John Randall QC
Call: 1978 Silk: 1995
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Insolvency & Restructuring Profile

John has advised on and appeared in numerous insolvency cases both (historically) as a junior and over the past 17 years as a silk. His highest profile case in court in recent years was OBG v Allan, concerning whether and when an invalidly appointed Administrative Receiver can be held liable in trespass, conversion and the economic torts, which John won at trial and lost 3-2 in the House of Lords. Two of the highest profile insolvencies in which John has advised are those of Portsmouth Football Club (2010) Limited (advising the Administrators concerning aspects of the sale of Fratton Park) and of MG Rover Group Limited (advising the liquidators on aspects of pension related issues).

John's other reported insolvency cases include cases on retention of title clauses, wrongful preferences, transactions at an undervalue, debt subordination agreements, unlawful loans to directors, Insolvency Act provisions concerning pension trustees, the judicial control of Administrators and the effect on a bankrupt of a Tomlin Order entered into by his Trustee. John is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales law school in Sydney. He is also a frequent speaker at legal seminars in the United Kingdom.

In 2012 John received Birmingham Law Society's "Barrister of the Year" award. John enjoys sport, in particular rugby union (being a keen follower of the Leicester Tigers) and international cricket, travel and music.


  • What-the-Directories-Say

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    • The Chambers UK 2019 Bar Guide describes John as:

      • "Excellent, thorough and very responsive.", "He brings commerciality to a dispute and has the creativity and inspiration to look at it from different angles.", "Not only is he very clever but he's also very commercial. He doesn't talk down to you, and you can have a really good discussion with him to find the best and most commercial way forward.", "Excellent lawyer.", "His main strength is his wide-ranging commercial expertise. He is inspired in his commercial pragmatism. He doesn't just give you a technical answer, he thinks around the issue, brings commerciality to a dispute, and has the creativity and inspiration to look at different angles.", "A bright and organised lateral thinker.", "He has the most phenomenal brain and works incredibly hard." and "He is knowledgeable, responsible and proactive, offering sound advice and innovative ways to approach matters."

      The Legal 500 2019 Bar Guide describes John as:

      • “His balanced advocacy style commands judges’ attention.”and “He rigorously dissects the key issues in a case and provides top quality advice.”

      Who's Who Legal: UK Bar 2018, states:

      • “John Randall QC is a highly experienced barrister in both the chancery and commercial fields with a deep knowledge of company and partnership law.” 
      • “John Randall is known for his ‘user-friendly’ approach and is highly regarded by market sources for his ‘technical excellence’ in professional negligence matters.” 
      • “John Randall QC is a standout name in the real estate space where he ‘inspires confidence’ in clients who consider him ‘simply the best.’”

      In previous years:

      • "He has a fantastic brain and is also phenomenally hard working. His written advocacy is methodical, precise and complete."
      • "He's just a clever guy and very user-friendly." "He's brilliant. He's got the ability to explain complex points in plain English, which is extremely useful from a client perspective." "He is excellent at commercial disputes and very client-friendly."
      • "He brings confidence to his cases. He earns the client's trust."
      • "Extremely knowledgeable, commercially minded, detailed and able to digest and then distil complicated concepts into persuasive and powerful submissions."
      • "He is technically brilliant and very client-focused. He can explain difficult concepts to lay clients." "He is very sharp and focused and a very effective cross-examiner."
      • "A brilliant advocate and strategist who is very personable and easy to work with." "Intelligent and possesses keen commercial awareness."
      • "A ferociously intelligent silk.’ ‘An authority on property disputes."
      • "A ferociously intelligent silk."
      • "An authority on property disputes."
      • "An extremely talented silk."
      • "John Randall QC gains recognition for his 'great attention to detail and analytical legal mind'. One solicitor notes, 'I needed the best silk in Birmingham and that’s John.'” Who's Who Legal: UK Bar 2017
      • “A leading silk on the Midland Circuit with a very strong commercial chancery practice. Handles a wide range of commercial disputes and property matters.” Chambers UK 2017
      • "Hugely intelligent and good with clients, John manages to combine an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law with a first-rate appreciation of strategy and excellent eye for detail." Chambers UK 2017
      • An accomplished commercial practitioner who "undoubtedly" retains his status as "the best senior silk in Birmingham," according to market sources. He frequently represents financial institutions and corporations in complex commercial and chancery disputes, including breach of contract, breach of director duties and disagreements arising from corporate sales and refinancings. Chambers UK 2017
      • "He's very approachable, client-friendly, and exudes a sense of reassurance." Chambers UK 2017
      • “An accomplished chancery and commercial silk with a reputation for excellence in company law matters. He is noted for his experience in high-value and lengthy trials.” Chambers UK 2017
      • “A multi-talented silk with an established track record in the partnership arena, who is  particularly good at representing parties in disputes involving partnerships or quasi-partnerships in the real estate sector. He is an expert at providing advice to clients on how best to avoid litigation and keep out of the courtroom, but once in court, he proves to be a formidable advocate.” Chambers UK 2017  
      • "One of the great commercial silks outside London and often active on partnership cases: I'm always happy to work with him." Chambers UK 2017
      • "The pre-eminent chancery silk on the Midland circuit. He has a broad practice which encompasses commercial disputes, insolvency matters and property litigation. The leading commercial disputes silk on the Midland Circuit. His broad practice ranges from commercial contract disputes to professional negligence work." Chambers UK 2016
      • "A user-friendly barrister with a great bedside manner who inspires client confidence and provides very clear opinions." "He is one of the standout silks in Birmingham. He seems to be able to deal with anything and be knowledgeable in so many areas." "You would use him for top, multimillion-pound stuff because he is at the top of his game." - Chambers UK 2015
      • "He gets to grips with complex matters very quickly." Legal 500 2014
      • “A ‘fearsome intellect’ and .. ‘very penetrating in his insight’.” Chambers UK 2013
      • “Highly recommended. Outside of London there are very few practitioners who regularly handle top-end real estate cases. Randall is one such.” Chambers UK 2012

  • Recent-Experience

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      • Advising a company director on attacks on various securities granted to him prior to an Administration. The Administrators sought to invoke Insolvency Act provisions concerning wrongful preferences, transactions at an undervalue, and floating charges.
      • Advising Administrators of a group of companies concerning the legal attribution of trading receipts as between different group companies, and the consequences for the operation of securities and the pari passu distribution principle.

  • Reported-Cases

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      • OBG v Allan and 2 other appeals [2008] 1 AC 1 (HL) - Administrative receiver, liability for failure to realize full value of intangible assets, interference with contractual relations, scope of tort of conversion
      • Fairfax Gerrard Holdings v Capital Bank plc [2008] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 297 (CA) – Retention of title; Contract terms; Conversion; International trade; Issuing banks; Letters of credit
      • Re MDA Investment Management Ltd (Nos 1 & 2) [2005] BCC 783 (Ch D) - Directors’ breach of duty in pre-liquidation transactions concerning the company’s business etc
      • Re SSSL Realisations (2002) Ltd [2005] 1 BCLC 1 (Ch D) - Debts; Indemnities; Liquidation; Pari passu principle; Subordination agreements; Subsidiary companies; Sureties
      • Re Far East Abrasives Ltd [2003] BPIR 375 (Ch D) - corporate insolvency; creditor’s petition for administration order opposed by company; realisation of assets; discretion
      • Thakrar v Ciro Citterio Menswear plc [2002] EWHC 1975 (Morritt V-C) - Unfairly prejudicial conduct; Share valuation; Company entered administration; Compromise of appeal by mediation; Court of Appeal refusing to make agreed Tomlin Order; contractual enforceability of settlement; directions to Administrator under the Insolvency Act
      • Ciro Citterio Menswear plc v Thakrar [2002] 1 WLR 2217 (Ch D) – Director; Fiduciary duty; Purchase of property with loan from company; Whether unlawful loan constituting misapplication of company funds; Whether giving rise to constructive trust or tracing relief
      • Re Helene plc, SSTI v Forsyth [2000] 2 BCLC 249 (Ch D) - Directors’ disqualification proceedings; Company incorporated in Scotland; Jurisdiction
      • Re Thirty-Eight Building Ltd (Nos 1 & 2) [1999] 1 BCLC 416 & [2000] 1 BCLC 201 (Ch D) - Preferences; Transfer of property to trust in favour of directors’ family company pension scheme; Meaning of connected person; Exemption for trustee of pension scheme; Applications to rescind, review or vary orders in insolvency
      • Re Ross (A Bankrupt) [1998] 1 BCLC 56 (CA) - Action by trustee in bankruptcy; Tomlin order; Whether the bankrupt bound by the stay

  • Specialist-Areas

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  • Publications

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      • 'England's Splendid Isolation' in Comparing Tort and Crime (ed. Dyson), 2015 (Cambridge University Press) (with Matthew Dyson)
      • 'Criminal Convictions and the Civil Courts' (with Matthew Dyson) [2015] Cambridge Law Journal 78
      • 'Detinue, Trover & Conversion' in Historical Foundations of Australian Law - Volume II, Commercial Common Law (eds.) Gleeson, Watson and Peden, 2013 (Federation Press, Sydney) (with Brendan Edgeworth)
      • 'Express Termination Clauses in Contracts' [2014] Cambridge Law Journal 113
      • 'When Louisa Carlill Caught the 'Flu (Carlill v The Carbolic Smoke Ball Company)' in Cases that Changed our Lives: Volume 2 (eds McDougall and Wilson), 2014 (LexisNexis Butterworths, London)
      • The Tort of Conversion (with Sarah Green), 2009 (Hart Publishing, Oxford) – finalist in the triennial Inner Temple Book Prize (2011)
      • ‘Rethinking the Economic Torts’ (with Prof Simon Deakin) (2009) 72 Modern Law Review 519
      • 'Caparo v Dickman – Legal Celebrity or Jurisprudential Substance’, in Cases that Changed our Lives (ed McDougall), 2010 (LexisNexis Butterworths, London)
      • ‘Proprietary estoppel and the common intention constructive trust – Strange bedfellows or a match in the making?’ (2010) 4 Journal of Equity 171

  • Qualifications-and-Appointments

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      • Jesus College, Cambridge: B.A. (Hons) 2:1 – 1977 (MA - 1981)
      • Barrister of New South Wales – 1979
      • Barrister & Solicitor of Western Australia - 2001
      • Deputy High Court Judge - Chancery & Queen’s Bench Divisions 2000 to January 2016
      • Recorder - Crown & County Courts (Assistant Recorder 1996; Recorder 1999 to January 2016)
      • External examiner, Bar Professional Training Course 2008 to 2015
      • Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales 2013 (Visiting Fellow 2004)
      • Senior Fellow, University of Melbourne (2014)
      • Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn 2003
      • Member, Legal Services Consultative Panel 2000 to 2009

  • Professional-Associations

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      • International Bar Association
      • Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR)
      • Chancery Bar Association
      • Midland Chancery and Commercial Bar Association (MCCBA)

Related News

John Randall QC included in the Top 100 QCs at the UK Bar

St Philips Commercial is delighted to announce that John Randall QC has been included in the inaugural edition of "The Chambers 100 UK Bar". The newly launched list of the top 100 QCs at the UK Bar looks at all…

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Commercial Silks Week Success

Over 200 Commercial and Insolvency solicitors from across the Midlands converged on St Philips Chambers to attend a series of seminars given by the Commercial Group's four Queen's Counsel. 'Silks Week' showcased John Randall QC, Avtar Khangure QC, Lance Ashworth…

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Midlands Commercial Silk shortlisted for top legal book prize

John Randall QC of St Philips Barristers Chambers, was one of the finalists in the prestigious Inner Temple Book Prize 2011. The Prize, established in 2008 as part of the Inner Temple's celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the…

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Further Information

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