James Goudie KC

Professional Summary

Called 1970 Appointed KC 1984

Contact Details

E T +44 (0)20 7632 8500 Clerk Michael Smith Clerk Thomas Belcher Clerk Jake Foote 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 KC has been Head of Chambers since 1997, alongside Daniel Stilitz KC.


Commercial / Arbitration & Mediation

James is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He is experienced both as an   Arbitrator and appearing as Counsel in arbitrations and mediations. He appears in the Commercial Court, the Technology and Construction Court, the Chancery and Queen’s Bench Divisions and Tribunals.


He has been highly experienced over many years in the wide range of employment cases, both in the High Court and above and in appeals from Employment Tribunals, with particular expertise in contract disputes, TUPE, pensions, all aspects of discrimination law, jurisdictional issues, collective disputes, various kinds of injunctions, and ECHR law.

Recent case;

Melki v Bouygues E&S Contracting UK Ltd
[2024] EAT 36
Change to EAT Rules applies to pending as well as future proceedings

Guardian News and Media v Rozanov
[2022] EAT 12; [2022] ICR 973; [2022] IRLR 482
An employment tribunal had been wrong to refuse a journalist access to copies of skeleton arguments, witness statements and trial bundle documents that had been referred to in a hearing which he had not attended.


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 judicial review cases.  He is a Past Chair of the Administrative Law Bar Association.

Recent cases include London Borough of Merton Council (Appellant) v Nuffield Health (Respondent) [2023] UKSC 18; SC, June 7 2023; [2023] 3 WLR 13 on rating relief for charities, Chilldara Group Holdings Ltd v West Northamptonshire Council [2023] EWHC 1675 (Admin) (05 July 2023) on local authority land disposals, R (Stride) v Wiltshire Council (2022) EWHC 1476 ( Admin ) on whether exclusion of public from Cabinet Meeting was unlawful and Westminster City Council v Sports and Leisure Management Ltd (2021) EWHC 114 (TCC) – contractual allocation of risk in respect of losses under leisure services contract arising from covid-19 change in law.


James is an Emeritus Governor of the London School of Economics. He has appeared in many important education cases, including on college transport, nursery education, and 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 and retained EU Law generally.

Health & Community Care

James has appeared in many cases related both to the NHS and to community care,  including R (F) v Buckinghamshire County Council (2019) EWHC 1817 (Admin) on closure of children’s centres and consultation.

Recent cases include R (Lancashire County Council) v SoS for Health and Social Care (2021) EWHC 268 (Admin), (2021) 24 CCLR 57, dispute between two local authorities as to which of them had responsibility for funding accommodation for an individual who had suffered brain damage.

Human Rights

James’ practice extends to the European Court of Human Rights.

Information, Media & Privacy Law

James is a former President of the National Security Panel of the Data Protection and Information Tribunal. He represented the then Information Commissioner before the Bichard Inquiry on data processing issues arising out of the Soham Murders, and acted for the Commissioner in the High Court in the case over MP’s expenses. He deals not only with data protection but also with environmental and other information requests, freedom of expression, privacy and confidentiality.

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. Recent cases include London Borough of Merton Council (Appellant) v Nuffield Health (Respondent) [2023] UKSC 18 on rating relief for charities, Chilldara Group Holdings Ltd v West Northamptonshire Council [2023] EWHC 1675 (Admin) (05 July 2023) on local authority land disposals, Williams v Caerphilly Council (2020) EWCA Civ 296, CA, March 3 2020, [2020] PTSR 1130 on local authority decision making, R (Peters) v Haringey LBC [2018] HLR 33; [2018] PTSR 1359; [2018] WLR (D) 74;(2018) EWHC 192 (Admin) on vires, R (Whitstable Society) v Canterbury City Council (2017) EWHC 254 ( Admin ) on land disposal, R ( Hussain) v Sandwell MBC [2017] WLR (D) 438; [2018] PTSR 142; (2017) EWHC 1641 (Admin) on standards, and R (Liverpool City Council) v SoS [2017] PTSR 1564; [2017] WLR (D) 314; (2017) EWHC 986 (Admin) on central government funding of  new burdens on local authorities.

Procurement & State Aid


James has acted in numerous public procurement cases and is a much sought after source of advice on all public procurement issues. His recent cases include Ocean Outdoor UK Ltd v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC [2019] WLR (D) 555; [2020] 2 All ER (Comm) 213; [2020] 2 All ER 966; (2019) EWCA Civ 1642, [2020] PTSR 639, the leading case on concession contracts and the land exemption.

State Aid/Subsidy Control

James has acted throughout the Ricoh Arena saga, R (Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council, No. 1 on a loan, and No.2, on a lease extension, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, the leading cases on State Aid and the Market Economy Investor Principle, now embodied in the Subsidy Control Act 2022.


Chambers & Partners

“James Goudie KC is able to deliver clear, firm and unequivocal advice on very complicated matters.”

“He has an agile mind, balancing the strategic and the granular in equal measure. He has an uncanny knack of reading the room, and he is always accessible to practitioners and clients alike.”

“James is absolutely excellent. He gives fine technical advice, and more importantly, that advice is set in a commercial context which clients appreciate.”

“James is as approachable as he is knowledgeable and experienced. He is a pleasure to work with, and engenders huge confidence.”

“James has stacks of knowledge and experience.”

“He is the leading KC for local government advice. Mr Goudie has a wonderful ability to provide advice in a clear and uncompromising fashion.”

“He is incredibly thorough and very eloquent and effective as an advocate.”

“A lawyer with an exceptional knowledge base, whose work drive is incredible and whose advice is of the highest quality.”

“He has an excellent grasp of the issues, both technical and commercial, and provides clear and definitive advice that allows the client to make decisions with confidence.”

“He is seriously impressive and an acknowledged expert on local authorities.”

“He can talk to the courts with precision and concision.”

“He does an exceptional job.”

“Very knowledgeable.”

“A walking encyclopedia.”

“Incredibly experienced and clients really love him”

“Fantastic for administrative law work – a brain on a stick”

“He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law and an authoritative presence both in and out of court”

“He gives thorough, pragmatic, prompt and solutions-oriented advice”

“He takes a pragmatic and assertive view in cases and is very articulate”

“He is a fount of knowledge and has the ear of the court”

“Excellent at coming up with positive solutions”

“He’s incredibly responsive and client-focused”


Legal 500

“James is the golden eagle of the London Bar – a rare combination of forensic analysis and encyclopaedic knowledge, while never losing sight of the bigger picture. His breadth of specialism is astonishing, and he maintains the common touch – leaving an impression with clients and lawyers of all levels of experience. Very assured at tribunal – takes no prisoners.”

“His knowledge and experience are abundantly clear, and this no doubt contributes to his ability to provide not only technically astute advice, but also practical guidance on how best to approach a particular issue. He is approachable and responsive”

“He displays an ease of communication coupled with an excellence and mastery of the subject matter, however diverse. A dream to work with.”

“A brilliant strategist, combining a sharp eye for detail with an innate sense for what matters – and what doesn’t. James can turn instructions around within days and sometimes hours, possessing a ferocious appetite for work, he immediately wins the confidence of clients, and is never wrong-footed”

“A brilliant, versatile silk. He is able to explain complex concepts simply in clear, concise advice”

“Detailed knowledge across a broad range of local authority law and presents it in a clear way with no extraneous advice”

“Very client-focused and with impressive turnaround times”

“A very practical and formidable advocate. Clearly knowledgeable on the area but also understands the clients objectives and the need for clear, positive, and confident advice”

“Mr Goudie KC was friendly and approachable with expert knowledge of the area, able to distil legal complexities into easily understood language. His recall and detail is extremely impressive. He is measured and precise with his advice which enables informed decision making”

“He is very practical and provides formidable advocacy”

“The go-to specialist on local government law”

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

“Has a comprehensive understanding of the interface between public and procurement law”

“He is very knowledgeable, approachable and gives clear advice.”

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

“The font of all local government knowledge”

“His insight into local government regulation is invaluable”

“Extremely knowledgeable and effective in communicating with clients”

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


Who’s Who Legal

“A longstanding figure who is endorsed by market sources for his encyclopaedic understanding of domestic and EU public procurement law as well as state aid matters”


James is a Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple and has been a Deputy High Court Judge. 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) (7th Edition 2024, Supplement 2019)
  • Contributes chapters to Tolley’s annual 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.

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


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 KC

VAT Number: GB 243973932

Legal Status: Sole Practitioner

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