James Whittaker




James specialises in large-scale, complex litigation. He has particular expertise in class actions, white collar crime, governance of government-related entities, Royal Commissions and product liability.

As an executive partner of the firm, he has a market-leading position as a pre-eminent dispute resolution practitioner in Australia.

He has acted on some of Australia’s most contentious high profile, bet-the-company matters. He is regarded by his peers and clients alike as a leading practitioner and is admired for his strategic insight, commercial focus and common sense.

Key deals

Former Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)

Acting for David Ipp QC AO, former Supreme Court Judge and Justice of the Court of Appeal, and former Commissioner of ICAC, in Supreme Court proceedings alleging that in his role as Commissioner, Mr Ipp committed acts amounting to misfeasance and seeking to impute the ICAC reports, which found the Obeid family was corrupt. Recommended by the present Commonwealth Solicitor General to be retained by Mr Ipp. James also recently acted for former ICAC and former Commissioner Latham in other proceedings against ICAC in the Supreme of New South Wales.

Commonwealth of Australia

Recently represented the Commonwealth of Australia in proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW. Successfully defended 12 cases brought against the Commonwealth (Department of Defence) for gas exposure. Each matter was struck out.

Leighton’s Contractors Pty Limited

Advised in three related actions (including an A$250 million investor class action) brought in the Federal Court of Australia (in Sydney) arising out of the financial failure of the RiverCity Motorway Project (RCMP) in Brisbane. The core issue was whether the forecasting of traffic usage and toll charges for the Clem 7 tunnel (forming part of the RCMP) was deficient and, if so, who was to blame for it. James extricated the client from one of the three actions, representing A$2.2 billion of the potential exposure.

Investigation into Sydney University by Independent Commission Against Corruption

Presently acting for SNP in relation to a matter being heard by ICAC concerning the provision of security services to Sydney University.

Ford Class Action

Together with another partner, presently acting on behalf of the class in an action against Ford Australia concerning faulty transmissions in particular models of Ford Motor Vehicles. The action mirrors proceedings underway globally.

Parkerville Bushfire Class Action

James is also acting for Theiss Services in a class action arising from a bush fire following a transmission pole collapse in Western Australia in 2016.