John Randall QC
Call: 1978 Silk: 1995
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Private International Law Profile

John has a broad based practice in chancery and commercial law, acting in a wide range of work including contractual, property and professional negligence disputes, together with commercially related judicial review claims and a variety of sports law matters. He is also an accredited mediator.

John has acted in a substantial number of lengthy trials and high value claims. His experience includes two major trials involving the extensive use of computers, both in trial preparation and in the court room during the hearing. Amongst John's most substantial cases have been:- - Queen’s Bench proceedings on behalf of >70% of the UK brewing industry in respect of conspiracy to convert metal beer kegs on a commercial scale, with pleaded losses exceeding £70M.

An ICC arbitration claim for a quoted bio-technology company arising out of the (alleged) breach and termination of a contract for the marketing of a new pharmaceutical product across a number of the largest states in the EC, with pleaded losses exceeding £20M

A group action brought in the Chancery Division by 129 farmers against their union and some independent solicitors, for negligent advice in relation to limitation periods under European Law. Ten lead cases were tried together before Evans-Lombe J in Birmingham over seven weeks

Queen’s Bench proceedings on behalf of a substantial Building Society seeking to recover losses of over £50 million from MIG and pool insurers in respect of post-property crash defaults and capital losses

John has acted in a number of applications for judicial review, mostly with a commercial background. His experience includes such claims against the Chief Executive of Skills Funding (concerning legitimate expectations allegedly arising from a lengthy and expensive grant application process –

R (Grimsby Institute) v Chief Executive of Skills Funding [2010] 3 EGLR 125), against the General Council of the Bar (in relation to the operation of its 'black-listing' policy for non-payment of barristers' fees), against the British Coal Corporation (arising out of its decision to sell land to one developer rather than another), against the Secretary of State's decision making on planning appeals (including R v SSE ex parte Centre 21 Ltd - 4 cases, one of which resulted in a highly unusual mandatory order against the Secretary of State) and against a Council for banning a (then) amateur sports club from use of its training ground, in purported pursuance of the Council's anti-apartheid policies (Wheeler v Leicester City Council [1985] AC 1054 HL).-

Amongst John’s other sports law clients have been the late Barry Sheene MBE (claim arising from a serious accident on test day at Silverstone - GP Motorcycling), a professional footballer (career ending injury suffered during a match), and a number of amateur sportsmen (including an Olympic athlete, a boxer and a moto-cross rider).

John has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales law school in Sydney since 2004, teaching courses in Advanced Contract, Legal History and Principles and Practice of Advocacy. He is also a frequent speaker at legal seminars in the United Kingdom.

John’s international experience includes appearances in the Court of Appeal of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, the staff of Goverment Division on an appeal in the Isle of Man, and providing expert evidence of English law for Courts in Spain and Eire. John is a member of the International Bar Association, and was one of the speakers at its International Litigation conference held in Miami, on the topic of client confidentiality and English anti money laundering laws.

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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    • John’s recent experience includes appellate cases concerning:

      • Adverse Possession over part of a city centre pavement outside a well-known night club, which had not been adopted as public highway, and the admission of fresh evidence on appeal (Balevents v Sartori)
      • The operation of section 2, Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 – the previous leading Court of Appeal case explained, and several subsequent first instance cases disapproved (Keay v Morris Homes)
      • When testamentary capacity, and knowledge and approval, are to be judged, and whether a first instance case concerning deteriorating testators which had stood since 1883 was correctly decided (Perrins v Holland)
      • Proprietary estoppel where the claimant was already party to a declaration of trust in the instrument of acquisition (Clarke v Meadus)

  • Reported-Cases

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      • Keay v Morris Homes [2012] 1 WLR 2855 (CA) - operation of section 2, Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989
      • Perrins v Holland [2011] Ch 270 (CA)- testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval, and the rule in Parker v Felgate (1883)
      • Clarke v Meadus [2011] 1 P&CR DG18(Ch D) - proprietary estoppel, whether precluded because the claimant was party to an express declaration of trust in the purchase deed
      • Wickens v Cheval Property Development [2011] 1 P&CR DG9 (Ch D)- obligations concerning and passing of risk in fixtures and fittings in contract for the sale of land
      • R (Grimsby Institute) v Chief Executive of Skills Funding [2010] 3 EGLR 125 (Admin) – Education; Grant application to public body; Implied representations; Public body ran out of sufficient funds to award grant; Legitimate expectation
      • Bovis Homes v Persimmon Homes [2010] NPC 108 (CA)- construction and fulfillment of condition precedent on valuable put option
      • Cobbetts LLP v Hodge [2010] 1 BCLC 30 (Ch D) – Solicitors; Fiduciary obligations within firm and to client; Secret profits
      • Salvage Wharf v G&S Brough [2010] Ch 11 (CA) - Rights of Light and the Prescription Act 1832
      • R (Butler) v HM Coroner for the Black Country [2010] Inquest LR 50 (Admin) – Coroners; Inquest; Unlawful killing; Permissible verdicts; Scope of evidence proposed to be admitted; Conduct; Recusal
      • Ali v Kahn [2009] WTLR 187 (CA) - trusts, co-ownership and the presumption of advancement
      • 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
      • Wrexham AFC v Crucialmove [2008] 1 BCLC 508 (CA) -Directors’ conflict of interest; breach of fiduciary duties; whether bad faith precluded award of summary judgment
      • El-Farargy v El-Farargy [2007] 3 FCR 711 (CA) - Administration of justice; Bias; Conduct; Judges; Recusal
      • South Oxon DC v SITA UK [2007] Env LR 13 (Comm)- Waste management; Contract with Local Authority; Breach; Default notices; Repudiation
      • Mainstream Properties v Young [2005] IRLR 964 (CA) - Directors’ breach of fiduciary duty and taking advantage of corporate opportunities; third party liability for inducing same
      • 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
      • Moffat v Burges Salmon [2004] PNLR 13 (CA) - Professional negligence; Solicitors; Limitation; Loss of opportunity; Admissibility and relevance of judgment and order in earlier trial
      • Commission for the New Towns v JJ Gallagher [2003] 2 P&CR 3 (Ch D)- Highways, Presumptions, Inclosure Acts, Rights of Way
      • 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 CiroCitterio 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
      • CiroCitterio 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
      • Al-Naimi v Islamic Press Agency [2000] 1 Lloyds’s Rep 522 (CA) - Arbitration clauses; Case management; JCT standard form; Stay of proceedings
      • Esprit Telecom v Fashion Gossip [2000] All ER (D) 1090 (CA) - Unjust enrichment and conspiracy to deceive; Alleged misuse of premium rate telephone system; Summary judgment
      • 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
      • JJ Dent and ors v National Farmers Union [1999] The Independent July 5 (Ch D) - 7 week trial of 10 lead cases in a group action by c.130 farmers against their union for negligent advice concerning ECJ limitation periods (with various solicitor defendants too in a number of the cases)
      • Re Ross (A Bankrupt) [1998] 1 BCLC 56 (CA) - Action by trustee in bankruptcy; Tomlin order; Whether the bankrupt bound by the stay
      • Griffiths v WE & DT Cave Ltd (1998) 78 P&CR 8 (CA)- Options, valuation, open market value
      • Re A Company ex parte P [1997] 2 BCLC 1 (Ch D) - Minority shareholder’s petition; Company already subject to a written shareholders’ agreement; Whether petition an abuse of process
      • Daniel Reeds v EmEss Chemists [1995] CLC 1405 (CA) - Claim on warranties on a share sale agreement
      • IDC Group v Clark (1993) 65 P&CR 179 (CA)– Right of escape in the event of fire, easement or licence
      • Wheeler v Leicester City Council [1985] AC 1054 (HL) – Administrative Law; Local authorities' powers and duties; Amateur sports club; Public interest; Sports facilities; Wednesbury unreasonable decision in support of anti-apartheid campaign
      • Sutton v Sutton [1984] Ch 184 (Ch D) - enforceability of interests arising from part performed oral contract; public policy etc
      • West Bromwich Building Society v Townsend [1983] ICR 257 (QBDC) - Health and safety at work; improvement notice; requirement to erect bandit screens to protect tellers from armed robbers; whether reasonably practicable

  • 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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