James Goudie QC

Professional Summary

Called 1970 Appointed QC 1984

Contact Details

E T +44 (0)20 7632 8500 Clerk Tom Street Clerk Christopher Smith E

James is a very experienced senior silk with a broad practice in and out of Court. He is highly reputed both as an advocate and for his advice. He covers the entire field of 11KBW practice, especially acting for and against clients operating in and with the public sector. James is listed as a Leading Silk in Administrative and Public Law, Education, Employment, Local Government and Public Procurement in Chambers and Partners and Legal 500. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Chambers & Partners Bar Awards.

James Goudie QC has been Head of Chambers since 1997, alongside Daniel Stilitz QC.



James is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He is experienced both as an Arbitrator and appearing as Counsel in arbitrations. In the Courts he has recently conducted cases relating to guarantees, insurance and partnerships. A large part of his practice relates to contract procurement.


James has been highly experienced over many years in the wide range of employment cases, both in the High Court and on appeal from Employment Tribunals, with particular expertise in contract disputes, in TUPE, and in all aspects of discrimination law.


Public, administrative and constitutional law is James’ main area of practice. He is co-editor of a leading textbook on judicial review and has appeared in very many of the major cases, including Misick v The Queen (2015) 1 WLR 3215 on constitutional guarantees. He is a Past Chair of the Administrative Law Bar Association.

Media & Privacy

James is a former President of the National Security Panel of the Information Rights Tribunal. He handles both information requests and data protection issues.


James is a Member of the Oxford University Appeal Court and an Emeritus Governor of the London School of Economics. He has appeared in many important education cases, most recently Staffordshire Council v JM (2016) ELR 307 on college transport, R (Morris) v Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC (2015) ELR 559 on nursery education, and R (London Oratory School) v The Schools Adjudicator (2015) ELR 335 on admission criteria.

European Union

James is a Past Chair of the Bar European Group. He is heavily involved not only with public procurement, competition and State Aid, but also with EU aspects of environmental and employment law.

Health & Community Care

James has appeared in many cases related both to the NHS and to community care, including R (National Association of Foster Providers) v Bristol City Council (2015) EWHC 3615 (Admin), and R (L & P) v Warwickshire County Council (2015) LGR 81.

Human Rights

James’ cases at the European Court of Human Rights include Fazia Ali v UK, Judgment on 20 October 2015, on what constitutes a “civil right” for ECHR Article 6 purposes.


James deals with issues both relating to freedom of information generally and environmental information specifically.

Recent cases include Hussain v Sandwell MBC (2017) EWHC 1641 (Admin), [2017] ACD 97 on data protection.

Local Government

James has been nicknamed “the Godfather of Local Government”. He was the Leader of a London Borough. Very recent cases include
R (Liverpool City Council) v SoS (2017) EWHC 986 (Admin) on central government funding of new burdens on local authorities. R (Plant) v Lambeth LBC (2016) EWHC 3324 (Admin) on consultation and R (Derbyshire County Council) v Barnsley etc. Combined Authority (2016) EWHC 3355 (Admin) on local government reorganisation.

Mediation & Arbitration

James sits both as a sole arbitrator and as a member of an arbitral panel, as well as advocating at commercial and other arbitrations.

Procurement & State Aid

James has acted throughout in the Ricoh Arena saga, R (Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council (2016) EWCA Civ 453, on State Aid and the Market Economy Investor Principle, and in numerous public procurement cases. He is a much sought after source of advice on all public procurement issues.

Recent Cases

Peters v Haringey LBC
[2018] EWHC 192 (Admin), [2018] PTSR 1359, Admin Ct, February 8 2018
Circumstances in which a local authority might be said to be acting for a “commercial purpose”.

Ocean v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC
6 day trial, May 2018, whether concession contract or land transaction, fair procedures.

R (Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council
(2016) EWCA Civ 453 and Supreme Court (No 1), loan, and November 2017 and May 2018, Court of Appeal, (No 2), lease extension.


“An expert in education and public law.” Chambers and Partners

“A true expert in his field” who is “capable of giving swift, clear and user-friendly advice.” Chambers and Partners

“An excellent advocate and a great strategic thinker. He wins the confidence of the most demanding clients.” Chambers and Partners

“He is a go-to barrister for local government law and gives clear, pragmatic advice on difficult issues.” Chambers and Partners

“He provides very helpful advice with an amazingly fast turnaround times.” Chambers and Partners

“The recognised local authority guru.” Chambers and Partners

“The go-to specialist on local government law” Legal 500

“Pre-eminent in his field and client-friendly” Legal 500

“James is very knowledgeable and impressive in his advice on education matters.” Chambers and Partners

“Incredibly knowledgeable about local government and judicial review. He’s very bright and shows superb judgement in running a case. James is a brilliant draftsman who is excellent on his feet in court.” Chambers and Partners

“A leading authority on procurement who is extremely accessible to both the instructing solicitor and the client – he goes go out of his way to make himself available to assist.” Chambers and Partners

“He’s a first-rate QC who’s responsive, clear and user-friendly.” Chambers and Partners

“He is very knowledgeable, approachable and give clear advice.” Legal 500

“He is very clever, immensely knowledgeable on judicial reviews and has superb judgement.” Legal 500

“Has a comprehensive understanding of interface between public and procurement law.” Legal 500

“It is an absolute pleasure to watch the quality of his advocacy. He just has such a command of the court, the papers and the whole process.” Chambers and Partners

“He is immensely knowledgeable and he has superb judgement.” Chambers and Partners

“A lovely man who is very knowledgeable and deeply respected by practitioners and the courts alike.” Chambers and Partners

“Still the recognised local authority guru. Swift and incisive comments, always recognising the clients’ objectives.” Chambers and Partners

“He just knows everything there is to know.” Chambers and Partners

“He is one of the leading experts in the field, and a barrister who understands client objectives very well.” Chambers and Partners

“Extremely knowledgeable and effective in communicating with clients” Legal 500

“Superb judgement and immense knowledge of judicial review” Legal 500

“He has a good tactical judgement and knows how to pitch his argument.” Legal 500

“James is simply top drawer; he is charming, easy-going, hugely intelligent and massively capable.”

“Can handle pretty much anything.”

“A hard hitter, who always makes eminently sensible contributions to a case.”

“One of the gurus of public law work, he has a tremendous understanding of the subject and is tremendous to work with.”

“He is very brief, concise, very authoritative and very clear. When you deal with him, you listen more than you talk because he knows his stuff so well. If you want clarity and authority, he is the man to go to.” Chambers and Partners

“Courts love him. He has everything at his fingertips.” Chambers and Partners

He is a well-known authority who delivers on his reputation. He has real gravitas and a direct and punchy advocacy style.” Chambers and Partners

“He is the weapon of choice for us on high-profile civil matters, he is immensely approachable and puts you at ease.” Chambers and Partners

“Extensive experience in the field” Legal 500

“His analysis is always brilliant, and the way he communicates it is great, because any non-lawyer who picks up his opinion clearly understands what the key issues are” Chambers and Partners

“A very knowledgeable and eloquent advocate who is well respected by the judges.” Chambers and Partners

“Technically excellent, well respected and someone who makes himself available at short notice.” Chambers and Partners

“His insight into local government regulation is invaluable” Legal 500

“The font of all local government knowledge”  Legal 500

“He is formidable.” Chambers and Partners

“He is very impressive. He puts the client at ease. He delivers tough messages with clarity and reasoned thought. It makes our clients’ job much easier.”   Chambers and Partners

“A man with a great intellect who has a real gift for providing straightforward, user-friendly advice on complicated problems” Chambers and Partners

“He stands out due to his technical knowledge and years of experience of handling highly sensitive issues of public interest” Chambers and Partners

“His significant contributions in the field have earned him the nickname of ‘Godfather of local government”. Chambers and Partners

“A very distinguished leader in the field.” Chambers and Partners

“He knows everything and he will articulate it in a way that is always helpful. Very responsive, and the advice he provides is extremely practical.” Chambers and Partners


James is a Deputy High Court Judge and a Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple. He is a member of the Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in its Antigua and Barbuda and of British Virgin Islands jurisdictions. He has been admitted ad hoc to the Bars of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Malawi, Northern Ireland and Singapore. He is a former Chairman of the Law Reform Committee of the Bar Council.

News, Articles & Publications

In addition to numerous articles, publications include:

  • Supperstone, Goudie and Walker on Judicial Review (co-editor and contributor of chapter on Bias) (6th Edition 2017)
  • Butterworths Local Government Law (co-editor and contributor of chapter on Capital Finance) (1998)
  • Local Authorities and the Human Rights Act (co-editor and contributor of chapter on Environmental Pollution and Nuisance) (1999)
  • Formerly contributed chapters to Tolley’s Employment Handbook

Supperstone, Goudie and Walker on Judicial Review was described by Lord Woolf as a “leading textbook” in R v Home Secretary, ex p Jeyeanthan [2000] 1 WLR 354 at 360C and has been reviewed as ‘the leading textbook in the field’, ‘wide in scope’, ‘rich in detail and authoritative in expression’, with ‘contributors superbly qualified for the task’, providing a ‘thorough, detailed analysis’ and ‘essential account’ and being an ‘essential’ reference volume.

Was Consultant Editor of the Local Government Reports; edited Audit Commission Act 1998 for Current Law Statutes; and is on the Editorial Board of “Judicial Review”.


LLB (Hons) London University (London School of Economics) 1963.

Solicitors’ Finals (with distinction in Commercial Law) 1966.


Regulatory Information

All members of Chambers are registered with the Bar Stardards Board of England and Wales. For general terms and conditions on which services are provided - click here

Professional title: Barrister

Full name (as registered with Bar Standards Board of England and Wales): James Goudie QC

VAT Number: GB 243973932

Legal Status: Sole Practitioner

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