James has 21 years of experience at the bar. Prior to that, he worked at Minter Ellison, mostly acting for professionals (primarily in the building industry, such as architects and engineers) who had been sued by plaintiffs alleging professional negligence.
He is a leading counsel in the fields of professional negligence, particularly in relation to claims involving construction industry professionals; building and construction, and insurance. He was included in the 2021, 2022 and 2023 Editions of Best Lawyers in Australia. He is also listed in Doyles Guide. He regularly acts as lead counsel or unled in claims involving large sums of money.
Some previous high-profile projects include acting for one of the architects involved in the design and construction of the Olympic Swimming Pool at Homebush, and the architect involved in additions to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
He is currently lead counsel for the structural engineer in the Opal Tower class action in the Supreme Court of NSW, and for the geotechnical engineer in the Gateway Bridge Upgrade dispute in the Supreme Court of Queensland. He is counsel for the structural engineer in the Mascot Towers dispute. He acted for the fire engineer in the Federal Court class action concerning ‘Alucobond’ Aluminium Composite Cladding. He is also acting for the engineering design joint venture in a $300 million claim relating to the North West Rail Project.
James also regularly acts in professional negligence cases involving other professionals, including, for example, accountants, financial advisers, insurance brokers, solicitors, managing agents and medical professionals. He acts in representative proceedings, and appeared for the dam operator in the representative proceedings arising out of the 2011 floods in south-east Queensland.
James practises extensively in the fields of building and construction, and insurance.
In building and construction matters, James has acted for builders, developers, owners (including many owners’ corporations in strata plan matters), architects (including landscape architects), engineers (including civil, structural, geotechnical, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, lift and fire safety), pre-purchase building inspectors, tunnelling designers and contractors, home owners warranty insurers, and waste services contractors. He has significant experience in claims concerning ACP, acting for owners, architects, fire engineers, and façade contractors.
James also has significant experience in insurance, particularly professional indemnity insurance. He appeared in a significant insurance case dealing with the concept of ‘recoupment’. James advises and appears for local and foreign insurers both as defence counsel as well as in relation to coverage issues.
James also has significant experience in general commercial law, and in common law cases involving property damage or pure economic loss, including fire cases.
He has acted for companies based overseas, including a Supreme Court case for a French manufacturer of artificial ligaments, and has appeared at coronial inquests.
James has argued a number of cases, unled, in appellate courts.
Other current cases include acting unled for:
- a design and construction contractor in a claim against a building contractor for about $15 million;
- the fire engineer in a dispute concerning the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney;
- a supplier of waterproofing products in a dispute concerning the new Royal Adelaide Hospital;
- the mechanical services engineer in a dispute concerning the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.