James Whitaker is a partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice of the London office, where he acts in complex commercial disputes. James is dual-qualified in England and Wales, and California.
James’ practice covers disputes, and commercial advice, involving senior directors, officers and managers; intellectual property; corporate governance issues, shareholder and joint venture disputes; insolvency litigation; contractual and general commercial disputes; domestic and cross-jurisdictional regulatory and internal investigations; banking and financial institutions disputes; professional liability; and post-M&A transaction disputes. James has particular experience of securities litigation, shareholder and other class and collective 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 a founding member of, and co-leads, Mayer Brown’s global Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Product Group; ESG is an area in which his practice is increasingly concentrated. He is also a key contact point for the London collective litigation practice.
James’ work focuses, in particular, on the financial services, media and entertainment, and technology industries. In addition, he advises a number of charities, in a range of sectors, on a pro bono basis. His cases 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.
- Advising global financial institution on potential litigation exposures arising out of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues.
- 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 breach of warranty dispute involving major asset manager following acquisition of offshore issuer of exchange-traded funds.
- 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.
- Advising former product development manager of major technology company in dispute regarding intellectual property rights in respect of specific product.
- Advising author on payment dispute with publisher in respect of educational book series.
- Advising insurers of major listed company in relation to significant data breach incident, and follow-on litigation exposures in a range of jurisdictions.
- 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 alleged breach of warranty claim (nominally worth in excess of £8 million) 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 claim (nominally worth £3 million) against former 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 breach of confidence claim (nominally worth in excess of US$100 million) against directors of major US chemicals company.
- Advising insurers of private financial institution in relation to major High Court fraud litigation.
- 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 shareholder derivative claim (nominally worth in excess of £170 million) against current and former directors of major commodity trading and mining company arising out of collapse of Ukrainian financial institution.
- Pursuing subrogated claim (worth in excess of US$40 million) on behalf of insurers of major commodities trader in Kenya, through to Kenyan Supreme Court.
- Advising in relation to Madoff-related claims (nominally worth in excess of CHF 150 million) against private bank.
- Advising insurers of director of large mutual in relation to FCA Decision Notice and subsequent appeal.
- Acting for Lloyds of London insurers in defence of ICC arbitration claim (nominally worth US$25 million) relating to alleged trade disruption in Mexico.
- Advising insurers of major investment advisory services firm in relation to LCIA arbitration claim (nominally worth US$160 million) and coterminous US class action arising from allegedly negligent valuation services and alleged fraudulent misstatements.
- Advising in relation to putative class actions (nominally worth in excess of €600 million) against major Dutch financial institution arising from alleged mis-selling of financial products.
- Acting for Lloyds of London insurers in high value, complex, validity and coverage litigation arising out of collapse of Icelandic banks.
- Defending quantity surveyor against 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 negligence claim arising from work on residential development project on south coast of England.
- Defending major real estate firm against negligence claim arising from services in relation to large business park development in north-east of England.
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
- Solicitor Advocate with Higher Rights of Audience (Civil)
- London Solicitors Litigation Association
- Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates
- California Lawyers Association
- California Society of Entertainment Lawyers
- The Film and Television Charity
- Financial Services Lawyers Association
- Transparency International
- The Fraud Lawyers Association
- 'Highly active on the contentious side, James Whitaker regularly represents players in the film and television industries and is one of the firm's key contacts for charities in the space.' He is also listed as a key lawyer for Insurance and Reinsurance. - Legal 500 2023.
- Recommended and a key lawyer for Media and Entertainment - Legal 500 2022.