John Higham QC | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
John Higham, QC
John Higham, QC

John Higham QC

Counsel, London

T +44 20 7532 1803 / +44 20 7532 1000


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Clients quoted in The Legal 500 have described John Higham, QC, as “carrying an exceptionally high individual reputation”, as “highly recommended for commercial litigation” and as “a great bonus, and a cost-saving in obviating the need for outside counsel...”


John Higham, QC, has a broad commercial practice, helping clients to protect and further their interests in national and international disputes, as well as providing key strategic advice in transactional work. He has particular experience in the fields of banking, company law, insolvency, financial services, as well as oil and gas, foreign exchange and commodities transactions.

John works as an advocate in litigation and commercial arbitration in England and Wales, and in jurisdictions across the globe. Clients from a broad range of industries, including banking, insurance, shipping, construction, telecommunications, utilities, oil and gas, mining, and financial services, benefit from his knowledgeable counsel in often complex disputes.

John has extensive experience supporting clients in multijurisdictional cases, including shareholder disputes and cases concerning fraudulently misappropriated assets. An acknowledged authority in the field of insolvency, he has acted in many of the major insolvencies of the last 30 years, including Maxwell, Polly Peck, Leyland DAF, Olympia & York, TXU and Lehman.

John has a formidable list of reported cases to his name in the Queen's Bench and Chancery Divisions of the High Court of Justice, including in the Commercial Court and the Companies Court, and in the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords and the Privy Council.

John joined the Firm as a partner in March 2004. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1992. From 1999 to 2004, he was a partner with another leading law firm. Between 1978 and 1999, he practiced as a barrister at South Square, Gray's Inn, a leading commercial and insolvency chambers in London. John worked as a Recorder (Civil and Criminal) on the Midlands Circuit from 1998 to 2010.

John has been listed as an "expert" in the Arbitration, Commercial Litigation and the Insolvency and Corporate Recovery sections of Legal Business' Legal Experts and as an "expert" in both the Commercial and Banking Litigation sections of The Legal 500.

Bars and Courts

  • Solicitor and Solicitor Advocate
  • Appointed Queen's Counsel
  • Bar of England and Wales
  • Called to the Bars of Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar for specific cases


  • Lincoln's Inn, Hardwicke Scholar, Tancred Scholar, Hubert Greenland Scholar
  • LLM (Hons), Churchill College, Cambridge, 1975
  • MA (Hons), Churchill College, Cambridge, Prize Scholar, Squire Scholar, 1974


  • English


Selection of reported cases:
'AES-3C Maritza East 1 Eood v. Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank [2011] BLR 249'

On-Demand Bond issued by French bank – payment enjoined by French court – whether Judgment should be entered or enforced.

'Gater Assets Ltd v. NAK Naftogaz Ukrainiy (Field J, Court of Appeal, Tomlinson J and Beatson J) [2007] 1 Lloyds 522, [2007] 2 Lloyds 588, [2008] 1 Lloyds 479, [2008] 2 Lloyds 259'

Enforcement of Russian arbitration award – security for costs – whether obtained by fraud – interest on judgment.

'Société Eram Shipping Co Ltd v. Compagnie Internationale de Navigation [2004] 1 AC 260 (House of Lords)'

Enforcement of judgments – whether English Court has jurisdiction and/or should exercise jurisdiction to attach credit balance on bank account in Hong Kong.

'ISTIL Group Inc v. Zahoor (Lawrence Collins J) [2003] 2 All ER 252'

Practice – whether injunction should be granted for delivery up of privileged documents where the documents tended to show that there had been forgery and that misleading evidence had been put forward.

'Insured Financial Structures Ltd v Elektrocieplownia Tychy SA (Court of Appeal) [2003] QB 1260'

Conflict of laws – effect of non-exclusive jurisdiction clause under the Lugano Convention.

'Kemper Reinsurance v Minister of Finance (Privy Council) [2000] AC 1'

Judicial review – whether appeal lies against order setting aside leave to apply for judicial review.

Other representations:
BTA's bank restructuring

John represented Kazakhstan's BTA Bank JSC on the restructuring of approximately US$11.1 billion of its financial indebtedness. Working on this complex transaction as part of a cross-border team drawn from the Firm's London, Almaty, Moscow and New York offices, John handled the recognition applications in the UK. As a result of the restructuring, the Bank's existing Eurobonds were cancelled and the creditors were paid US$1,618 million of cash and issued US$750,000,000 of new senior notes, as well as new equity in the Bank.

Disputes involving a major investment bank

John acted for a major investment bank in a dispute concerning the sale of a junior tranche in a loan to a failed German real estate borrower. He separately represented the client in a dispute concerning a credit default swap covering a portfolio of retail loans.

Middle East Sovereign Wealth Fund

He acted for a Middle East sovereign wealth fund in proceedings in the Cayman Islands to wind up an investment fund.

Kazakhstan Banks

He acted for two leading Kazakhstan Banks in successive restructuring proceedings and recognition proceedings in the UK.

ICC arbitration involving an East European state

John acted for an East European state in an ICC Arbitration to recover a claw-back payment arising from the privatisation of its telecommunications provider.

US oil company

John acted for a US oil company in proceedings in UK Court to recover payments made by mistake to a consultant.

Major petroleum company

He acted for a major petroleum company in multijurisdictional litigation and UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings relating to options and shareholder interests in a Russian oilfield.

Awards & Recognition

John is consistently recommended in both the Commercial and Banking Litigation sections of The Legal 500, where he has been variously described as "carrying an exceptionally high individual reputation", "highly reputed", "highly recommended" and as “a great bonus, and a cost-saving in obviating the need for outside counsel.”

Chambers UK

"John Higham QC…makes White & Case one of the few firms to have a commercial silk in-house."