Civil Fraud

James has extensive experience of dealing with fraudulent claims in both the civil and criminal jurisdictions.

He has acted as junior to Patrick Harrington QC in a number of criminal matters involving allegations of fraud of the utmost severity ranging from the attempted bribery of a Local Authority Chief Executive to an alleged conspiracy to avoid the multi-million pound reinstatement of open cast mining sites.

The overwhelming majority of James’ work is though in the civil sphere where he represents Defendant insurers in a wide variety of cases involving allegations of fraud and which has resulted in him being ranked in the Legal 500.

James has particular experience and expertise in the use of surveillance evidence.   He appeared on behalf of the successful Defendant insurer in the High Court case of Stewart v Kelly (2016) EWHC 3263 (Blake J) dealing with the, often difficult, issue of when to disclose surveillance evidence.

James represented the successful Defendant insurer in the High Court trial of Atkinson v Pathak (2015) EWHC 1120 (Robert Owen QC) where the forensic use of surveillance evidence at trial resulted in the Claimant failing to beat an historic Part 36 offer.

James is also vastly experienced in advising on and drafting allegations of fraud and/or fundamental dishonesty whether in Defences or Counter schedules.

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Notable Cases

Atkinson v Pathak (2015) EWHC 1120
James was instructed by the Defendant insurer to defend a claim involving a Claimant who had been working as a self-employed gardener when in December 2009 the First Defendant -insured by the Second Defendant- had negligently run over his left foot when mounting the pavement in the course of doing a U-turn. The Claimant sought a total award of damages in excess of £600,000.

Szura v Dixey
Represented a Claimant injured in an rta who alleged that she sustained a moderate brain injury. This was hotly disputed by the experts (Neurologists, Psychiatrists and Neuro-Psychologists) and was heard over a five day High Court trial before HH Judge Forster QC sitting as a High Court Judge. The issue was determined in the Claimant's favour and quantum was settled. The case was one of the first in the High Court (indeed in any court) to involve experts giving evidence concurrently ('hot tubbing').

Cass DA v (1) C & C Plumbing & Heating (Southern) Ltd (2) C & C Carpentry Services Ltd (3) Bellway Homes Ltd
Successfully represented a Defendant in a claim arising out of a fall through a roof on a construction site that was heard over a number of days before HH Judge Moloney QC. The claim involved complicated questions of engineering evidence relating to the building methods and materials used.

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Thompson F v Asphaltic Roofing Supplies Ltd
Successfully represented a Defendant in a claim where it was alleged that a hydraulic arm had malfunctioned and injured the Claimant. The matter was heard before HHJ Hand QC and involved lengthy and technical expert engineering evidence.

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If you would like to instruct James Pretsell or would like help or advice in doing so, please call and talk to our excellent clerking team, led by Chief Executive/Director of Clerking, Paul Cray. Our phone number is +44 (0)20 7583 9241. Alternatively, please email us at

For more information about our clerking team, please click here for the clerks page.

Appointments & Memberships

  • Chairman of the Appeals Tribunal of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain
  • Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers
  • British Association for Sport & Law
  • Employment Law Bar Association
  • Personal Injury Bar Association

Education & Qualifications

  • Karmel Scholar & Prince of Wales Scholar, Gray’s Inn
  • BVC (with Distinction in Advocacy), Inns of Court School of Law
  • Dip Law (Commendation), City University
  • BA in French & Philosophy (First Class), University of Bristol

Directory Quotes

He has a wonderfully relaxed manner with clients which makes him very reassuring.’
Legal 500


Personal Interests

James interests include playing for and now supporting London Welsh, cycling, skiing and cricket.