Clients appreciate his ability to "ensure everything is all joined up."
James Keates heads up Shoosmiths’ corporate restructuring and advisory practice, positioning himself as one of the industry’s go-to lawyers when it comes to retail CVAs while taking an innovative cutting-edge approach to the process itself. His work has seen him inducted into the Hall of Fame in The Legal 500 directory, and is Band 1 in Chambers. He was also named Corporate Restructuring Lawyer of the Year at the industry’s highly prestigious Tri Awards.
In the past year alone, James has led on many company voluntary agreements for high-profile retail businesses including Supercuts (220 retail outlets) Office Outlet (formerly Staples) (95 retail outlets), Select Fashion (183 retail outlets) and Fuel Juice Bars (28 retail outlets) in connection with its successful CVA proposals. James also advised Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited in connection with its highly complex restructuring, culminating with its successful CVA. He also advised Karen Millen on its partial-purchase of struggling Coast Fashion, and regularly advises major high street lenders, asset based lenders and company directors in connection with all restructuring related matters.
Each of these CVAs resulted in the successful restructuring of these well-known high street chains, saving them millions of pounds and thousands of jobs in the process.
As part of this, James has led on the formation of a new CVA model, one which has led to new clients seeking us out for their own business needs – and has also seen an increased number of insolvency practitioners coming to us with instructions and introductions.
The new model has introduced innovative and ground-breaking ideas/terms into the CVA proposals of those retailers, such as creating new categories of unsecured creditors, as well as negotiating new terms for future business rates (not just their arrears) - particularly pertinent given the recent large business rates increases. This model has allowed our clients to compromise down much more than just their liabilities to landlords (these ideas/terms have been signed off by a barrister as not being susceptible to a successful challenge for unfair prejudice or a material irregularity).
James has also been involved in actively engaging with the British Property Federation in connection with the various CVA proposals that they have been working on, with a view to encouraging an open and transparent engagement with key creditors in a CVA process.
James has built up a market reputation for being the go to person in providing legal advice in relation to CVAs having worked on more than any other firm in the market.
He is also advising BDO LLP in connection with a large, high value and extremely complex litigation matter, arising following the insolvency of a well-known retailer. James and his team take an innovative and commercial approach, and as a result are involved in a number of other high profile restructurings in the UK.
Further, James is also recognised for his work with a number of well-known private equity houses in the distressed/turnaround sectors, including Rcapital, Hilco Capital, and Greybull Capital.