v Patel [2017] EWHC 3229 (Ch);
      • A dispute involving the will of a former law lord with Alexander Learmonth – Goss-Custard v Templeman [2018] EWHC 2476 (Ch).

      James has also appeared in the Court of Protection and the Family Court on trusts and estate cases.


      James has written for the Trusts and Estates Law & Tax Journal.

  • Property
    • James is currently instructed in various property cases, including an action arising from a disputed Caribbean property transaction, a trial concerning the forfeiture of commercial premises and seizure of chattels, and a service charge dispute in a residential lease.


      His recent instructions include advising on and obtaining an injunction to restrain interference with a retail property, advising on covenant issues in a commercial development, and bringing and defending collective enfranchisement claims.


      During pupillage, James assisted in the following:

      • A Court of Appeal challenge to the Wireless Music Festival with George Laurence QC and Ross Crail – R on the Application of the Friends of Finsbury Park v Haringey London Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 1831;
      • A construction dispute raising issues of limitation and defective premises with David Warner;
      • An opinion on adverse possession and prescriptive rights;
      • A dilapidations claim against a former tenant of a commercial property.

      James has also appeared in the First-tier Tribunal.

  • Civil Fraud
    • James has advised on claims involving deceit, civil fraud, unlawful means conspiracy, and contempt of court.


      During pupillage, James assisted in the following:

      • A six-week High Court conspiracy trial with Nigel Hood – Brent London Borough Council v Davies [2018] EWHC 2214 (Ch);
      • A confiscation claim arising out of a £38 million fraud with Nigel Hood – Mirchandani v Gheewala [2017] EWHC 3766 (QB);
      • An unfair prejudice and fraudulent misrepresentation claim with Nigel Hood;
      • Asset-tracing in the wake of a £70 million Ponzi scheme;
      • Advising on a claim against a fraudulent solicitor;
      • A deceit claim against suppliers to an international sporting venue.
  • Company
    • James appeared successfully for the appellant in Razaq v Baig [2019] 11 WLUK 513, which concerned the right of partners to access business assets following the winding up of a partnership.


      Other recent instructions include a cross-border manufacturing dispute in which companies in the contractual chain have entered liquidation, advice on unfair prejudice and director deadlock, and acting for administrators in a £41 million administration.


      James appears frequently in the winding up court and in related actions, including rescission of winding up petitions, restraining presentation of petitions, and proceedings involving companies’ registers.


      During pupillage, James assisted in the following:

      • An insurance claim involving a group of insolvent companies and raising novel points of law as to the authority of directors pending the dissolution of a company;
      • An unfair prejudice and fraudulent misrepresentation claim with Nigel Hood.
  • Insolvency
    • James appears frequently in bankruptcy proceedings, and related actions, in the High Court and County Court.


      Recent instructions include acting for a publication in insolvency proceedings which attracted national media attention, advising a commercial landlord on a claim against a tenant in administration, and advising on the powers of a supervisor under a CVA.

  • Additional Information

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