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 a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Lausanne) panel of arbitrators and a panel member of Sports Resolutions UK. 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.
James has been involved in a number of commercial fraud cases in recent years. By way of recent example:
James has acted in a wide range of insurance and reinsurance cases.
James has had extensive recent experience in commercial arbitrations of all shapes and sizes.
James acts in a variety of international trade disputes, which are ordinarily matters for arbitration. A typical example is Hudson v Stellar  EWHC 2985, Hamblen J, LMAA arbitration and related proceedings in London. James acted for the US shipowners against Dubai charterers for failure to perform COA and ancillary guarantee obligations (with Statute of Frauds).
James has been involved in an array of sports-related disputes over the years. By way of example, he represented the Surf Life Saving Club of Australia against Kellogg’s in relation to the rights for “Iron Man”. More recently, he also represented the British Amateur Gymnastics Association of the UK in a commercial dispute with its insurers in relation to the severe injury of one of its members.
James has been appointed to the panel of arbitrators for the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is also a panel member of Sports Resolution in the UK.
US sprinter, Christian Coleman, current 100m world champion, ruled ineligible to compete for 18 months – and will miss Olympic Games
Sport Resolutions appointment
Court of Arbitration for Sport decision in relation to the ban imposed by the IAAF on amputee athlete Blake Leeper from competing in the Olympic Games
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
Orb a.r.l. and ors v Ruhan
James is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a Fellow of the Australian Centre for International Arbitration, and a Chartered Arbitrator. James is also a panellist on the KLRCA panel of arbitrators, ARIAS (UK), and AMTAC. James accepts arbitral appointments, and is regularly appointed (as sole arbitrator, chairman, or co-arbitrator) in both domestic and international arbitrations (current examples include ICC, LCIA, CIArb and ad hoc). James is also a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Lausanne) panel of arbitrators and a panel member of Sports Resolutions UK.
University of South Australia: BA (1980) University of Adelaide: LL.B (Hons) (1985) Columbia University of New York: LL.M (1991)