James Shirley > The 36 Group > London, England > Lawyer Profile

The 36 Group
Gray's Inn, 4 Field Court

Work Department

36 Stone


James Shirley practises in all areas of commercial law and civil fraud: contract disputes, complex fraud claims, shipping and international arbitration, jurisdiction disputes, the sale and carriage of goods, and insurance. He appears regularly in court and in arbitration, normally as sole counsel.

In 2020, James acted for the respondents in the first maritime collision liability case to reach the Supreme Court (Alexandra 1/Ever Smart [2021] UKSC 6) and is currently acting for Alexandra 1 on remission to the Admiralty Court. In 2021, he acted in a substantial diesel trading dispute which settled at the doors of the Commercial Court, and in numerous arbitrations, many of them pandemic-related. He has considerable experience of remote hearings, both in court and in arbitration. Having appeared for the successful charterers in Ocean Prefect [2019] EWHC 3368 (Comm), an important case on the admissibility of MAIB reports in London arbitrations in 2019, James acted in the underlying unsafe port arbitration. He continued to act in Rogachev v. Goryainov [2019] EWHC 1529 (QB), a high-value Chancery Division claim concerning a joint venture for the operation of markets in Moscow.

Other well-known cases include BDMS Limited v. Rafael Advanced Defence Systems [2014] EWHC 451 (Comm), and Aquafaith [2012] EWHC 1077 (Comm).


Joined Stone Chambers as a tenant in May 2005. The Stone team became part of The 36 Group in 2018.




University College, London (LLB) First Class; New College, Oxford (BCL) First Class.

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Shipping

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 2

James ShirleyThe 36 GroupPerceptive, strategic and unflappable under pressure. His advocacy is first class and the easy manner he adopts in making submissions finds favour with arbitrators and judges alike.

Shipping and international trade set The 36 Group features extensive experience representing clients involved in maritime matters including bills of lading, charterparties, and contracts of affreightment. The set is also known for its sanctions work as well as issues arising in the offshore and energy sectors. The infamous incident of the Ever Given, a container ship which got stuck in the Suez Canal in March 2021 to much media attention, is present in both the practices of Elizabeth Blackburn KC and Vasanti Selvaratnam KC, the latter who, alongside James Shirley, is also involved in the Evergreen Marine v Nautical Challenge, the first maritime collision liability case to reach the Supreme Court. Elsewhere, Mark Jones represented commodities trader Guvnor and their cargo underwriters in Herculito Maritime Ltd & Ors v. Gunvor International BV & Ors, a case in the wake of the hijacking and holding of a tanker and crew by Somali pirates.

London Bar > Commodities

(Leading Juniors)Ranked: Tier 3

James Shirley – The 36 Group ‘Calm, measured, analytical but also pragmatic.’