James Drake QC is an experienced advocate and arbitrator specialising in international commercial law, and is qualified in London, New York and Australia. He is also a qualified accountant, and therefore has a deep understanding of the commercial dimensions of legal disputes.
As counsel, he specialises in all areas of commercial law, in court and in arbitration, with particular emphasis: commercial fraud; commodities; distributorship/ franchise; insurance and reinsurance; international trade; partnership; sport; and all related interlocutory and jurisdictional issues. He has appeared in courts and before arbitral tribunals in London, Sydney, New York, BVI, Antigua and Bermuda and maintains rights of audience in these jurisdictions. Recent examples include: acting for the claimants in the long-running commercial fraud dispute in the Commercial Court, Orb A.R.L. v Ruhan; acting for Venezuela in a long-running commercial (and commercial fraud) dispute across various jurisdictions (involving arbitrations in New York, Miami, Zurich, London).
As arbitrator, James is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA), and a chartered arbitrator and has extensive experience in both domestic and international arbitrations (whether as sole or co-arbitrator or chairman) under the auspices of the LCIA, the ICC and the CIArb, and in ad hoc arbitrations. James is also a member of various panels of arbitrators, including the CIArb’s Presidential Panel, ACICA, ARIAS (UK), AMTAC, AIAC. He is also on the panel of arbitrators for the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is an arbitration panel member of Sports Resolution. Recent appointments include: sole arbitrator in a complex dispute between hedge fund partners (ad hoc); sole arbitrator in a dispute concerning an aviation accident and its consequences (CIArb); co-arbitrator in a commercial dispute between an oil company and a sovereign state (ICC, subject to New York law).
James practised extensively in the US (New York) and in Australia (Sydney and Adelaide) before coming to the Bar. He was a partner in Owen & Davis LLP (New York), since merged with Norton Rose, and an associate in the international firm of Baker & McKenzie (in their Sydney and New York offices).
Before the law, James also undertook an accounting degree and worked with KPMG (on the audit side). As a consequence, he has, unusually for the Bar, no fear of the mechanics of business and the commercial dimensions of legal disputes.
James is a visiting lecturer at the University of Adelaide Law School, teaching International Commercial Arbitration.