James Potts

James Potts

Call: 2011

"James is very intelligent and personable, and has a great manner with solicitors and clients alike. An unflappable junior who provides serene, sensible advice in a crisis."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

"He has a great understanding of international fraud disputes. He always knows where the bodies are buried, with a forensic ability at all levels. A delight to have on the team."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

Practice Overview

James specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration, banking and financial services, civil fraud, company and shareholder disputes, financial crime, cyber fraud and cryptoassets, energy, professional negligence, regulatory and professional disciplinary law, and commercial judicial review. He has substantial experience of high-value, complex commercial litigation and arbitration, and regularly appears as sole counsel for applications and trials, as well as acting as a junior in larger legal teams.

Much of James’s work is international, including recent cases in several Middle East jurisdictions, the Bahamas, Bermuda, BVI, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Cyprus, Guernsey and Jersey.

James has been recognised as a leading junior in the UK, UAE and Asia Pacific regions, and is described as “an incredible lawyer… brilliant in analysing complex legal issues in financial cases” (Legal 500 Middle East Commercial 2022), “very intelligent and personable… an unflappable junior who provides serene, sensible advice in a crisis” (Legal 500 Financial Services 2022) and “a stellar team player” (Legal 500 Asia Pacific Commercial 2022), with “great understanding of international fraud disputes” (Legal 500 Fraud: Civil 2022).

Previous editions of Legal 500 described him as “diligent, insightful and creative, with an impressive ability to assimilate and synthesise extremely large volumes of facts”, “very analytical and has a clarity of thought which all busy solicitors value – got on top of matters very quickly and excellent drafting”, and “an impressive advocate who is highly intelligent and knowledgeable; a delight to work with”.

Recent highlights include acting in Tugushev v Orlov and Roth (dispute over Russia’s largest fishing group), AXA SA v Genworth Financial International Holdings (£500+ million share purchase agreement dispute relating to PPI), Medsted Associates Ltd v Canaccord Genuity (claim concerning fiduciary duties of brokers), Medlands (PTC) Ltd v St John’s Trust Company (Pvt) Ltd (trust litigation in Bermuda) and BML Properties Ltd v China Construction America (dispute over the $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas).

James undertakes a wide range of contentious and non-contentious banking and finance work, including disputes in relation to loans, letters of credit, guarantees, mortgages, securities and derivatives, financial mis-selling, collective investment schemes, and consumer credit. He advises on all aspects of FCA and PRA regulation, including cryptoassets, anti-money laundering, capital adequacy, and client money issues. He also has a good understanding of Sharia finance.

Current and recent work includes:

  • Acting for a Lloyds insurance broker in a £6 million fraud claim against former management (sole counsel).
  • AXA SA v Genworth Financial International Holdings [2019] EWHC 3376 (Comm), [2020] EWHC 2024 (Comm): £500m+ share purchase agreement claim in relation to remediation liability for Payment Protection Insurance mis-selling (led by Jonathan Nash QC).
  • Acting for successful appellant in a consumer credit car finance appeal (sole counsel).
  • Advising Central Bank of Cyprus on action under the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • Al-Khorafi v Sarasin-Alpen and Bank Sarasin: DIFC claim acting for Swiss Bank J. Safra Sarasin  in relation to mis-selling of $200 million of financial products (with Hodge Malek QC and Yash Bheeroo).

James has a broad commercial litigation and arbitration in the UK and internationally, particularly in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Caribbean. His work spans disputes in banking and financial services, fraud, energy, cyber and cryptoassets disputes, IT, telecoms and media, shareholder and company disputes (including unfair prejudice petitions), contentious insolvency, and professional negligence. He is regularly instructed in commercial trials and applications for disclosure and interim relief such as freezing, delivery up and search orders.

James is ranked by The Legal 500 as a leading junior for Commercial Dispute Resolution in both the Middle East and Asia Pacific, where he is described as “an incredible lawyer… brilliant in analysing complex legal issues in financial cases”; “his input into tactics and approach goes beyond what is expected of counsel and he serves the client well with his bigger-picture thinking… a stellar team player”.

Cases of note include:

  • Tugushev v Orlov and Roth: acting for Vitaly Orlov in dispute over the Norebo Group, Russia’s largest fishing group (with Hodge Malek QC and Ravi Jackson).
  • Acting for claimant software company in £60 million breach of contract and conspiracy claims against former executives (with Ali Malek QC and Liisa Lahti).
  • Medlands (PTC) Ltd v St John’s Trust Company (Pvt) Ltd (Supreme Court of Bermuda): high value trust litigation (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • Medsted Associates Ltd v Canaccord Genuity Wealth (Intl) Ltd [2020] EWHC 2952 (Comm): dispute between brokers over secret commission and fiduciary duties.
  • Simpkin v Berkeley Group Holdings plc [2017] 4 WLR 116: high-value director’s bonus claim involving dispute over legal professional privilege in documents stored on employer’s IT system (led by Hodge Malek QC).

James is ranked as a leading junior for Civil Fraud by Legal 500, which says: “He has a great understanding of international fraud disputes. He always knows where the bodies are buried, with a forensic ability at all levels. A delight to have on the team.

He is regularly instructed (either as sole counsel or as junior in a larger legal team) to obtain freezing injunctions, search orders and disclosure orders in proceedings involving breach of trust, tracing claims, conspiracy to defraud, dishonest assistance, knowing receipt, fraudulent directors, cryptoassets, and bank frauds. He has particular expertise in relation to disclosure and legal professional privilege  issues.

Highlights include:

  • Tugushev v Orlov and Roth: acting for Vitaly Orlov in a dispute over the Norebo Group, Russia’s largest fishing group (with Hodge Malek QC and Ravi Jackson).
  • Acting for a Lloyds insurance broker in a £6 million fraud claim against former management  (sole counsel).
  • Freezing injunctions and asset recovery proceedings in Malaysia, Canada, Cyprus, Australia and other  jurisdictions in relation to a $70m bank fraud.
  • BML Properties Ltd v China Construction America: US$2+ billion fraud and breach of contract claim concerning the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas (led by Hodge Malek QC).
  • Bascunan v Elsaca: BVI freezing injunction relating to a US$60m fraud claim, with proceedings spanning the BVI, New York and Chile (led by Hodge Malek QC).

Cyber fraud and cryptoasset disputes have been a major part of James’s work in 2020-2022. He advises on all aspects of cyber fraud and cryptoasset disputes, including freezing injunctions against “Persons Unknown” and cryptoasset exchanges, Norwich Pharmacal/Bankers Trust disclosure orders tracing the proceeds of fraud, blockchain tracing, FCA regulation, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing, and sanctions in relation to cryptoassets.

Much of James’s cyber fraud and cryptoasset work is confidential, but includes:

  • Independent review of anti-money laundering systems of a cryptoasset exchange seeking FCA registration under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.
  • Obtaining Norwich Pharmacal disclosure orders (believed to be the first of their kind) against an Australian cryptoasset exchange in relation to the laundering of proceeds of a major bank fraud.

Financial crime is a core element of James’s practice. He regularly advises banks, brokers, casinos, law firms and other businesses and individuals on financial crime issues including sanctions, anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing, and bribery and corruption systems and controls. He acts for firms and individuals facing investigation or proceedings by the FCA, SFO, the Gambling Commission and other bodies, and international regulators and law enforcement agencies.

Much of this work is confidential, but includes:

  • Independent review of anti-money laundering systems of a cryptoasset exchange seeking FCA registration under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.
  • Money laundering and compliance reviews of leading casinos.

James is ranked as a leading junior for Financial Services Regulation by Legal 500, which describes him as “very intelligent and personable, and has a great manner with solicitors and clients alike. An unflappable junior who provides serene, sensible advice in a crisis”.

James acts in relation to investigations and regulatory action involving the FCA, PRA, London Stock Exchange and overseas regulators and exchanges, including RDC and Upper Tribunal proceedings. He advises on all aspects of FCA and PRA regulation, including cryptoassets, anti-money laundering, capital adequacy, client money, and consumer credit. He also has a good understanding of Sharia finance regulatory issues.

Cases of note include:

  • Hong Kong Stock Exchange v X: advising on regulatory proceedings brought by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • London Stock Exchange v X: acting for an AIM nominated adviser defending disciplinary proceedings by the LSE.
  • X v Guernsey Financial Services Commission: judicial review of GFSC concerning disciplinary action against directors of a Guernsey firm (led by Richard Lissack QC and Robin Barclay).
  • Advising the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman in relation to pensions transfers.
  • Acted for ICAP in relation to LIBOR fixing investigations by the FCA and international regulators (led by Hodge Malek QC).

James regularly advises licensed gambling operators on regulation under the Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, and associated legislation such as the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017. He has advised on issues such as anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing, UK and international sanctions, payments, cheques and s.81 of the Gambling Act, online gaming, unfair contract terms, problem gambling and social responsibility.

Several of James’s recent cases have involved IT disputes, including in relation to distributor agreements, non-compete clauses, confidentiality disputes and GDPR breaches, as well as shareholder disputes in relation to technology companies.

Current and recent work includes:

  • Acting for a software company in £60 million breach of contract and conspiracy claims against former executives (with Ali Malek QC and Liisa Lahti).
  • Shareholder dispute concerning a start-up technology company (sole counsel).
  • Bladeroom Group Ltd v Facebook: acting for Facebook on applications to obtain evidence under the Hague Convention in support of S. proceedings concerning alleged theft of trade secrets (sole counsel).

James regularly acts in international arbitrations and has experience of arbitrations under DIFC, LCIA, ICC, SIAC and GCC Commercial Arbitration Centre rules. He is equally happy acting unled or as part of a larger Counsel team.

Cases include:

  • LCIA arbitration (2022) concerning shareholder dispute over a property investment company (led by Michael Todd QC).
  • LCIA arbitration (2021) over a hotel group collapse.
  • Representing an international oil company in two $800m ad hoc arbitrations concerning tract participation in an offshore oilfield (led by Sean Wilken QC and Jess Connors).
  • £3.5m GCCCAC arbitration in Bahrain under Saudi substantive law and Bahraini procedural law (sole English counsel).

James has a particular interest in disputes in relation to media, entertainment, art & cultural property.

Experience includes:

  • Licensing dispute over television rights to Serie A football matches (sole counsel).
  • Representing art galleries claiming liens over artwork (sole counsel).
  • Corporate and licensing dispute over a television station in Ukraine (led by James Ramsden QC).

James acts for regulators, firms and individuals on all aspects of professional and commercial regulation. He has particular experience in relation to financial services professionals, accountants, auditors, insolvency practitioners, legal professionals, and the gambling industry.

James is a contributor to Jordan’s Regulatory and Disciplinary Proceedings (8th, 9th and 10th editions).

See Financial Services and Gambling Regulation for experience in these areas. In other areas, experience includes:

  • Acting for CIArb in Chartered Institute of Arbitrators v B [2019] EWHC 460 (Comm) (use of court documents in disciplinary proceedings) (sole counsel).
  • Anjum v Law Society (acting for Law Society on High Court intervention challenge) (sole counsel).
  • Law Society v Siddiqi (acting for Law Society on search and seizure order) (sole counsel).
  • Law Society v Li (application for information and documents under 44B and Sch.1 of the Solicitors Act 1974) (sole counsel).
  • SRA v Manak & Dhillon [2016] EWHC 1914 (Admin) (abuse of process) (led by Greg Treverton-Jones QC).
  • Representing accountants and IPs before ICAEW’s Disciplinary and Review Committees.
  • First prize, Times Law Awards (2012)
  • Phoenicia Scholarship, Bar European Group (2012)
  • David Karmel Scholarship (2009), Bedingfield Scholarship (2010) and Mould Senior Scholarship (2011) from Gray’s Inn (top scholarship each year)
  • Lee Essay Prize (second place), Gray’s Inn (2011) City University Prize for Public Law (2010)
  • Members’ English Prize for best dissertation, University of Cambridge (2009)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Studentship (2008-2009)
  • Fowler Prizes for performance in Finals (2008) and Moderations (2006)
  • College Exhibition (2006) and Postmastership (2007)

The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year