Called: 1990 Silk: 2013
James M. Turner QC is a commercial advocate specialising in commercial contractual disputes across sectors including international commercial arbitration, energy, shipbuilding, offshore construction, shipping and banking.
He appears on appeals from the Commercial Court and has extensive experience of Arbitration, appearing before (and sitting as arbitrator in) domestic and international arbitral bodies (such as HKIAC, LCIA, ICC and LMAA) as well as in ad hoc matters.
Many of his cases require the co-ordination of a range of expert specialisms, ideally suited to James’s down to earth approach, team-building skills and highly-regarded technical knowledge. Reflecting the invariably international character of his practice, James has extensive experience in dealing with foreign law and multi-jurisdictional disputes. He has a particular eye for appreciating and addressing cultural barriers in international arbitration.
James has given written expert evidence of English law in the Courts of Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, 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 accepts instructions in either language. He also reads French.
"Bright." ..."Very clever and sensible."(Chambers UK, 2019)
‘Has very good technical knowledge.’(Legal 500 2019)
‘He provides clear and authoritative advice’.(Legal 500 2019)
"Tactically he’s very smart. He has strong analytical skills and a very good commitment to the cause."(Chambers 2018)
"He’s good legally and also a good strategic thinker."(Chambers 2018)
"a super advocate and a fantastic opponent"... "You know he will give you a good run for money"(Who's Who Legal, 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)
James has well over 20 years’ experience in shipbuilding and ship-conversion disputes, gained through many dozens of instructions. Many of those have gone to full hearings or preliminary issues. Often instructed at the first sign of trouble in the Buyer/Builder relationship, he is adept at 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 the evidence 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 (dumb, oil-carrying, pipe-laying and crane), tugs, superyachts, cruise ships, Rhine navigation vessels, ro-ro ferries, container carriers, gas carriers, MODUs, work-over units, jack-ups, heavy-lift vessels, FPSOs and even submarines and 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 disputes in which James has been instructed cover the full range of regulatory (Class and Flag, including SOLAS, PSPC and CSR), technical (coating failures; construction faults; defective propulsion units; speed & performance; stability; drivetrain; 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 “negotiating 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. He has on numerous occasions sought, obtained and resisted permission to appeal under s. 69 Arbitration Act 1996.
As a junior, 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  2 Lloyd's Rep. 280,  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 advanced in James’s evidence in the Italian proceedings.
James has been acting in offshore construction and energy-related disputes since the mid-1990s. At Chambers’ 2018 Energy Seminar, he spoke about decommissioning disputes. His experience includes:
James 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:
From October 2014 to February 2015, he appeared in a substantial trial in Hong Kong arising out of a ferry disaster off Lamma Island on 1 October 2012.
Arbitration is the chosen forum in most 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, LCIA and HKIAC. He has frequently been instructed and appeared in cases for arbitration in other jurisdictions, such as Rotterdam, Singapore and Hong Kong.
He is regularly instructed in relation to challenges to Tribunals and their Awards. Examples include:
James’s other arbitration-related cases include:
James is regularly instructed in a broad range of other substantial commercial disputes. Illustrative cases include:
James has a solid track record in banking and finance disputes, 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:
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 analysing 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 mediation.
He provides authoritative advice and presents his case with impressive advocacy.’(Legal 500, 2017)
BA Hons. (Dunelm),
Called 1990 Inner Temple
Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists
Shanghai International Arbitration Center panel
KLRCA panel as mediator and arbitrator
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  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
Author of The Renos - a Trojan Horse in the LOF citadel? as published in Lloyd's Shipping & Trade Law Journal, Volume 18 Issue 7.
Dutch and German (both fluent); French (working knowledge). Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.
Married, 4 children
Photography, cycling and wine