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John McGhee QC

Call: 1984 | Silk: 2003

Overview

John maintains a wide and varied practice in the fields of modern commercial chancery work. 

He is well known as much for his acute intellectual analysis of problems and mastery of the detailed facts of a case as for his robust, practical and commercially realistic advice.

 

John has appeared in all the civil courts in England and Wales from the Upper Tribunal to the Supreme Court and in arbitrations both as counsel and arbitrator.  His court room presence marries an easy rapport with the court or tribunal, robust and incisive cross-examination and a lightning fast response to new points as they arise in the case.

John believes that his profession is first and foremost a service industry and he aims to be as accessible as possible and to provide speedy, pertinent and readily intelligible advice tailored to the needs of both his lay and professional clients.

Books, articles, lectures and seminars

John has always had a keen interest in the framework of legal principles which underpin court decisions. This interest has been developed through his editorship since 1999 of Snell’s Equity and through the many articles he has written including ‘The Nature of the Enrichment Inquiry’ in Degeling & Edelman eds., Unjust Enrichment in Commercial Law and his review of Boundaries of Personal Property: Shares and Sub-Shares by Pretto-Sakmann in (2006) Vol 122 Law Quarterly Review 533.  He is in demand for seminars in particular on the application of equitable principles in modern commercial contexts.

Terms of Business 

The clerks are happy to discuss the basis on which John will act in any given matter. In the absence of express written agreement to the contrary, the terms upon which he accepts instructions are The Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012 (as updated from time to time) referred to in the BSB Handbook.

“A superb mind” (2021)

Chambers UK

“Combines a great breadth of knowledge and an unerring ability to find commercial solutions.” (2021)

Legal 500 UK

“Absolutely at the top of his game. ” (2020)

Legal 500 UK

“He is extremely user friendly and clients love him.” (2019)

Legal 500 UK

Expertise

Overview

John frequently appears in arbitrations both as counsel and as arbitrator and has experience of both hoc and LCIA arbitrations. He also appears as counsel in mediations where he enjoys the challenge of finding creative solutions to disputes.

Notable Cases

Recent arbitrations in which John has appeared as counsel include:

  • Acting for a utility provider in a £120m claim for compensation from an adjoining land owner
  • Acting for an infrastructure provider in a claim by its main supplier for a 10 fold price increase
  • Acting for a developer in a dispute with its local authority landlord in a rent review of a major development site

Overview

John’s interest in civil fraud dates back to his involvement in the Grupo Torras litigation relating to the activities of the Kuwait Investment Office after the first Gulf War which was then the largest civil fraud claim to reach the English courts.  Through his editorship of Snell’s Equity he has extensive knowledge of constructive trust, tracing and unjust enrichment claims and enjoys working on complex cases across different jurisdictions.  Recent cases have included acting for a Liechtenstein foundation in connection with a £200m claim against a wealthy Russian businessman. 

Overview

John has been involved in some of the largest pieces of litigation in the country including the Grupo Torras litigation (a civil fraud claim arising out of the activities of the Kuwait Investment Office after the first Gulf War); and the Buncefield litigation (where he represented both the owner of one of the largest commercial buildings in the vicinity of the oil depot explosion and the residential occupiers of neighbouring properties). He has been involved in a number of cases overseas including Esquire v. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong (in which he led a team of three silks and two juniors in a high profile claim alleging undue influence, economic duress and breach of fiduciary duty against the bank) and more recently at home in Menolly v. Cerep Sarl which concerned a £150m development contract.

Notable Cases

John’s notable cases include:

Overview

John frequently advises on company and partnership disputes including unfair prejudice petitions, the pre-emption rights of shareholders and partnership disputes.  Highlights include Progress Property Co Ltd v Moorgarth Group Ltd in which he succeeded at first instance, in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court in contending that a disposal of property to an associated company at undervalue was not an unlawful distribution of capital.

Overview

John has particular expertise in insolvency work.   His experience includes acting in:

  • Pillar Denton v Game Retail (on the extent to which rent is recoverable as an expense of the administration),
  • Amble Assets v Longbenton Foods (which concerned a proprietary claim for the return of an unreasonably high deposit paid to a company in administration, the scope of the rule in ex parte James and the effect of Schedule B1 paragraph 99 of the Insolvency Act 1986)
  • Sunberry Properties v Innovate Logistics (concerning the grounds upon which leave should be granted to commence proceedings against a company in administration). 

During the Cocid-19 pandemic he was heavily involved in advising on issues arising out of CVA proposals.  He is a contributor to Nolan & Smith (eds): Company Voluntary Arrangements: Law and Practice (OUP, forthcoming). 

Overview

Through his editorship of Snell’s Equity (which is the leading textbook on equitable principles in common law jurisdictions) and his experience in multi jurisdictional disputes John is frequently involved in cases overseas.  Highlights include Esquire v. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong (in which he led a team of three silks and two juniors in a high profile claim alleging undue influence, economic duress and breach of fiduciary duty against the bank) and the Shlosberg litigation in which he acted for a Liechtenstein foundation in connection with a £200m claim against a wealthy Russian businessman.

Overview

John is frequently involved in advising on professional negligence claims against valuers, solicitors, barristers and other professionals arising out of his main areas of practice.  He accepts instructions both for claimants and defendants in such claims.

Overview

John’s practice covers the whole spectrum of real estate from advising and representing developers and investors in contractual disputes over major commercial developments to the esoteric areas of minerals, rights to light and the electronic communications code. 

Notable Cases

John's notable cases include: 

Overview

Through his editorship of Snell’s Equity, John has particular expertise in trusts and estates and he enjoys acting for individuals and institutions as much as for large commercial concerns.  Highlights include:

  • The long running Crampton Brothers litigation (in which he successfully persuaded the Court of Appeal to extend the doctrine of Re Rose to validate an uncompleted gift of shares in a family company)
  • Acting for a fund manager (involving proceedings in Jersey and an expert determination in England) in a dispute about amendments to the exit provisions of a mutual fund.    

Overview

John's notable cases inlude: 

Directory quotes

Chambers UK


“A client favourite. Cuts through the issues with impressive ease, providing clear, commercial advice, particularly on rights of light." "A superb mind with a very client-friendly manner. He instils confidence, gives clear advice and is a pleasure to work with.” (2021)

Chambers UK


“Incredibly bright and provides good commercial advice." "Combines a great breadth of knowledge and an unerring ability to find commercial solutions.” (2020)

Chambers UK


“He is always available, instils confidence, gives clear advice and is a pleasure to work with." "Cuts through the issues with impressive ease, providing clear and commercial advice." "The go-to guru on rights to light.” (2019)

 

Chambers UK


“He has a razor-sharp intellect and is able to relay complex arguments in an accessible manner." "Exceptionally user-friendly."” (2018)

Chambers UK


“A first choice for rights of light." "He is technically very strong and, importantly, fits in well and works well with our clients.” (2017)

Chambers UK


“He provides clear and practical advice on difficult landlord and tenant issues." "He's a very impressive chap because he's incredibly client-friendly. He is also quite creative so he will come up with solutions for a problem.” (2016)

Legal 500 UK


“Excels in respect of major development disputes.” (2021)

Legal 500 UK


“Absolutely at the top of his game.” (2020)

Legal 500 UK


“He is extremely user friendly and clients love him.” (2019)

Legal 500 UK


“He is at the height of his powers and sits astride the property Bar.” (2017)

Memberships

  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Property Bar Association

Qualifications

  • BA (Oxon) First Class Honours

Awards 

  • Scholar at University College Oxford
  • Hardwicke, Wolfson and Denning Scholar at Lincolns Inn

Publications 

Snell's Equity 
General Editor (1999 - 2015)
Joint General Editor (2020 -    )

 clerks@maitlandchambers.com                                                                  

  +44 (0)20 7406 1200

John McGhee QC

Call: 1984 | Silk: 2003

“A superb mind” (2021)

Chambers UK

Overview

John maintains a wide and varied practice in the fields of modern commercial chancery work. 

He is well known as much for his acute intellectual analysis of problems and mastery of the detailed facts of a case as for his robust, practical and commercially realistic advice.

John has appeared in all the civil courts in England and Wales from the Upper Tribunal to the Supreme Court and in arbitrations both as counsel and arbitrator.  His court room presence marries an easy rapport with the court or tribunal, robust and incisive cross-examination and a lightning fast response to new points as they arise in the case.

John believes that his profession is first and foremost a service industry and he aims to be as accessible as possible and to provide speedy, pertinent and readily intelligible advice tailored to the needs of both his lay and professional clients.

Books, articles, lectures and seminars

John has always had a keen interest in the framework of legal principles which underpin court decisions. This interest has been developed through his editorship since 1999 of Snell’s Equity and through the many articles he has written including ‘The Nature of the Enrichment Inquiry’ in Degeling & Edelman eds., Unjust Enrichment in Commercial Law and his review of Boundaries of Personal Property: Shares and Sub-Shares by Pretto-Sakmann in (2006) Vol 122 Law Quarterly Review 533.  He is in demand for seminars in particular on the application of equitable principles in modern commercial contexts.

Terms of Business 

The clerks are happy to discuss the basis on which John will act in any given matter. In the absence of express written agreement to the contrary, the terms upon which he accepts instructions are The Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012 (as updated from time to time) referred to in the BSB Handbook.

Memberships

  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Property Bar Association

Qualifications

  • BA (Oxon) First Class Honours

Awards 

  • Scholar at University College Oxford
  • Hardwicke, Wolfson and Denning Scholar at Lincolns Inn

Publications 

Snell's Equity 
General Editor (1999 - 2015)
Joint General Editor (2020 -    )

Alternative Dispute Resolution

John frequently appears in arbitrations both as counsel and as arbitrator and has experience of both hoc and LCIA arbitrations. He also appears as counsel in mediations where he enjoys the challenge of finding creative solutions to disputes.

Recent arbitrations in which John has appeared as counsel include:

  • Acting for a utility provider in a £120m claim for compensation from an adjoining land owner
  • Acting for an infrastructure provider in a claim by its main supplier for a 10 fold price increase
  • Acting for a developer in a dispute with its local authority landlord in a rent review of a major development site

Civil Fraud & Asset Recovery

John’s interest in civil fraud dates back to his involvement in the Grupo Torras litigation relating to the activities of the Kuwait Investment Office after the first Gulf War which was then the largest civil fraud claim to reach the English courts.  Through his editorship of Snell’s Equity he has extensive knowledge of constructive trust, tracing and unjust enrichment claims and enjoys working on complex cases across different jurisdictions.  Recent cases have included acting for a Liechtenstein foundation in connection with a £200m claim against a wealthy Russian businessman. 

Commercial Disputes

John has been involved in some of the largest pieces of litigation in the country including the Grupo Torras litigation (a civil fraud claim arising out of the activities of the Kuwait Investment Office after the first Gulf War); and the Buncefield litigation (where he represented both the owner of one of the largest commercial buildings in the vicinity of the oil depot explosion and the residential occupiers of neighbouring properties). He has been involved in a number of cases overseas including Esquire v. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong (in which he led a team of three silks and two juniors in a high profile claim alleging undue influence, economic duress and breach of fiduciary duty against the bank) and more recently at home in Menolly v. Cerep Sarl which concerned a £150m development contract.

John’s notable cases include:

Company, Partnerships & LLPs

John frequently advises on company and partnership disputes including unfair prejudice petitions, the pre-emption rights of shareholders and partnership disputes.  Highlights include Progress Property Co Ltd v Moorgarth Group Ltd in which he succeeded at first instance, in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court in contending that a disposal of property to an associated company at undervalue was not an unlawful distribution of capital.

John’s notable cases include:

Insolvency

John has particular expertise in insolvency work.   His experience includes acting in:

  • Pillar Denton v Game Retail (on the extent to which rent is recoverable as an expense of the administration),
  • Amble Assets v Longbenton Foods (which concerned a proprietary claim for the return of an unreasonably high deposit paid to a company in administration, the scope of the rule in ex parte James and the effect of Schedule B1 paragraph 99 of the Insolvency Act 1986)
  • Sunberry Properties v Innovate Logistics (concerning the grounds upon which leave should be granted to commence proceedings against a company in administration). 

During the Cocid-19 pandemic he was heavily involved in advising on issues arising out of CVA proposals.  He is a contributor to Nolan & Smith (eds): Company Voluntary Arrangements: Law and Practice (OUP, forthcoming). 

International & Offshore

Through his editorship of Snell’s Equity (which is the leading textbook on equitable principles in common law jurisdictions) and his experience in multi jurisdictional disputes John is frequently involved in cases overseas.  Highlights include Esquire v. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong (in which he led a team of three silks and two juniors in a high profile claim alleging undue influence, economic duress and breach of fiduciary duty against the bank) and the Shlosberg litigation in which he acted for a Liechtenstein foundation in connection with a £200m claim against a wealthy Russian businessman.

Professional Negligence

John is frequently involved in advising on professional negligence claims against valuers, solicitors, barristers and other professionals arising out of his main areas of practice.  He accepts instructions both for claimants and defendants in such claims.

John’s notable cases include:

Real Estate

John’s practice covers the whole spectrum of real estate from advising and representing developers and investors in contractual disputes over major commercial developments to the esoteric areas of minerals, rights to light and the electronic communications code. 

John's notable cases include: 

Trusts & Estates

Through his editorship of Snell’s Equity, John has particular expertise in trusts and estates and he enjoys acting for individuals and institutions as much as for large commercial concerns.  Highlights include:

  • The long running Crampton Brothers litigation (in which he successfully persuaded the Court of Appeal to extend the doctrine of Re Rose to validate an uncompleted gift of shares in a family company)
  • Acting for a fund manager (involving proceedings in Jersey and an expert determination in England) in a dispute about amendments to the exit provisions of a mutual fund.    

Notable Cases

John's notable cases inlude: