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James Murray

Solicitor Associate

Specialism

James specialises in disputes involving construction and engineering projects and is a member of The Technology and Construction Solicitors Association (TeCSA), the leading organisation for solicitors practising construction and information technology law in England and Wales.

He also has experience resolving disputes involving landlord and tenant relationships, property rights, employment relationships, debt recovery and faulty goods and services.

In addition to advising on these matters, James often works closely with colleagues in other departments to provide a tailored service to each client. This includes referrals to members of the property teams to facilitate settlement transactions and our business department if arrangements need to be made to avoid further business disputes arising in the future.

James will always try to resolve the dispute without going to Court and represents clients in a variety of different ways. This includes attending mediation sessions and preparing documents for adjudication and arbitration proceedings.

Examples of his work include:

Construction and Engineering

Private client and Businesses

  • Successfully acting for homeowners in the published case of Melhuish & Saunders Ltd v Hurden and another [2012] EWHC 3119 (TCC).  James recovered significant damages for the homeowners as a result of the builders’ defective workmanship. The case dealt with a number of technical issues, including the appropriate remedial scheme, the home owners’ alleged failure to mitigate loss, whether a claim should be made under a NHBC policy and recovery of damages for distress and inconvenience. You can read the full judgment here or a summary here.
  • Successfully representing an employer in £1m Adjudication claim under a JCT contract. This case dealt with the validity of an Interim Payment Notice issued by the contractor.
  • Defending successfully a claim brought by an employer for Summary Judgment in relation to a Contractor’s Payment Notice under the JCT contract regime.
  • Settling a claim at mediation brought by an employer regarding a Final Certificate issued under a JCT contract.
  • Obtaining a large award of damages for retired clients following the defective installation of insulation materials at their park home. The installation had made the clients’ home uninhabitable and James arranged for the other side to pay for temporary accommodation while the dispute was resolved. The damages paid for the purchase of a replacement home and new furnishings for the clients.
  • Successfully defending proceedings brought by a homeowner against a builder client where the damages sought were for works outside of the scope of the contract. This victory allowed the client to avoid insolvency and keep trading.
  • Advising in many cases that require assessing defective workmanship, considering professional negligence claims against builders, architects and surveyors as well as a variety of other matters.

Landlord and Tenant (Residential and Commercial)

  • Helping landlords remove tenants that are not paying their rent by serving section 8 and section 21 notices to quit. Often landlords rely on the tenants’ income to pay the buy-to-let mortgage on the property and it is vital to act quickly to stop the threat of repossession.
  • Issuing proceedings in Court to obtain Orders for Possession to recover landlords’ property from bad tenants all the way up to instructing bailiffs. Where tenants do not leave following the expiration of the notice to quit, these further steps have to be taken to remove them.
  • Advising landlords about compliance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and dealing with claims in Court for breach of these requirements. If well-meaning landlords have not complied with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, certain steps must be taken before a valid notice to quit can be served. Identifying any breaches is essential to avoid wasted time and Court costs.
  • Providing advice to landlords and tenants regarding dilapidation claims that arise at the termination of a tenancy. It is very common for there to be a difference in opinion about the amount of damage caused by a tenant. Claims for commercial properties can involve tens of thousands of pounds so early advice is key.
  • Advising clients as to the enforceability of service charge demands under the consultation requirements. These requirements are complex and if not followed can limit the service charge amount to £250 per tenant per year. Relief can be sought in the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) in certain circumstances.
  • Serving section 146 notices on tenants who are in breach of a lease. This is a necessary first step before issuing further proceedings. It also acts to identify the breaches and see whether an early resolution is possible.
  • Acting for lessees of long leases who are in breach of lease and threatened with eviction by the lessor. Where there is a breach of the lease, the lessor can try to recover the property for themselves. This can cause huge financial loss to the lessee. If there has been a breach, relief can be sought from Court that allows the lease to continue.
  • Advising clients in management company disputes relating to service change arrears, use of the property and breach of the lease. Management companies are often run by flat owners with little expertise in property matters. Internal disputes can arise due to flat owners having strongly held views. If resolution is not possible, these matters can be dealt with in Court.

Property

  • Acting in a variety of neighbour disputes regarding the position and use of boundaries, damage caused by tree roots, infringing rights of way and rights of light, trespass and harassment. James advised a client where there was a combination of these issues. An argument over the positioning of a boundary fence led to the neighbour threatening to move it unilaterally. The neighbour subjected the client to homophobic abuse as well as causing noise nuisance. James obtained an injunction in Court which immediately stopped the neighbour causing distress to the client.
  • Making applications to the Land Registry for adverse possession where there is a dispute about the ownership of land (also known as squatters’ rights). Clients are often upset when a piece of land they have occupied for a long time is claimed by a neighbouring land owner. In one case, a settlement was reached over a part of a garden occupied by the client and his family for over 50 years which actually formed part of the neighbour’s registered title.
  • Setting aside transactions involving the sale of land where there has been some undue influence placed on a selling party and recovering money when it has been misappropriated by a family member. It is unfortunate that sometimes disputes arise between family members over the sale of property and assets. James has helped clients perform investigations and present evidence in order to recover money and property from family members.

Employment

Private client and Businesses

  • Advising employees that have been offered Settlement Agreements when leaving their employment. Situations range from genuine disputes where claims have to be considered to voluntary redundancy situations where the employee is happy to leave. It is a legal requirement for the employer to pay for the employee to obtain advice regarding the agreement.
  • Helping businesses deal with troublesome employees so as to avoid being taken to an Employment Tribunal. This will often involve drafting a Settlement Agreement to draw a line under the relationship and protect the employer from any claims that could be made in the future.
  • Advising both employers and employees that are resolving disputes in the Employment Tribunal. Taking clients through the various procedures and managing the case as it progresses.
  • Attending a Judicial Mediation for a client who had been dismissed following an injury caused at work. A good settlement was achieved for the client that covered disability discrimination, failing to make reasonable adjustments and her loss of earnings.

James is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA).

Money and Debt Recovery

  • Drafting letters to debtors in order to obtain payment for creditors. Cash flow is essential for many businesses and often a simple letter chasing payment of an invoice can result in a quick payment.
  • Issuing Court proceedings and enforcing judgments against debtors’ assets where they are unwilling or unable to pay.

Faulty Goods and Services

  • Providing advice regarding the sale of goods and services. If there is not a written contract, and it is alleged goods or services are not up to standard, it is possible to imply contract terms by reference to legislation and the common law.
  • Advising a client as to the enforceability of restrictive covenants in a recruiting contract and obtaining a release on favorable terms. This allowed the client to enter into future lucrative deals without being held back by the recruiter.
  • Making applications to restore companies to the register of companies after being struck off. This allows outstanding claims to be made against the restored company or more likely, its insurer.
  • Acting in assigning causes of action from one party to another by using a Deed of Assignment or equitable assignment. In some circumstances, this can allow a party with a genuine interest in a claim to pursue it in the place of a party with no interest.

James said:  “I have a genuine desire to get the best possible result for my clients and really enjoy being able to work hard, over the whole process, to achieve this.”

Qualifications and Experience

  • Law degree 2007
  • Qualified as a Solicitor in 2011
  • Member of The Technology and Construction Solicitors Association (TeCSA) since 2017
  • Has specialised in Civil Litigation and Construction Disputes since 2011

Supervised by Elizabeth Fry

Satisfied Clients

'James dealt with matters very efficiently and empathetically and always answered telephone calls and queries the same day - excellent communication from him.'

'James Murray was very professional at all times despite being in a complex and frustrating position a satisfactory resolution was achieved.'

‘James was clear, responsive, pleasant and professional.’

'Right from the initial phone conversation, through to the face to face meetings and subsequent correspondence, I have found dealing with Wards Solicitors to be a trouble free and friendly experience, and would have no issues in recommending yourselves to others. Thank you for your support.'

'It was an extremely stressful and emotional time and financially we had a lot at stake. James Murray recognised this and handled things sensitively but was able to guide and steer us to the best and most appropriate course of action in the circumstances.'

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