James M. Turner QC

Called: 1990 Silk: 2013

Practice Overview

James M. Turner QC  is a specialist shipping and commercial advocate with over 20 years' experience right across those fields - from shipbuilding to collision and salvage; from unsafe port, bareboat and other charterparty disputes to demand guarantees, bills of exchange and letters of credit; from commodities to joint ventures. 

His experience as a team leader, stretching well back before taking silk, is in high-value, technical and expert-heavy cases, particularly involving shipbuilding contracts and charterparties.  He is valued for his technical knowledge and his ability to direct the collation of evidence. 

James appears regularly in the Admiralty and Commercial Courts and in arbitration in London. In addition, the international nature of his practice frequently takes him to continental Europe and to the Far East.

  • In 2013, 2014 and 2016 he appeared at trial, in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court respectively in The Ocean Victory - one of the highest value unsafe port disputes ever.
  • From October 2014 to February 2015 he appeared in a high-profile trial in Hong Kong arising out of a ferry disaster off Lamma Island on 1 October 2012.
  • In 2015 he appeared in arbitrations in high value shipbuilding, bareboat charter and wreck removal disputes.
  • In February 2016 he appeared in Moran v Pisarev in the Court of Appeal, successfully resisting an appeal against Males J’s dismissal of a claim for brokers’ commission on the sale of a superyacht.  The decsion is reported at [2016] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 625.
  • In May 2016 he appeared in a shipbuilding arbitration in which, unusually, the buyer had accepted key responsibilities regarding drawing approvals.
  • In January 2017 he appeared in the Admiralty Court in The Ever Smart v The Alexandra I [2017] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 666.
  • In the course of 2017 he has appeared in several shipbuilding arbitrations.  

James has given written expert evidence of English law in the Courts of Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.

James has considerable experience of applications for injunctive relief (freezers, delivery up, restraining orders and anti-suit injunctions), as well as receivership and interpleader.

He is regularly appointed arbitrator, particularly in shipping disputes, and has extensive experience of mediation, both as mediator and as counsel.

James has a First Class Master's Degree in German Law and speaks and reads German and Dutch fluently. He is able to (and frequently does) accept instructions in either language.

  • What the directories sayView More

    • "a super advocate and a fantastic opponent"... "You know he will give you a good run for money"

      (Who's Who Legal, 2018)
    • "Tactically he’s very smart. He has strong analytical skills and a very good commitment to the cause."

      (Chambers UK, 2018)
    • "He’s good legally and also a good strategic thinker."

      (Chambers UK, 2018)
    • "...He provides authoritative advice and presents his case with impressive advocacy...."

      (Legal 500, 2017)
    • “…He has an amazing ability to crunch through the details of a very technical case…”

      (Chambers UK, 2017)
    • “…An excellent advocate; he is very high quality…”

      (Chambers UK, 2017)
    • "...He provides a high level of knowledge..."

      (Legal 500, 2016)
    • "He is brilliant at dealing with expert evidence." "His written work is very meticulous." 

      (Chambers UK 2016)
    • "... a very able advocate and outstanding on paper. His skeleton arguments put tribunals in his hands before the hearing even starts ..."

      (Legal 500)
    • "... considerable expertise of both wet and dry issues. Commentators ... highlight his strength in disputes concerning shipbuilding contracts and marine casualties ..."

      (Chambers UK)
    • "…incredibly hard-working and manages to get to grips with enormous quantities of facts." " ... exceptionally responsive."

      (Chambers UK)
  • Shipbuilding K View More

    In shipbuilding disputes he is often instructed at the first sign of trouble in the Buyer/Builder relationship, giving real-time guidance to protect the client's position - under both the shipbuilding contract and related contracts such as refund and performance guarantees, loan agreements and charterparties - and to start to build up the evidence needed to fight the case.  

    He is instructed by both owners and shipyards and has experience of contracts to build bulk carriers, MPVs, tankers (crude, product and chemical), barges, tugs, superyachts, Rhine navigation vessels, ro-ro ferries, container carriers, gas carriers, MODUs, jack-ups, heavy-lift vessels, FPSOs and even an LPD - as well as ancillary contracts such as sub-contracts for propulsion equipment and refund and performance guarantees.  

    The issues raised in the many dozens of disputes in which James has been instructed cover the full range of regulatory (Class and Flag, including PSPC and CSR), technical (coating failures; construction faults; defective propulsion units; speed & performance; noise levels and outfit standards in superyachts; delay), contractual (contract effectiveness; design risk; drawing approvals; supervision; effect of insolvency; deliverability; exclusion clauses; termination; warranty claims and repairs), legal (sanctions; illegality, especially in relation to backdating; consequential loss; intellectual property and confidentiality, including damages for breach of confidentiality in relation to ship design; arrest; anti-suit-injunctions) and ancillary (refund and performance guarantees; loans; brokers’ commission).

    Shipbuilding disputes are almost exclusively referred to arbitration and James has appeared in arbitrations governed by most of the well-known arbitration rules (including LMAA, LCIA, ICC and HKIAC) and has taken several cases to mediation.

    James gave written expert evidence of English law in ancillary proceedings in the Italian Courts, and subsequently appeared at first instance and (with Simon Rainey QC) on appeal in the English Courts in Ravennavi SpA v New Century Shipbuilding Co Ltd [2006] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 280, [2007] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 24 CA.  The dispute concerned the proper construction of an option agreement for the construction of up to two crude and product oil tankers.  The case is now cited in Lewison on the Interpretation of Contracts in support of propositions that James advanced in his evidence in the Italian proceedings.

  • Energy & Natural Resources K View More

    Illustrative cases include:

    Advising the main contractor on the termination of a two billion dollar pipe-laying contract.

    Advising the operators of an LNG storage facility in a dispute with their customers regarding the proper interpretation of their contract as regards boil-off and regasification.

    Acting for and advising the buyer of a semi-submersible drilling rig (with a contract price running into the hundreds of millions of dollars) in a fast-moving dispute with the builder regarding the unit's deliverability.

    A potential dispute between the owner/operator of an FPSO and the yard which had installed an allegedly faulty turret.

    A mammoth US$120m dispute regarding the maintenance of a semi-submersible MODU.  It settled after three months of hearings - which made up only round 1 of a planned 5.

  • Shipping & Maritime K View More

    Dry Shipping

    Dry shipping work is at the heart of James's practice - and he has for some years been recommended in Shipping by Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.  He is frequently instructed in charterparty, bill of lading and sale of goods and ship-sale disputes of all hues, involving cargo damage, unseaworthiness, maintenance, due diligence, ISM, off-hire, withdrawal, safe port, bunker contamination, purchase options, demurrage and detention, cancellation, faulty repair, title, risk, rejection (and so on) - and the many and varied issues which arise in connection with them. 

    He is particularly adept at difficult issues of contractual construction; technical disputes requiring an ability to master engineering and scientific expert evidence; and cases requiring a good knowledge and understanding of ships and seamanship.  

    Illustrative cases include:

    Gard Marine & Energy Ltd v China National Chartering Co Ltd ("The Ocean Victory") [2017] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 521 Sup Ct - one of the largest unsafe port claims of recent years, arising from the loss of a Capesize bulk carrier at Kashima, Japan in 2006 and resulting in a judgment for over US$130 million (plus interest). The issues which arose involved experts on meteorology, waves, moorings, ISM, ship valuation, salvage, naval architecture, navigation and port design.  James appeared at every stage of the case, from the trial to the Supreme Court.

    Bunge SA v Kyla Shipping Co Ltd ("The Kyla") [2013] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 565 - a ground-breaking authority on the accommodation within the modern law of frustration of the Bessie Morris and Blane Steamships line of cases and the effect of detailed insurance clauses (such as cl. 39 of Shelltime 4) on the res inter alios acta principle.

    Ravennavi SpA v New Century Shipbuilding Co Ltd [2006] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 280, [2007] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 24 CA - an authority cited in Lewison on the Interpretation of Contracts for a number of propositions in the construction of commercial contracts both generally and in relation to "entire agreement" clauses in particular.

    Western Bulk Carriers v. Li Hai Maritime [2005] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 389 - the first reported trial following a withdrawal from a time charter for non-payment of hire since The Lutetian [1982] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 140, and the only reported case to reconsider the approach taken to anti-technicality notices by Gatehouse J. in The Pamela [1995] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 249 in the light of the House of Lords' decision in Mannai [1997] AC 749. 

    Action Navigation Inc. v. Bottigliere Di Navigazione S.p.A. [2005] 1 Lloyd's Rep 432 - one of few reported cases since The Island Archon [1994] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 227 CA on the scope of the implied indemnity under the NYPE form of time charter, and of particular significance in relation to hull-fouling.


    Wet Shipping

    The co-author of Derrington & Turner on Admiralty Matters (see "Publications"), James is a highly experienced Admiralty practitioner, often cited for his prowess in wet work in Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.  He is frequently instructed in and has wide experience of:

    Salvage: usually LOF, but also private / ASG references and in the Admiralty Court - as in The Yolaine [1995] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 7. He has recently acted for owners in a very substantial SCOPIC claim, in which the counterclaim was for loss of a nearly-new capesize bulk carrier.  He is currently instructed in a case which has been complicated by the EU sanctions in force against Iran.

    Collision, as in The Ever Smart v The Alexandra I [2017] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 666 and Global Mariner v. Atlantic Crusader [2005] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 699.  James has been instructed in numerous collision cases over the years, appearing in Sheen J.'s last case as Admiralty Judge, the unreported Vegaland v Coral Essberger.  From October 2014 to February 2015, James appeared in a substantial trial in Hong Kong arising out of the ferry disaster off Lamma Island on 1 October 2012.

    Wreck removal, as in The "Green Opal" [2003] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 523.  In 2015, James appeared in arbitration in a dispute arising under two WRECKHIRE contracts, following a major fire on an FSO.

    Arrest, as in The "Visvliet"/"Tjaskemolen" [1997] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 465 and 476, and The "Giuseppe di Vittorio" (Nos. 1 and 2) [1998] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 136 and 661.

    Limitation.  In 2007, James appeared in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Gibraltar in Zelikov v Merlin, arguing that the Court of Appeal's decision in The Western Regent [2005] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 359 (that limitation can be invoked in the absence of liability proceedings) was wrong.  He is often instructed on substantial matters raising important points of principle on limitation.

  • International Arbitration K View More

    Arbitration is the chosen forum in more than half the matters on which James acts or advises.  Many of those disputes come before LMAA panels, but James also has considerable experience of other arbitral settings, including the ICC and LCIA.  He has frequently been instructed in cases for arbitration in other jurisdictions, such as Rotterdam, Singapore and Hong Kong, appearing in Hong Kong with Caroline Pounds in September 2009.

    In addition, he is regularly appointed arbitrator - primarily in shipping and commodities disputes - and has been appointed in both LCIA and ICC references. 

    Illustrative cases include:

    Bunge SA v Kyla Shipping Co Ltd ("The Kyla") [2013] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 463 CA, on the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to set aside a refusal by a first instance judge to grant permission to appeal against his own decision allowing an appeal from an arbitration award.

    Vrinera v. Eastern Rich ("The Vakis T") [2004] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 465 - an important decision on the recoverability, as damages, of costs incurred in a sub-arbitration.

    Cool Carriers v. HSBC [2001] 2 Lloyd's Rep.22 - a leading case on the effect of an arbitration clause on an application for interpleader relief.

  • Commercial Dispute Resolution K View More

    In addition to his shipping, shipbuilding and banking work, James is regularly instructed in a broad range of other substantial commercial disputes.  Illustrative cases include:

    Moran Yacht v Pisarev [2014] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 88, [2016] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 625 CA, a claim for commission on the sale of a super-yacht.  James won at trial in the Commercial Court and on appeal.

    Marwan v Sawiris [2010] EWHC 89 (Comm), a dispute arising out of a failed joint venture to establish a multi-media conglomerate in the Middle East.

    Aboualsaud v Aboukhater [2007] EWHC 2122, [2007] All ER (D) 107 (Sep), a €21 million claim for commission allegedly due on the sale of a Monaco hotel, which finally came to an end at the doors of the Court of Appeal in mid-2008. 

    From 2005 to 2006 he appeared for the claimant company in an action to restrain a former contractor from publicising confidential information.  The proceedings ran the full gamut of interlocutory ("super-") injunction, mediation, committal application and trial.

    Mazur Media Ltd. V. Mazur Media GmbH [2004] 1 WLR 2966, [2005] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 41 - a dispute between the insolvency practitioners charged with the (English) administrative receivership and (German) liquidation of the respective protagonists, giving rise to issues regarding the lis pendens jurisdiction under the European Insolvency Regulation and s.130(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986; title to sue in conversion; and situs delicti under Art. 5 of the Judgments Regulation.

  • Banking & Financial Services K View More

    James has a solid track record in banking and finance, with particular emphasis on financial instruments - letters of credit, bills of exchange, promissory notes and guarantees - as well as trade and asset (particularly ship) finance disputes and contracts for differences. 

    James is frequently involved in and advises on disputes involving refund guarantees and performance bonds given in connection with shipbuilding contracts.  He has appeared in a number of reported cases and has given expert evidence of English law in foreign proceedings. Illustrative cases include:

    GMAC Commercial Finance Ltd v Mint Apparel Ltd [2010] EWHC 2452, a complex summary judgment application in one of a series of cases brought for the funder of a trade finance house which had become insolvent.  Under James's guidance, the bills of exchange which had been given as security were perfected and the ensuing litigation resulted in a full recovery by his client.

    DCD Factors plc v Ramada Trading Ltd [2008] Bus LR 654, in which James advanced a successful application on behalf of a bank to set aside an injunction restraining payment under a letter of credit, distinguishing Banco Santander SA v Bayfern Ltd [2000] 1 All ER (Comm) 776.

    Habib Bank Ltd. v. Central Bank of Sudan [2007] 1 WLR 470, [2007] 1 All ER (Comm) 53, [2006] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 412, representing the Claimant confirming bank in its reimbursement claim against the bank which had issued the letters of credit as long ago as 1982.  The issues canvassed included limitation, proper law, jurisdiction, service and recoverability of compound interest.  Judgment was awarded for over US$100 million.

    Ahmed v. Habib Bank Limited [2002] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 444 (CA).  James acted for the bank in its application under the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 for registration of a judgment obtained in Pakistan on bank guarantees (which themselves reflected Sharia banking principles); issues of Pakistani law arose, as did allegations of fraud.

    Cool Carriers v. HSBC [2001] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 22, in which James acted for HSBC in defence of its rights to receive time charter hire under the terms of a financing agreement governed by New York law.

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution K View More

    James was accredited as a mediator by CEDR in 2001, achieving “registered” status the following year (which required a certain minimum number of mediations and CPD points).  Since accreditation he has accumulated considerable experience of mediations, as mediator, assistant mediator and counsel.  

    As mediator, James brings to bear an individual  blend of analytical skill, tenacity, humour and respect – without shrinking when appropriate to challenge – and an ability to think creatively, commercially and “outside the box” of the particular dispute. 

    He is particularly adept at analyzing the value of the particular dispute to the parties, and the risks involved in pursuing it.

    The mediations in which James has taken part have featured disputes involving banking, CMR, commercial contracts, commercial fraud, financial services, international sale of goods, professional negligence, and shipbuilding. More than half of these disputes settled at or as a result of the

He provides authoritative advice and presents his case with impressive advocacy.’

(Legal 500, 2017)


BA Hons. (Dunelm),
LL.M. (Tübingen)
Called 1990 Inner Temple


CEDR-Accredited Mediator; Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.


COMBAR, TECBAR, LCLCBA, British-German Jurists, Chartered Institute of Linguists.


Co-author with Dr. Sarah Derrington of The Law and Practice of Admiralty Matters, OUP 2007, 2nd edition 2016.  The first edition was described by Prof. D.R. Thomas (2007) 13 JIML 304 as “a ... very fine book ... comprehensive ... and skilfully structured ... which provides the reader with a clear and readable exposition of a fascinating area of law and practice. It is well researched, comprehensive, contemporary and discerning ... a significant contribution to the literature ... ”.

Co-author with Jenny Salmon of HFW of "The Lender on the Hook?", an article published in the February 2013 edition of Maritime Risk International on the ship finance implications of the decision in The Kyla [2013] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 565.

Cited as speaker in "Aktuelle Entwicklungen im Wirtschaftsrecht", Tielmann, in the February 2013 edition of Neue Zeitschrift fur Gesellschaftsrecht.

Author of the Review of Berlingieri on Arrest of Ships, Informa 6th edn., 2017, as published at (2017) 23 JIML 310


Dutch and German (both fluent); French (serviceable). Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.


Married, 4 children


Photography, cycling and wine

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