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Douglas James

Call 2015

Douglas joined chambers in October 2016 following pupillage. His practice is particularly focussed on construction, insurance, professional negligence, property damage and personal injury matters – and the overlaps between these areas of work. Douglas is a contributing editor to Emden’s Construction Law: among others, he wrote the chapters on misrepresentation, estoppel and frustration.

Douglas welcomes instructions to give advice, draft documents and conduct hearings (he appears in court almost every day). He prides himself on providing clear and practical advice, crisp and succinct pleadings and fair and forceful advocacy.

Douglas read History at UCL and came top of his year. He went on to write a PhD in medical History. After turning to law Douglas gained a Distinction in the GDL and was graded Outstanding in Bar finals. He is a Hardwicke, Eastham, Lord Bowen and Lord Denning scholar of Lincoln’s Inn.

Outside the office Douglas is a rugby referee and a church bell-ringer.

Construction & Engineering

Douglas has wide experience of construction disputes and a number of standard form contracts. He welcomes instructions to assist in all forms of construction dispute resolution, including claims against construction professionals.

Douglas is a contributing editor to Emden’s Construction Law. He also recently presented to the Society of Construction Law’s Astra group on the subject of delay analysis.

Douglas is a member of the Society of Construction Law and TECBAR.

Selected Cases

  • Acting for the employer in 2 c. £250k interim and final account adjudications (led by David Sears QC).
  • Acting for the main contractor in 2 c. £150k adjudications concerning scaffolding works on a school refurbishment project.
  • Acting for the main contractor in 2 TCC adjudication enforcement proceedings.
  • Advising the main contractor in a c. £110k claim final account dispute.
  • Acting for a main contractor in a £160k defects dispute with its sub-contractor.
  • Advising an assignee on the implications of contractor insolvency for the enforceability of an adjudication decision: the matter was latter litigated in Bresco v Michael J Lonsdale [2018] EWCA Civ 27.
  • Advising on economic loss in relation to a claim for allegedly defective renovation works at a premium property development in Belgravia.
  • Acting for a solar-farm developer in a claim for delayed and defective preparatory works.
  • Acting for a building owner in an appeal under the Party Wall Etc. Act 1996. Douglas was Crispin Winser’s pupil shortly before the appeal on the Party Wall Act in Gray v Elite Town Management Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 1318.

Douglas was Crispin Winser’s pupil shortly before the appeal on the Party Wall Act in Gray v Elite Town Management Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 1318.


Douglas is regularly instructed in commercial disputes. He has experience of a wide range of commercial matters involving: the sale of goods; the supply of services; jurisdiction and conflict of laws; unjust enrichment; agency; bailment; credit hire disputes; and corporate and personal insolvency.

Selected Cases

  • Assisting in a £8m claim against a major high-street bank concerning alleged breaches of implied terms of long-term agency licensing agreements, including alleged implied terms of good faith (led by Jason Evans-Tovey).
  • Acting for an international retailer in a c. £200k sale of goods dispute.
  • Acting for a construction company in a c. £100k claim against an undisclosed principal for non-payment of invoices.
  • Acting for a consultancy company in a claim against a Swiss IT company for unpaid fees.
  • Acting for a bespoke catering company in a claim to recover unpaid fees from a client alleging breach of its service contract.
  • Advising on the scope of equitable subrogation and the possibility of a claim in unjust enrichment following a mistaken payment by a company purporting to settle another company’s liability.
  • Acting for an agricultural machinery manufacturer in a claim for loss of yields and profit.
  • Appearing for creditors and debtors in insolvency proceedings (particularly in relation to non-payment of agents’ commission, residential charges and tax).
  • Appearing for major insurers in credit hire litigation.

Douglas is also a member of the Government Legal Department’s “junior junior” panel. He recently assisted on a judicial review of the sale of a publicly-owned bank.

Professional Liability

Douglas’s professional liability practice covers claims against professionals of all kinds, including solicitors, financial advisors, brokers, architects, surveyors, estate agents and medical professionals.

Douglas recently completed a secondment to the PI team of a major firm of solicitors, where he handled claims against solicitors acting in property, probate, divorce, tax, personal injury and company law matters.

Selected Cases

  • Acting for the defendant solicitor in a c. £700k claim about alleged misadvising on employment redundancy terms which excluded personal injury claims.
  • Acting for the defendant solicitor in c. £110k High Court proceedings about alleged misadvising on planning matters during a building development transaction.
  • Acting for an IFA in proceedings about the settling of a trust.
  • Acting for an architect in a claim alleging defective designs for a residential refurbishment project.
  • Advising on the trust implications of a mistaken insurance payment.

Property Damage

Douglas has wide experience of property damage and product liability cases. He has acted for major insurers in claims involving damage caused by subsidence, trees, fire/smoke, water and environmental waste.

Selected Cases

  • Junior counsel in 2entertain and ors v Sony Europe, a £6.5m claim arising out of arson at a warehouse during the 2011 London riots (led by Ben Quiney QC).
  • Junior counsel in Albanwise and ors v Bennett (Construction) Ltd and ors, £2m proceedings against main contractors for faulty chimney flue installation (led by Ben Quiney QC).
  • Acting for a commercial landlord in a contribution claim against its managing agent for persistent damp and water ingress following a six-figure payout to its lessee for business interruption (led by Julian Field).
  • Acting for a main contractor claiming for the faulty installation of a chilled water system in a £2m office refurbishment project.
  • Advising a private members club on a claim for a defective air conditioning system..
  • Acting for a commercial landlord in a fire claim against a washing machine manufacturer.
  • Acting for a local authority in a claim for alleged nuisance following extensive landscaping works to public parkland.
  • Acting for the supplier in a claim about an allegedly defective motor engine.
  • Advising on recovery following a spill from a defective oil tank.
  • Acting for homeowners in a claim against an AGA servicing contractor for fire and smoke damage.

Insurance & Reinsurance

Douglas acts regularly in insurance disputes, particularly those concerning coverage and disclosure.

Selected Cases

  • Successfully defending a motor insurer in policy repudiation proceedings.
  • Advising on whether a company could, under the terms of a shareholders agreement, pursue its “affiliate” in a subrogated action to recover losses sustained by a fire.
  • Acting for the insured in a claim for alleged material non-disclosure.As a pupil, Douglas assisted Daniel Shapiro in seeking permission to appeal the decision in Involnert Management Inc. v Aprilgrange Ltd and ors [2015] EWHC 2225 (Comm).

As a pupil, Douglas assisted Daniel Shapiro in seeking permission to appeal the decision in Involnert Management Inc. v Aprilgrange Ltd and ors [2015] EWHC 2225 (Comm). .

Personal Injury

Douglas has a busy personal injury practice, both on paper and in court. His work spans:

  • Industrial and occupational disease claims.
  • RTAs (including where fraud and exaggeration are suspected).
  • Occupiers’ liability.
  • Highway authorities’ liability.
  • Accidents at work.
  • Claims against medical professionals.

Douglas offers straightforward and pragmatic advice on prospects, quantum and strategy. As well as being a determined trial advocate, Douglas is alive to the commercial and personal benefits of settlement and has experience of many JSMs, RTMs and mediations.


Douglas has experience in a broad range of chancery work, including real property, trusts and insolvency matters.

Selected Cases

  • Advising a lessee on breaches of covenant in a commercial lease.
  • Acting for a property developer in a claim based on an alleged partnership agreement.
  • Acting for an estate in a claim by the deceased’s son for a declaration of a beneficial interest in property.
  • Acting for debtors and creditors in bankruptcy and winding-up proceedings.


  • Eastham scholar (Pupillage award, Lincoln’s Inn, 2015)
  • Buchanan Prize (BPTC award, Lincoln’s Inn, 2015)
  • Berwin Leighton Paisner Prize for best law-school team, Worshipful Company of Arbitrators arbitration competition, 2015 (representing City University)
  • Lord Denning scholar (BPTC scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn, 2014)
  • Monckton Prize for EU Law (City University, 2014)
  • Winner, University of Southampton IV moot (representing Lincoln’s Inn, 2014)
  • Lord Bowen scholar (GDL scholarship Lincoln’s Inn, 2013)
  • Hardwicke scholar (Entrance award, Lincoln’s Inn, 2013)
  • Wellcome scholar (full stipendiary PhD scholarship, KCL, 2010-13)
  • Society for the Social History of Medicine bursary (KCL, 2012)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council scholar (MA scholarship, KCL, 2009-10)
  • Elizabeth Margaret Dale Cast Prize (top overall degree, UCL, 2009)
  • Dean’s List (UCL, 2009)
  • Professor Joel Hurstfield Prize (top in 2nd year, UCL, 2008)
  • Dolley Prize (top in 1st year, UCL, 2007)


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  • 2015 – BPTC – City University – Outstanding
  • 2014 – GDL – City University – Distinction
  • 2013 – PhD History (Portraits of early-modern patients) – King’s College London
  • 2010 – MA Early Modern History – King’s College London – Distinction
  • 2009 – BA (Hons) History – University College London – First Class (top in year)


  • Society of Construction Law
  • PIBA

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