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James Ayliffe QC

Call: 1987    QC: 2008

+44 (0)20 7306 0102jayliffe@wilberforce.co.uk

Professional Liability

James has extensive experience of professional liability matters, including matters relating to:

  • solicitors;
  • barristers;
  • accountants;
  • financial advisers;
  • investment managers;
  • trustees and fiduciaries;
  • company directors;
  • pension professionals (including actuaries and benefit consultants);
  • surveyors and valuers;
  • construction professionals (including architects and quantity surveyors).

James’s experience includes not merely claims for negligence but also claims for breach of fiduciary duties, breach of trust, breach of warranty of authority, and contravention of regulatory and professional rules and regulations.

James also advises on professional indemnity insurance issues such as interpretation of policy provisions, aggregation of claims, declinature of cover, conflicts of interest/separate representation, and confidentiality/privilege issues.

James has been listed in the field for many years. Chambers & Partners 2018 notes that he is an “experienced practitioner who regularly takes on high-value professional negligence cases” and is “particularly active on cases arising in the property and legal sectors” but “also handles claims relating to accountants, actuaries and financial advisors, among others”. It also states that “his advocacy and written work is excellent” and that he “provides very balanced, measured advice”, is “incredibly detailed” and “brings everything to a logical conclusion by the way he approaches problem solving. The Legal 500 2018 describes him as “a very talented individual” in the field. Past editions of the directories have commented in relation to his professional negligence practice that he is “superb at anything with a trusts angle” as well as being “good for technical pension cases” and that he “calms the clients down” whilst also being “prepared to stick his neck out when it’s the right thing to do”.

Some representative cases include:

  • advising a private equity firm regarding £40m claim against well-known accountants for negligence in conduct of due diligence engagement;
  • defending City solicitors facing £5m claim arising out of contract for sale of valuable development land in Kensington, London;
  • defending financial services firm against claim by investor for breach of duty in relation to SIPP investment;
  • defending well-known accountants against a multi-million pound claim for losses arising out of a PPP/PFI project;
  • advising claimant on £40m claim against solicitors and counsel in relation to advice regarding settlement of legal proceedings;
  • acting for bank on multi-million pound claim against construction professionals in relation to losses on a failed property development project;
  • acting for Channel Islands trustees in defence of multi-million pound claim for alleged negligence in management of substantial investment portfolio;
  • defending leading commercial QC against £6m claim in relation to conduct of litigation relating to commercial property development;
  • advising liability insurers of company directors facing US $200m claims for breach of duties owed to the company in relation to the management of failed investment fund;
  • defending City solicitors against complex claim by pension scheme trustees arising out of failure to implement equalisation of retirement ages;
  • acting for accountancy firm facing £50m claim arising out of allegedly negligent audit work in failing to detect that company was being run as a Ponzi scheme;
  • acting for well-known firm of solicitors against £55m claim for alleged negligence in relation to grant of options for development of airspace above a portfolio of petrol filling stations;
  • acting for pension fund administrators in relation to a claim by pension scheme trustees for losses arising out of failure to implement Barber equalisation;
  • advising City solicitors regarding mitigation options in relation to a multi-million pound negligence claim in relation to advice regarding acquisition of property;
  • advising indemnity insurer on coverage issues arising from multiple claims by lenders for losses arising out of mortgage frauds;
  • defending City solicitors against multi-million pound claim for allegedly negligent implementation of tax saving scheme;
    acting for accountancy firm facing US$30m claim by a hedge fund arising out of failure to warn of fraud in relation to proposed investment by the fund;
  • defending City solicitors against £200m claim arising out of advice given in connection with the takeover of listed company;
  • defending solicitor trustee against complex multi-million pound claim for negligence and breach of duties in management of trust assets over more than 20 years;
  • acting for bank on a multi-million pound claim against well-known firm of valuers in relation to losses on development loan facility;
  • acting for wealthy individual on multi-million pound claim against accountants/tax advisers in relation to negligent tax advice and failure to disclose ‘secret commissions’;
  • advising pension fund trustees regarding a multi-million pound claim against City solicitors for alleged negligence in relation to advice regarding property acquisition;
  • representing leading tax QC in defence of £10m claim for allegedly negligent advice in relation to a container leasing tax scheme;
  • defending leading commercial QC in defence of a multi-million pound claim for alleged negligence regarding conduct of commercial litigation
  • defending solicitors against substantial claims arising out of failed litigation over ownership of shares in Bonham’s auction house; and
  • acting for banking syndicate on a £100m claim against City solicitors in relation to advice regarding title to the ‘Pointwest’ property development.