James Beaton
Partner, Sydney
I regularly advise clients on how to manage commercial disputes and contentious compliance and regulatory issues. My expertise covers funds management and trust disputes, fraud, contractual disputes, insolvency and reconstruction, anti–money laundering issues, and anti-corruption compliance and enforcement.

Although I often act for clients in contested court proceedings, I also advise on out-of-court risk and regulatory matters. I guide my clients through stressful regulatory investigations and help them manage risks to their brand and reputation.

I was the solicitor assisting a high profile Royal Commission, so I understand complex public inquiries and how to operate under intense media and political scrutiny.

Career highlights

  • Acting for a number of financial services institutions in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry 
  • Australian Government – retained as the solicitor assisting the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, working on every aspect of the Commission, from its establishment to the conduct of its investigations and hearings, and the preparation of the Commissioner’s report and recommendations
  • A leading financial institution – managed the response to an Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation into the collapse of the Storm Financial group and subsequent litigation
  • A leading financial institution – acted in response to an ASIC investigation into suspected insider trading
  • A leading financial institution – responded to an ASIC investigation concerning compliance with the National Credit Code
  • Optus – advised in contested Supreme Court proceedings against former employees for breach of their fiduciary duties
  • Basis Capital Funds Management – acted as the representative defendant for the ‘continuing investors’ in a failed investment management company, resulting in a watershed Supreme Court of NSW judgment determining the respective rights and entitlements of competing stakeholders in a ‘frozen’ fund
  • National Nominees Limited – served as the representative defendant of the non-redeeming ‘continuing investors’ in the ING Wholesale Enhanced Cash Trust
  • Challenger – appeared as the representative defendant for all investors in a court-sanctioned restructure of approximately $800 million in funding for Macquarie Airports
  • National Australia Bank and Deloitte – acted in relation to the collapse of the Rubicon group, and advised in relation to the successful sale of the debt owed by the Rubicon Europe Trust to a US hedge fund
  • Optus – assisted in relation to its exposure to Bill Express Limited (in liquidation), an electronic payments provider that had approximately 14,000 terminals around Australia and distributed Optus’s prepaid phone cards
  • TRACE – served as Australian counsel for the not-for-profit membership association, which pools resources to provide practical and cost-effective anti-bribery compliance solutions for multinational companies and their commercial intermediaries

Awards and Recognition

  • Recommended, Litigation - Best Lawyers: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • Recognised Practitioner, Anti-Bribery and Corruption – Chambers Asia Pacific: 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Recommended, Alternative Dispute Resolution - Best Lawyers: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • Recommended, Insolvency and Reorganisation - Best Lawyers: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • James Beaton 'heads up the national dispute resolution group and significantly contributes to the team's ability to handle regulatory investigations and commissions of inquiry'- Asia Pacific Legal 500: 2020