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 is particularly well regarded, and has extensive experience, 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 for a wide range of high profile retail businesses. In the last 3½ years, James has been involved in over 15 retail CVAs. Over the last 18 months, these include, Monsoon Accessorize, Select Fashion and Regis UK (trading as Supercuts). In addition, James has been the lead advisor in connection with the following cases:

  • the administration of Office Outlet (formerly the business known as Staples);
  • 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; and
  • the administration 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.

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”.


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