AREAS OF PRACTICE
James has particular expertise in fraud and financial crime for the prosecution and defence. This includes VAT Fraud, Financial Services Fraud, Fraudulent Trading, Investment Fraud, Banking Fraud, Film Tax Credit Fraud, Phoenix Fraud and Company Investigations. He receives instructions for advice pre-charge by both the prosecution, regulatory bodies, companies and individuals in relation to Fraud and Financial Crime.
Ranked by Chambers UK as one of the top 5 barristers in financial crime outside London.
(Leeds Crown Court 2014)
Leading Junior in successful prosecution of two brothers charged with fraudulent trading arising out of property investment fraud. Ds sold off-plan holiday properties in Bulgaria and Cape Verde to 72 victims diverting £1.6 million to pay off personal debts.
Op Circus 2
Instructed by SFD to prosecute eleven Ds charged with offences of fraud through complex series of allegedly Ponzi style frauds. Due for trial (4 months) at Birmingham Crown Court in early 2020.
R v Driscoll
Acquittal on Film Tax Credit Fraud following a 9-week trial. The case was the first prosecution by HMRC in relation to the new ‘film tax credit’ scheme.
Serious Fraud Office v Morris Properties Ltd
Led by Guy Kearl QC (Now HHJ Kearl QC) in representing Leeds businessman accused of £100 million fraud. After a three-year investigation our proactive stance in Judicial Review proceedings, police complaints and police act applications led to the client being refused charge.
Successfully prosecuted a Panamanian Land Fraud and Platform Trading Fraud. The case lasted 6 months. The defendants were Financial Advisors and Solicitors and the offences, amongst others, were contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The case required complicated and detailed analysis of the legislation and all applications by the defence in relation to the operation of the legislation to the facts of the case were successfully opposed.
R v Rudd
Representing a defendant charged with multiple frauds (including Phoenix frauds) who had left the jurisdiction and was extradited after 7 years. The case involves undercover police officers and ‘probe’ evidence obtained throughlistening devices placed in the company office.
R v Mounsey
Led by G Kearl QC in multi-million-pound VAT missing trader fraud.
James prosecutes and defends in all areas of criminal law. He is instructed in the full range of criminal cases from fraud and financial crime, drug trafficking, sexual offences and money laundering often requiring a level of expertise and skill normally associated with somebody of more senior call.
James’ practice over the last 5 years have focused on an even split between prosecuting and defending in serious and organised crime.
This has enabled James to build up a detailed knowledge of police procedure and investigative techniques, with particular expertise in disclosure issues, organised crime and intelligence led operations.
James engages pre-trial in pursuing issues of disclosure, abuse of process and admissibility of evidence, which often resulting in successful outcomes for the client.
More often than not James’ cases involve multi-handed defendants and he is therefore tactically and strategically astute in identifying issues before they arise at trial.
James is also very down to earth with the lay clients which enables him to always have a good working relationship with his clients.
James has previously been able to present and critique expert evidence in drugs cases which often involves the analysis of significant evidential data (usually mobile telephone evidence).
Some Notable Cases
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
Provided proactive advice to the bank in relation to jurisdictional regulatory and criminal proceedings.
R v WM
Complex conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Represented the first defendant. Successfully challenged the undercover officer’s evidence, drugs expert and telephone analyst which led to the acquittal of the client.
R v PL
Multi-handed drugs conspiracies. The case was built entirely on the evidence found on mobile telephoned and the interpretation of messages found on them. Extensively cross-examined the drugs expert witness and presented for the defence considerable phone data and calls which nullified the Prosecutions assertions. Jury could not agree verdict in both trials and therefore client was acquitted.
R v Cosford
Led by Andrew Stubbs QC representing a prison nurse working at HMP Wakefield accused of Misconduct in Public Office. This case attracted nationwide publicity due to its unique factual circumstances. It is also subject to appeal to the Supreme Court in relation to the definition of ‘public officer’ and is a reported case.
Defended in multi-million-pound conspiracy to import drugs and firearms. Featured on a Panorama BBC1 Special. (reported case)
R v YY
Led by Andrew Stubbs QC representing a defendant charged with 2 x conspiracies to murder. The case was largely conducted in ‘camera’ due to issues regarding National Security.
James regularly receives instructions nationwide to prosecute and defend in Health and Safety, Licensing, Counterfeit goods, Trading standards, Traffic Commissioner Inquiries, Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), and environmental cases. James also receives instructions from professionals charged with misconduct who then have to appear before their professional body. This has included nurses, doctors and opticians.
R v Morrison and Towers
Successfully prosecuted on behalf of Trading Standards two company directors charged with offences contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. The case was covered nationwide by the press and television.
HSE v Poundstretcher
Represented the company for over 6 years in relation to breaches of Health and Safety legislation.
Local Authority v Faisals Restaurant
Complicated licensing appeal by a restaurant accused of serious criminal conduct.
Trading Standards v Ali Wholesale Limited
Successful prosecution of a company accused of breaching European legislation in relation to the importation of food stuffs containing Sudan 1, a known carcinogenic.
Environmental Authority v Brotherton
Defence of a family accused of breaching environmental law in relation to the running of a waste disposal site.
What Instructing Solicitors/Client Can Expect
James has experience defending Operators, Directors, Transport managers and individuals called in to Public Inquiry with the Traffic Commissioner.
James will identify the relevant issues early in the proceedings and, in conjunction with those instructing and the client, find ways to address those issues to neutralise their probative value at the Inquiry. This is likely to include the collating of statements, record/documentary evidence and independent reports. The focus is on, where possible, challenging the reasons for the Inquiry and/or focusing on the outcome stage of the proceedings to ensure any failings result in a proportionate penalty.
Instructing Solicitors can expect timely responses to any request to advise on the
case. They can contact James at any time. opinion, attention to detail and
preparation are key to success before the TC.
James is very familiar with the TC’s Statutory Guidance which include:
- Good Repute and Fitness
- Transport Managers
- Operating Centres, Stable Establishments and Addresses for Service
- Legal Entities (including Insolvency and Regulation 31 & Section 57 Applications)
Vocational Driver Conduct
- Delegation of Authority (in terms of Staff and Multiple Licence Holders)
- Case Management
- Principles of Decision Making & the Concept of Proportionality
- Format of Decisions (including Publication, Written Reasons and Decisions)
Hallmark Group Products Ltd – Public Inquiry Held Into Goods Vehicle Operators Licence
Judge – TC Blackmore OBE
Instructed by Gordon Sewell – Williamsons
Location – Leeds
The company was called to a Public Inquiry by TC Blackmore for the following reasons:
- Multiple prohibition notices and fixed penalty notices issued to company drivers.
- Failure to honour undertakings relating to observing the rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs
TC Blackmore took the preliminary view, based on a report by the DVSA, that the company were no longer fit to hold an operator’s licence. The drivers had been found to be driving in excess of their allocated daily hours and had been removing their tachographs shortly before their allocated daily hours.
James’s concern was whether the company was culpable and had acquiesced to their conduct so as to enable them to complete deliveries on time. This would have meant their licence was at risk of revocation. James therefore focused on driver training records, driver disciplinary procedures and what steps, if any, since the DVSA report, had they taken to implement improved procedures.
James prepared a bundle on behalf of the company which addressed each of the concerns held by TC Blackmore.
James was able to demonstrate that the conduct was as a result of ‘rogue’ drivers, rather than systemic failure. James demonstrated adequate disciplinary procedures for drivers at the time of the failings. Finally, James demonstrated that significant steps had been taken since the DVSA visit to improve numerous issues relating to driver breaches. This included improved driver training and computer software which would immediately highlight those drivers who had a. exceeded their hours and b. removed their tachographs.
After cross-examination of the DVSA examiner and submissions to TC Blackmore, based on our documentation, the company were issued with a formal warning and an undertaking to their licence to complete an independent audit of the Operators system. This was something James had offered as an undertaking during submissions.
James was commended by TC Blackmore for the preparation of the material for the hearing and the submissions which had been made.
Poundstretcher Ltd – Public Inquiry Held Into Goods Vehicle Operators Licence
Judge – Deputy Traffic Commissioner
Instructed by Robert Brackup – Chadwick Lawrence
Location – Leeds
Poundstretcher Ltd had a turnover of £400 million. They had been called to a Public Inquiry for breaches of their operator’s licence namely;
- Numerous driver prohibition notices
- Breach of previous undertakings
- Poor maintenance of vehicles
The company were at serious risk of losing their Operator’s Licence based on the fact there had been breaches of previous undertakings. James’s first decision was to instruct the Road Haulage Association to prepare an independent report to try and demonstrate that the company were taking their responsibilities seriously. The report was able to demonstrate that whilst previous systems had been inadequate, they had taken serious steps to addressing those issues and that they were willing to take objective independent advice to fulfil those undertakings.
At the Inquiry James called numerous witnesses on behalf of the company, ranging from the Transport Manager to the Independent Expert. James also called one of the Directors to demonstrate the effect on the business if the fleet was suspended or the licence revoked.
James made submissions on outcome which focused on the curtailment of the fleet for a specified period.
The Deputy TC agreed with my submissions and did agree to curtail the fleet for a period of 28 days. This had a limited effect on the business.
James has represented individual drivers who are either a. applying for a licence or b. at risk of losing their licence. The hearings largely focus on the ‘fit and proper’ person test.
The Legal 500
2021 “A rising star who is always tenacious in his approach“
2020 “He fights ferociously for his clients”
2019 “He is an exceptional talent”
2018 “Truly outstanding at his craft”
2017 “His experience includes large-scale offences, such as drugs conspiracies and fraud”
2016 “Personable and approachable”
2015 “Recommended for high-value fraud instructions”
2014 “Without doubt a leading light of the Junior Bar in Leeds”
Chambers UK 2021
Crime Band 3
“A leading junior who prosecutes and defends in criminal and regulatory matters. He is frequently instructed in serious criminal cases including fraud, drug importation and sexual offences”
“He is very determined and dogged, but has a good manner in court”
Chambers UK 2021 - Financial Crime Band 1
“A junior noted for his expertise in financial crime, particularly involving allegations of fraud and money laundering. he is experienced in both prosecution and defence of criminal cases“
“Very able and safe pair of hands, he is very good with lay clients”. “He is one of the stars of the junior Bar. He attracts high-quality work and is very well respected by all who instruct him”.
“He is a heavyweight financial crime prosecutor and has a reputation for being extremely hard-working”.
Chambers UK 2020
Crime Band 3
“A reliable, thorough and safe pair of hands. He’s very good in complex conspiracy cases.”
“He is a real talent, who is clever, can see the route through to the result and is also extremely likable” “He undertakes an unbelievable level of preparation and is very jury-friendly”
Chambers UK 2020 - Financial Crime Band 1
“James is an enormously personable jury advocate.”
“He’s one of the stars of the junior Bar. He attracts high-quality work and he’s very respected by all who instruct him”
“He has a great courtroom presence and delivers great jury speeches. Clients love him as he’s very committed” “He has a good eye for detail and is extremely dependable”
The Latest News and Cases From James Lake
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The Latest News and Cases From James Lake
Follow our blog for further information on the latest news and cases from James Lake and all other members of our team.
James Lake and Hannah Lynch represented West Yorkshire Trading Standards in one of the biggest trading standards prosecutions, under the …by James Lake
James Lake, Prosecuting Counsel for West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS) and Derek Hallam of Henry Hyams Solicitors secure the longest sentence known for …by James Lake
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Richard Barraclough QC
Simon Myerson QC
Bryan Cox QC
Jane Bewsey QC
Sam Green QC
John Harrison QC
Jonathan Sandiford QC
Cameron Brown QC