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James Sharpe

Call 2009

"Both detailed and excellent technically"
(Legal 500, 2018)

James specialises in commercial and insurance disputes, construction, and professional negligence claims. He regularly appears in the High Court (TCC, Commercial Court and Queen’s Bench Division) as sole counsel or as part of a larger team. He has also been led in the Court of Appeal and is currently been led in a case going to the Supreme Court.

James is recommended as a Leading junior in the 2018 edition of Legal 500 in insurance and reinsurance and professional negligence.

Before joining Chambers James read Jurisprudence at Somerville College, University of Oxford and was then a research assistant in the Commercial and Common Law Team at the Law Commission during which time he was involved in the passage of the Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 2010 and then the Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act 2012. As a result of this experience he has particular knowledge of insurance law and the insurance industry. During this time, he also taught contract and tort law at Queen Mary, University of London and Westminster University.

James is a contributing author of Emden on Construction Law and has co-written two chapters: “Bonds and Guarantees” (with Ben Quiney QC) and “Contractor’s Obligations as to Completion” (with David Myhill).

He is also a contributing author to Westlaw Insight on the Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Acts.

Commercial

James is regularly instructed in commercial matters involving sale of goods, supply of goods and services, bailment and agency; as well as claims arising out of SPAs, joint venture agreements, commission agreements, franchise agreements and agency agreements. James also often acts in respect of agreements between insurers and/or insurance brokers.

Selected Cases

  • Belmont Farms v Duynie – (with David Elvin QC) in the Commercial Court acting for a supplier in a £10 million claim arising out of the sale of contaminated animal feed (instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP)
  • Acted in respect of a SPA dispute following the purchase of a Lloyd’s managing agency (with Mark Cawson QC and Daniel Shapiro, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna LLP).
  • Acting in a dispute arising out of the theft of site accommodation units concerning the correct interpretation of insurance provisions.
  • Advising a company in respect to its use of information purchased from another company in circumstances where a third party is claiming that information is confidential to them instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna LLP).
  • Defended a franchisee against claims in debt and counterclaiming for damages for negligent misstatement / misrepresentation. The case involved a number of technical arguments relating to the incorporation and construction of various non-reliance clauses (with Jason Evans-Tovey).
  • Brit UW Ltd v F & B Trenchless Ltd [2016] Lloyd’s Rep IR 69; [2015] EWHC 2237 – Comm acted for the insured tunnelling contractor where insurers were seeking to avoid their public liability insurance (with Daniel Shapiro).
  • Global Draw v IGT (2015) – In the Commercial Court acting for a vendor of a video gaming company in respect of various claims arising out of a share purchase agreement. The claim was valued at over £50 million and settled after one week of trial on confidential terms. Between January and May, James worked almost exclusively on this matter assisting with disclosure, witness statements and preparing applications for specific disclosure (with Christopher Butcher QC and Daniel Shapiro).
  • British Amateur Gymnastics Association v (1) Zurich (2) Brit (3) Perkins Slade Limited (with Ben Quiney QC). Acting for Third Defendant in Commercial Court claim concerning a dispute between an insured, two insurers and brokers. The case raises points regarding insurance brokers’ duty of care in negligence and contract as well as in relation to the doctrines of waiver, estoppel and rectification (instructed by Mills & Reeve).
  • (with Ben Quiney QC) Instructed on behalf of a firm of insurance brokers to defend a £4m claim alleging that it had failed to properly assess the client’s insurance needs resulting in significant underinsurance following a catastrophic flood (instructed by Carter Perry Bailey).

Insurance & Reinsurance

James regularly acts for and advises insured’s, insurers in respect of insurance policies. He advises upon and litigated all insurance related disputes including: dealing with insolvent insured’s and insurance companies; subrogated recovery claims; and all coverage disputes (including non-disclosure and misrepresentation, notification, moral hazard and warranty cases).

James also acts for and against insurance brokers and other insurance intermediaries in professional negligence claims.

In the latest edition of Legal 500, James is recommended as a Leading junior and is described as “Both detailed and excellent technically

Selected Cases

  • Advising a major insurer in respect of a coverage dispute in relation to a surveyor’s professional indemnity insurance policy (instructed by RPC).
  • Advising a major insurer in respect of a claim for recovery of monies paid to the insured following the London riots on the basis of double recovery (instructed by DAC Beachcroft).
  • Defending an insurer in a coverage dispute that has arisen after the riots that took place in London in 2011 (instructed by RPC).
  • Acting as sole counsel for an insurance broker in an arbitration arising out of a coverage dispute in relation to its professional indemnity insurance policy (instructed by Fenchurch Law).
  • Acting for a major insurer in a claim for a declaration that a Combined All Risks Policy has been validly avoided on the basis of non-disclosure and misrepresentation by the insured instructed by DAC Beachcroft).
  • Acting in a dispute arising out of the theft of site accommodation units concerning the correct interpretation of insurance provisions.
  • Acted for an insurer over a claim brought by a music business following a burglary, which raised issues of breach of warranty, non-disclosure and misrepresentation, which was successfully settled on confidential terms (instructed by RPC).
  • Brit UW Ltd v F&B Trenchless Ltd [2016] Lloyd’s Rep IR 69; [2015] EWHC 2237 (Comm) – Acted for the insured tunneling contractor where insurers were seeking to avoid their public liability insurance (with Daniel Shapiro).
  • British Amateur Gymnastics Association v (1) Zurich (2) Brit (3) Perkins Slade Limited (with Ben Quiney QC). Acting for Third Defendant in Commercial Court claim concerning a dispute between an insured, two insurers and brokers. The case raises points regarding insurance brokers’ duty of care in negligence and contract as well as in relation to the doctrines of waiver, estoppel and rectification (instructed by Mills & Reeve).
  • (with Ben Quiney QC) Instructed on behalf of a firm of insurance brokers to defend a £4m claim alleging that it had failed to properly assess the client’s insurance needs resulting in significant underinsurance following a catastrophic flood (instructed by Carter Perry Bailey).

Professional Liability

James regularly acts for and against a variety of professionals including solicitors (including matrimonial finance and pension sharing order disputes), surveyors, architects, mortgage and insurance brokers, IFAs and pension providers and administrators.

In the latest edition of Legal 500, James is recommended as a Leading junior and is recommended for delivering “clear written opinions”.

Selected Cases

  • Acting as sole counsel against leading counsel for an IFA in respect of advice to invest money into commercial property funds prior to the global financial crisis (instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna LLP).
  • Acting on behalf of a firm of solicitors in respect of a claim that they under settled a personal injury action (instructed by Kennedys LLP).
  • Acting for a Third Party SIPP trustee in a claim brought by a high net worth individual against his former financial advisors (with Daniel Shapiro, instructed by CMS Cameron McKenna LLP).
  • Acting for a firm of solicitors in respect of a claim that they failed to execute a surrender of a lease (instructed by BLM).
  • Acting for a firm of solicitors in respect of a claim for loss of a chance of obtaining a better settlement.
  • Acting for a firm of solicitors in respect of a claim that a settlement was necessary due to the claim being allegedly issued out of time/up to limitation under section 14A of the Limitation Act 1980.
  • Acted for homeowners against surveyors over an alleged failure to detect damp, which successfully settled on confidential terms.
  • Defending a firm of solicitors against claims that they negligently executed a share allotment (instructed by RPC).
  • Successfully defended a trustee in bankruptcy against a professional negligence claim brought by the bankrupt (instructed by Browne Jacobson).
  • Successfully acted for a sole trader against her former accountants for their conduct of her VAT affairs.
  • Wembridge Claimants & Ors v East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service [2013] EWHC 2331 (QB) – Representing the Defendant in the multi-party litigation following the Marlie farm fire in which two firemen were killed after a huge explosion caused by negligently stored fireworks (with Lord Faulks QC and Muhammed Haque QC) (instructed by Clyde & Co). Since judgment, James was instructed on his own to deal with the remaining quantum issues, which have now been compromised.
  • Perry v Raleys Solicitors (with Ben Quiney QC):  Instructed in the appeal to the Supreme Court defending a claim arising from the alleged under-settlement of a miner’s VWF claim (instructed by BLM).
  • (with Ben Quiney QC) Instructed on behalf of a firm of insurance brokers to defend a £4m claim alleging that it had failed to properly assess the client’s insurance needs resulting in significant underinsurance following a catastrophic flood (instructed by Carter Perry Bailey).
  • British Amateur Gymnastics Association v (1) Zurich (2) Brit (3) Perkins Slade Limited (with Ben Quiney QC). Acting for Third Defendant in Commercial Court claim concerning a dispute between an insured, two insurers and brokers. The case raises points regarding insurance brokers’ duty of care in negligence and contract as well as in relation to the doctrines of waiver, estoppel and rectification (instructed by Mills & Reeve)

Property Damage

James has extensive experience in property damage disputes arising out of explosions, fires and floods. He deals with coverage, recoveries and defences. His experience includes being led in large property damage disputes in the TCC as well as acting unled.

Selected Cases

  • Murphy v Barnsley MBC: successfully defended a  flooding claim following a 4 day trial in September 2018 (instructed by Kennedys).
  • Acting as sole counsel in £300k recovery action in the TCC resulting from an escape of water (instructed by RPC).
  • Acting in a multi-million pound subrogated claim arising out of a large fire (with Andrew Rigney QC).
  • Acting in a party wall dispute, which also concerns a claim to a right to light.
  • Acted for homeowners against surveyors over an alleged failure to detect damp, which successfully settled on confidential terms.
  • Successfully defended a tree root claim in a three day trial in the Central London TCC List (instructed by Clyde & Co).
  • Howmet v EDL [2016] B.L.R. 555 ; [2016] EWCA Civ 847 (with Ben Quiney QC) – In the Court of Appeal acting for a factory owner in a recovery action resulting from a serious fire that caused £24m losses arising from an alleged failure of failsafe devices (instructed by RPC). James also appeared at first instance in a 3-week trial in the TCC (157 Con. L.R. 1; [2014] EWHC 3933 (TCC)).

Construction & Engineering

James has wide experience in construction disputes including trial work in the TCC as well as arbitrations and adjudications. He has dealt with cases for both employers and contractors.

James also has experience in cases involving construction professionals. The cases that he has been involved in have included allegations against professionals including architects and quantity surveyors. James has experience of most standard form contracts, including JCT, ICE, NEC, FIDICC.

Selected Cases

  • Acting (with Crispin Winser) in a complex Party Wall Act dispute arising out of a basement conversion in Chelsea.
  • Acting (with Andrew Rigney QC) in a multi-million pound subrogated claim arising out of a large fire.
  • Acting in a party wall dispute which also concerns a claim to a right to light.
  • Acted for homeowners against surveyors over an alleged failure to detect damp which successfully settled on confidential terms.
  • Howmet v EDL [2016] B.L.R. 555; [2016] EWCA Civ 847 – (with Ben Quiney QC) in Court of Appeal acting for a factory owner in a recovery action resulting from a serious fire that causes £24m losses arising from an alleged failure of failsafe devices (instructed by RPC). James also appeared in the first instance in a 3-week trial in the TCC (157 Con. L.R. 1; [2014] EWHC 3933 (TCC)).
  • Gittins v A-Consult Ltd (TCC): acted for the employer against the designer of an anaerobic digester tank following the collapse of an internal concrete wall which led to business interruption losses. Settled shortly before it was due to be heard for 5 days by the TCC in July 2018 (instructed by Clyde & Co).

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Qualifications


  • Walter Wigglesworth Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn (2011)
  • European Commission Scholarship (unable to accept), Lincoln’s Inn (2009)
  • Blackstone’s Mooting Competition (finalist) (2009)
  • BVC, City Law School (2008 – 2009)
  • Hardwicke Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn (2007)
  • BA (Hons) Jurisprudence, Somerville College, University of Oxford (2004 – 2007)

Memberships


  • COMBAR
  • LCLCBA
  • PNBA
  • TECBAR

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