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James Watson

Managing Associate

Personal Profile

James is a Managing Associate in the White Collar Crime and Investigations Group, part of the Firm's Dispute Resolution department. He specialises in criminal defence in both white collar and corporate crime cases.

James has acted in proceedings brought by the Serious Fraud Office, Office of Fair Trading (now the CMA), Financial Conduct Authority, Trading Standards and BIS. His experience covers a variety of regulatory and criminal matters including fraud, cartel activity and insider dealing. He has been involved in a number of highly complex cases often involving an international dimension, for example where parallel proceedings are brought by foreign enforcement agencies such as the Department of Justice. James has also advised a number of international companies on OFSI, OFAC and EU sanctions. James is able to advise on the range of issues involved in white collar criminal defence.

He is a member of the Young Fraud Lawyers Association and Defence Extradition Lawyers Forum.

Key Experience

White Collar Crime / Criminal Defence

  • Acted for an individual prosecuted for money laundering as part of Operation Steamroller, at the time the largest boiler-room fraud prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office.
  • Acted for a number of individuals in compelled to attend interviews with the SFO under section 2 notices.
  • Acted in the defence of an individual in a bribery investigation connected to personal injury claims.
  • Acted for two individuals in connection with what was, at the time, the largest insider dealing prosecution brought by the Financial Services Authority, and valued at £1.5 million.
  • Provided advice to an individual in connection with Gibraltar POCA proceedings involving funds in excess of £800,000. These funds were ultimately released to the client by the Gibraltar Financial Intelligence Unit (GFIU).
  • Acted in multi-jurisdictional confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for an individual convicted of insider dealing.
  • Advised an individual in criminal proceedings in Gibraltar involving allegations of a substantial fraud.
  • Acted for an individual in Operation Inertia, a criminal prosecution for a contra-trade VAT fraud in the mobile phone industry where the value alleged to be defrauded was in excess of £160 million.
  • Acted for an individual in Operation Vex, a criminal prosecution alleging a VAT fraud valued at £90 million involving multiple jurisdictions and substantial amounts of evidence seized from various international banks.
  • Acted for an individual in first criminal prosecution under the Enterprise Act 2002 for cartel activity and price fixing.
  • Acted for a number of individuals subject to Interpol Red Notices.

Corporate Crime / Investigations

  • Advised an international corporate client on its Bribery Act policy.
  • Advised a corporate client in relation to multiple information requests under the Companies Act 1985 and the Insolvency Act 1986 which were made by various agencies.
  • Advised a number of company directors and corporates on Companies House prosecutions for offences under the Companies Act 2006 including failure to file company accounts.
  • Advised a state owned Libyan corporate entity on UN and EU economic sanctions and successfully secured deletion of their name from a number of risk and compliance databases after they had been removed from the list of designated entities.
  • Advised individuals and corporate entities in relation to sanctions risks.
  • Advised a national advertising agency in relation to restrictions under the London Olympic Games Act 2006 in the context of a proposed national television campaign.
  • Advised a corporate entity during an investigation by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (now BEIS) into land banking. This advice including BIS's use of statutory compulsory information requests.
  • Acted for an international corporate entity in relation to Trading Standards investigation for breaches of Safety Regulations.


James has advised individuals in connection with extradition requests to various jurisdictions.

Career History

Associate, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Solicitor, Irwin Mitchell
College of Law, Bar Vocational Course
BPP Law School, Graduate Diploma in Law
Birkbeck College, University of London, MA Philosophy
Kings College, University of London, BA Philosophy

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