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Practice Summary

James is a leading commercial barrister who took silk this year. Described in the directories as a “phenomenal”, “supremely talented” and “incredibly intelligent” advocate, who is “wonderful to work with”, “charming with clients” and “very responsive and practical”, James’ “superb reputation and first-class abilities” see him regularly instructed in many of the most high-profile and valuable commercial disputes. 

James regularly appears in the largest and most valuable Commercial Court cases. Current or recent instructions include, amongst others, ENRC v Gerrard/ Dechert, the Mozambique ‘Tuna bonds’ litigation, the Tchenguiz litigation, the Vestia litigation and the DB v Vik litigation.  Prior to taking silk, James already had substantial experience of acting both as sole advocate and of leading teams of juniors, both in commercial litigation and arbitration, and continues to do so in silk.

James is presently recommended in the legal directories as a new commercial and banking and finance silk. Prior to taking silk, James was for many years one of the small handful of juniors ranked in C&P Band 1 for commercial dispute resolution and banking and finance. Many of the cases in which he has appeared have featured in the Lawyer Top 20 cases for the relevant year.

James’ practice encompasses all major areas of commercial law.  As well as significant experience of major general commercial litigation, James also has particular experience of matters involving fraud, banking and finance, private equity/venture capital, energy, technology, professional negligence, shareholder disputes and restructuring/insolvency, as well as advising on private law issues relevant to substantial tax matters. He is also highly experienced in jurisdiction matters, and has particular experience of enforcement-related matters including Norwich Pharmacal applications, committal applications and related matters. As well as substantial litigation experience, James has extensive arbitration experience (under LCIA, ICC and ICSID rules) and is currently acting in a number of substantial arbitrations.

James has been nominated four times by C&P for banking or commercial junior of the year and was selected by both Legal Week and The Times as a “future star of the bar”.

James sits on the Executive Committee of the Commercial Bar Association (“COMBAR”). He works actively to support diversity and retention and has for many years been involved in mentoring programmes, pro bono work and various COMBAR diversity initiatives.

Praise for James from the directories in recent years includes the following:

  • "He is a phenomenal barrister and he will be a star QC in the future. He has a terrific legal mind, phenomenal work ethic and also incredible caseload of work. The quantity of material he can assimilate is extremely impressive." (C&P 2022)
  • "Calm, collected and supremely talented. Wonderful to work with, and charming with clients. Intellectually excellent." (L500 2022)
  • "Lovely to work with and an excellent advocate. He is intelligent and pragmatic when giving advice, and persuasive, calm and collected when in court." (L500 2022) 
  • "…highly respected for his handling of complex banking and finance disputes… MacDonald's superb reputation and first-class abilities see him regularly instructed in the most high-profile of matters, and he acts on both the claimant and defendant sides for national and international banking organizations…" (C&P 2021)
  • "Obviously clever, as well as measured and strong, but he does it with real style and panache and understanding of the issues." "He is incredibly intelligent, very responsive and practical. He is also very dependable."  (C&P 2021)
  • “Hard working, responsive and insightful, he is also an absolute pleasure to work with” (L500 2020)
  • “Amongst the foremost banking and finance advocates at the Bar” (WWL 2020)
  • “Superb at quickly getting on top of a mountain of complex detail and producing high-quality advice, he is highly dedicated and offers excellent client service.” (C&P 2020)
  • “A phenomenal advocate who fights for his clients with great tenacity” (WWL 2018)