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Practice Summary

James is one of the commercial bar’s “go-to” senior juniors.  His “superb reputation and first-class abilities” see him regularly instructed in many of the most high-profile and valuable commercial disputes. James combines “phenomenal” advocacy with “amazing” paperwork, “an incredible intellect” and “excellent” and “highly dedicated” client service (all quotes C&P).

James regularly appears in the largest and most valuable Commercial Court cases. Current or recent instructions include, amongst others, the ENRC litigation, Travelport v WEX, the Tchenguiz litigation, the Vestia litigation and the DB v Vik litigation. James acts in substantial commercial cases both as a senior junior within a larger counsel team or unled, often leading a more junior barrister.  He also provides advice both on litigation and on commercial contract terms.

James is ranked in Band 1 by C&P for Commercial Dispute Resolution.  James is particularly well-known for his high-profile general commercial and banking and financing practices (James is ranked in Band 1 by C&P and L500 in Banking and Finance and listed by WWL 2020 as one of the 2 most highly regarded banking and financing juniors at the commercial bar), but his practice encompasses all major areas of commercial law.  Amongst other things, James has particular experience of matters involving fraud, technology, professional negligence and restructuring/insolvency, as well as extensive experience on jurisdiction and enforcement issues.  He also has substantial international arbitration experience (under ICC, ICSID and LCIA rules).

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”.

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

  • "Calm, collected and supremely talented. Wonderful to work with, and charming with clients. Intellectually excellent." (L500 2022)
  • “A market-leading junior who is highly respected for his handling of complex banking and finance disputes. His practice in this area is diverse, spanning multi-jurisdictional cases and enforcement proceedings. 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. He is experienced at acting as lead junior on top-drawer cases involving silks of the highest order, and is further noted for his knowledge of Islamic finance cases” (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)
  • “Receives high commendation for his forensic rigour and formidable intellectual ability [and] his ability to adapt his approach to different clients and individuals” (WWL 2019)
  • “Phenomenally hard-working, exceptionally bright and tremendously dedicated." (C&P 2018)
  • “A phenomenal advocate who fights for his clients with great tenacity” (WWL 2018)