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Shoosmiths LLP

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James Keates

Work 03700 864044
Shoosmiths LLP

Work Department

Restructuring & Insolvency


James Keates heads up Shoosmiths’ corporate restructuring and advisory practice, positioning himself as one of the industry’s go-to lawyers when it comes to retail CVAs while taking an innovative cutting-edge approach to the process itself. His work has seen him inducted into the Hall of Fame in The Legal 500 directory, and is Band 1 in Chambers. He was also named Corporate Restructuring Lawyer of the Year at the industry’s highly prestigious Tri Awards.
In the past year alone, James has led on many company voluntary agreements for high-profile retail businesses including Regis Supercuts (220 retail outlets) Office Outlet (formerly Staples) (95 retail outlets), Select Fashion (183 retail outlets) and Fuel Juice Bars (28 retail outlets) in connection with its successful CVA proposals. James also advised Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited in connection with its highly complex restructuring. He also advised Karen Millen on its partial-purchase of struggling Coast Fashion, and regularly advises major high street lenders, asset based lenders and company directors in connection with all restructuring related matters.
Each of these CVAs resulted in the successful restructuring of these well-known high street chains, saving them millions of pounds and thousands of jobs in the process.

James has built up a market reputation for being the go to person in providing legal advice in relation to retail CVAs having, in recent months, worked on more than any other firm in the market.

James and his team take an innovative and commercial approach, and as a result are involved in a number of other high profile restructurings in the UK.

He is also advising administrators from BDO LLP in connection with a large, high value and extremely complex litigation matter, arising following the insolvency of a well-known retailer. 

Further, James is also recognised for his work with a number of well-known private equity houses in the distressed/turnaround sectors. 


Trained Brown and Corbishley, Newcastle under Lyme; qualified 1996; after one year of PQE moved to Beswicks Solicitors, Stoke-on-Trent; 12 months later moved to HBJ Gateley Wareing, Birmingham; senior associate Gateley Wareing 2006; partner Shoosmiths 2008 to date.




Newcastle under Lyme School; Staffordshire University (LLB Hons).


Golf, water polo.

West Midlands: Finance

Insolvency and corporate recovery

Within: Leading individuals

James Keates - Shoosmiths LLP

Within: Insolvency and corporate recovery

Shoosmiths LLP’s growing team advises a range of leading administrators and insolvency firms on challenging mandates. James Keates and Aaron Harlow , who was elected into the partnership in May 2017, advised PwC as administrators of The Food Retailer Operations Limited, which operated 34 ex-Somerfield stores as branches of Budgens, securing the disposal of the company’s store leases. Keates and senior associate  Charles Williams advised Grant Thornton as administrators of Vehicle Trading Group, which was rescued as RateSetter exchanged its £40m debt for equity in its subsidiaries. Other mandates included advising Fuel Juice Bars Limited on purchasing the business and assets of its oldco from the administrators followed by a company voluntary agreement. The team also advised KPMG, which it advised on the administration of Gelpack Exelcisor, and FRP Advisory, which Keates and Williams advised on the administration of several companies in the Ham Baker Adams group. Other clients include Duff & Phelps.

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