James Fletcher

Year of Call: 2000

"He has a first-class analytical mind, and is able to assimilate and consider huge volumes of detailed material. He's a great advocate who shows diligence throughout and is great in terms of preparing skeleton arguments."

Chambers and Partners 2015 for POCA Work & Asset Forfeiture

Our specialist clerks can be contacted by email on clerks@5sah.co.uk or phone on 020 7332 5400. To contact our Chambers Director directly in relation to a specific members’ practice, please email dscothern@5sah.co.uk


James practises in both civil and criminal law. He is a specialist in Asset Recovery and Proceeds of Crime work. He has significant expertise in dealing with Account Freezing and Forfeiture applications. He is instructed on behalf of businesses, by individual members of the public and by Government departments. This year he has acted for both the HMRC and the NCA in their first contested applications for Account Forfeiture Orders, assisted a client to obtain the return of sums frozen pursuant to an Account Freezing Order and provided advice to a foreign national on Unexplained Wealth Orders.
He has been featured in Chambers and Partners in the field of Proceeds of Crime and Asset Forfeiture work (all circuits) since 2014 and has been “Top Ranked” since 2016.

"He's very good and very practical."

Chambers and Partners 2020.

 ‘ A very persuasive advocate in court. ’

Legal 500 2020.

James is ranked as a tier 2 leading individual in the Legal 500 for POCA and asset forfeiture (London Bar). He is also ranked in Who's Who at the UK Bar (2017 & 2018 Edition) in the field of criminal fraud work. 

Additional information


Direct Public Access

James is qualified to receive instructions directly from members of the public.  He is qualified to conduct litigation. Recent cases include:

  • Advising on Restraint Proceedings.
  • Advising on third party intervention at confiscation.

Professional Panel Appointments

  • “A” panel for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). 
  • Attorney General's "B" list of panel advocates for civil litigation.
  • Grade 3 Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
  • CPS specialist list for Proceeds of Crime: Grade 3.
  • CPS specialist list for Fraud and Serious Crime: Grade 3.

"James is very hard-working, bright and very pragmatic in his approach. He is also good at thinking outside the box." 

Chambers and Partners 2019.

Professional Memberships

  • Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association.
  • Fraud Lawyers Association.
  • International Bar Association.
  • Cybercrime Lawyers Association.

Immigration + View All Specialist Areas

James accepts immigration instructions and regularly appears in the Upper Tribunal and other Courts in relation to Judicial Review.

Cases of Note

NCA v Vlad Filat (appeared for NCA in first contested AFO)

Appeared for the NCA in their first contested application for Account Forfeiture Orders. The Court ordered forfeiture of approximately £500,000 in three accounts held in the name of Vlad Filat, the son of the ex-Moldovan prime minister who was found guilty in 2016 of bribery and corruption offences arising out of his role in the disappearance of 1 billion USD from three Moldovan banks. The Court found the balances derived from the father’s corruption also considered that the bank account funds derived from money laundering.

R v Tom Hayes [2018] 1 WLR 5060.

The proper approach to making a tainted gifts finding.

R v Contogoulas & Others

Successful defence of a former Barclays US Swaps trader accused of dishonest manipulation of the LIBOR interest rate benchmark between 2005 and 2007. Led by John Ryder QC (6 KBW College Hill). After a three month case in 2016 where the jury were unable to return verdicts, Mr Contogoulas was acquitted in a re-trial in 2017.

Operation Bitterling

£1.2m VAT fraud conducted by two Indian restaurants over an 8 year period.

Operation Airbrick

Leading junior in a £14m money Laundering case where part of the money was laundered through an alcohol trading company.

Operation Thornback

A multi defendant case where the defendants distributed and sold non duty paid cigarettes across the UK.

R (on the Application of Chaudhary) v Bristol Crown Court [2015] EWHC Admin 723

Costs in section 59 cases. Search warrants

R (on the Application of Chaudhary) v Bristol Crown Court [2014] EWHC Admin 4096

A challenge to the lawfulness of a search warrant issued by the Crown Court must be made to the High Court by way of judicial review.

R (On Application of Bavi) v Snaresbrook Crown Court [2013] EWHC 4015

Mental health issues in cash forfeiture case.