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Mon-Fri 9:00AM - 6:00AM
Sat - 9:00AM-5:00PM
Sundays by appointment only!
James Waters Barrister, Junior Counsel
BE (Hons), JD


James is a former engineer who specialises in large, complex litigation and is regularly briefed in technical, engineering, and construction disputes, insurance matters and class actions.


James advises and appears in bet-the-farm litigation and arbitration for commercial parties (both contractors and principals), achieving the very best results. He is approachable, diligent and deploys strategic nous to gain advantage for his clients over the real issues in dispute.


Prior to joining the Bar in 2016, James was an associate at Allens for three years in the construction disputes and commercial litigation teams. His practice included advising construction and engineering clients on complex construction and technical disputes and the administration of major projects. James was also involved in complex class actions, insurance disputes and product liability claims.


Prior to his legal career, James worked as a mechatronics engineer in both industrial and consulting environments. Mechatronics combines computer and software engineering, electronics and mechanical design. As an engineer, James was involved in the construction of a major arterial transport link and consulted in relation to the design, installation and commissioning of a diverse range of bespoke robotics in various industrial settings.


A selection of James’s matters include:

  • Lacrosse apartments litigation (led by Tim Margetts QC) for the fire engineer (currently before VSCA), on appeal from Owners Corporation No 1 of BS613436T v LU Simon Builders Pty Ltd [2019] VCAT 286
  • Renewable energy:
    • Civil penalty proceedings by the Australian Energy Regulator in relation to the South Australian Black System Event 2018, for the AER, ongoing (led by Dr Ruth Higgins SC, Tom Clarke). Settlement approval of one proceeding: Australian Energy Regulator v Snowtown Wind Farm Stage 2 Pty Ltd [2020] FCA 1845 (White J);
    • Renewable energy construction dispute for contractor in ongoing dispute with wind turbine manufacturer in the Victorian Supreme Court (led by Tim Margetts QC); acting for crane contractor in ongoing disputes;
  • Arbitration:
    • large-scale infrastructure / public-private partnership social infrastructure dispute, $90m claim against professional adviser under ACICA rules. Resolved (led by Tim Margetts QC);
    • successful resistance of challenge to arbitral jurisdiction (Lin Tiger Plastering Pty Ltd v Platinum Construction (Vic) Pty Ltd [2018] VSC 221) (unled);
    • restraint of trade dispute for a large industrial parts business (and associated Supreme Court action) (led by Richard Attiwill QC);
    • dispute involving the software and control systems on large agricultural machinery for a US-based manufacturer (unled);
  • Insurance proceedings:
    • Damage to large industrial plant, Federal Court, ongoing (led by Gerard Dalton QC);
    • Successful defence of subrogated recovery concerning large fire Mahony v Logan [2019] VCC 1586 (led by Gerard Dalton QC);
    • Contamination of food and beverage products. Resolved (led by Gerard Dalton QC);
    • Successful defence of claim against solicitors Finch v Arnold Thomas and Becker Pty Ltd [2018] VCC 54 (led by Aileen Ryan QC (as Her Honour then was), and then unled).
  • Building and construction matters:
    • Security of Payment claims, various commercial / industrial and domestic building disputes in the County Court and VCAT relating to defects, quality, delays, costs; Klau v Elliot [2020] VCAT 1422; Slab heave matters (resolved); developer and builder disputes (resolved); F Bouhoussein Pty Ltd v Mackie Pty Ltd [2019] VCAT 1470; defects disputes (resolved); advising on various standard form contracts, including AS2124, AS4000-series, HIA, MBC4
    • Building Appeals Board and disciplinary proceedings (and associated administrative law reviews), including as Counsel Assisting and defending Building Practitioners’ Board Inquiries and VBA Show Cause investigations into the conduct of Registered Building Practitioners; BAB proceedings involving building surveyors’ conduct; protection works; approval of aluminium composite panels
  • Offshore LNG – acting for the owners of a $34b LNG project in relation to disputes with the pipeline contractor.
  • Legislated construction progress payment claims – acting for the principal / owner of a $2.6 billion coal export terminal in relation to monthly payment claims made by the contractor under Australian Security of Payments legislation on a AS4204 contract and related EPC contract, including preparation of payment schedules, adjudication responses and engagement with engineering, programming and quantum experts.
  • Maritime law – Disputes arising as to the seaworthiness and fitness for purpose of a commercial vessel following sale; acting for a prominent Victorian yacht club in relation to oppression proceedings brought by members;

James read with Simon T Pitt and his senior mentor is Jeremy Twigg QC.

LinkedIn & CV Link


Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.


Phone: +61 3 9225 6225

Mobile: +61 4 5006 5959

Fax: +61 3 9225 7728


Admission year: 2013

Bar roll year: 2016


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