James Whitaker is a partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice of the London office, where he acts in complex commercial disputes and insurance-related disputes. James is dual-qualified in England and Wales, and California.

James’ practice covers disputes involving senior directors, officers and managers; corporate governance issues, shareholder and joint venture disputes; intellectual property disputes; insolvency litigation; contractual disputes; regulatory investigations involving allegations of fraud and other “white collar” and compliance issues; banking and financial institutions disputes; and professional liability. James has particular experience of securities litigation, shareholder and other class and collective actions, derivative actions, unfair prejudice petitions and claims involving directors’ duties. He also advises extensively on complex, high value, insurance policy coverage issues and related disputes, particularly in the context of financial and professional lines; trade credit and transactional (Warranty & Indemnity) liability.

James is heavily involved in Mayer Brown’s ESG initiative, an area in which his practice is increasingly focused, particularly in the context of litigation exposures and disputes. James is a founding member of, and co-chairs, the Firm’s global ESG Steering Committee. He is also a key contact point for the London collective litigation practice.

James’ practice focuses, in particular, on the financial services, media and entertainment, energy and insurance industries. In addition, James has advised a number of charities on a pro bono basis. His work often involve a significant international element; he has advised on multiple matters involving jurisdictions such as, notably, the USA at both federal and state level (and California in particular), the UAE, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, and Kenya. 

As part of his training at Mayer Brown, James completed an in-house secondment with a major music label. As a junior associate, he completed a further secondment with a major London market underwriter.

Spoken Languages

  • English


  • Advising senior directors in respect of potential exposures arising out of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Advising in relation to alleged breach of warranty claim (nominally worth up to £20 million) in context of sale and purchase of large waste management company.
  • Advising in relation to putative unfair prejudice petition (nominally worth in excess of £60 million) targeting majority shareholders (including investment managers and directors) of start-up financial services company.
  • Acting for television production company in respect of intellectual property infringement dispute.
  • Acting for independent film producer in relation to spin-off project derived from major motion picture.
  • Acting for film industry professionals in relation to contractual framework governing, and issues arising from, involvement in major motion picture.
  • Advising in relation to claim brought against directors of major film and television production company arising out of alleged breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duties.
  • Acting for mass media and information firm in relation to licensing dispute in the context of an acquisition by US private equity house.
  • Advising in relation to £8 million alleged breach of warranty claim in context of private equity purchase of engineering consultancy company.
  • Defending alleged breach of contract claim in the context of an insolvency scenario.
  • Advising in relation to COVID-19-related supply contract/force majeure disputes in multiple sectors.
  • Acting for UK hedge fund in relation to fee dispute following aborted financing transaction.
  • Defending multi-million pound unfair prejudice petition against directors of high profile property management company.
  • Defending £3 million claim against two directors of insolvent subsidiary of FTSE 250 company regarding allegedly unlawful dividend.
  • Advising in relation to potential investor proceedings against asset management company arising out of its management of an investment vehicle in the renewable energy sector.
  • Advising in relation to threatened shareholder litigation targeting directors of major concierge and lifestyle company.
  • Advising insolvency practitioners in respect of resisting third party claimant application for information regarding directors’ insurance cover.
  • Advising in relation to US$100 million plus breach of confidence claim against directors of major US chemical company.
  • Advising insurers of large, international, independent financial advisor in respect of litigation arising out of film- and music-finance related tax schemes.
  • Acting for large investment fund pursuing various consultants in multi-million pound claim in respect of major retail development scheme.
  • Acting for high net worth individual in relation to threatened breach of confidence action arising out of prior litigation.
  • Advising on enforcement of US civil judgments in the UK in the context of a bond issuer’s offering memorandum.
  • Advising in relation to Deepwater Horizon-related class action litigation in the US, including shareholder derivative claims, securities class actions, ERISA and RICO claims.
  • Advising in relation to high value securities class action in US federal court regarding alleged fraudulent misrepresentations in the pharmaceuticals industry.
  • Advising in relation to putative £170 million plus shareholder derivative claim against current and former directors of major FTSE 250 iron-ore producer arising from collapse of Ukrainian private bank.
  • Pursuing US$40 million plus claim against Kenyan parastatal organisation through to Supreme Court of Kenya.
  • Defending firm of solicitors against negligence action arising from advice to major airline pilots' union.
  • Advising in relation to CHF 150 million plus Madoff-related claims against private Swiss bank.
  • Advising insurers of director of large mutual in relation to FCA Decision Notice and subsequent appeal.
  • Defending Lloyd’s of London insurers against US$25 million arbitration claim in respect of alleged trade disruption loss in Mexican waste disposal sector under ICC Rules.
  • Advising insurers of major investment advisor in relation to US$160 million plus arbitration claim under LCIA Rules and coterminous US class action arising from allegedly negligent valuation services and alleged fraudulent misstatements.
  • Advising in relation to €600 million plus claims against major Dutch financial institution arising from alleged mis-selling of financial products.
  • Representing Lloyd’s of London insurers in respect of multi-million Euro litigation arising from collapse of Icelandic banks.
  • Defending quantity surveyor against £3 million negligence claim arising from work on major holiday lettings development in Cornwall.
  • Defending firm of chartered accountants against negligence claim arising from administration of trust and alleged liabilities to HMRC.
  • Defending major real estate advisory company against £2.5 million negligence claim arising from work on residential development project on south coast.
  • Defending major real estate firm against £5 million negligence claim arising from valuation of business park and constituent units in the north east.


Oxford Institute of Legal Practice, Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice

Oxford Brookes University, Graduate Diploma in Law

University of London, MSc Government, Policy and Politics

Durham University, BA (Hons) History


  • England and Wales
  • California


  • Solicitor Advocate with Higher Rights of Audience (Civil)


  • The Film and Television Charity
  • Transparency International
  • London Solicitors Litigation Association
  • Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates
  • The Fraud Lawyers Association