James Russell

Managing Partner

James Russell is the managing partner at Humphries Kerstetter with over 18 years’ experience of contentious commercial practice, noted in particular in the 2022 edition of Legal 500 for his derivatives disputes experience.

James has been cited by leading directories and described by clients as “straight talking, robust and methodical”. He has particular experience of complex financial disputes involving company law issues and breaches of fiduciary duty (in particular involving solicitors, directors and accountants). He is also experienced in insolvency litigation, civil fraud and claims relating to failed investment schemes. He has an interest in professional regulation and jointly advised (together with partner Toby Starr) the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking in relation to proposed reforms to insolvency regulation. Following Mark Humphries’ example, he is one of the few solicitor advocates to have appeared in the Commercial Court in London, including against QCs, and has led multi-million pound claims in the City and the Channel Islands. He has also appeared in the Business and Property Courts (Insolvency List) and successfully acted as the lead trial advocate in arbitral proceedings.

His current and recent cases include the largest claim brought against Visa and Mastercard in relation to unlawful interchange fees, a high-profile FX hedging dispute between Goldman Sachs and one of the world’s largest wine producers, a multi-million pound dispute with bondholders in relation to the acceleration of a €1.3bn secured loan and the representation of shareholders in the high profile Core VCT liquidation in which claims for breach of duty are being pursued against the former managers and liquidators of a publicly listed venture capital trust.

James is described in the legal 500 ‘a brilliant negotiator and approaches all situations with a multi-faceted attitude. [Has an] astute understanding of commercial drivers.’ Recent client testimonials include:

Brings calm, common sense, clarity and foresight to the legal challenges that he faces
Outthinks and outwits opponents from the outset


James trained at Linklaters LLP, qualifying into the Litigation Department in 2004. He remained with Linklaters until 2010 when he left to join Mark Humphries as his co-director at the firm which is now Humphries Kerstetter. He left the firm in 2013 and became a Partner and Head of Litigation at a leading regional practice. He re-joined the firm as a partner in 2017 following its conversion to an LLP.

Education and Languages.

  • 2001 – 2002: City LPC (Commendation) – The Oxford Institute of Legal Practice.
  • 2000 – 2001: CPE (Commendation) – The College of Law, Guildford.
  • 1996 – 2000: B.A. Spanish (First Class) – The University of Southampton.
  • 1992 – 1996: 3 A-Levels at A Grade – The Oratory School.

James speaks English and fluent Spanish.

Representative Matters.

Relevant cases include financial product mis-selling and mis-management claims, funds and private equity disputes and shareholder actions. These include “top ten” cases as listed in “The Lawyer” magazine.

  • Appearing as advocate in the Commercial Court on a successful summary judgment application relating to the terms of a Settlement Deed and declaratory relief to preclude the possibility of future claims being raised which the defendants had declined to bring in the proceedings.
  • Appearing as advocate in the Chancery Division (Insolvency and Companies list) on behalf of the Core VCT Shareholder Action Group in contentious insolvency proceedings in relation to the Core VCT venture capital trusts.
  • Acting for the wholly owned subsidiary of an international bank in a dispute with bondholders relating to the acceleration of a securitised loan.
  • Acting for an American Investment Bank in relation to a fee dispute with a well-known UK private equity fund.
  • Acting for a large Spanish corporate in Commercial Court proceedings brought by Goldman Sachs International in relation to high value foreign exchange derivative transactions.
  • Acting for the joint liquidators of a Guernsey property company in a claim for breach of trust against its former solicitors.
  • Acting for the joint liquidators of a UK property company in a professional negligence claim against its former accountants.
  • Acted for the joint liquidators of One Blackfriars Limited in claims for breach of duty against the former administrators of the company.
  • Appeared as the lead advocate in successful LCIA proceedings relating to the sale of a Russian business.
  • Acted for the claimant in Commercial Court proceedings against a well known plc in the corporate aviation sector.
  • Conducted parallel proceedings in the Commercial Court (in which he also appeared as advocate) and the Tax Tribunal in relation to the unauthorised release of millions of pounds worth of bonded tobacco into the UK.
  • Acted for the former directors and shareholders of an international nano-technology business in defence of claims for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Acted for the selling shareholder of a technology business in claims for misrepresentation and breach of contract against the purchaser of the business in the Commercial Court (in which he also appeared as advocate).
  • Acted for a team of taxation and accountancy professionals in a restrictive covenant dispute with their former employers.
  • Acted for UK based asset managers in defence of fraud and professional negligence proceedings (including a claim against a UK Top 10 legal practice) being advanced in Austria, Portugal and England.
  • Acted for a charitable organisation in relation to a substantial IRS mis-selling claim against a major high street bank.
  • Acted for an HNW property developer in the successful defence, following a full trial, of claims for breach of fiduciary duty before the Guernsey courts.
  • Acted for Barcap plc in a derivatives mis-selling claim brought by an Italian savings bank.
  • Acted for Ernst & Young in defence of multi-million pound professional negligence proceedings.
  • Acted for Centrica plc in a £350m claim against Accenture plc.
  • Acted for the administrators of Lehman Brothers in relation to the “client money” litigation.
  • Acted for a leading investment bank in the high profile termination of its CEO, which was subject to extensive media coverage.