James has experience in legal practice for the better part of three continuous decades acting in complex and other insolvency and recovery, corporate restructuring and turnarounds, litigation and investigations. His clients include creditors, debtors, SMEs, government owned corporations, investors, directors and senior executives, manufacturers, utilities, child care operators, property developers, food and agribusiness participants, co-ops, not for profit organisations, miners and mining service companies, banks, other financial institutions and publicly listed companies.
In that context, James:
- Provides tailored corporate/corporate governance advisory services.
- Acts in hostile corporate situations such as requisitioning and defending board spills and other contentious company meetings.
- Is asked to step in when things go wrong to implement solutions aimed at rectifying a deteriorating legal situation and implement a risk management strategy moving forward.
- Acts for sophisticated clients in playing a front end legal role to provide advice that ‘reverse engineers’ his litigation and/or insolvency experience aimed at managing risks before they materialise by enabling correct choices to be made and setting up defences and passing on risk, if claims ultimately emerge.
- Provides pre-insolvency advice to boards and senior management to correctly position a business to set up a softer landing if the business becomes insolvent.
- Acts for insolvency practitioners and turnaround specialists in advising them based on learnings from his relevant blend of experience, tailored advice and forceful implementation.
- Acts on behalf of receivers, voluntary administrators, liquidators and trustees in bankruptcy in advising on distressed asset sales, litigating actions aimed at clawing back assets in the winding up process, procuring litigation funding and after the event insurance, advising how to rule on proofs of debt, attending creditor meetings, advising in relation to voting and other meeting procedures, advising on professional and statutory duties and obtaining protective court directions and approvals.
- Is conscious of the need to work cohesively with other advisors and be a team player on large matters.
James has been recognised by his peers as one of the Best Lawyers in Australia for the areas of Commercial law and Corporate law (2014 – 2019) and Corporate/Governance practice (2016 – 2019).
Recent experience includes:
- Acting for the general purpose liquidator of Octaviar Limited in seeking to recover damages and interest of c$100m against defendants, who provided faulty corporate restructuring advice, in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. This matter is complex, high profile, involves an array of complex legal questions in relation to liability and quantum and is ongoing. It includes a non-binding neutral case appraisal ADR process.
- Acted for the special purpose liquidator of Octaviar Limited in challenging the security Octaviar Limited had granted to its credit provider (Fortress Credit Corporation II (Australia) Pty Ltd – a hedge fund whose parent is listed on the New York Stock Exchange). As part of the process, we sought to recover approximately $35 million in payments made under an impugned security (that converted an unsecured debt into a secured one) and a series of impugned subsequent payments made under that impugned security.
- Acted for the liquidators appointed to Australian Building Systems. The liquidators sold a commercial property and incurred a substantial capital gain. A dispute ensued with the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation – the Commissioner argued the liquidators were personally liable for the tax immediately when the gain was incurred under an old provision in the tax legislation (that had never before been the subject of judicial determination). We acted for the liquidators in resolving the operation and effect of this provision (which had enormous practical implications for receivers and liquidators). We were successful at first instance, on appeal and in the High Court.
- Advising the board and owners of a cattle industry group under severe financial stress by charting a course through ‘bet the farm’ litigation in the Federal Court in Sydney, obtaining urgently an interlocutory injunction to stop a receivership sale, settlement of that litigation and implementing both an operational and a debt restructure. This enabled the group to aggregate various assets and businesses in creating a large vertically integrated cattle industry player on both the Eastern and Western seaboards of Australia for supply of processed meat to Asia and attract fresh capital through a large Asian investor for growth and further expansion.
- Advising Westpac Banking Corporation, Bank of Queensland and La Trobe Financial Asset Management Ltd in relation to a range of their respective asset management matters, predominantly concerning commercial loan book recoveries.