James recently retired as Chairman of The Courtauld Institute of Art and remains on the Courtauld Governing Board. He is Chairman of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, a significant funder, inter alia, of UK arts and museums, and is Deputy Chairman of the Decorative Arts and Domestic Architecture Educational Charity and The Attingham Trust. He is an ex trustee of the Dulwich Picture Gallery and was one of the founding trustees of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. He is an honorary fellow of Merton College Oxford, the University of Hong Kong and The Courtauld Institute of Art.
He spent thirty years of his working life in Asia, and came back to London in 2005 as Chairman of John Swire and Sons, from which he retired in 2015.