James Morgan QC

Introduction

James is an established commercial practitioner, with particular expertise in the fields of insolvency, company and commercial dispute resolution. James has a wealth of trial experience and of applications for interim relief, including freezing orders and injunctions.

He is featured in the Legal 500 as a leading practitioner in commercial, banking, insolvency and Chancery law. He has also been consistently recommended by Chambers & Partners as a leader in the fields of Chancery, commercial dispute resolution, company and restructuring/insolvency matters. The 2018 Chambers Bar Guide describes James as “a fantastic trial advocate.”

James also sits as a Recorder of the County Court. James is married with two children, two dogs and three pigs. When time permits, he enjoys wine, cricket, golf and skiing.


Company & Partnership

James has wide experience in the company law field and this dovetails with his insolvency and directors’ disqualification work. He therefore has particular experience of misfeasance claims in and outside the insolvency context.

James also regularly advises in relation to shareholder disputes and has recent experience of large s.994 petitions, derivative claims and just and equitable winding up petitions.

James has been ranked in Chambers UK for Company law for many years. The 2018 edition notes that, “He’s good on his feet and a pleasure to work with. He has a vast knowledge of the area of law we engage him in.” “Very approachable and always contactable.”

He has contributed a number of articles to journals including: The relevance of loss in preference type misfeasance claims (Corporate Rescue & Insolvency 2014, 7(3), 123-124); and Directors’ duties in the insolvency context (Insolvency Intelligence 2015 28(1), 1-5).

Recent Cases:

  • Acting for an overseas client in relation to the just and equitable winding up of two English companies that were in deadlock
  • Acting in relation to a substantial s.994 petition in the High Court in London, which settled at mediation
  • Recently acted for a local authority in relation to a shareholders’ dispute arising out of a joint venture company
  • Acting for a family business in relation to a joint venture dispute that settled at trial
  • Led in in two multi-million pound shareholder disputes that settled shortly before lengthy trials 2013.

Insolvency & Restructuring

James has extensive insolvency experience including all aspects of corporate insolvency, misfeasance proceedings and personal insolvency. He is an acknowledged leading practitioner in this field and is regularly instructed by the insolvency departments of major local and regional firms. James has been involved in a significant number of insolvency cases of note (including several in the Court of Appeal) as referred to below. As a junior, James undertook directors’ disqualification work for the SSBIS and now acts on behalf of individual directors. James has recently been working on high value misfeasance cases and cases with interesting cross-border issues.

Recent Cases:

  • Acting for directors in a High Court claim for breach of duty, s.423 and under the Companies Act 2006, which is an important authority on the applicability of the duty to creditors when the company is facing a contingent claim
  • Advising as to the interaction of insolvency and shipping law in the context of  the administration of travel companies with various cross-border issues
  • Successfully acting for an Irish liquidator in bringing proceedings in the High Court in England in reliance on the provisions in the EC Insolvency Regulation
  • Successfully acting for liquidators in obtaining summary judgment in very substantial misfeasance proceedings, as well as orders on a committal application, against multiple respondents arising out of the collapse of a large retail company
  • Successfully acting for applicants in a substantial High Court misfeasance claim against an insolvency practitioner, which included victories in the Court of Appeal on an expedited appeal and later on the thorny issue of the defence of illegality
  • Being led on a second appeal in the Court of Appeal, which is now the leading case concerning the meaning of “insolvency” in the context of avoidance claims
  • A high-value and complicated IVA (raising issues as to capacity) followed by an ongoing bankruptcy.

Professional Liability

James has experience of acting in claims against solicitors, surveyors, LPA receivers, accountants and financial advisors. He also advises in relation to fraud cases against solicitors and other professionals.

James has particular expertise in relation to claims against solicitors and accountants including those arising out of: release of monies to third parties; entry into unauthorised transactions; failure to secure an interest in a property for a trustee in bankruptcy within the time limits in the Insolvency Act 1986; and failure to advise as to the tax consequences of a transaction.

Crossing James’ insolvency and professional liability work, he acted for applicants in a substantial negligence claim against an insolvency practitioner, which included successful appearances in the Court of Appeal on an expedited appeal and in relation to the thorny issue of the defence of illegality.

Recent Cases:

  • Acting for claimants in a £1m+ claim for breach of duty, breach of trust and fraud against an international law firm arising out of a Ponzi scheme promoted by one of its former partners, which recently settled
  • Acting for claimants in a claim for breach of duty against a firm of solicitors arising out a property transaction and subsequent litigation, which settled at mediation
  • Acting for applicants in a substantial professional liability claim against an insolvency practitioner, which included successful appearances in the Court of Appeal on an expedited appeal and on the thorny issue of the defence of illegality.
  • Successfully acting for a mortgagee in a 5-day High Court trial that raised issues as to the duties of LPA Receivers.
  • Successfully acting for a number of claimants in a high value High Court claim against solicitors arising out of a corporate transaction
  • Acting in High Court claims for a mortgagee against a negligent surveyor and for a liquidator against a firm of solicitors in connection with the entry into an unauthorised property transaction pre-liquidation.

Published Journals

Company & Partnership

SSBIS v Weston & Williams [2014] EWHC 2933 (Ch). Decision of HHJ Cooke as to whether disqualification proceedings were an abuse of process.

Re Clenaware Systems Ltd [2014] 1 BCLC 447 (CDDA 1986, s.17)

Cathie v SSBIS [2012] BCC 813 (CDDA, second appeal)

Mundy v Brown [2011] BPIR 1056 (misfeasance and Quistclose trusts)

Irwin v Lynch [2011] 1 WLR 1364 (CA) (amendments, limitation and misfeasance)

Gardiner v SSBERR [2009] BCC 742 (CDDA 1986, s.8A)

OR v Dhaliwall [2006] 1 BCLC 285 (directors’ disqualification)

Insolvency & Restructuring

Northampton Town BC v Cardoza [2019] EWHC 26 (Ch). Successfully acting for Northampton Borough Council in a £2m+ misfeasance and s.423 claim against former directors of Northampton Town FC following a 10-day trial. http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2019/26.html 

Baltic House Developments Ltd v Wing Keung Cheung [2018] Bus LR 1531. Appearing on a contested application for an administration order. http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2018/1525.html

Re TPS Investments (UK) Ltd [2019] BCLC 61. Successfully acting for administrators in defeating an application to remove them on the grounds of a conflict of interest.

Re Capital Funding One Ltd [2017] EWHC 3567 (Ch). Successfully acting for a company in establishing that administrators were invalidly appointed. http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2017/3567.html

Dickinson v NAL Realisations (Staffordshire) Ltd (in liquidation) [2017] EWHC 28 (Ch). Acting for defendants facing claims for breach of duty, under s.423 and under the Companies Act 2006.

Ready Rentals Ltd (in liquidation) v Ahmed [2016] EWHC 1996 (Ch). Decision of Newey J as to the interaction of POCA 2002 and insolvency law in the context of a payment into court. www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2016/1996.html

Re Cosy Seal Insulation Ltd (in administration) [2016] EWHC 1225 (Ch). Succesfully acting for an administrator in obtaining a judgment from HHJ Behrens for over £1m against a director and connected party for breach of duty and a transaction at an undervalue. www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2016/1255.html

Sharma v Top Brands [2015] EWCA Civ 1140. Decision of the CA upholding the trial’s judges finding that the breach of duty claim against a former liquidator was not barred by reason of illegality. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/1140.html

Power v Hodges [2015] EWHC 2931 (Ch), [2015] EWHC 2983 (Ch). Decisions of HHJ Barker QC granting liquidators summary judgment and making suspended orders for committal in substantial misfeasance proceedings. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2015/2983.html

Pooni v Nazran [2015] EWHC 1899 (QB). Acting for a defendant to a claim for breach of warranty / guarantee arising out of a property investment in Dubai. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2015/1899.html

Top Brands v Sharma [2014] EWCA Civ 761. Decision of the Court of Appeal on an expedited appeal upholding the first instance judge that a former liquidator had no standing to challenge the status of the applicants as creditors, thereby meaning that their misfeasance claim against the former liquidator should proceed. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/761.html

Re Casa Estates Ltd [2014] BCC 269. Decision of the Court of Appeal (on a second appeal) as to the meaning and effect of the “cash flow” and “balance sheet” insolvency tests in s.123 of the Insolvency Act 1986 following the decision of the Supreme Court in Eurosail. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/383.html

Masters v Furber [2014] BPIR 263. Decision of HHJ Purle QC that a supervisor of an IVA could, relying in part on a Power of Attorney in his favour, obtain a mandatory injunction requiring the debtor to comply with the terms of the arrangement in relation to the realisation of certain motor vehicles for the benefit of creditors as a whole. Reported at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2013/3023.html

Re GP Aviation Ltd [2014] 1 WLR 166. Decision of HHJ Pelling QC as to whether a bare right to appeal was “property” within the meaning of the Insolvency Act 1986 in the context of an application by liquidator for directions as to whether he should assign the right to conduct a tax appeal to the directors of the company. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2013/1447.html

Harris v SSBIS [2014] 1 BCLC 447. Decision of HHJ Barker QC as to the principles to be applied on an application for permission to act under sections 1A and 17 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2013/2514.html

Nautch v Mortgage Express [2012] EWHC 4136 (Ch). Decision of HHJ Purle QC as to construction of mortgagee’s terms and conditions and professional liability of appointed receivers. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2012/4136.html

Re BXL Services [2012] BCC 657 (appointment of administrators)

Re Assured & Taurus [2012] BCC 541 (appointment of administrators)

Cathie v SSBIS [2012] EWCA Civ 739 (CDDA, second appeal)

Re Stealth Construction [2012] BCLC 297 (preferences)Mundy v Brown [2011] BPIR 1056 (misfeasance and Quistclose trusts)

Hill v Stokes plc [2011] BCC 473 (appointment of administrators)

Green v Bramston [2011] BPIR 44 (Re Berkeley Applegate application)

Irwin v Lynch [2011] 1 WLR 1364 (CA) (amendments, limitation and misfeasance)Bolsover DC v Ashfield Nominees [2011] BPIR 7 (CA)

(council tax, winding up, limitation)Dennis Rye Ltd v Bolsover DC [2010] 4 All ER 1140 (CA) (cross-claims and winding up petitions)

Crooks v Newdigate [2009] EWCA Civ 283 (construction of assignment)

Gardiner v SSBERR [2009] BCC 742 (CDDA 1986, s.8A)

Re Kayley Vending Ltd [2009] BCC 578 (SIP 16 and pre-appointment costs)

Re International Sections Ltd [2009] BCC 574 (prescribed part)

Arnold v Williams [2008] BPIR 247 (bankruptcy and appeals against tax assessments)

Re Britannia Heat (in admin) [2007] BCC 470 (CVA’s and employment law)

Re TM Kingdom (in admin) [2007] BCC 480 (exit route from administration)

Re Beauvale (in admin) [2006] BCC 912 (exit route from administration)

OR v Dhaliwall [2006] 1 BCLC 285 (directors’ disqualification)

De Crittenden v Bayliss [2005] EWCA Civ 1424 (abuse of process, fiduciary duty)

HL Estates v Parker-Lake [2003] All ER (D) 245 (LPA (MP) Act 1989)

Professional Liability

Sharma v Top Brands [2015] EWCA Civ 1140. Decision of the CA upholding the trial’s judges finding that the breach of duty claim against a former liquidator was not barred by reason of illegality. http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/1140

Top Brands v Sharma [2014] EWHC 2753 (Ch). Decision of HHJ Simon Barker QC finding for applicants in professional liability claim against an insolvency practitioner arising out of the loss of over £0.5m of cash which should have been available for distribution to creditors. http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2014/2753.html

Top Brands v Sharma [2014] EWCA Civ 761. Decision of the Court of Appeal on an expedited appeal upholding the first instance judge that a former liquidator had no standing to challenge the status of the applicants as creditors, thereby meaning that their professional liability claim against the former liquidator should proceed.

Nautch v Mortgage Express [2012] EWHC 4136 (Ch). Decision of HHJ Purle QC as to construction of mortgagee’s terms and conditions and professional liability of appointed receivers.

Education

MA Law (Cantab), Jesus College, Cambridge
Jesus College Foundation Scholar (1994)
Inner Temple Major Scholar (1995)
Bar Vocational Course – Outstanding (1996)

Appointments and Memberships

Attorney-General’s Panel of Provincial Advocates (appointed 2002; reappointed 2007 and 2012)
Recorder of the County Court (2010)
Midland Chancery & Commercial Bar Association

Testimonials

"Thoroughly prepared, with excellent forensic capability and superb organisation allied to a brilliant intellect." Legal 500 2020
"James is very calm when under pressure, a very strong advocate and a pleasure to deal with. He provides pragmatic advice when faced with complex commercial and procedural issues." Chambers UK
"He has the ear of the court and is very confident on his feet." Chambers UK
"Takes a very hands-on, pragmatic approach and is a strong advocate." Chambers UK
"He is always well prepared, commercial and has a very good manner with clients. He's very much a team player." Chambers UK
"He is very bright, very able and very well regarded." Chambers UK
"He's a fantastic QC and a fantastic advocate." Chambers UK
"He has a great intellect and never loses sight of the client's commercial objectives." Chambers UK
"Very good at insolvency - he's one of the go-tos. He's extremely intelligent and his knowledge of the law in that area is second to none. He is good with clients and highly approachable. He's happy to speak to the clients and find a commercial solution." Chambers UK
"He's extremely professional in the way he goes about his work. He's got a very appropriate and measured manner in court. Judges like his style, which isn't overly combative or bombastic. He's particularly strong in the company area." Chambers UK
"He's an extremely assured courtroom performer who readily gains complete client confidence." Chambers UK
"He is very easy to work with, approachable and very thorough. He's technically very, very good and is able to look at and assimilate information quickly. He's able to think about the case from both a legal and commercial angle as well." Chambers UK
"He's good on his feet and a pleasure to work with. He has a vast knowledge of the area of law we engage him in." Chambers UK
"He thinks quickly on his feet and responds calmly and intelligently to any issues which arise." Chambers UK
"He is technically the best barrister I have ever dealt with." Chambers UK
“His legal advice is first-rate.” Legal 500
"His advice is always spot-on, he's always across the brief. He's very good with clients, dispensing the right advice in the right way." Chambers UK