|Ranked as a Leading Junior in The Legal 500 UK Bar
‘Intelligent, meticulously researched, charismatic, and understanding of challenging clients and their needs.’ – The Legal 500, General Crime and Fraud (2021)
James is an experienced and effective advocate with a great eye for detail. He has cultivated a structured common law practice particularly focused on: all aspects of criminal law including cases of violent and organised crime, serious and complex frauds, allegations of sexual offences and gender based crimes, asset forfeiture and confiscation; extradition matters; military justice and armed forces law; regulatory law and tax litigation; and civil actions to protect the rights of vulnerable individuals including actions against government bodies especially on matters involving allegations of violations of human rights. He is ranked in The Legal 500 Lawyer Rankings as a Leading Junior Counsel in all areas of General Crime and Fraud.
James was recently instructed as Lead Counsel in a complex matter re allegations of a spate of conspiracies to defraud financial institutions and telecommunication companies with a potential value of £119 million, involving an international network of co-conspirators, the dark web, crypto currencies and substantial amount of electronic data evidence.
James is admitted to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) List of Counsel and the List of Specialist Counsel at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). As a result, he is eligible to represent defendants and victims at both international criminal tribunals in the Hague on international criminal law matters including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He is an elected member of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA) Amicus Committee and Training Committee.
He is fully trained in and has an in-depth experience in dealing with vulnerable and youth clients as well as in the handling of sensitive cases and vulnerable witnesses with the necessary respect and delicacy in order to extract essential and cogent evidence.
James is accredited by the Bar Standards Board to receive cases and instructions directly from members of the public and non-legal corporate entities in all practice areas.
- International Criminal Court (ICC) List Counsel
- Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) Specialist Counsel
- International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA)
- ICCBA Amicus Committee
- ICCBA Training Committee
- International Bar Association – War Crimes Committee
- International Criminal Defence Lawyers Association
- Criminal Bar Association
- Association of Military Courts Advocates
- South Eastern Circuit
- Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
- Amnesty International
October 2004 (Lincoln’s Inn)
- LLM with Distinction (Cum Laude) in International Criminal Law, Amsterdam Law School, University of Amsterdam
- Global Alliance Certificate in International Criminal Law, Columbia Law School, Columbia University in the City of New York.
- PG Dip., Professional and Legal Skills, Inns of Court School of Law, City University, London
- LLB (Hons), College of St Hild & St Bede, Durham University
- Keble Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn
- Hardwicke Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn
• Member of the Bar Council’s ‘Speak up for Others’ schools outreach programme;
• Involved in the training and mentoring of bar students at Lincoln’s Inn and the University of Law;
• Provides CPD accredited lectures and training to legal practitioners and other professionals.
• “Resolving the Al-Bashir Conundrum – In light of the conflicting opinion of the ICC judges on the legal basis for finding State parties non-compliant with the ICC request for the arrest and surrender of Omar Al-Bashir, are State parties to the Rome Statute under an obligation to Arrest Al-Bashir and surrender him to the ICC?” – University of Amsterdam UvA Scripties Online  – http://www.scriptiesonline.uba.uva.nl/665712
• “Day in the Life of a Barrister” – Student Law Review, Cavendish/Routledge Publishing 
• “Journey to the Axis of Evil” – Durham21.co.uk 
• Native fluency in Yoruba (Nigeria)
• Basic French
James is a keen photographer and artist. He enjoys experiencing new cultural destinations and has a passion for travel journalism. He has been awarded the Queens Golden Jubilee Millennium Volunteer Award of Excellence for his work in the community. James has sat on the boards of trustees of two charities responsible for outreach projects across North London.
James Onalaja is approved to accept instructions direct from international and UK clients on a direct access basis, without the need for a solicitor intermediary in appropriate cases.