James Guthrie QC’s work can broadly be described as follows.
First, he specialises in a broad range of appellate work in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. This includes Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Public Law / Judicial Review, Commercial Law, Common Law and Criminal cases. In addition, he has considerable experience of litigation at firs instance and in the Courts of Appeal in Commonwealth countries, both in an advisory capacity and as an advocate.
He has been called to the Bars of the Turks and Caicos Islands, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, St Christopher & Nevis, Grenada, Bermuda, Belize, Antigua and The Bahamas, and has appeared in the Caribbean Court of Justice (the final Court of Appeal for those Caribbean countries that no longer accept the jurisdiction of the Privy Council). He has also recently appeared by special permission in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of Mauritius. He appeared before the Privy Council at its first sittings in The Bahamas, and in Mauritius.
Described in the directories as a ‘first-class advocate’, and consistently recommended in the main law directories as a Leading Silk in Civil Liberties and Human Rights work, he frequently undertakes Privy Council appeals in such cases, including ‘death row’ cases.
James Guthrie was Head of Chambers from 2002 until October 2010. He continues to practise from Chambers. He sits as a Recorder trying criminal and civil cases. He is also a Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple and has been a Trustee of the Death Penalty Project since its inception in 2005.
An Appeal before the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (British Virgin Islands). The central issue in the appeal was whether a party with a right to claim relief from further performance of its obligations under a contract had in law to make an election between exercising the right and continuing to perform the contract such that, if the latter choice was made, the right to claim “performance relief” was lost.
An Appeal before the Privy Council from the Supreme Court of Mauritius. This case concerned an allegation of conspiracy to import a motor vehicle into Mauritius without paying proper excise duty. The Supreme Court of Mauritius allowed an appeal from the decision of the magistrate sitting in the Intermediate Court, who had acquitted the defendants on the relevant charges. The Supreme Court directed that there should be a retrial. Two of the accused, Mr Lagesse and Mr Seeburrun, appealed to the Privy Council.
"An outstanding advocate who has extremely thorough attention to detail and deep knowledge of his subject area." - Silks (QC) - Administrative & Public Law
Chambers and Partners 2021
‘Has subtle and tactful manner in tackling sensitive issues in challenging environments.’ - Leading Silks - Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police)
Legal 500 2021
‘Masterful at dealing with sensitive matters and difficult clients.’ - Leading Silks - Offshore
Legal 500 2021
‘Masterful at dealing with sensitive matters and difficult clients.’ - Leading Silk - Administrative and public law (including elections)
Legal 500 2021
"He is incredibly efficient and very incisive. His drafting is exceptional and he can cut through a myriad of facts and complex legislation to get to the nub of the matter. Delightful to work with." Administrative & Public Law – London (Bar)
Chambers & Partners 2020
Masterful at dealing with sensitive matters and difficult clients. ’ Administrative & Public Law – London (Bar) ‘A supremely calm and magisterial leader, willing to take to on the most difficult and sensitive cases.’ Civil Liberties & Human Rights (Including actions against the Police)
Legal 500 2020
"An exceptionally skilled advocate who brings a wealth of experience to any commercial case and who inspires confidence in clients." "What really makes him stand out is his intellect. He is one of those people who are just really clever. If you give him a problem, he can pull it apart and come to the necessary conclusions." Chancery: Commerical
Chambers & Partners 2018
Charming with a razor-sharp intellect and particularly good on matters from the Caribbean.’ -Administrative and Public Law: Leading Silks ‘Takes an incisive, analytical approach to complex matters.’ - Leading Silks Civil Liberties and Human Rights: Leading Silks
Legal 500 2018