James is the national head of Shoosmiths’ Corporate Restructuring and Advisory department.
James specialises in acting for corporates, company directors, insolvency practitioners, private equity holders, banks and asset based lenders on all matters in relation to business restructuring, distressed lending and corporate insolvency.
James has extensive experience and is particularly well regarded in relation to business restructurings and insolvencies within the retail sector. James is known as one of the industry’s leading lawyers when it comes to securing CVAs and advising in respect of administrations for a wide range of high profile retail businesses. In the last few years, James has been involved in over 20 high profile retail CVAs and administrations. These include, Monsoon Accessorize (administration), Cath Kidston (administration), Harveys and Bensons for Beds (administration), Poundstretcher (CVA), UK Window Group Limited (administration), Select Fashion (CVA and subsequent administration and a further CVA) and Regis UK (trading as Supercuts) (CVA). In addition, James’ notable experience includes the following:
- advising the purchaser of the brand and intellectual property of Oasis/Warehouse;
- advising the administrators of T.M Lewin & Sons Limited;
- advising the administrators of Office Outlet (formerly the business known as Staples);
- advising the administrators of Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited, a company of significant strategic importance within the aviation industry with circa 800 employees, carrying out the maintenance, repair and overhaul of commercial airplanes primarily out of Birmingham and Luton airports; and
- advising in connection with the acquisition by Karen Millen of part of the business and assets of Coast from its administrators, including advising in connection with the structuring of the transaction to minimize risk, securing the ongoing employment for over 600 employees.
James also has significant experience in challenges brought to the validity of retail CVAs, having taken a leading role in both defending and bringing such actions in respect of the most recent leading cases on retail CVAs.
James Keates was the winner of Corporate Restructuring Lawyer of the year at the National Turnaround and Insolvency Awards in 2018 and is recognised in the Legal 500 “Hall of Fame” for “receiving constant praise” from his clients “for continued excellence” and for being “at the pinnacle of his profession”.