John McGhee QC
John maintains a wide and varied practice in the fields of modern commercial Chancery Work. He has particular expertise in property related work but his practice equally encompasses company, insolvency and partnership disputes, problems involving trusts and civil fraud, and banking and professional negligence claims. He also advises in non-litigious matters such as the trusts and property aspects of proposed investment and tax schemes.
John 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. 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.
Commercial and Commercial Chancery Litigation
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.
Company and Insolvency Disputes
John’s deep understanding of the underlying principles of company and insolvency law has led to him being involved in a number of important recent cases including:
- Progress Property Co Ltd v Moorgarth Group Ltd in which he successfully resisted a claim made at first instance, in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court that a transaction between a company and its shareholders at a negligent undervalue was ultra vires;
- Sunberry Properties v Innovate Logistics concerning the grounds upon which leave should be granted to commence proceedings against a company in administration; and
- 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.
John is frequently asked to advise and represent parties to disputes about major commercial developments but his practice extends to all areas of real property law. Recent cases have included:
- Scottish Widows Fund & Life Assurance Society v BGC International concerning the construction and claim for rectification of a rent review provision in a lease;
- Re Thames Valley Holdings Ltd in which a preliminary issue was determined in an important case in which the National Trust seeks to prevent modification of a restrictive covenant
- Mourant Property Trust Ltd v Fusion Electronics Ltd which concerned whether a break clause in a lease had been validly exercised and
- Carpenter v Calico Quays in which the court determined the extent of a right of way
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.
Books, articles, lectures and seminars
John has always had a keen interest in the underlying framework of 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 also in demand for seminars in particular on the application of equitable principles in modern commercial contexts.
Scholar at University College Oxford
BA (Oxon) First Class Honours
Hardwicke, Wolfson and Denning Scholar at Lincolns Inn
Snell's Equity (32nd Edition), General Editor
Chancery Bar Association
Commercial Bar Association
Property Bar Association