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.

Recent Cases

  • 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.
  • A v L (a firm) (2021) – drafting a claim for breach of contract and negligence arising from a residential renovation which led to a settlement.
  • I Ltd v DHH Ltd (2021) – providing advice and settling a defence and counterclaim in a case involving multiple construction sites and a detailed application of the Scheme for Construction Contracts.
  • F v E Council (2020) – advising on the requirements of the Community Infrastructure Levy and Planning Act 2008 including an analysis of ‘material operations’.
  • A v E (2020) – advising in a professional negligence claim centred around valuations for stage payments and causation and remoteness of loss.
  • J Ltd v J (2020) – settling a defence and counterclaim in a residential dispute relating to quality of work and unpaid fees.
  • S Ltd v O Ltd (2020) – acting for the main contractor in a dispute with a sub-contractor over payment terms and quality of work including successfully defending an application for summary judgment.
  • N Ltd v A Ltd (2020) – advising and drafting an adjudication response resulting in a successful defeat of a claim for unpaid fees based on interpretation of the Scheme for Construction Contracts.
  • S v S (2020) – advising a building contractor in a Claim and Counterclaim arising from unpaid fees and a dispute over the quality of the work. The dispute grew in complexity when several sub-contractors were joined.
  • H v PC Ltd (2019) – advising a family embroiled in domestic construction dispute following termination of a construction contract. The matter involved disputes over quality of work, contractual interpretation and the measure of damages, and was eventually resolved through adjudication.

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, debt claims and PPI claims.  James also has particular expertise in insolvency matters and is a member of Chambers’ insolvency group.

James regularly acts for the lender in PPI claims following Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Ltd handling interlocutory hearings and trials.  James deals with the many and varied issues that are raised in such claims including limitation, compromise, fairness and quantum of redress.  Having acted in around 40 cases in 2023 alone, these cases are not included in the list of recent cases below.

Recent Cases

  • 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.
  • Re IPP Ltd (2020) – advising a company on administrative procedures under the Companies Act and assisting with drafting a Part 8 claim for an extension of time for compliance with statutory obligations and rectification.
  • H Ltd v TBDS (2020) – advised and represented a company in an urgent claim for an injunction against a Business Development Scheme relating to transferred or novated contracts and ownership of Christmas lighting equipment. A favourable settlement was negotiated for the client thus also allowing the Christmas lights to be switched on.
  • Re PRA (2020) – advised a Residents Management Company on their obligations under their (outdated) articles of association in relation to notifying members as to meetings in the context of the pandemic and exercising powers of sale of land.
  • A v B (2020) – assisted on a large international arbitration involving breach of a distribution agreement and misuse of confidential information and trade secrets.
  • H v I Ltd (2020) – Defeated a claim against a provider of financial market spread-betting turning on interpretation of the terms and conditions.
  • KG v E (2020) – Succeeded in legal argument on the principles applicable to loss of use of a fleet vehicle as well as preventing awards on interest on other heads and costs.
  • EE Ltd v ZH Ltd (2020) – advising an engineering firm in a claim for non-payment of numerous invoices for materials and services rendered against the firm’s former client with a complex corporate structure.
  • J v F (2020) – advising the prospective claimant in a long-running dispute over a series of investments and loans issued in respect of successive property developments.
  • MR v HMRC (2019) – advised and represented the debtor in an application to set aside a statutory demand. The debt arose from allegations of deliberately inaccurate company returns and penalties issued against the debtor as director.
  • RC v M & M (2019) – acting for a specialist lender and petitioner in bankruptcy proceedings connected with significant unpaid loans secured against properties in negative equity.
  • O Ltd v B Ltd (2019) – acted for a company defending a claim for unpaid invoices and fees which centred on the interpretation of a non-compete clause. The matter was settled on advice following a Pre-trial Settlement Hearing.
  • O v O (2019) – negotiated full concession at trial by defendant for order for sale in repayment of a series of loans. Subsequently succeeded on an application to take carriage of sale of a property following the failure by the defendant to perform its obligations under the order.

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

  • 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.
  • Re PRA (2020) – advised a Residents Management Company on their obligations under their (outdated) articles of association in relation to notifying members as to meetings in the context of the pandemic and exercising powers of sale of land.
  • C Ltd & C Ltd v M (2020) – advising proposed claimants involved in a complex property ownership scheme on restrictions, notices and the prospect of a damages claim.
  • P v 8 Ltd (2020) – advising on and drafting standardised documents in a claim for damages arising from unprotected deposits on rolling, multi-tenant agreements.
  • Re B (2020) – advising on the details and process of an unusual application for a lease extension
  • J v F (2020) – advising the prospective claimant in a long-running multi-million pound dispute over a series of investments and loans issued in respect of successive property developments.
  • L v D (2020) – advising the joint owner of commercial premises in a dispute over a contract for sale and the most advantageous method of achieving resolution following the winding up of the parties’ company.
  • B v B (2020) – advising and representing the prospective claimant in a dispute with his brother over the joint ownership of the family home before and after the demise of their parents, and a mortgage secured thereon solely for the benefit of the prospective defendant.
  • SN Ltd v CR (2019) – advising a freeholder company in respect of compliance with both landlord and tenant repairing covenants as well as apportionment and non-payment of service charges.
  • H v I (2019) – provided advice and drafted pleadings for a wrongful forfeiture claim seeking injunctive relief and damages. The dispute centred around a sub-lease for restaurant premises which the defendant conceded following cross-examination at trial. Also acted in subsequent enforcement hearings.
  • RC v M & M (2019) – representing a specialist lender in a long-running possession dispute arising from large loans secured against a number of properties.
  • S v Y-H (2018) – represented the claimant freeholders in a trial for recovery of ground rent and service charges. The claimants were awarded all of the sums claimed and recovered costs under the lease.
  • SS v AP (2018) – defeated an application to set aside judgment and obtained a possession order for the lender on a mortgage of large commercial premises.
  • G & Ors v K & Ors (2018) – acting for freeholders in a claim for injunctive relief and damages relating to interference with an easement by multiple neighbouring landowners.
  • A v L (2018) – represented the landlord in a difficult section 8 possession claim and advised on how to remedy defects as well as service of a section 21 notice following the change in regulations.
  • EP Ltd v P – successfully represented the claimant in an application for an interim possession order over part of retail premises on which trespassers had taken up residence.
  • S & T v N (2017) – provided advice and representation in relation to TOLATA issues in a dispute between joint owners of property previously the subject of an agreed order for sale.
  • A v G (2017) – advised and represented a Landlord in a deposit protection dispute which centred around the definition of an assured shorthold tenancy and whether the rooms let to the claimant formed ‘part of a building’. A favourable settlement was negotiated part-way through the hearing.

James has appeared in the County Court and in the High Court in insolvency and bankruptcy matters representing both creditors and debtors.  He is regularly instructed to act in winding-up and bankruptcy petitions and also advises debtors, creditors and Insolvency Practitioners on more complex issues arising from IVAs, CVAs, statutory demands, 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.

Recent Cases

  • 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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