James Culverwell

James is an experienced advocate specialising in commercial litigation and property law with particular expertise in construction disputes as well as insolvency and companies work.  James appears in the High Court and County Court at first instance and on appeal. James normally appears as sole counsel but has also been led in a number of matters.

James has comprehensive oral advocacy skills having started his career with a common law practice covering Civil, Crime and Family. He is also accomplished at drafting concise and thorough pleadings and has been praised for his advisory work. Commended for his personable style putting clients at ease and engaging tribunals, James brings a practical and common-sense approach to his work.

“All of your work has been extremely impressive; your advice has been just what we’ve been looking for on each occasion and the [documents] you have produced have been bang on our own style. It’s a pleasure working with you.” – Solicitor, E Ltd v T Ltd (2023)

“I’ve been very impressed with all of your advice, as have a number of Partners and Solicitors within our Dept. I am an advocate of giving praise when it’s due and my experiences with you have certainly led me to the conclusion it’s due.”-  Solicitor, CE Ltd v MED Ltd & Q Ltd v H Ltd.

“I am delighted with the services provided by chambers and particularly that of James; there is no question that he went above and beyond. His diligence, efficiency and clear ability to sort wheat from chaff was invaluable and to top it all a thoroughly nice chap.” – H Ltd v TBDS, lay client

“Another very thorough and well-thought out advice. Thank you.” – Solicitor, F v E Council


  • Bar Professional Training Course – Very Competent
  • LLB (Hons) – First Class


  • Honourable Society of the Inner Temple
  • Society of Construction Law
  • Technology & Construction Bar Association (TECBAR)
  • Property Bar Association
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • R3


James is a keen skier and a follower of the Hampshire and England cricket teams, as well as Harlequins and England rugby teams. He is also an enthusiastic cook and enjoys good food and drink.

James regularly advises on significant commercial construction disputes and residential renovation cases involving breach of contract (including NEC and JCT standard contracts) and negligence. James has particular expertise with cases involving limitation defences as well as the application of the implied terms under the Scheme for Construction Contracts.  James is experienced in drafting pleadings, advising and providing representation in the Technology and Construction Court and County Court at all stages of litigation and adjudication including enforcement.

Notable Cases

  • B Ltd v L Ltd (2022) – James was led by Graeme Sampson in this complex and high-value adjudication in which the parties were disputing over £10m in the final account on a major central London construction project. Graeme and James acted for the sub-contractor and their submissions on an interesting point of estoppel were important in securing an award for their client.
  • Hirst & Anor v Dunbar & Ors [2022] EWHC 41 (TCC) – acting as sole counsel pre-trial and then led junior from trial preparation for a building company on a long-running claim for unpaid fees in a dispute involving limitation, disputed ownership of land, existence of a contract and value of works. The case involved amongst other things, the application of implied payment terms and a review of the authorities in the area. The case is cited in Chapter 32 of Chitty on Contracts (35th edn) in relation to the accrual of the cause of action under a contract for work and services.

Recent Cases

  • C v N Ltd (2024) – Advising and representing the employer in relation to a claim against the main contractor arising from defective flooring, screed and underfloor-heating which hinged on conflicting expert evidence.  James acted from CCMC, including defeating an application for specific disclosure and attending a mediation at which a favourable settlement was achieved.
  • P v X Ltd (2024) – advising a high net-worth individual in respect of their multi-million pound residential construction project, in particular centring on defective and incomplete works to the pool and spa complex.
  • H Ltd v D Ltd (2023) – advising on the terms and effect of a release clause in a settlement agreement following attempts to recover further damages amounting to six times the original settlement.
  • P Ltd v A Ltd (2023) – responding to an adjudication alleging defective works by a flooring contractor on a major development and successfully limiting the award to less than 25% of the claim.
  • AG ltd v CG Ltd (2023) – advising a sub-contractor and representing them in a negotiation achieving a favourable settlement in a dispute over defective works during a high-value residential renovation.
  • DH v GF (2023) – advising an employer on an unusual situation relating to the appointment of a contract administrator under a JCT contract and a final account claim.
  • C v SGP Ltd (2023) – drafting a claim for breach of statutory duty under the Defective Premises Act 1972 for failing to adequately waterproof a converted factory.  Amongst other matters, the claim relies on the extended limitation period under the Building Safety Act 2022.
  • P v SG Ltd (2023) – representing homeowners in a long-running dispute arising from defective foundations which finally reached a favourable settlement through mediation.
  • AD Ltd v CP Council (2022) – advising in a prospective dispute arising from conditional planning agreement and a section 106 agreement in circumstances whereby the Local Authority was frustrating the planning decision by refusing to execute the section 106 agreement.
  • H v B (2022) – drafting the claim and obtaining judgment in a residential renovation case in which the contractor, a limited company, was wound up but the Claimant successfully pursued the director as joint tortfeasor on the grounds of deceit and fraudulent misrepresentation.
  • M v SH Ltd (2022) – acting for a developer in a breach of contract claim by a purchaser involving multiple experts and issues of interpretation and liability as well as quantum.
  • E v M Ltd (2022) – acting for the consumer on a contract and negligence dispute arising from a residential renovation including drafting pleadings, successfully striking out a defective defence, and ultimately securing a favourable award following a disposal hearing.
  • O Ltd (2022) – advised a management company on complex issues of liability in relation to defective cladding on prospective claims against the developer, original freeholder, current freeholder, structural engineers and architects.
  • A Ltd v C Ltd (2021) – Advising on limitation arising from a contract implied by the scheme for construction contracts and drafting pleadings in defence of a claim for breach of contract and negligence arising from a central London development.
  • C v U Ltd (2021) – advising and drafting pleadings in a claim for breach of contract and negligence arising from construction of a dwelling. The claim involved multiple limitation periods and amendments after expiry leading to an increase in value of approximately £100,000.
  • H Ltd v D Ltd (2021) – acting for a contractor and responding to an adjudication seeking a repayment against value of work, and pleading set-off for non-payment arising from a breach of contract for work on a large development.
  • A Ltd v D Ltd (2021) – successfully responding to an adjudication for non-payment for the same contractor on the above development.
  • F Ltd v L Ltd (2021) – advising on a complex dispute relating to cladding arising from a purchase agreement, building contract and a remediation agreement between a building owner, building contractors and a contract administrator.

James regularly advises, drafts pleadings, and attends hearings in general contractual disputes and issues of tortious liability. He also has a wealth of experience in specialised matters such as those arising under the Companies Act, asset purchase agreements, finance agreements, telecommunications contracts, forex trading platforms, spread betting platforms and debt claims. James also has particular expertise in insolvency matters and leads Chambers’ insolvency sub-group.

James regularly acts for the lender in Consumer Credit Act claims, particularly PPI claims (following Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Ltd) and car finance ‘secret commission’ claims. James attends interlocutory hearings and trials dealing with the many and varied issues that are raised in such claims including limitation, compromise, fairness, secrecy, rescission, and quantum of redress.  Having acted in around 50 cases in 2023 alone, these cases are not included in the list of recent cases below.

Notable Cases

  • S v T Ltd (2024) – Led by David Mayall in a $4.3m cross-border dispute arising from a foreign exchange brokerage agreement being heard in the London Circuit Commercial Court. The case raised extremely complex issues of financial regulation, market manipulation, proprietary rights, and contractual interpretation as well as several procedural issues including disclosure in the Business & Property Courts under practice direction 57AD, injunctive relief and security for costs.

Recent Cases

  • E Ltd v U Ltd (2024) – advising a major company on its rights in respect of a contract to fund the development of a highly specialised and technical product which is central to the operation of the public transport industry.T Ltd v S (2023) – advising and settling pleadings for a corporate agent in a claim for payment of commission pursuant to a contract giving rise to questions of contractual interpretation.
  • Re TD Ltd (2023) – advising a company on the interpretation of a share purchase agreement and the effect of the non-compete and non-solicitation clauses.
  • E Ltd v T Ltd (2023) – advising and drafting a letter before action for a telecommunications supplier arising from the breach of a non-solicitation clause and the subsequent reduction in services.
  • I plc v AL (2023) – succeeding in obtaining an order striking out an application to set aside judgment and having it marked totally without merit.  The application gave rise to issues of insolvency and non-party costs orders.
  • C Ltd v C Ltd (2023) – providing detailed advice in relation to a telecommunications supply contract including the interpretation of the minimum term clause, enforceability of early termination charges and penalty clauses.
  • Re SP Ltd (2023) – drafting an application in relation to a company which had been voluntarily removed from the register of companies
  • MC Ltd v W Ltd (2023) – advising a telecommunications company in respect of an agreement with a technology company giving rise to interesting issues of contract formation, restraint of trade, competition law and the doctrine of protection of confidential information.
  • LR Ltd v MGC Ltd (2022) – advising and drafting a Reply and Defence to counterclaim in a dispute arising from breach of an asset purchase agreement involving principles of contractual interpretation and rectification
  • .GH Ltd v H (2022) – provided advice and drafted documents in a claim and counterclaim arising from works carried out on a vehicle which gave rise to questions of contractual liability, identity of parties, effect of insurance indemnity and remoteness of loss.
  • QS Ltd v C Ltd (2022) – advised and drafted amended pleadings and application for summary judgment in a debt claim involving questions of assignment and contractual liability.
  • T v A Ltd (2022) – Acting for a vehicle dealership in defence of a claim arising from a finance agreement and pursuant to consumer protection legislation which also involved consideration of duties of regulated firms under FCA rules.
  • AE Ltd v RG Ltd (2022) – advising pre-action on the merits of a claim under a service agreement for recruitment services and liability for fees of an employer.
  • C Ltd v MED Ltd (2022) – advised the Claimant on merits before drafting and preparing for an application for summary judgment which drew out a settlement at the door of court.
  • R Ltd v D (2022) – successfully represented a finance company at trial in two crossclaims arising from a finance agreement, securing judgment in favour of the client and defeating the crossclaim.
  • L Ltd v RW Ltd (2022) – advising and drafting pleadings in a breach of contract dispute arising from the sale of a commercial vehicle.
  • R v S Ltd (2022) – represented the clients of a firm of solicitors in a claim for breach of contract and professional negligence arising from a commercial lease involving interpretation of lease terms and solicitors’ duty of care.
  • U Ltd v F Ltd (2021) – advised on the impact of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act and transitional provisions in relation to a statutory demand and winding up petition.
  • G v GH Ltd & Anor (2021) – acted for a large car dealer at trial and succeeded in obtaining a strike out of the claim on the basis that it was an abuse of process.
  • IS Ltd v Lewis (2021) – advised the proprietor in conference on its defence of a claim for unpaid sums under a contract for catering services including merits, contractual obligations and procedural issues resulting in a successful settlement in the circumstances.
  • W v N Ltd (2021) – acted for a large car dealer and successfully applied for summary dismissal of a claim for breach of contract based on procedural defects with the claim.
  • BP Ltd v SC Ltd (2021) – acting for the defendant in a claim for fees under an alleged advertising agreement involving issues of formation of contract.

James acts for landlords and tenants in residential and commercial possession and forfeiture claims including trespass, as well as claims for recovery of service charges and rent, enforcement of leasehold covenants and deposit protection disputes. James also advises and represents clients in other property matters including leasehold renewal, extension and enfranchisement, disrepair and dilapidations, mortgage repossessions, boundary disputes and TOLATA claims.

Recent Cases

  • O Ltd v S Ltd (2024) – advising a lessee of a large residential block in respect of its rights under the lease in the face of alleged breaches of covenant including a careful analysis of clauses against assignment, sub-letting or parting with occupation.
  • C v O (2024) – acting for property owners throughout a long-running boundary claim obtaining a final injunction, declaration and costs.
  • B v C (2023) – successfully representing a landlord at trial in a claim for possession and rent arrears and defending a counterclaim for disrepair, harassment and deposit protection penalties.
  • EU Ltd v AS Ltd (2023) – advising and representing a commercial lessee to obtain an injunction following unlawful forfeiture and/or Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery and in subsequent proceedings for rent arrears and damages for disrepair.
  • I Ltd v K Corp (2023) – advising a head lessor in respect of questions of ownership, bona vacantia and recovery of service charge and ground rent arrears in relation to a corporate lessor formerly registered in the Caribbean which appeared to have been dissolved.
  • MI Ltd v R (2023) – representing a corporate landlord in possession proceedings relating to a central London property including successfully defeating an application for security for costs.
  • SH v T (2023) – acting for a housing association in an application for urgent anti-social behaviour injunctions.
  • S v S (2023) – representing a co-owner in a Part 8 TOLATA claim from the early stages of proceedings to reach a settlement at the final hearing.
  • London Borough v Persons Unknown (2023) – representing a local authority in an urgent possession claim in the high value following the trespass and fly-tipping on a prospective high-value development site.
  • 3PI SRL v G & A (2022) – representing the creditor under an Italian judgment in a claim to enforce a charging order over a high value property in long-running proceedings ultimately leading to an agreed order at the final hearing.
  • C Ltd v Persons Unknown (2022) – acting for a lessee of railway arches on an urgent possession order against trespassers.
  • CP Ltd & Anor v M (2022) – advising a group of property development companies in relation to a joint venture agreement and issues of registration of restrictions and notices.
  • EH v B (2022) – representing the defendant in a preliminary issues hearing during a claim purportedly bought by a charity to enforce an agreement for sale involving complex questions relating to the removal and appointment of trustees.
  • R v S Ltd (2022) – represented the clients of a firm of solicitors in a claim for breach of contract and professional negligence arising from a commercial lease involving interpretation of lease terms and solicitors’ duty of care.
  • O v R (2021) – successfully defeated an appeal against a possession order in a case involving detailed considerations of procedure as well key principles of decisions on appeal.
  • P v B (2021) – succeeded at the trial of a Part 8 TOLATA claim in securing a very favourable distribution of jointly owned property and beating a Part 36 offer.
  • M v LB (2021) – acting for a London Borough at the trial of a disrepair claim and successfully obtaining summary judgment on the basis interpretation of the lease, section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and limitation.
  • V v N (2021) – advised a leaseholder and drafted papers for a renewal of a lease in circumstances where the landlord had died intestate and there was no grant of letters of administration.  The renewal was granted at the hearing, including an order for execution of the lease by a Judge as the appointed personal representative would not engage.
  • R v S (2021) – obtained a strike out at trial of a claim for damages by a tenant for refund on rental payments arising from alleged disturbance to his occupation.
  • E v C (2021) – represented the Claimant in a TOLATA claim for distribution of proceeds of sale and declaration as to interests in further property leading to settlement.
  • O v L (2021) – advising and drafting defence and application in a vexatious claim for an interest in property.
  • BP Ltd v S (2021) – attending an application and advising the client on the merits of a service charge claim leading to settlement.

James is an experienced insolvency barrister who leads our Insolvency sub-group. He has appeared in the County Court and in the High Court in insolvency and companies matters representing individuals, companies, supervisors, trustees and liquidators.  He is regularly instructed to act in winding-up and bankruptcy petitions including interim hearings such as applications to restrain presentation of a petition and validation orders.  James also advises debtors, creditors and Insolvency Practitioners pre-action on more complex issues arising from failed IVAs and CVAs and statutory demands, and post-action during administration of bankruptcies and liquidations. As well as Companies Act matters such as preferences, wrongful trading, directors’ liability and procedures under the Insolvency Rules, Insolvency Act and Companies Act.

James is currently instructed as a junior on a very large cross-border civil fraud, insolvent trading and misfeasance claim.

Recent Cases

  • Re Hall Media Group Ltd [2023] EWHC 3110 (Ch) – James acted for the petitioning creditor from the early stages of this contested petition and obtained the winding-up order following the final hearing and further written submissions.  The case raised issues regarding the parties’ respective compliance with their obligations under the written contract as well as the nature of the sum owed to the petitioner.  The Company’s allegation that the debt was genuinely disputed on substantial grounds was ultimately rejected.
  • Re S Ltd (2023) – James successfully obtained an injunction preventing the presentation of a petition and an order for indemnity costs having convinced the court that the debt was genuinely disputed and there was a genuine counterclaim.
  • Re H (2023) – successfully obtaining an order in favour of a creditor in a disputed bankruptcy petition against a sole trader arising from related vehicle finance agreements.
  • Re M (2023) – advising a creditor on issues including the nature and effect of a repayment agreement and attending the subsequent hearing.
  • Re I (2023) – advising and representing a creditor in a bankruptcy petition for a debt over £350,000 overcoming submissions by the debtor’s advocate in relation to substantial payments.
  • Re M & Re D (2022) – advising a creditor on its status and priority within a CVA in light of a charging order obtained around the same time as the CVA
  • Re RB (2022) – successfully winding up a common law partnership under the Insolvency Act 986 as modified by the Insolvent Partnerships Order 1994.
  • Re AWR Ltd (2022) acting for trustees in bankruptcy providing advice and representation in a procedural application.
  • Re HMG Ltd (2022) – representing a petitioning creditor in a winding up petition involving CVA proposals and allegations of a disputed debt.
  • Re TC Ltd (2022) – advising and representing a petitioning creditor in securing the winding-up of a debtor company after successive payment arrangements failed.
  • U Ltd v F Ltd (2021) – advised on the impact of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act and transitional provisions in relation to a statutory demand and winding up petition.
  • Re E Ltd (2021) – advised a creditor on preferences and sham transactions in relation to loans to family members of a director and shareholder of a company as well as various property transactions and other loans carried out shortly before voluntary liquidation


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*This barrister is authorised to practice in England & Wales. Click here to search on the Bar Standards Board Barristers’ Register.

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