James is ranked as a Leading Junior in Chambers & Partners UK Bar & Legal 500 UK Bar, receiving the following praise:

“He is an exceptional advocate who has become a military law specialist and displays skill and flair in this area also.”

“James Hay is comfortable both led and unled in a wide variety of matters. His matters also attract media attention, often involving homicides and serious sexual offences.”

“He is a wonderful junior who does a lot of research and prepares detailed advices for his clients”

“He has particular experience handling crime in a military context”

“He gets unexpected brilliant results and has a great rapport with his clients”

“Noted for his expert handling of a range of serious violence, firearms, and sexual assault cases”

“He demonstrates particular strength in defending cases involving allegations of dangerous driving”

“He’s excellent with clients”

“Has very good attention to detail”

“His style is appreciated by clients, the judiciary and juries.”

James’ practice encompasses all areas of Chambers’ criminal and quasi-criminal defence work in both the civilian courts and the Courts Martial, including allegations involving homicide, serious violence, firearms, drugs, sex, public order, dangerous dogs, dishonesty and Animal Welfare. James is instructed for the defence both as a leading junior and junior alone.

James has a particular interest in defending allegations of careless or dangerous driving, involving death, serious injury, or otherwise.

James is currently instructed to act for two of the Core Participants in the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry.

James prides himself on the service he provides to his professional and lay clients alike. He has recently received the following feedback from instructing solicitors:

a formidable work ethic, he has a great eye for detail; he is always meticulously prepared, he possesses a depth of knowledge of the issues in a case; provides excellent advocacy skills; is robust in the court room and maintains an excellent report and empathy with our clients and their families throughout.”

 “Each of the clients that James has represented has expressed nothing but the fullest gratitude and praise for the work he has done. Two related clients now insist that I instruct James if he is available.”

“Mr Hay …  has demonstrated skilful and technical cross examination on many previous occasions which has resulted in unexpectedly positive outcomes for our clients.”

 James completed pupillage at Lamb Building supervised by Andrew Selby KC, Jennifer Gray and Daniel Darnbrough.

Prior to joining Lamb Building, James worked for an in-house firm of solicitors at a multi-national financial services corporation.



Recorder: 2023



Bar Professional Training Course, Nottingham Law School (“Best Advocate” in year)

LLB (Hons), University of Exeter

Warwick School



Middle Temple
Criminal Bar Association
South Eastern Circuit Executive Committee
Sussex Bar Mess Junior
Health & Safety Lawyers Association
Association of Military Court Advocates Executive Committee


Further Professional Information


“Best Advocate” Prize – Highest Advocacy marks in year (Nottingham Law School)

B Montagu Award Major Scholarship (The Hon. Soc. of the Middle Temple)

OUP & BPP Law School National Universities Mooting Finalist (Oxford University Press)

Law School Prize for Contributions to Mooting and Advocacy (University of Exeter)

Lyonesse Law Society Moot Prize (University of Exeter)

Ede & Ravenscroft Moot Prize (University of Exeter)



Away from the law, James has played hockey at county and regional level, and is an avid real tennis player. He represents both the Bar Lawn Tennis Society and the Bar of England & Wales Cricket Club in international fixtures.


Practice Areas


Recent cases include:


R v NA – Youth acquitted after trial of Possession of Firearm (sawn-off shotgun) with Intent (St. Albans Crown Court)

R v LRW – Possession of Firearm with Intent & Assault charges – Defendant acquitted of shooting her ex-partner (Lewes Crown Court)

R v AH – Possession of Firearm with Intent to Endanger Life – avoided mandatory life-sentence (Lewes Crown Court)

R v LN – Possession of Firearm and Ammunition & Possession with Intent to Supply Class-A Drugs (Maidstone Crown Court)

R v MR – Possession of Firearm with Intent & Assault charges involving disposal under the Mental Health Act (Lewes Crown Court)

R v TL – Senior Aircraftman retained following early guilty pleas to Conduct Prejudicial charges following a negligent discharge of his sidearm causing serious risk to life whilst on active duty in Iraq (Catterick Military Court)

R v JS – Court Martial representing A/Cpl from Brize Norton accused of Negligent Performance of Duty as a result of going on leave without returning his SA80 Rifle (Catterick Military Court)

R v X – Leading Junior (leading Natalie Turner) before the Court Martial representing Guardsman accused of stealing to sell hundreds of items classified as Attractive to Criminals and Terrorist Organisations (“ACTO”); the matter being resolved after months of detailed expert opinion by a non-custodial sentence (Bulford Military Court)



 R v BD & Ors – Youth acquitted of multiple Conspiracies to Supply Class A drugs following a trial running a defence under s.45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Inner London Crown Court)

 R v AO & Ors – Junior-alone in the Westcountry’s first “County Lines” & Modern Slavery trial, where the defendant was acquitted of Arranging or Facilitating Travel with a view to Exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Truro Crown Court)

 R v BB & Anr – Junior-alone in an allegation of Arson Reckless as to whether Life was Endangered where the allegation was that the production of Butane Hash Oil recklessly caused an explosion resulting in millions of pounds of damage to a residential block of flats, also appearing on ITV’s Inside London Fire Brigade (Snaresbrook Crown Court)

R v ST & Ors – Led junior on an 8-week Conspiracy to Convey Listed Items into HMP Lewes (Lewes Crown Court)

R v TB & Ors – Led junior on 4-week Conspiracy to Produce Cannabis (Lewes Crown Court)

R v ZH – Supply Class A & B – 12 months’ custody for 26kg skunk cannabis on ‘courier’ basis (Kingston-Upon-Thames Crown Court)

R v LF – National Crime Agency case involving the Supply of 98% pure Class-A Drugs (Maidstone Crown Court)

R v KD & Ors – Representing Youth in multiple counts of Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs (“County Lines” case involving human trafficking issues under the Modern Slavery Act 2015) (Exeter Crown Court)

R v TD – Court Martial representing aircraftman accused of Being Concerned in the Supply of Class A drugs and breaching standing orders (Catterick Military Court)


Sexual Offences

 R v RY – Led by Andrew Selby KC (and later Alan Gardner KC) representing autistic defendant accused of multiple historic rapes (Oxford Crown Court)

 R v KY – Junior-alone defending 11-count indictment of domestic Rapes, Assault by Penetration, Voyeurism and Controlling & Coercive behaviour, where mobile phone footage had been taken of the Complainant asleep during the bulk of the sex-acts (Oxford Crown Court)

 R v JN – Youth accused of Raping of a 7-year-old boy (HCYC)

 R v SA – Defendant acquitted of multiple counts of Assault by Penetration, in what was described as a “possibly unique case” by the trial judge (Lewes Crown Court)

R v SK – Multiple counts of stranger-Rape (Isleworth Crown Court)

R v AM – Multiple counts of Assault by Penetration and attempted-Rape on 13-year-old complainant by a stranger (Winchester Crown Court)

R v AK – Taxi driver acquitted of Sexually Assaulting a passenger (Lewes Crown Court)

R v PM – Court Martial representing ex-serviceman acquitted of multiple historic sex offences said to have occurred over 30 years ago when posted in Germany (Bulford Military Court)

R v JD – Led by Andrew Selby KC (and later Justin Rouse KC) in multi-complainant allegation of historic Rape, Sexual Assaults and Child Cruelty. The case was of the utmost sensitivity given the very young age of the complainants at the time of the allegations, and involved complicated transgender and “false memory” issues. Defendant acquitted (Oxford Crown Court)

R v AA & Ors – Led by Justin Rouse KC representing first defendant accused of Raping, Torturing and Administering Noxious Substances to a young woman in Banbury (Oxford Crown Court)

R v TH – Court Martial representing young Sapper acquitted of raping a fellow soldier. The case attracted international media coverage (Bulford Military Court)

R v CG – Court Martial representing serviceman accused of Assault by Penetration at Sandhurst (Bulford Military Court)

R v AG – Court Martial representing RSM accused of sexual assault (Bulford Military Court)

R v JM – Court Martial representing signaller acquitted of Attempted Rape and Sexual Assault (Bulford Military Court)

R v SL – Court Martial representing REME Captain acquitted of allegation of sexually assaulting a Mess guest (Bulford Military Court)

R v JS – Court Martial representing Army Captain acquitted following cross-examination that led to the Complainant being investigated for perjury (Bulford Military Court)

R v MB – Court Martial representing Able Seaman aquitted of sexually assaulting a fellow serviceperson in the ‘scran queue’ (Bulford Military Court)

 R v LS – Court Martial representing RAF Air Specialist (Class 1) acquitted of a same-sex sexual assault allegation (Catterick Military Court)

R v JdS – Court Martial representing Airbourne Signaller acquitted of attempted-rape in Colchester (Catterick Military Court)



R v JE – Ongoing Murder instruction (Central Criminal Court)

 R v MM & Ors – 2-month Murder trial, representing first defendant, in what reported as the Banbury Valentine’s-Eve Murder led by Andrew Selby KC (Oxford Crown Court)

R v HI & Ors – Junior-alone representing Defendant in a 5-handed Conspiracy to commit Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent who was acquitted, having been initially investigated for Conspiracy to Murder (Wood Green Crown Court)

 R v CAH & Ors – Junior-alone representing the only Defendant acquitted in a 4-week six-handed Conspiracy to commit Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent on an indictment containing Attempted Murder and Blackmail allegations (Lewes Crown Court)

 R v JW & Ors – Multiple allegations of Grievous Bodily Harm & Throwing Corrosive Fluid with Intent to Cause Grievous Bodily Harm contrary to ss. 18 & 29 of the Offences Against the Person Act – led junior on 4-week multi-handed trial (Bournemouth Crown Court)

R v JN & Ors – Multi-handed trial involving multiple counts of Robbery, Assault and False Imprisonment (Snaresbrook Crown Court)

R v WS – Representing a Chinese Masters Student in s.18 Wounding with Intent & Controlling and Coercive Behaviour allegations (Snaresbrook Crown Court)

R v SV – Paratrooper accused of causing Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent and multiple assaults on superior officers (Bulford Military Court)

R v DB – Royal Logistics Corporal accused of Causing Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent (Cardiff Crown Court)

R v WM – Court Martial representing Welsh Guardsman accused of assaulting a member of the Household Cavalry (Bulford Military Court)

R v PC – 3-handed Court Martial representing member of the Mounted Household Cavalry accused of various public order offences arising from an incident outside the Corporals’ Club in the Falkland Islands. Acquitted of one charge after a successful half-time submission, and acquitted of the other by the Board (Bulford Military Court)



R v LM – Highly sensitive allegation of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving prosecuted by King’s Counsel (Winchester Crown Court)

R v LW – Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving (Lewes Crown Court)

 R v JD – Dangerous Driving involving a lengthy police chase – Guilty Plea – 9 months’ detention suspended (Luton Crown Court)

R v SW – Dangerous Driving & Witness Intimidation (Lewes Crown Court)

R v SO – Represented a professional footballer in a successful Appeal against a driving conviction (Harrow Crown Court)

R v LM – Instructed to represent defendant accused of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving (Winchester Crown Court)


Public Order

R v MK & Ors – Represented a professional footballer acquitted of Affray after an incident on a night out in London (Inner London Crown Court)

R v CD & Ors – Violent Disorder and Assaults at the Epsom Derby (Guildford Crown Court)

R v BK & Anr – Court Martial instructed to represent Gurkha Corporal in the Parachute Engineer Regiment for Threatening Behaviour during a series of incidents in Limassol, Cyprus (Catterick Military Court)



R v X – Ongoing instruction, leading Natalie Turner, before the Court Martial representing Guardsman accused of stealing to sell hundreds of items classified as Attractive to Criminals and Terrorist Organisations (“ACTO”) (Bulford Military Court)

R v BH & Ors – Representing only defendant acquitted after trial in major Birmingham Chinatown Money Laundering investigation by HMRC (Birmingham Crown Court)

 R v CT & Ors – 4-week four-handed money laundering, representing the first Defendant (Lewes Crown Court)

 R v RD & Ors – Multi-million-pound allegation of handling and laundering the proceeds of stolen plant machinery (Blackfriars Crown Court)

 R v YA & Ors – Joint Enterprise high value Dwelling Robbery involving allegations of False Imprisonment and Blackmail (Kingston-Upon-Thames Crown Court)

R v RJ – Court Martial of current UKSF soldier accused of multiple counts of Fraud by False Representation (Bulford Military Court)

R v WM – Court Martial representing LE Captain acquitted after a four-year investigation into uniform Fraud (Bulford Military Court)

R v JG – Leading Counsel instructed to represent Coldstream Guardsman accused of high-value theft of equipment attractive to Criminal and Terrorist Organisations from the RQMS (Bulford Military Court)


Dangerous Dogs & Animal Welfare

R v JW – Dog Dangerously out of Control when a person is injured (Guildford Crown Court)

R v AR – Defending Trading Standards prosecutions in front of Mr. Justice Fraser alleging Failure to Comply with Animal By-Product Requirements (Winchester Crown Court)

R v EC – Conditional Discharge for wife of serviceman accused of having a Dog Dangerously out of Control when a person is injured whilst posted at BATUK (Bulford Military Court)



R v KC – Court Martial representing Irish Guardsman accused of Desertion. Ultimately sentenced to suspended imprisonment (Bulford Military Court)

R v WN – WO1 acquitted of Conduct of a Cruel and Indecent Kind after Crown offered no evidence following detailed legal submissions regarding service law (Bulford Military Court)

HF – Representing 2nd Lieutenant before the Army Board at Army Headquarters, Andover for Major Administrative Action under AGAI 67 – arising from significant discipline incident whilst on Platoon Commanders Battle Course at Infantry Battle School, Brecon