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James Ayliffe QC

Call: 1987    QC: 2008

+44 (0)20 7306


James has wide experience of commercial issues and disputes, particularly in matters of a modern chancery nature such as banking, company, insolvency and financial services.

He has been ranked in the directories for commercial chancery work for many years.  Chambers & Partners 2016 describes him as “a veteran of the Commercial Chancery Bar” and “a strong chancery commercial performer” who has “an excellent legal brain”, is “good in a team” and is “the epitome of the modern QC”.

A large part of his commercial work is concerned with issues and disputes relating to the validity, interpretation and enforcement of rights under contracts of one type or another.  Some representative cases include:

  • acting for local authority in dispute with major waste recycling business regarding the proper interpretation of their respective obligations under long-term contract for recycling of waste;
  • advising private equity firm regarding issues arising under an agreement for the sale of shares in a Turkish retail business;
  • acting for well-known FTSE 100 company in LCIA arbitration concerning operation of complex £2bn re-financing arrangements;
  • advising private equity firm regarding contractual rights against vendor of software business;
  • advising packaging company in relation to dispute with its logistic services supplier regarding proper performance of its contractual obligations;
  • acting for printing company defending multi-million pound Commercial Court claim by government agency for breach of contractual duties to protect confidential material from theft;
  • acting for hotel owner in multi-million pound LCIA arbitration relating to alleged breaches of operating and management agreement in respect of a major hotel in Saudi Arabia;
  • advising Russian investment bank in relation to claim by executive recruitment firm for fees for alleged services in connection with the recruitment of top executives;
  • representing provider of share and bond trading services in multi-million pound dispute with IT suppliers;
  • representing licensor in defence of US$80m LCIA arbitration regarding alleged breach of international licence agreement governing use of well-known brand and trademark in connection with sale of handbags;
  • advising manufacturer of street cleaning vehicles on contractual claim against company responsible for the cleaning of London boroughs;
  • acting for international financial services group defending £20m claim for alleged fraudulent misrepresentation in relation to the sale of insurance business;
  • representing vendors of air conditioning business in claim for deferred consideration for sale of shares;
  • advising local health authority in relation to issues arising under complex contractual outsourcing arrangements;
  • acting for licensor in US$20m claim for alleged repudiation of international licence agreement relating to use of brand in connection with sale of watches.

He also has expertise in the following more specialised areas of commercial work:

  • Banking & Finance
  • Civil Fraud
  • Company
  • Financial Services
  • Insolvency
  • Joint Ventures & Partnership

For further details, see the links on the left.

Much of his commercial work has off-shore or cross-border elements.  Some representative cases include:

  • acting for Russian joint venture partner in successful defence of BVI proceedings for alleged misrepresentations in relation to establishment of joint venture vehicle;
  • acting for Dubai and Brunei investors in LCIA arbitration concerning alleged breaches of hotel management agreement in respect of hotel in Saudi Arabia;
  • acting for defendant to US$30m claim by Cayman- and Netherlands Antilles-based hedge fund vehicles;
  • advising Jersey financial regulator regarding responsibility of overseas firms operating through serviced offices and other facilities in Jersey;
  • advising in relation to alleged misappropriation of Ukrainian media interests and enforcement of US judgment against Cypriot company (owned by Channel Islands trust) to which such interests had been transferred.

The international dimension in his work is reflected in his ranking for offshore work in Chambers & Partners.  Chambers & Partners 2017 describes him as “truly international in his scope”. He is also a member of the Bar of the British Virgin Islands.