James, Stephen

  Reading, England
 +44 118 958 5321
 +44 118 960 4611
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I am a partner in Clarkslegal’s dispute resolution team and split my time between our London and Reading offices. As well as the broad range of commercial disputes undertaken by all our team, I have a special interest in insolvency and restructuring. I am recommended as a leading lawyer in Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500.


I have over 15 years’ experience of working with insolvency practitioners in all forms of insolvency procedures and a very wide range of applications.  My broader commercial experience allows me to give a continuity of service to insolvency practitioners and pursue and defend non-insolvency claims on their behalf.  I have also acted for individuals in bankruptcies and voluntary arrangements, as well as defending directors’ disqualification proceedings and wrongful trading claims.  In recent years I have acted for many individuals involved in bankruptcy in England having moved here from another part of the EU.  The final part of my practice sees me acting for corporate clients affected by insolvency, for example due to tenant default or a customer or supplier going bust. 

Commercial disputes

As part of Clarkslegal’s top-ranked litigation practice I act in wide variety of commercial disputes.  These have included long running, high profile trials in the High Court, IT and telecoms disputes, defamation claims and many others.  My clients range from OMBs to listed multinational companies.  In all cases, I am committed to obtaining the best possible outcome, with the least disruption to my client’s business.  I fully support the use, where appropriate, of alternative dispute resolution and have settled many cases through mediation.

Corporate and shareholder disputes

I regularly act in claims arising from share sales, including warranty and earn-out disputes, and also disputes between shareholders over the company`s strategy, particularly where the parties have equal voting rights. My primary objective is always to achieve a pragmatic solution to preserve the value in the business and minimise the paralysing effect such disputes can have.

Defamation and reputation management

The ease by which anyone can post material online has greatly increased the potential for a defamatory comment to be widely published.  The good news is that the immediacy of the internet also allows for very quick results when problems arise, sometimes within hours of being instructed.  I also have experience of working with my clients’ PR teams to address wider reputation management issues. 


Some cases need immediate action to prevent irreparable loss.  I’ve obtained and defended many injunctions, including the freezing of assets, preventing unlawful picketing, enforcing restrictive covenants and search orders. 

General advisory

Litigation can be expensive, particularly if it reaches a full trial.  Disputes often become harder to settle as time passes and greater cost is incurred on both sides. In common with the rest of the team, much of my work will never see the inside of a court room. Effective and forceful correspondence will often result in a quicker, cheaper and better result than by involving the courts.  Having seen what happens when things go wrong I am also ideally placed to give training on how to avoid problems in the first place.  I have given external and in-house training to clients on many issues including the Bribery Act, risk avoidance, directors’ duties and product liability.