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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > East Anglia > Private client > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Agriculture and estates

Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners
  5. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

The well-established agriculture and estates practice at Ashtons Legal has three vastly experienced partners handling the affairs of farm businesses and landed estates. Practice head Jonathan Long, rural property expert Simon Cunningham and Jeanette Dennis, who has 29 years' experience in farming and estate management matters, are the key contacts. Their client base ranges from local to national owners and occupiers of small farms through to regional and national institutions covering thousands of acres, including several Cambridge Colleges.

Practice head(s):Jonathan Long

Other key lawyers:Jeanette Dennis; Simon Cunningham; Rebecca Gatens


"I have dealt with both Simon Cunningham and Jeanette Dennis and their knowledge and attention to detail has been first-class when assisting with bank security work ensuring our interests are protected."

Work highlights

  • A Cambridge college owning property in East Anglia had, since the 1950s, granted various written and unwritten tenancies to a farming family, and on the death of the surviving tenant we were instructed to serve a case G notice to quit.
  • Instructed in a number of applications to the Land Registry for voluntary registration of unregistered land.
  • Sale of approx. 120 acres of land in Mid Suffolk with residential properties, farm buildings and commercial buildings.
  • Instructed by various lenders including Clydesdale, Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest, AMC, HSBC and AFP  with regards to finance offered to agricultural clients.
  • Acting for landowners in connection with complex overage agreements, option and promotion agreements.

'This is one of the best agricultural law practices in the UK, they have strength in depth and really know their stuff', says a client of Birketts LLP. Another remarks that the firm is 'a dominant force within the East Anglian agricultural legal sector and is now highly regarded as one of the region's leading firms'. Practice head Jack Royall, Neil Sparrow and Christopher Coupland in Norwich, Rachel McKillop-Wilkin in Cambridge and James Dinwiddy in Ipswich are key practitioners in one of the largest agricultural practices in England. The firm acts for private families, banks, utility companies, charities, the Environment Agency and local authority clients across the UK, and handles ecclesiastical and agricultural property work for three of the main East Anglian diocese offices.

Practice head(s):Jack Royall

Other key lawyers:Neil Sparrow; Christopher Coupland; Rachel McKillop-Wilkin; James Dinwiddy; Ruth Morris; Stuart Jones; Sophia Key; Ruth Lambillion; Daisy Darrell


"Chris Coupland has unrivalled industry knowledge and provides excellent client care. Practical solutions are provided in clear layman's language."

"Rachel McKillop-Wilkin and Ruth Lambillion are both a pleasure to work with. They have excellent legal knowledge, give sensible advice, take a commercial approach and are cost effective."

"The agriculture team I deal with led by James Dinwiddy is competent, efficient and is always available to address any issue. Despite the longstanding relationship between us and Birketts, there is no sense of complacency in the service provided."

"A very engaging team who clearly work well as a group to ensure a smooth process."

"Chris Coupland is very knowledgeable and a calm, safe pair of hands who manages the process and clients extremely well."

"Daisy Darrell is extremely amenable and has always proved to be efficient when we have worked with her. She also makes a real point of networking within the wider property sector, something that has been well received by our business."

"Pre-eminent in its field with a strong and large team. The dominant rural property lawyers in East Anglia."

"User-friendly and proactive. It seems unfair to pick out individuals as they have so many strong operators. Jack Royall, Chris Coupland and Sophia Key know about getting a deal done and have great client understanding."

"With a depth of strength and support, they provide expertise in all agricultural matters."

"A strong, proactive and cohesive young team providing excellent support and delivering a first-class and efficient service with an ability to get transactions completed without creating unnecessary obstacles or delays."

"They are personable and approachable."

"They are commercial, affordable and give 'no-nonsense', timely advice."

"Rachel Mckillop-Wilkin and Ruth Lambillion are simply a delight to deal with. They are fantastic communicators, they really take time to understand what their clients want and deliver on promises."

"The private client and agriculture and estate teams are well known in the local area and have a wealth of experience and expertise."

"Personable, knowledgeable and willing to help."

Work highlights

  • Helped Lloyds Bank Plc to facilitate their customer’s purchase of a £6,500,000 farm supported by £10,800,000 additional security.
  • Advised Suffolk Wildlife Trust on the purchase of further land at Carlton Marshes with lottery funding (purchase price £2,087,700).

One client recommends Hewitsons for its 'breath of knowledge and ability to provide the right person with the correct skill set for the task in hand'. The firm has a large cross-office team led from Cambridge by the 'extremely trustworthy' Denise Wilkinson , who handles complex property and family issues in the rural sector, whether for smaller farmers, landed estates or major institutions. Legal director James Frankland and consultant Charles Hewitson also have excellent reputations for handling agricultural property transactions.

Practice head(s):Denise Wilkinson

Other key lawyers:Charles Hewitson; James Frankland


"Charles Hewitson is involved at all levels on a personal and business level. He is an excellent leader and ambassador for the firm."

"Denise Wilkinson exhibits great knowledge and attention to detail."

"I work regularly with Denise Wilkinson who is exceptional in every way."

"Hewitsons has high professional standards. They are well informed, cover all of our necessary disciplines and cover them well. They are always available at short notice when required."

Denise Wilkinson specifically gives advice on charity issues; agricultural and commercial. Her great strength is to be able to see an issue from all angles, thinking on her feet. She has experience in contractual arrangement that are not conventional, and always give very sound advice."

"A dynamic yet pragmatic approach to getting the job done."

"Denise Wilkinson provides excellent advice on a range of property matters in a concise and clear way which is readily understood."

Key Clients

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Philpot Family and Associated Companies

National Farmers Union (NFU)

Work highlights

  • Advising on the sale and purchase of a large farm plus equine business and attendant issues.
  • Sale of large landholdings following the death of the owner.
  • Advising two landowning charities entering into an option re renewables.
  • Renegotiation of cross overages and inter-family corporate landownership.
  • Advice regarding unusual ownership structures and the effect of owning only an equitable share of a 3,000 acre Estate.

Howes Percival LLP has a large and diverse client base of substantial landowners, trusts and partnerships. Catherine Scott leads a thriving agricultural property practice that handled large farm transactions and tenancies, basic payment and environmental schemes, and the investigations and registration of complex unregistered titles. Estate management for landed estates included specialist advice on agricultural holdings and protected tenancies. The firm also calls on its specialist tax practice to advice rural clients on matters such as iheritance and capital gains tax. Another key name to note is rising star Katharine Danks.

Practice head(s):Catherine Scott

Other key lawyers:Stuart Maggs; Katharine Danks


"They are friendly, personal, professional and efficient. So many firms delegate to team members and the relationship is diluted."

"Catherine Scott and her team are very efficient."

Key Clients

Cholmondeley Estates (Norfolk and Cheshire)

The Holkham Estate

The Sutton Hall Estate

The Gasthorpe Estate

Work highlights

  • Acted on the sale of the Sutton Hall Estate, which was a significant sale of a ring-fenced Estate in excess of 2000 acres in Suffolk, for a sum in excess of £30m.
  • Acted on the sale of the Lodge Farm Estate, Gasthorpe which included approximately 1,000 acres of land and residential property.

At Mills & Reeve LLP, Michael Aubrey in Cambridge is joint head of the firm’s food and agribusiness sector group and has a national reputation as an expert on all areas of agricultural law. Tim Ryan in Norwich acts for landowner clients on multimillion-pound, complex collaboration, promotion, option and contribution agreements as well as in relation to general acquisitions and disposals. Amanda Tagg handles matters relating to agricultural land diversification. These three standout practitioners, backed by an experienced junior team, give the firm a prominent role in some of the largest and most complex deals nationally in the agricultural and landed estates sector.

Practice head(s):Michael Aubrey; Tim Ryan

Other key lawyers:Amanda Tagg; Matthew Hesketh; Paula Mostari; Sarah Pateman

Key Clients

Barclays Bank Plc

Kilverstone Estate

John Innes Foundation

Christ Church Oxford

Trinity College Cambridge

Greenyard (formerly Univeg)


The Countryside Restoration Trust

Albanwise Ltd

Northumbrian Water

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Bank in connection with transactions where the Borrower had to be separately advised due to the high values of the properties.

'They look at the detail and are well versed in agriculture problems', says a client of the practice at Roythornes Solicitors, which has a growing presence in East Anglia through its offices in Peterborough and Alconbury. Key partner Julie Robinson, whose career includes a stint as chief legal adviser at the National Farmers’ Union, leads the single agriculture team that works across all of the firm's offices and incorporates property, private client, family, company commercial, litigation, renewable energy and planning expertise. Associate Kirsten Rimmer is a rising star in commercial and agricultural property matters.

Practice head(s):Julie Robinson

Other key lawyers:Kirsten Rimmer; Jonathan Williams


"Julie Robinson has huge knowledge, understanding and experience, all available to me as if on tip of her tongue. She provides a huge amount of care and attention, and understands the commercial and personal implications of words in contract - not just the legal implications."

"Experts in each field under one firm. Each team member we have dealt with so far has offered exceptional service. Transferring to Roythornes is the best move we made."

Key Clients

The Woodland Trust

Work highlights

  • A complex  £30m purchase of a significant farming interest involving in excess of 40 titles.
  • A multimillion-pound sale of agricultural land for development.
  • In March 2018, we were instructed by our client, the farming arm of a significant estate in East Anglia to act for them in relation to two sites where Farmcare were ceasing operational farming.
  • The £27m acquisition of a substantial agricultural estate in East Anglia.
  • Actomg for fourteen land owners and four agricultural tenants in agreeing terms with the Witham Fourth District Internal Drainage Board who were spending funds from the UK government and the European Union.

Taylor Vinters has 'one of the strongest agricultural teams in the region with unparalleled knowledge and a pragmatic attitude to all instructions' and client praise its blend of 'depth and breadth, experience and youth'. Head of farms and estates Rupert Melville-Ross and head of real estate Helen Mutucumarana combine their strengths to lead a practice that large, complex and high-value farm transactions, Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy work, succession and tax planning, farming partnerships, small-scale development work and renewable energy projects for both landowners and developers. Key names to note are Adrian Horwood-Smart, who is a 'master of his craft', and Andrew Williamson who has 'excellent technical knowledge'. Associate Louise Moore is recognised as a rising star.

Practice head(s):Rupert Melville-Ross; Helen Mutucumarana

Other key lawyers:Adrian Horwood-Smart; Andrew Williamson; Louise Moore


"The firm has good knowledge but most of all works quickly and inclusively with other professionals to deliver job in cost-effective way."

"Both Rupert Melville Ross and Andrew Williamson are standout operators in their field. delivering what the client wants in a proactive way. They quickly understand what is important and what is not to get the job done. I have never been disappointed and have used them many times."

"Compared to some legal firms I find Taylor Vinters very good at following a brief. If we need something doing quickly they pull out all the stops. If we need to be collaborative rather than aggressive they act accordingly."

Key Clients

Jockey Club group – national horseracing group established in 1750, managing many of the UK’s racecourses

AgReserves Limited / Farmland Reserve (UK) Limited – USA-based global landholding charity

G’s Marketing Ltd – multinational salad and vegetable producer

Mr T Behrens – German investor into UK farmland

The Crown Estate

J E Piccaver & Co – large-scale commercial farmers based in Lincolnshire and Essex

Farcet Fen Limited – International farming company based in Spain

The Thorpe & Asgarby Estate Limited – owner of £20m landed Lincolnshire estate

Blackheath Farms LLP – large scale farmer in Suffolk

Tompsett Burgess Growers – largest carrot producer in the UK

Braemar Agricultural Land Investments Limited – agricultural land investment fund

E W Pepper Ltd – highly diversified and entrepreneurial farmer based in Cambridgeshire

Work highlights

  • Acted for Thurlow Estate on £7m+ disposal of four farms to institutional buyer.
  • Purchase of mixed arable land and woodland on the Shortgrove Estate – represented overseas investor on £3m acquisition of farm.
  • Represented Ward Farming in the sale of a £27.5m farm.
  • Option agreement for leases of land in the event of a grant of planning permission over large areas for environmental purposes.
  • A complex partnership reorganisation which involved off-shore trusts and bringing assets onshore and working with cross-border counsel and accountants to enable a purchase of land and a partnership reorganisation.

Barker Gotelee has extensive experience in dealing with substantial transactions for farmers and landowners across the country. During 2018, the practice, led by Andrew Nicholson, acted in the sale and purchase of farms and land for residential, commercial and renewable energy developments, and for landowners in relation to the proposed Sizewell C development. The firm also assisted clients who entered into the surrender and re-grant of existing secure agricultural tenancies to secure full relief from inheritance tax.

Practice head(s):Andrew Nicholson

Other key lawyers:Toby Pound; Miles Coates; Fenella Eddell; Sam Read

Greene & Greene has 'a strong regional team that is highly regarded and provides excellent all round agricultural legal advice and expertise'. The firm acts for a diverse range of clients ranging from long-established estate owners to new investors in the agricultural sector. The practice, led by Jonathan Mathers, assists with farm sales and purchases, Settled Land Act estates work, agricultural tenancy issues, succession planning, general taxation issues, and agricultural and business property matters.

Practice head(s):Jonathan Mathers

Other key lawyers:Neil Walmsley; Selene Holden; Wayne Perrin; Mark Daly; Julia Routledge


"The firm, and partner Jonathan Mathers, have been a breath of fresh air in comparison to my previous firm, which was were totally reactive and never proactive."

"Jonathan Mathers stands out as being very easy to work with - pleasant, straightforward, helpful and quick to respond. All dealings with him have been clear and prompt."

"I cannot recommend Jonathan Mathers him highly enough."

"The partners within the agricultural department are approachable and contactable and bring with them a wealth of experience and expertise."

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Buyer in the purchase of a large farm including land, farm buildings and a Grade I listed farmhouse in Suffolk.
  • Acting for the Seller on sale of a large unregistered farm on the Essex/Suffolk border.
  • Acting for the buyer on the purchase of a farm for an investor client with a refinancing element.
  • Acting for the seller on the disposal of all farming assets.
  • Split of family farm and sale of 9 lots.

Greenwoods GRM has a new head of its agriculture and rural business practice in senior associate Emily Pumfrey, following Jeremy Stanton's move to Birketts LLP. Pumfrey, like many in the practice, comes from a farming background and she is a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association. The practice draws on the expertise of its corporate, private client, property and employment practices to assist clients in the agriculture sector, and corporate partner Alastair Gunn plays an active role in its high-profile transactions.

Practice head(s):Emily Pumfrey

Other key lawyers:Alastair Gunn; Clare Harris; Stephanie Wilcox; Amy Castleman; Caroline Gumbrell; Kelly Peck


"They understand the personality and idiosyncrasies of their clients."

"The Greenwoods team is a friendly and dynamic team, which strikes the perfect balance of being approachable and giving first-class advice."

"All of the team members are willing to give their honest opinions on matters, which has become an increasingly rare asset. The team work extremely closely, which gives them a wide knowledge base, and you always get the feeling that you are getting many minds for the price of one!"

"I deal predominantly with Kelly Peck and Emily Pumfrey. Both individuals have in-depth knowledge of a wide range of subjects. Emily is the epitome of calm, and has handled a number of complex and tricky matters in recent months, with a combination of efficiency and reasoned advice which has helped clients reach successful conclusions in every instance."

Key Clients

Norwich Livestock Market Limited

RE Evans Farms Limited

Produce World Investments Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Norwich Livestock Market Limited on the Judicial Review of Norwich City Council’s decision to surrender its lease, and ultimately all of its propriety interests in the land Norwich Livestock Market occupies.
  • Negotiated a bespoke option agreement for the acquisition of 125 acres of farm land in rural Pembrokeshire, followed by the subsequent completion of the acquisition, adding to RE Evans Farms Limited growing dairy business in Wales.
  • RE Evans Farms Limited struck a deal with two brothers to add a further 90 acres of land to their farm holding, and Emily Pumfrey assisted with completing both transactions.
  • Produce World Investments Limited recognised the need to re-purpose the site at Swinderby, Lincolnshire and after obtaining planning consent for change of use, struck a deal to sell the site for in excess of £3,000,000 to a housebuilder.
  • Offering regular employment advice to one of the world’s largest fresh produce providers.

Hunt & Coombs LLP has three long-serving and knowledgeable specialist partners who have extensive experience in dealing with rural estates. Agricultural property expert Anna Spriggs and wills, trusts and probate specialist Henry Anstey in Peterborough, and Paddy Appleton in Oundle, who handles tax planning, trusts and estates, are the key names in a practice that acts for numerous landed estates. Last year, the firm handled the refinancing of landed estates with a combined value in excess of £10m.

Practice head(s):Anna Spriggs

Other key lawyers:Henry Anstey, Paddy Appleton; Sarah Morris

Key Clients

The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance

East of England Agricultural Society

Work highlights

  • Advised The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance on complex covenant releases and reverter provision, statutory vesting procedures, disposal of glebe land for development, management of glebe land, farm business tenancies and surrenders - including promotion agreements, collaboration and option agreements on a number of sites all in excess of £1m.
  • Proposed residential development of 200 acres of agricultural land.
  • Option Agreement for a proposed garden village.
  • Collaboration Agreement with adjoining landowner.
  • Grant of an option of land.

The rural practice at Tees Law brings together lawyers from a wide range of practice areas including private client and property to advise clients ranging from small family farms to rural estates and large agricultural businesses. Catherine Mowat leads the practice that handles succession planning, land development, diversification projects, employment, company and partnership formation, dispute resolution, restructuring, and sales and acquisitions of commercial enterprises. The firm is on the legal panel of the National Farmers Union. Another key name to note is the 'extremely efficient' Alex Waples.

Practice head(s):Catherine Mowat

Other key lawyers:James Dowson; Alex Waples; Rebecca Quick


"There are individuals with good areas of knowledge in a good spread of business areas. The practice is easily contacted and connects quickly to the relevant person."

"Alex Waples particularly efficient, he replies to emails quickly and acknowledges every email he gets. This has made working with Alex at Tees a real pleasure over the past couple of years."

Work highlights

  • Inheritance tax review and planning advice for rural landowner taking into account available agricultural reliefs and opportunities.
  • Represented client in agreement to unlock value in harvestable forest land.
  • Comprehensive advice and service offering to farming client, combining cross-departmental co-operation to achieve client’s diversification and estate planning strategy.
  • Sale of agricultural land, pursuant to a Promotion Agreement.
  • Assisted clients with structuring Wills and Powers of Attorney to ensure suitable succession for farming business.

Blocks in Ipswich has a long-established client base of multi-generational farming families, landowners and businesses that turn to key partner Gerry Field. The firm  advises landowners and farmers on high-value energy projects and development matters as well as estate planning matters. It also has handled promotion agreements and options with developers for large-scale development of agricultural land, and its private client practice handles estate planning and trusts for rural clients.

Practice head(s):Gerry Field

Work highlights

  • Advising client on the development of land at Wickham Market, which included Option Agreements, Promotion Agreements and Conditional Contracts, as well as the settlement of trusts.
  • Advising client on the development of land at Stutton Hall, which included Option Agreements, Promotion Agreements and Conditional Contracts, as well as the settlement of trusts.
  • Advising client on the development of land at Stradbroke, which included Option Agreements, Promotion Agreements and Conditional Contracts, as well as the settlement of trusts.
  • Advising client on the development of land at Stowupland, which included Option Agreements, Promotion Agreements and Conditional Contracts, as well as the settlement of trusts.
  • Advising client on the development of land at Stowmarket, which included Option Agreements, Promotion Agreements and Conditional Contracts, as well as the settlement of trusts.

The agriculture practice at Fraser Dawbarns incorporates members of commercial, corporate and private client departments. Led by Jenny Rushmer and Kieren Cross, its agricultural clients include some of the larger farming families in East Cambridgeshire and West Norfolk. Daniel Ball is well regarded for his knowledge on renewable energy installations and has advised numerous farms on onshore wind, solar power and battery storage facilities.

Practice head(s):Kieren Cross; Jenny Rushmer

Work highlights

  • Acting in connection with the sale of a farm and negotiating and settling a private drainage agreement.
  • Administration of Estate comprising of agricultural and commercial property and dealing with succession planning for the next generation.
  • Acting on a sale of farm land involving a very complex and unique pre- emption agreement over retained land.
  • Three Farmers came together to promote their respective holdings as a single arrangement or series of schemes for the promotion of multiple sites for an intermittent energy project consisting of gas peaking plants/ battery storage or hybrid facility.
  • Acting on behalf of farming clients in converting Agricultural Holdings Act Tenancy to a Farm Business Tenancy as part of a wider Tax planning strategy.

The agricultural team at Steeles Law draws together expertise from a range of legal disciplines, including commercial property, private client, employment and company commercial. The practice led by associate Karen Bacon has substantial experience in agricultural property transactions in Norfolk and Suffolk. Bacon frequently handles matters of inheritance tax and succession planning for agricultural clients.

Practice head(s):Karen Bacon

Key Clients

H Irwin Limited

A R Hall & Sons

Charities and not-for-profit

Index of tables

  1. Charities and not-for-profit
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

The charities and social enterprise practice at Birketts LLP has in-depth expertise in the sector thanks to a multi-disciplinary team led by non-contentious charity law specialist Liz Brownsell in Ipswich and Cambridge-based litigator and regulatory expert Sara Sayer, who are both senior associates. The firm's broad offering includes niche expertise in areas such as Retail Gift Aid, GDPR, fundraising law and regulation, ecclesiastical law, public procurement, state aid and immigration. It has a large roster of national charity clients. Another name to note is Erika Clarke, who advises on a wide range of non-contentious issues.

Practice head(s):Liz Brownsell; Sara Sayer

Other key lawyers:Erika Clarke; Kitty Rosser; Edward Bouckley; Paul Palik; Karl Pocock; Louisa Saunders


"The firm is approachable with a deep knowledge of their subject area."

"Birketts is the first firm of solicitors I have experienced that truly put their clients first. I am constantly urged by my contacts to consider whether or not the charity really needs certain services and when it is deemed appropriate, I am offered the best solution for the task."

"I am never given a one-size-fits-all solution and each engagement is dealt with on its merits and I get a specialist solicitor for each area."

"All my contacts are extremely knowledgable and yet have a client approach that makes them down to earth and really easy to discuss things with. I never feel like I have asked anything silly and this means a lot."

"I have extensive contact with Edward Bouckley, Liz Brownsell and Kitty Rosser and cannot fault any of their expertise or their customer service."

Key Clients

All Souls, Langham Place

Amnesty International Charity Limited

Amnesty International Limited

Amnesty International UK Section Charitable Trust

British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS)

Central Hardship and Relief Trust (CHART)

Charity Retail Association

Church of England Central Services

East Anglia’s Children's Hospices

Hospice UK

Institute of Fundraising

London Diocesan Fund

Makeshift Foundation



SEETEC / Your Ambition

SNU Trust

Stroke Association

Tennis for Free

Trust for London

Walking With The Wounded

World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Work highlights

  • Advised Walking With The Wounded in relation to its collaboration with Help for Heroes for this year’s Walking Home for Christmas campaign.
  • Advising our client in respect of its contractual arrangements with its chosen provider in respect of its annual fundraising raffles.
  • Advised on the formation and registration of Makeshift Foundation, which is a charity established for urban regeneration and social inclusion in London.
  • Instructed by Charity Retail Association to draft a comprehensive and user-friendly guide to GDPR requirements for charity shops, focusing in particular on how to comply with the legal requirements when operating the retail Gift Aid scheme.
  • Advising BASICS on updating its governance arrangements, incorporation and restructuring the group to simplify and streamline current arrangements.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has a national charity practice that includes key members in its Cambridge office. Glynne Stanfield works in both Cambridge and London and is a key adviser in the charity and not-for-profit sector on matters including complex charity and governance issues, joint ventures and mergers. The firm expanded its range of expertise in East Anglia with the recruitment of associate Helen Teague from Macfarlanes LLP and senior associate and education sector specialist Martyn Robinson from Hewitsons. Another name to note is rising star Stephen O’Reilly.

Practice head(s):Glynne Stanfield

Other key lawyers:Stephen O'Reilly; Martyn Robinson; Helen Teague

Key Clients

Turning Point

South Downs National Park Trust

Royal Society of Chemistry

Dewsbury Endowed Schools Foundation

Institute of Physics

Medical Research Council

Havens Christian Hospice

Further Education Trust for Leadership

Higher Education Academy

Work highlights

  • Establishment of National Oceanography Centre as an independent charity.
  • We continue to advise South Downs National Park Trust, which raises funds for the protection of the national park and promotes its access to all.
  • Havens (a hospice charity) was the sole corporate member of The J’s Hospice, which operates care in the community, and we advised on the transfer up to Havens of the assets and activities of The J’s Hospice.
  • LBAL was formed by 14 further education colleges and is working with a registered charity which is a registered end point assessment organisation, to provide assessors from the constituent colleges and further afield; we advised on the commercial agreement between the parties.
  • Richmond operates a higher education institution in London and is applying to the Office for Students (“OfS”) to be registered with them pursuant to the provisions of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 and with taught degree awarding powers.

Mills & Reeve LLP acts for some of the UK's biggest charities and in 2018 it was appointed as the key adviser to the £6bn Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. The charities and social enterprise group in Cambridge is led by Neil Burton and advises on philanthropy and legacies as well as corporate, regulatory, employment and property matters. It is a key adviser to numerous religious charities, health charities, education institutions and research organisations. Finance partner Sarah Seed, whose charity fundraising practice introduced the first ever university alumni bond, plays a central role in the practice.

Practice head(s):Neil Burton

Other key lawyers:Sarah Seed; Dona Ardeman


'The team has an ability to clearly understand our likely position and response to matters and in doing so providing cognisant advice, saving effort and potential error. Providing a fast response and ensuring that an appropriate and knowledgeable adviser is available.'

'All individuals provide a truly personable service. The team provides clear and knowledgeable advice; they focus on the matters at hand without dismissing potential complications and have never sought to complicate or draw out any matter.'

Key Clients

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

Royal Society of Chemistry

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Frances Crick Institute

Work highlights

  • Advising the board of Children’s Investment Fund Foundation on a range of governance/charity law issues (liaising with the Charity Commission/trustee training & horizon scanning), and setting up a number of sub-charities in the UK and overseas.
  • Advising The Institution of Engineering and Technology on a range of charity law and constitutional matters (inc special trusts, linked charities fundraising and legacy issues), and advising on trading subsidiaries, governance and corporate issues associated tax aspects.
  • Advising Royal Society of Chemistry on a range of governance issues (including dealing with special trusts) and regulatory issues – equality, member disciplinary and GDPR.
  • Advising a UK charity with a large global workforce on a series of cases whereby employees working around the world are claiming rights under UK law.

The charities and social enterprise sector group at Stone King LLP is led from London and Bath, but the Cambridge office is home to key advisers to the charity and education sectors. Robert Meakin has more than 25 years’ experience of advising charities and holds a PhD in charity law. He has a particular focus on faith charities, though his client base includes a broad range of not-for-profit entities. He recently acted for Cambridge Islamic College in its appeal against a direction made by the Charity Commission to change its name.

Practice head(s):Robert Meakin

Other key lawyers:James MacFarlane; Tamsin Eastwood

Key Clients

The Friends of Whitefriars Oxford Fund

St Michael’s Catholic School

The Deptford Ragged Trust

British Inherited Metabolic Disease Group

The Foundation of Edward Storey

Borneo Orangutan Survival UK

Scotty’s Little Soldiers

Cambridge Islamic College

Spiritualists’ National Union

Work highlights

  • Represented Cambridge Islamic College in its appeal against a direction made by the Charity Commission to change its name.
  • Acted for a high profile national charity and are providing advice on changing its governance from two-tier to a one-tier.
  • We continue to advise Assemblies of the First Born in respect of its dispute with several churches wishing to break away.
  • Incorporating The Roman Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of Cambridge as a CIO and transferring its assets.
  • We won a tender to advise on the incorporation of St Edmund’s College, Ware, which will involve a transfer of ownership from the Archdiocese of Westminster.

At Taylor Vinters, 'the charities team is small but it has real specialism and it is extremely knowledgeable, very customer-focused and friendly'. The practice is led from London and Cambridge by Chris Willis Pickup, who is a former senior Charity Commission lawyer, and draws on the firm's commercial and technology practices to advise not-for-profit organisations in sectors as diverse as science and research, medicine, technology and software, higher education, conservation, international development and social ventures. Another name to note is the 'highly experienced' Christine Berry who advises on charity governance issues for a range of clients. Rising star associate Emma Millar handles charity formation, governance, fundraising, commercial contracts, data protection and privacy matters.

Practice head(s):Chris Willis Pickup

Other key lawyers:Christine Berry; Helen Mutucumarana; James Boyle; Emma Millar; Beth Price; David Rainford


"Chris Willis-Pickup has invaluable experience and knowledge of the Charity Commission's powers and processes, having previously been its Head of Litigation. He also has an encyclopaedic and profound grasp of charity law generally, alongside an easy charm and pragmatism."

"Chris Willis Pickup is an exceptional lawyer, both in terms of his knowledge and experience of charities law and his strategic insight. He is invariably calm and clear-headed no matter how difficult the legal issues he is facing."

"By recruiting Chris Willis Pickup, Taylor Vinters has positioned itself as one of the leading charities law firms in the country."

Key Clients

British Pharmacological Society

Love Welcomes CIC

The Foundation

Alzheimer’s Research UK

Teenage Cancer Trust

University of Cambridge – Colleges


Cambridge Science Centre

Work highlights

  • Represented British Pharmacological Society on its governance, campaigning and commercial activities as a leading and forward-looking learned society.
  • Helping a leading US non-profit spin-off a cross-border social venture to support Syria refugees, covering establishment, governance and commercial activities.
  • Establishing an innovative non-profit Foundation to provide a governance framework for a global open source project.
  • An innovative multi-disciplinary partnership with the leading Alzheimer’s charity, covering charity, governance, commercial and other risks and opportunities.
  • Supporting Teenage Cancer Trust across all of its work and functions, providing effectively an in-house legal service.

The charity and not-for-profit practice group at Greenwoods GRM saw its roster of clients grow in 2018 as more regional and national charities turn to it for advice on regulatory, employment and property matters. Regulatory and corporate defence specialist Kathryn Gilbertson, employment partner John Macaulay and lead commercial property partner Stephen Illingworth all play key roles in the practice, which has a long-standing relationship with St Johns Ambulance.

Practice head(s):Victoria Robinson

Other key lawyers:David Woods; John Macaulay; Stephen Illingworth; Ann-marie Clow


"Greenwoods GRM's key strength is the ability to understand our organisation rather than provide generic advice. Even though we are an SME, we are always treated with the sense we are a number one priority for the firm. This is different to other legal practices I have worked with in the past."

Key Clients

St Johns Ambulance

Work highlights

  • Supporting the world’s leading first aid charity, St John Ambulance, with management of their property portfolio.
  • Supporting the RSPCA with sensitive prosecutions in the Cambridgeshire area.
  • Supporting The Nene Park Trust with a 999-year lease on local land and commercial properties and other assets which now generate some of the income required to maintain the Park.
  • Compulsory sale of land connected to the £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme includes a major new bypass to the south of Huntingdon and upgrades to 21 miles of the A14.
  • Provided full advice service to a well-known children’s charity for some 18 years.

The charities and education practice at Hewitsons is led from Northampton but calls upon the agriculture, property and planning teams in Cambridge to act for a host of regional and national charities. Rural property and agricultural law expert Denise Wilkinson plays a key role in the practice, as does real estate and finance partner James Simpson. The firm counts several education institutions such as the University of Cambridge and numerous national charities among its clients.

Other key lawyers:James Simpson; Gemma Dudley; Denise Wilkinson; Susanne Hinde; Sarah Baron; Colin Jones


"This practice goes the extra mile to meet deadlines, more than other firms."

"They are always very pleasant and able even when under extreme pressure."

"Susanne Hinde is particularly good and ensures a clear and rapid response of all of the team members."

"Hewitsons has the personalised approach of a local firm, which belies the great strength and depth that its team brings to the advice that they are able to offer us as a school across a wide range of issues including education, charity law, employment law and land matters. They provide excellent support to us in a very timely manner."

"Colin Jones is exceptional, taking a keen interest in our school and supporting wherever possible. He involves specialist colleagues at the appropriate times to ensure that we receive the best service."

"James Simpson has been invaluable in dealing with recent land matters, steering us around potential pitfalls."

"Very responsive with a lot of senior expertise."

"Liz Davies is an exception mix of a private client solicitor with commercial legal experience which is ideal for high-net-worth individuals."

Key Clients

University of Cambridge


Julia Norris Trust

Autism Anglia

Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

YMCA Trinity Group

Stephen Perse Foundation

The Varrier-Jones Foundation

The Papworth Trust

Wood Green Animal Shelters

The Ann Howsden Charity

Max Perutz Fund

Ward’s Charity or The Church Lands

Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre

HertsCam Network

Conservators of the River Cam

The Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Girton Town Charity

Work highlights

  • Advised YMCA Cambridge & Peterborough on their merger with YMCA Suffolk, to become YMCA Trinity, one of the most significant charities in the East of England.
  • Advising Max Perutz Fund as to their governance, compliance and grant making.
  • Advising Ward’s Charity or The Church Lands on conversion from an unincorporated trust to a charitable incorporated organisation and on the sale of a valuable piece of land in order to generate funds in the best interests of its beneficiaries.
  • Advising The Papworth Trust on governance matters and trustees training.
  • Acted for The Stephen Perse Foundation in the acquisition of Cambridge Centre for Sixth Form Studies, a well-known Cambridge school.

The charities practice at Howes Percival LLP has many partners who act as charity trustees and have experience in dealing with governance issues. The multi-disciplinary group handles charity formation and administration, including advising on new and changed structures, incorporations, conversion, governing documents and mergers. Notable skills include tax advice from the estates practice, which frequently advises on Gift Aid, enhanced legacy income and inheritance tax matters. Head of private client services Catherine Scott is the key contact.

Practice head(s):Catherine Scott

Other key lawyers:Nathan Horton; Tessa Haskey; Alice Liddle; Nicola Curle; Paul Wootton

Key Clients

Norwich University for the Arts

Work highlights

  • Advised on Norwich University for the Arts' purchase of freehold land from Norwich City Council to transform an existing site into new teaching and student accommodation while also improving a neglected riverside location within the City Centre.
  • Represented client in disposition of assets to facilitate construction of new premises.
  • Representing client in connection with new loan facility of £1m.
  • Resisted financial claims and threats of eviction against landlord of commercial premises.
  • Property advice for long leasehold portfolio.

Hunt & Coombs LLP has two knowledgeable charity lawyers in Peterborough-based Anna Spriggs, who is a Diocesan Registrar and has in-depth knowledge of ecclesiastical law, and Oundle-based head of private client Paddy Appleton. The firm frequently handles property matters, wills, trusts and charitable status issues. Spriggs and consultant Lynne Ayres are trustees of Peterborough Cathedral Development and Preservation Trust.

Practice head(s):Paddy Appleton; Anna Spriggs

Other key lawyers:Lynne Ayres; Henry Anstey; Denis White; Sarah Morris; James Steward, Andrea Harrod; Olivia Chalmers


'The practice is a local firm that knows the area exceptionally well and supports the development of Peterborough. Its staff have always worked exceptionally well and have provided robust advice and guidance.'

'Their legal knowledge is robust and they develop an in-depth knowledge of our business and the specific industry we operate within.'

'They always seem accessible and willing to help and support. They undertake a lot of work with the community and are a visible presence within the City, supporting important causes as part of their social responsibility agenda.'

'We have dealt mainly with James Steward, and have found him responsive, knowledgeable and easy to work with.'

Key Clients

The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance - Property portfolio and governance

East of England Agricultural Society

The Leprosy Mission

The Peterborough School

Peterborough Town Sports Club

The Chapter of Peterborough Cathedral

Work highlights

  • Various matters for Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance including: complex covenant releases and reverter provision, statutory disposal and management of glebe land, commercial leases and licences for church and/or educational use – including acquisition of new church sites, complex multi-party options and promotion agreements for a number of development sites at Earls Barton, Moulton, Kings Sutton and Kettering, all well in excess of £1m.
  • A major disposal project of nine properties, some of which were grade II listed.
  • Application out of time under the Clergy Discipline Measure regarding allegation of abuse.
  • A complex option agreement for development land sale which completed in August 2015 but with ongoing matters relating to overage and deferred payments.
  • Acquisition and transfer of assets from trust to incorporated CIO.

The charities practice at Clapham & Collinge Solicitors is led by family law partner Neale Grearson and acts for charities based in Norwich and throughout East Anglia. It advises on charity formation, trustee compliance and responsibilities, mergers and winding up of charities, corporate law, commercial property, landlord and tenant matters, employment law and litigation. Its multi-disciplinary group includes corporate and commercial practice head Jade Tinney and employment specialist Nicola Strefford.

Practice head(s):Neale Grearson

Other key lawyers:Jade Tinney; Nicola Strefford


'In all of our dealings with Clapham & Collinge, I have always found their staff to be approachable and knowledgeable. We have received solid legal advice at all times and always leave a meeting or telephone conversation with the knowledge that our affairs are in very capable hands.'

'Being a local firm, there is a very real feeling that they care about local business and work to the best of their ability to achieve the best results for those local organisations.'

'We have received excellent legal advice from Jade Tinney at Clapham & Collinge over the past few years. She is incredibly professional and knowledgeable but remains both approachable and understanding.'

The charities group at Steeles Law is led from London and Norwich. In Norwich, corporate partner Richard Bailey is the key contact and he is a key adviser to many clients in the education sector. The firm acted for a number of high-profile charities during the course of the year, including the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

Practice head(s):Richard Bailey

Key Clients

Ethical Property Foundation

Consortium Multi-Academy Trust

CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy)

Longfield Hall Trust Limited

Work highlights

  • Advice to a further education institution following its conversion to a multi-academy trust.
  • During 2018, legal advice has been provided to the Ethical Property Foundation on numerous issues, including: a rebranding exercise; an employment matter, involving a dispute by a former employee over pension contributions; a property dispute on the terms of a licence agreement for a serviced office; and general advice on GDPR policy documentation.
  • Application for first registration of land.
  • Property advice to a free school.
  • Lettings advice to a multi-academy trust.

Contentious trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

The private wealth disputes practice at Birketts LLP handles contentious trusts and probate matters, which include actions under the Inheritance Act 1975, challenges to the validity of wills, the rights of adopted and illegitimate children, disputes arising from powers of attorney and financial abuse of the vulnerable, and TOLATA claims. Commercial litigation partner Paul Matthews leads the practice, in which ACTAPS member Bernadette Baker is a leading light.

Practice head(s):Paul Matthews

Other key lawyers:Bernadette Baker

At Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds, two experienced litigation partners, Rob Adam and Michael Batty, lead the contentious trusts and probate practice. Much of the day-to-day work is done by rising star associate Ben Fox, who specialises in this area, and consultant and ACTAPS member Kate Chandler, who has 35 years' experience in matters such as breach of trust and Inheritance Act 1975 claims. Key areas of work are the removal of personal representatives and defence of personal representatives who are facing claims, and the firm has had successes in the Chancery Division of the High Court.

Practice head(s):Michael Batty; Rob Adam

Other key lawyers:Ben Fox; Kate Chandler


'Kate Chandler and Ben Fox work very closely together and by doing so, are a very strong unit with an extensive knowledge of contentious litigation.'

'Kate Chandler has a wealth of knowledge in this field. Her legal network meant I got a first-class barrister representing me in High Court thus achieving a very successful outcome.'

'Ben Fox has a amazing attention to detail and depth of legal knowledge. He also possesses a rare quality in a lawyer, showing a degree of compassion when at times in contentious litigation it can become highly emotionally charged.'

'Ben Fox always returned my emails or phone calls within 24 hours over a four-year case, which is no mean feat.'

'Together they make a superb team and willing to rise to the challenge to represent their client in best possible way. I would not hesitate in recommending them.'

Work highlights

  • Application by a cohabitee in the High Court, Family Division under Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 in a multimillion-pound estate.
  • Advice given on the removal of an executor of a high-value estate and subsequent account on a wilful default basis.
  • Advising a beneficiary of a life interest trust in relation to potential breaches of trust in an estate comprising assets held in offshore trusts.
  • Advising on the challenge to the validity of a will on the basis of lack of testamentary capacity and want of knowledge and approval.
  • Advising a trustee facing allegations of numerous breaches of trust.

Hewitsons is 'a very well-established private client firm, and a leading regional firm, particularly for the resolution of trusts and probate disputes'. Practice head Lucinda Brown is a full member of ACTAPS and solicitor Kate Harris is an associate member. They frequently handle high-value cases involving the validity of wills, breach of trust claims, Inheritance Act claims, rectification of wills and trust documents, contentious Court of Protection matters and financial abuse of vulnerable adults. The firm's strong private client, charity and agriculture practices are also brought to bear on contentious matters for high-net-worth individuals.

Practice head(s):Lucinda Brown

Other key lawyers:Kate Harris


'Lucinda Brown is an extremely able lawyer and has a level of expertise and the sort of sound judgement one would expect to find in someone far more senior.'

'Kate Harris is outstanding.'

Work highlights

  • Representing a client as life tenant of a trust in their challenge to the exercise of trustees’ proposed appointment of shares in a farm business which are settled in trust.
  • Acting for a high-net-worth individual resident in Malaysia in her claim for reasonable financial provision from her late husband’s estate.
  • Acting for a widow in her claim for rectification of her late husband’s will.
  • Acting for a charity in its claim for removal of the executor of an estate of which the charity is one of four residuary beneficiaries, and also in a potential breach of trust claim.
  • Acting for a trustee of a family settlement in her defence to a claim for breach of trust.

Mills & Reeve LLP has the largest contentious trusts and probate team in East Anglia, in which all of the lawyers are ACTAPS members. The practice led by David Catchpole deals with disputes concerning the validity of wills, actions involving trustees and executors, Inheritance Act claims and related matters concerning lifetime transactions, as well as handling contested legacy matters for charities. The firm handles high-value matters involving estates with up to £50m in assets. Associate Lucy Mitchell is also recommended.

Practice head(s):David Catchpole

Other key lawyers:Lucy Mitchell

Buckles Solicitors LLP saw its caseload grow in 2018 with Inheritance Act challenges by spouses, partners and children and a claim under s1(1)(e). It also successfully defended a claim that a will was fraudulently procured. Practice head and veteran litigator Paul Branch has a growing specialism in contentious trusts and probate, and Court of Protection work. 'Extremely hardworking and committed' associate Alex Burch plays a key role in the practice.

Practice head(s):Paul Branch

Other key lawyers:Alex Burch; Lauren Godfrey


'The fee earners consistently prepare clear and concise briefs, give measured and realistic advice, and are always prepared to consider other angles. They appear to genuinely want the best for the client.'

'The individuals with whom I have worked have all been personable and courteous, and robust in their pursuit of their client's claims or defences, but are willing to consider other angles or different approaches. They are driven by getting the best result for their client whilst always playing fair.'

'The firm is very strong in the region in this quite specialised area of litigation. It has huge experience in relation to contentious estates and contested Court of Protection matters.'

'The firm has a really good private client and tax team, too, which can be invaluable when a contentious matter has a tax angle.'

'Paul Branch is a standout litigation partner. He has infinitely sound judgement and is a calm and reassuring presence in any stressful situation.'

Work highlights

  • Represented client in a Court of Protection matter where an application was made for a statutory will for a woman who had lost capacity.
  • Representing client in a hard-fought cohabitee Inheritance Act claim, involving a private company run by the deceased whose share was put in the thousands by the defendant and in the millions by Buckles.
  • Representing client to ensure appropriate division of assets held in five different jurisdictions.
  • Representing executors and trustees in a claim over a £2.8m estate attempting to ensure that tax planning is not undone to the detriment of all.
  • Representing executors in a £1.9m estate.

Gotelee Solicitors joins the ranking this year thanks to the growing workload of Peter Crix's private client practice. Associate Kay Baker in Hadleigh is the standout practitioner and clients remark that she is 'an excellent lawyer combining legal expertise with empathy to achieve a solution to some of the most complicated scenarios'. Experienced litigator Rachel Cronin in Felixstowe is also recommended for disputes involving wills and probate. The firm acts for both claimants and defendants, and frequently advises executors in contentious matters.

Practice head(s):Peter Crix

Other key lawyers:Kay Baker; Rachel Cronin


'The team has expertise in both contentious and non-contentious matters, thus providing a comprehensive service to clients.'

'Within the team are individuals who excel in their fields, thus elevating this firm above others.'

'Kay Baker always has a practical approach to the legal issues arising whilst still being mindful of the emotional background to such disputes.'

Work highlights

  • Advised on a disputed deputyship application.
  • Advised on an estate subject to multiple claims.
  • Represented claimant in connection with an Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claim.
  • Advised on a complex estate with various contentious aspects.

Established in 2012, the Cambridge contentious trusts and probate practice at Tees Law is led by ACTAPS member and highly respected litigator Sara Stabler , who has 20 years' experience in this field and is a Higher Court Advocate who regularly progresses claims without input from counsel. Her caseload frequently includes multi-party actions and claims involving several different disciplines, including a recent inheritance claim against an estate where one of the parties is a company, which involved issues relating to trusts, contentious probate claims, company law, constitution issues and tax.

Practice head(s):Sara Stabler

Other key lawyers:Katie Hayes


'From the mediation I conducted for this firm's client I found the lawyer handling the matter to be very competent and professional.'

'I worked with Sara Stabler in a difficult probate mediation. I found her sensitive to her clients' needs, focused and alert to the difficulties in managing the dispute.'

'Sara Stabler worked hard to reach a conclusion for her client's benefit and had a good professional relationship with the other lawyers involved.'

Work highlights

  • A multi-party, multi-discipline case involving a claim issued by the deceased’s first wife, on behalf of their disabled child.
  • Acting for a son who had been excluded from his mother’s estate by his brother.
  • A complicated constructive trust dispute between children of the deceased and deceased’s widow in respect of a high-value estate.
  • Advising an estate which had been administered as an intestate estate, but where subsequently a will was discovered.
  • TLATA claim to determine the beneficial interests in two properties.

Partner and ACTAPS member Polly Stephenson leads the inheritance disputes practice at Ashtons Legal in Ipswich, which handles contentious trusts, Inheritance Act 1975 claims, wills and probate disputes, kin enquiries and related professional negligence claims on behalf of executors and trustees, claimants and defendants. The firm's caseload ranges from small to multimillion-pound estates. Solicitor Bee Belby has a particular focus on cases for clients in the agricultural sector.

Practice head(s):Polly Stephenson

Other key lawyers:Bee Belby; Sam Lees

The practice at Clapham & Collinge Solicitors is now led by head of litigation Philip Lumb who works alongside consultant Michael Olmer, following the departure of Tammy Parnell to run a property company. The firm took on 21 contentious probate cases in 2018, up from 11 the previous year, and the practice calls upon Olmer's private client expertise to handle tax and family issues, often with an international element.

Practice head(s):Philip Lumb

Other key lawyers:Michael Olmer

The practice at Fosters is led by experienced litigation partner Chris Fielding, who has more than ten years' experience in this niche area of law. He frequently acts for personal representatives and beneficiaries, as well as other litigants pursuing action against estates. Delivering services through its Norwich, Wymondham and Lowestoft offices, the firm is a key player in the Norfolk market.

Practice head(s):Chris Fielding

Work highlights

  • Advising on a complex Inheritance Act claim involving trust provisions for a minor; litigation to trial was avoided through effective mediation.
  • Settling a claim on behalf of a separated spouse within a valuable Inheritance Act claim brought out of time.
  • Advising the personal representative of the estate of a deceased partner in relation to a complex dispute over the division of partnership assets including considerable real estate with development potential, valued in excess of £1m.
  • Advising family members in relation to the failure on the part of executors to take into account a mutual will, in circumstances in which the clients are also relying on arguments over the deceased’s capacity and evidence of undue influence.

At Fraser Dawbarns in King's Lynn, associate and ACTAPS member Janet Lane is the key practitioner. She is a contentious probate and licensing specialist who also focuses on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. One client remarks that 'the firm provides consistently good service' and that Lane is 'sympathetic and always helpful'.

Practice head(s):Melinda Smith

Other key lawyers:Janet Lane

Work highlights

  • Defending a client in a claim from her son against his father’s will.
  • Handling a claim against an estate where a husband failed to make adequate provision for his wife in his will.
  • Advising on a challenge to a homemade will of which the client was executor.


Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners
  5. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Birketts LLP is well known for its mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and litigation expertise in family law matters for high-net-worth clients in East Anglia and beyond. Ipswich-based practice head Oliver Gravell saw the practice in Norwich grow with the hire of associates Lisa Cornish and Denise Findlay from Hansells. Newly promoted partner Katie Beaven in Norwich is best-known for complex and high-net-worth financial settlements and Children Act matters. Senior associates Roopa Ahluwalia  and Elisabeth Sneade are the key contacts in Cambridge.

Practice head(s):Oliver Gravell

Other key lawyers:Katie Beaven; Lisa Cornish; Roopa Ahluwalia; Elisabeth Sneade; Deborah Lloyd; Denise Findlay; Ginny Colman


'Very professional. I was represented by Lisa Cornish who is calm and knowledgeable. My ex-husband's solicitor was very unprofessional and Lisa remained cool at all times.'

Work highlights

  • Dealing with assets in excess of £2m and a complicated family trust structure whereby trustees were eventually made third-party interveners.
  • Acting for a partner with Ernst and Young.
  • Advising wife where assets were principally in her name in trust format.
  • Advising husband in financial dispute where there were unvested share options and total assets of approximately £1.5m.
  • Client came from using Russell Cooke and was unhappy that the millionaire's defence had been used within a Schedule 1 Children Act claim.

Staffed entirely by partners, Cambridge Family Law Practice is not only a leading firm in the Cambridge area, but also has a busy caseload for clients across East Anglia, London and beyond. It frequently handles high-value cross-border matters. The firm now has six partners with the recruitment of Jeremy Ford from Setfords Solicitors to join leading lights Simon Bethel, Gail Marchant-Daisley, Sue Varty, Tricia Ashton and Adam Moghadas. Ford has specific expertise in surrogacy law, child abduction and the medical treatment of children disputes, and often appears in the High Court.

Other key lawyers:Simon Bethel; Tricia Ashton; Gail Marchant-Daisley; Sue Varty; Adam Moghadas; Jeremy Ford

Work highlights

  • Representing the father in complex Children Act proceedings involving issues of parental alienation of three children aged 12, 10 and 6, where the two elder children have not had contact at all for almost a year, and contact with the six year old recently resumed following a successful interim application before a Circuit Judge.
  • Representing the husband in a multiplicity of proceedings, involving loss of resources and children proceedings.

Mills & Reeve LLP advises on the full range of family law issues from cross-border finances matters involving business assets and trusts to complex children cases. It has the largest practice in the region and frequently acts for high-net-worth individuals locally, nationally and internationally. Practice heads Caitlin Jenkins in Cambridge, Nick Stone in Norwich and consultant Roger Bamber call on the firm's leading agriculture, private tax, employment, conveyancing and corporate teams to provide a holistic service in complex cases.

Practice head(s):Caitlin Jenkins; Nick Stone; Roger Bamber

Other key lawyers:George Sprague; Frances Bailey; Rachel Brand


'The whole team is very helpful, kind and supportive.'

'The attention to detail in very complex cases is impressive.'

Sensible, practical advice is given kindly - good communication skills, particularly when communicating with hostile and difficult personality types.'

'Hannah Wilson is calm, kind, efficient and very sensible but also understands when her client might be finding things hard and has a lovely way with people.'

'Ania Tarasiewicz is a walking encyclopaedia on complex cases. Also very calm, kind, efficient and supportive.'

Work highlights

  • Nick Stone acted for the wife to be in the negotiation and drafting of a pre-nuptial agreement in a case where the parties’ combined assets were c. £20m.
  • Acting for a husband in a High Court financial remedy case with substantial property portfolios and several businesses, and significant income, plus pensions and a family trust.
  • Acting in a case involving a senior executive in a global company with issues around multiple properties, complex income, and pension issues.
  • Acting for a husband, a founder of a listed company, on a financial settlement with complex trust structures and significant assets overseas.

Taylor Vinters is 'one of the top firms for family work and is increasingly making its presence felt in London, too', according to one client. Practice head Jackie Wells has 'massive experience of heavyweight family litigation and is more than capable of going up against any of the London Magic Circle firms'. The 'bright and able' Alexandra Gooden is also recommended. The firm acts regionally, nationally and internationally for entrepreneurs, family business owners, landed estate owners, City professionals and other high-net-worth individuals in the full range of high-value and complex family law matters.

Practice head(s):Jackie Wells

Other key lawyers:Alexandra Gooden; Rachel Bevan


'An experienced and friendly team with great client care skills and commitment to securing the best outcome for their clients.'

'Jackie Wells brings a depth of experience combined with outstanding client care skills.'

'Alexandra Gooden is excellent. I have recommended her to friends on many occasions and would not hesitate to do so again.'

Work highlights

  • High-profile divorce for clients based in London who retained business interests in Cambridge and the US.
  • Acting for wife in case involving her family company which is AIM listed, and complex arguments around provenance and a disputed inheritance. Case based in rural Lincolnshire and includes a substantial estate and assets in France.
  • Owner-manager divorce with arguments around post-separation accrual and assets worth circa £15-£20m.
  • Representing the wife in a high-profile divorce in marriage of long standing, involving assets in Cambridge, London and France.
  • Acting for a wife who had discovered documents suggesting that her husband was planning to divorce in his native New Zealand and that he had moved assets in anticipation of doing so.

Ashtons Legal has significant expertise in advising clients with very substantial assets and significant land and trust assets on family law matters, for which it is regarded as one of the best in East Anglia. Practice head Stephen Williams in Ipswich frequently handles family law matters with an international element for high-net-worth individuals, particularly those in the agricultural sector. Mary Pearce in Bury St Edmunds specialises in the financial aspects of breakdowns of marriages or cohabitation arrangements. Francesca Easter is also recommended.

Practice head(s):Stephen Williams

Other key lawyers:Mary Pearce; Francesca Easter

Buckles Solicitors LLP has two greatly respected partners in Lyn Brisley and 30-year veteran Roger Gurney. The firm has extensive experience in dealing with complex financial issues including trusts, international matters, agricultural assets and high-value business interests. It handles a busy caseload of divorce, civil partnerships, pre-nuptial agreements, financial provision, children matters, injunctions and TOLATA. In 2018, the firm launched a new local Family Mediation Service, involving a network of independent financial advisers, valuers, divorce coaches, therapists and counsellors.

Practice head(s):Lyn Brisley

Other key lawyers:Roger Gurney; Helen Saggers


'The practice provides good attention to detail, good value and fantastic support for their clients.'

'Roger Gurney is first-rate at financial remedy family cases. He has great judgement and fights his client's cases with real determination.'

Butcher Andrews has a strong following in North Norfolk and continues to extend its reach further into East Anglia. Practice head Adney Payne, who is one of the most highly respected family lawyers in Norfolk, and key partner Julia Buckingham are both collaboratively trained, and Buckingham's background as a property lawyer gives her added insight into complex cohabitation disputes. They are supported by experienced litigation executive Jean Curtis who has specialist expertise in Children Act cases.

Practice head(s):Adney Payne

Other key lawyers:Jean Curtis; Julia Buckingham; Ava Bazley

Gotelee Solicitors has one of the leading family law practices in Suffolk and lead partner Helen Stuart is highly regarded for her advice to high-net-worth individuals on divorce, separation and other family law matters. In 2018, the firm recruited solicitor and Resolution member Juliet Gordon from Jackaman Smith & Mulley as part of an ongoing investment to grow the capacity of the practice. Legal executive Samantha Markham is recommended for her collaborative approach to family disputes.

Practice head(s):Helen Stuart

Other key lawyers:Juliet Gordon; Samantha Markham


'Gotelee offers a very personal service.  Everyone I dealt with was up-to-date on my case, approachable and understanding.'

'Samantha Markham provided clear and concise advice and was friendly, understanding and professional throughout the divorce process.'

Greene & Greene is 'a classy outfit that provides a level of service and legal vigour that can stand up against any firms in East Anglia and many in London'. 'There is nobody I would trust more', says a client of managing partner and head of family law Stuart Hughes. Associate Melanie Pilmer is a rising star. Both work closely with the firm's corporate and private client practices to provide a holistic service that encompasses financial and property matters, including asset protection in pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

Practice head(s):Stuart Hughes

Other key lawyers:Melanie Pilmer


'Firstly, the team is approachable and that compares favourably to other firms. However, they are also extremely knowledgeable, having a wide array of experiences in assisting other clients and within wider case law.'

'It is the "go-to" firm, as I know I can trust them to look after my clients' interests and provide a service that goes above and beyond.'

'Stuart Hughes is a standout individual. His approach to clients in what are clearly very testing times is outstanding.'

'This is a specialised and boutique department. Stuart Hughes is fearless and aggressive in the pursuit of the right outcome for his clients. Nothing and no-one scares him and he will interrogate information assiduously to find any hidden nuggets to help the case.'

'Melanie Pilmer is an experienced and user-friendly lawyer who undertakes in and out of court resolutions. Kind with clients, unflappable and never afraid to run a decent point, she is unfailingly polite but determined.'

'Melanie Pilmer has impressed us with her attention to detail, responsiveness and excellent cross-border knowledge and experience.'

'Stuart Hughes and Melanie Pilmer are both a pleasure to deal with professionally.'

"Stuart Hughes is a very good tactician. He fights very hard for his clients, yet is objective and able to take a detached view. He is an excellent team player with counsel, and a pleasure to work with.'

'The team has the strength of several layers of experience, headed by Stuart Hughes who has a wealth of experience in family cases, both as a traditional lawyer and as a mediator. With this level of skill set and experience it allows the team to adapt to the needs of the client – which is where they stand out from other firms.'

'Stuart Hughes has the incredible ability to retain the most complex and dense financial facts and arrangements for the duration of the case.'

Work highlights

  • Advised and prepared a complex £16m pre-nuptial agreement.
  • Acting for the applicant in a case where there were serious cross-allegations involving domestic abuse, neglect, alcoholism and violence.
  • Advising where the parties asserted beneficial interests in property located in the UK and France.
  • Advising on a collaborative basis in respect of divorce involving UK and overseas assets, including trust assets, of over £3m.
  • Successful application for a prohibited steps order to prevent children’s move and change in schools.

Hunt & Coombs LLP has a seven-lawyer family law practice based in Peterborough that also provides services to clients through the firm's St Neots, Huntingdon and Oundle offices. Practice head Farhana Butt and vastly experienced consultants Denis White and Edward Owen are strong advocates who handle complex and high-value cases. Butt is also well known as a family mediator. The firm excels in both public and private law matters. Senior solicitor Louise Ballantyne is a rising star.

Practice head(s):Farhana Butt

Other key lawyers:Edward Owen; Denis White; Louise Ballantyne; Sophie Scotcher; Giuseppe Pingerna


'A highly efficient and supportive team offering excellent care and guidance to clients, always with a view to sensible, realistic and good results.'

'Farhana Butt and Sophie Scotcher are impressively effective, great at understanding the needs of client's case and able to implement steps to a good result with great efficiency.'

'This is a busy high street practice with decades of experience in all aspects of family law. They have a detailed local knowledge and are well known in the local legal community as active and responsible professionals.'

'Farhana Butt has a long-standing and detailed knowledge of local issues. She has experience in all aspects of family law. She is not afraid to fight for her client's aims and objectives and is user-friendly.'

'Sophie Scotcher is organised and empathetic with a good legal knowledge. She presents beyond her years of experience and thinks outside of the box to get things done.'

'Farhana Butt is modernising and revitalising a long-established family law team, and working hard to build and grow a strong team around her.'

'Farhana Butt commands great loyalty with her client base, and applies a mixture of hard work and robust common sense to everything she does.'

'Sophie Scotcher is diligent, efficient, well-organised and unflappable and quickly establishing herself as an indispensable part of the team.'

'Denis White and Edward Owen are often the first choice "go-to" people if there is an urgent family case at court and a party needs a lawyer urgently. Both are very experienced and ideal for this type of case because of their calm and measured approach. Louise is particularly good on her feet.'

'An excellent firm with a very good reputation and it is always well received by other lawyers when they are involved in a case.'

'Always an organised sensible approach to advice, case preparation and representation', says counsel of the family law practice as Kerseys Solicitors LLP in Ipswich. The firm stands out for its expertise in public and private law children matters, as well as its expertise in financial aspects of divorce including business assets, farms and pensions. Practice head Clare Thomas, partner Elaine Webb and consultant and mediator Rosemary Carter are highly recommended. Victoria Cole is a rising star.

Practice head(s):Clare Thomas

Other key lawyers:Elaine Webb; Victoria Cole; Rosemary Carter


'The team was very prompt in dealing with all my requests throughout the process, keeping me up-to-date from start to finish. They were professional at all times and made me feel a priority.'

'Victoria Cole was my main contact and was an absolute professional at all times. She was helpful, responsive and very informative about a range of issues I faced.'

'Victoria Cole offered a personal feel to the meetings I attended and explained any advice she offered both in legal terms as well as laymen terms for me. I have recommended Victoria and Kerseys to a number of others who have also given positive feedback about their experience.'

The 'kind, helpful, cooperative and very reliable' Amanda Owens in Norwich leads the practice at Steeles Law, in which associate Emma Alfieri in Diss plays a key role. The small practice handles high-value and complex family cases and is highly regarded among referrers in Suffolk and Norfolk, most notably in Children Act and financial remedy cases.

Practice head(s):Amanda Owens

Other key lawyers:Emma Alfieri


'A very efficient practice. A very friendly office. Staff are always polite in person or when receiving calls.'

'Emma Alfieri is a very pleasant, approachable person. She is extremely efficient, very helpful and I felt I could trust her to look after my interests, which she did.'

'The team is amazing. Amanda Owens who has been my solicitor for three years, as always has been so supportive friendly and helpful.'

Nationally, Vardags is regarded as a leading matrimonial and family law firm specialising in high-net-worth and complex cases, often with an international element. The Cambridge office opened in 2016.

Work highlights

  • Represented the claimant in respect of her £1.7m claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

Woolley & Co, Solicitors is a nationwide family law firm that has 23 partners, four of whom operate from East Anglia. Tamara Glanvill and Abby Smith in St Neots, Nick Wiseman in Great Yarmouth and Karen Agnew-Griffith in Thetford are all 'engaging and self-motivating individuals with a lot of experience'. They handle complex cases involving leave to remove, difficult child arrangements cases, cross-border divorce, and multimillion-pound financial disputes. Their clients include include expats, high-net-worth individuals, farming families, business owners and company directors.

Other key lawyers:Tamara Glanvill; Karen Agnew-Griffith; Nick Wiseman; Abby Smith


'Karen Agnew Griffith was superb from the initial phone call. She is a "no nonsense" person who explained everything very clearly indeed and without any waffle you get from many others.'

'All the way through the process, Karen Agnew Griffith was exceptional, whilst also keeping costs down with direct responses and advice only when really needed, unlike competitors.'

'Woolley and Co has a very good online presence which means that they are often a first port of call for legal services, despite not having a substantial office building in towns and cities across the country.'

Work highlights

  • Tamara Glanvill handled a complex leave to remove application involving a blended family.
  • Karen Agnew-Griffith handled a complex cross-border divorce, child arrangements for a child with special needs, and a financial settlement.
  • Tamara Glanvill acted for an English client living in the USA, working in India and with assets in the Far East.
  • Abby Smith handled hostile Children Act proceedings, divorce and financial proceedings.
  • Nick Wiseman handled a section 37 contested Children Act case.

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors is 'a well established regional firm where client care is at the top of the agenda and it provides an extremely empathetic and dedicated service to its clients'. Practice head Neale Grearson 'clearly is highly regarded by top barristers and colleagues in the profession'. The firm advises on divorce and separation, financial relief, children issues, property rights for unmarried couples, cohabitation agreements, separation agreements and pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

Practice head(s):Neale Grearson

Other key lawyers:Caroline Eaton; Emerald Priscott


'This is a team that works well together: everyone's contribution is valued and there is a real sense of mutual respect, trust and a commitment to getting good outcomes for clients.'

'They are, rightly, proud of their achievements. They are unfailingly helpful and friendly when approached.'

'I am always impressed by their commitment to achieving settlements without going to court whenever possible.'

Fosters in Norwich deals with divorce and ancillary relief matters, private law children matters, domestic violence applications and public law children matters. Practice head Lucy Simpson acts for high-net-worth individuals, which in 2018 included clients with assets of up to £5m with business interests and significant overseas assets. Partner Clare Sharpe frequently represents parents in private and public law children matters including those with an international element and complex cases of substantial or conflicting medical evidence.

Practice head(s):Lucy Simpson

Other key lawyers:Clare Sharpe


'I am impressed by how closely the staff work together; phone calls and messages are passed on effectively and any promised return calls or emails are always honoured promptly.'

'The environment is professional whilst remaining welcoming. I have always felt looked after and valued, an aspect that I've found absent in other firms.'

'Lucy Simpson has been excellent in managing my case. I feel like we have received exceptional service from Lucy. I have found her to be highly knowledgeable, thorough with an enviable attention to detail, caring and kind whilst remaining factual and honest at all times.'

Work highlights

  • Representing an applicant wife in a complex high-value divorce where the husband had been diagnosed with terminal lung and brain tumours.  The matter involved a significant portfolio, overseas assets and two limited companies and required an unusual level of sensitivity in view of the issues involved.
  • Representing a mother in a highly complex private law children matter involving allegations of parental alienation and a fabricated illness.
  • Representing the children through their Rule 16.4 guardian in a complex private law children matter where the mother is actively alienating the children, one of whom has significant special needs.
  • Representing a disabled child in an application for discharge of a care order and an application for special guardianship in favour of his foster carers.
  • Representing a respondent mother in care proceedings in a complex case involving non-accidental injury to baby daughter.

The family practice at Fraser Dawbarns excels in complex financial matters thanks to the extensive knowledge of practice head Deborah Allen, who is 'well liked and respected, which has given the family team coherence and good morale'. Senior associate Rebecca Woodley, who is 'passionate about getting a good result for her clients, for whom she works tirelessly', handles financial matters and has a wealth of experience in complex children matters. Jackie Jessiman joined the Ely office from Woodfines LLP.

Practice head(s):Deborah Allen

Other key lawyers:Rebecca Woodley; Jackie Jessiman


'A solid department with a wealth of experience and expertise.'

'Deborah Allen is an experienced and able solicitor with a practical and determined approach to all her cases.'

'Rebecca Woodley is thorough and meticulous in her approach, yet sensitive and compassionate when dealing with clients.'

Work highlights

  • Representing husband in the preparation of post-nuptial agreement to protect inherited assets worth £6m including a farm and other business interests.
  • Representing the wife in a complex £9m divorce involving multiple properties both at home and abroad, family trusts and several large companies.
  • Representing the wife in divorce proceedings in which contributions and needs of both client and disabled child were key. Negotiations were lengthy but the matter was successfully agreed.
  • Representing the wife in divorce proceedings in which inheritance had been 'muddled' with marital assets but the client sought to preserve the inheritance. Pension provision was significant with a value of £900,000, with the respondent refusing to make relevant enquiries of the pension provider, making a court application necessary. Settlement was successfully negotiated in the wife’s favour.
  • Children Act proceedings involving a child with a world-class go-karting career and a dispute between the parents as to how his time should be allocated.

The family law practice at Howes Percival LLP is part of an integrated private client group that works across its offices in Cambridge, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Norwich. Working closely with the estates and private client team, it focuses on wealth preservation where clients have business and land assets and other inherited wealth. Lead partner Amy Walpole and associate Sophie Key frequently handle divorce, financial negotiations, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation issues and Children Act matters for high-net-worth individuals.

Practice head(s):Amy Walpole

Other key lawyers:Sophie Key; Laura Clay-Harris


'The team is approachable and responsive.'

'Amy Walpole and Laura Clay-Harris are both strong in communication and respond to emails promptly.'

'Approachable, determined and knowledgeable, they want to achieve best possible outcomes.'

'Amy Walpole's standout quality was her determination to achieve a fair result for her client even when difficult problems were obstructing progress. She persisted even when I felt like giving in to demands made by the other side. She gave me the confidence to carry on and achieve a good outcome.'

Prettys Solicitors LLP has outstanding practitioners in practice head and mediator Georgina Rayment and collaboratively trained head of private client Georgie Hall. Rayment has 20 years' experience at the firm and advises on all issues including divorce, financial resolution, children disputes, cohabitation agreements, pre-marital agreements and financial resolution. Hall is known for her excellent client care in matters relating to finances, children, and pre- or post-marriage asset division. Senior associate Matthew Clemence and associate Victoria Mayhew are also recommended.

Practice head(s):Georgina Rayment

Other key lawyers:Georgie Hall; Matthew Clemence; Victoria Mayhew

The matrimonial law practice at Rogers and Norton comprises one partner, one solicitor and one trainee, who handle both litigation and family mediation. Practice head Kerry Rowell in Norwich has a strong following across Norfolk and is particularly skilled in private law children and financial enforcement matters. Solicitor Averil Ballam in Attleborough is also recommended.

Practice head(s):Kerry Rowell

Other key lawyers:Averil Ballam

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended a father for the second time facing allegations of sexual abuse in a case where the mother is exercising coercive control of the children and parental alienation.
  • Successfully sought the return of a child who had been removed by the mother from the father’s care through court advocacy persuading the court that the child was at risk of harm in the care of the mother who had recently been intoxicated and sexually assaulted whilst caring for the child.
  • Negotiating at court a settlement in respect of an autistic child whose father was seeking to remove her temporarily from the jurisdiction to a Non-Hague Convention country outside of the EU.
  • Advising on financial settlement with pension valued over £2m and issue of needs for periodical payments from husband’s substantial income and business interests.
  • Advising on a separation agreement involving Sharia law.

'To use a sporting analogy, the firm covers every blade of grass for its clients and no stone is left unturned in attempting to achieve a positive result', says a client of Tees Law in Cambridge. Partner Clare Pilsworth joined from Woodfines LLP to lead the practice. Collaboratively trained associate Deborah Hargreaves is a rising star in complex and sensitive cases involving children and financial matters.

Practice head(s):Clare Pilsworth

Other key lawyers:Deborah Hargreaves; David Redfern


'The team worked seamlessly, with a single lead point of contact, which gave continuity and reassurance at a time of significant stress. The approach was always measured and objective, making it easy to ask for advice and to understand the various options.'

'I have worked with Clare Pilsworth on a number of high-value and complicated matrimonial finance cases. She is an excellent lawyer with great technical abilities and has a common sense approach in all her matters. She works extremely hard on behalf for all her clients in what are often very long drawn-out difficult cases.'

'What made them stand out was the fact that they were able to guide and lead through their legal expertise without being patronising. They acted in a way that helped defuse possible conflict whilst making me feel supported.'

'Deborah Hargreaves genuinely strives to help her clients. She is kind, compassionate and clear-headed in the advice she provides.'

'I was enormously impressed by the level of forethought and strategic planning which goes into their cases.'

'The team has a high level of knowledge and gives clear and realistic advice to its clients. Well organised and easy to work with.'

'Tees has an approachable and client-friendly team.'

'An excellent local firm that wouldn't be out of place operating in the City of London.'

'David Redfern is a partner of great experience and a supreme strategic thinker.'

Work highlights

  • A family dispute over the proceeds of a sale of a property.
  • A complex claim for financial provision under Schedule 1 of the Children Act, acting for a respondent father.
  • Collaborative law case nearing conclusion by lodging agreed minute of consent.
  • Acting for a non-biological father in respect of his application for contact and parental responsibility for twin children born to his wife, who was his girlfriend at the time of IVF treatment with donor sperm. Applying for parental order.
  • Acting for a father in Children Act proceedings to obtain a child arrangements order setting out the basis on which the children would live and spend time with the two parents.

BDB Pitmans has one partner who works between the London and Cambridge offices, but David Thompson has a growing client base in East Anglia. The firm, which is in the process of significantly expanding its regional family law offering, has a particular focus on complex financial and international issues including complex  leave-to-remove children cases. Thompson is chair of London Region of Resolution.

Practice head(s):David Thompson

The family practice at Blocks has a strong client following around Ipswich, and frequently advises on divorce and separations, financial remedies for high-net-worth individuals, child arrangement cases and pre-nuptial agreements.

Other key lawyers:John Simpson

Work highlights

  • Acting for an individual with high net worth who, following a complex divorce, is now looking to enforce arrangements put in place with regards to the children and make a cross-application for variation.

Cozens-Hardy LLP in Norwich has a team of three highly experienced partners, all of whom are collaboratively trained. Iain White, Jane Anderson and Sandra Nunn are all members of Resolution, as is solicitor Sophie Smith. White and Anderson frequently handle high-net-worth financial remedy proceedings. The firm has a legal aid contract for public law children’s advocacy and White and Smith also have a strong reputation for their work in private children cases.

Practice head(s):Iain White; Jane Anderson; Sandra Nunn

Other key lawyers:Sophie Smith

FM Family Law is a niche firm that focuses purely on divorce, family law and mediation. It has a team of four specialist family lawyers and mediators in Cambridge and Norwich. Founder Fiona McLeman and the vastly experienced Sue Bailey are the two partners and they are supported by senior associate Christina Hale and legal executive Karen Fox.

Practice head(s):Fiona McLeman

Other key lawyers:Sue Bailey; Karen Fox; Christina Hale

New to the ranking is Hayes + Storr Solicitors and Notaries, which operates a busy family law department from Fakenham that delivers services through the firm's seven offices in North and West Norfolk. Practice head Rob Colwell specialises in mid- to high-value asset divorce cases, while solicitor Maria Endall, who joined after working as a registrar for Norfolk County Council, focuses on private law child cases.

Practice head(s):Rob Colwell

Work highlights

  • Represented petitioner in emotive divorce and financial matters, successfully settling with assets of over £1.7m.
  • Represented respondent in a multimillion-pound family farming marriage breakdown case without issuing formal proceedings, saving the client tens of thousands of pounds and the associated stress.
  • Helped a director of a regional multimillion-pound family franchise business with outstanding financial matters following a historical divorce.
  • Represented respondent through to a successful £1.1m outcome against an applicant that refused to cooperate at first with disclosure of matrimonial assets in her name.
  • Skilful negotiation at short notice of complex child matters with a litigant in person, involving a cross-jurisdictional element, which settled by amicable agreement and only involved the court as a paper exercise for sealing.

Hegarty LLP has a team of seven practitioners across its Peterborough, Stamford and Oakham offices. Associate Chris Brown , solicitor Jane Tatlock, veteran family law executive Carl Russell and legal executive Lesley Knight, who is recommended for domestic violence and Children Act matters, are the key contacts in Peterborough. Pavinder Khela in Stamford and Julia Weber in Oakham are recommended for divorce and separation matters, matrimonial finances, cohabitation agreements, pre-nuptial agreements and child arrangement orders.

Other key lawyers:Chris Brown; Jane Tatlock; Carl Russell; Lesley Knight; Pavinder Khela; Julia Weber

Spire Solicitors LLP joins the ranking having seen a growing workload of family matters for the lawyers in its Norwich, Dereham and Wymondham offices. The practice led by Sarb Gosal and Richard Bevan continued to expand in 2018 with the hire of associate Kira Arden from Rudlings Wakelam. The deep bench of lawyers handles a diverse range of matters for clients in Norfolk including childcare law, collaborative law, divorce or dissolution, cohabitation agreements and domestic violence.

Practice head(s):Sarb Gosal; Richard Bevan

Other key lawyers:Amanda Maruca; Kira Arden; Nisha Jandu

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Cambridge

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate: Cambridge
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Birketts LLP handles the full range of private client work including complex probate and estate administration, trust creation, administration, variation and dissolution, tax matters, wills and succession planning, lifetime tax planning, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. The practice led by the 'approachable, sympathetic, efficient, competent' Caroline Stenner frequently works with the firm's family business and agriculture departments to provide an integrated service to business and farming families. One client describes the firm as 'very responsive, with the ability to turn matters around within a short time scale if required'. Rachel Winter is a rising star.

Practice head(s):Caroline Stenner

Other key lawyers:Rachel Winter; Robert Willoughby


'A friendly, caring and diligent firm.'

'A very proactive team not afraid to say they need to go and find out something. I have found this very different and less arrogant than other firms.'

'Caroline Stenner is user-friendly and personable. She is extremely experienced and sensible and very good with clients, showing both empathy and pragmatism.'

'A very collaborative way of working to ensure that clients get the desired results.'

'Rachel Winter's key strengths are her technical ability and her ability to communicate complex matters to clients. She shows a willingness to work to find a solution, and to work collaboratively with other professionals to ensure excellent client service, high responsiveness and quick turnaround times.'

'Caroline Stenner is a delight to deal with. She has excellent technical skills combined with a personality that places clients at ease.'

Hewitsons has a highly experienced practice for estate planning, complex wills and powers of attorney, trust administration and reorganisation, the administration of high-value estates, and advice on foreign assets. The firm's strong rural practice sees it handle the affairs of many clients in the farming industry, as well as large landed estates. Practice head Daniel Curtis and key partners Bernadette O’Reilly and Elizabeth Davies are all leading lights in the market, and associate Kelly Wardell is a rising star. The firm's clients include a number of estates with a net worth in excess of £100m.

Practice head(s):Daniel Curtis

Other key lawyers:Bernadette O'Reilly; Elizabeth Davies; Kelly Wardell; Katherine Hague


'Friendly, approachable and professional.'

'Bernadette O'Reilly knows her subject and explains things so they are easy to understand.'

'The practice offers a broad range of skills and expertise - together with a "can-do" attitude and a supportive outlook.'

'The firm is responsive and offers a good range of skills and expertise within the landed estates and farming sector.'

"Hewistons is a good firm - they are specialists in what they do - and they deliver a good, reliable service."

"The firm has a client-focused approach. It explains legal issues in a way that makes sense to the client and has a good understanding of the emotions that clients are feeling when discussing family circumstances and challenges."

"Bernadette O'Reilly is particularly empathetic with clients dealing with emotional circumstances."

"All members of Hewitsons have been unfailingly professional and helpful."

"Katherine Hague has been consistently thorough, organised, helpful and knowledgeable. At a difficult time for our family, she has been sensitive and professional in all of our interactions. She has great communication skills, along with a relaxed manner, and we could not give her a higher recommendation."

"An exceptionally dedicated team with good clear communication between specialists and excellent clear responses, advice and billing."

"A good clear legal and human response combined with unwavering legal expertise."

"The solicitors were efficient, responded quickly, knew their stuff, and were practical. I would enthusiastically Elizabeth Davies for private trust and probate work."

Mills & Reeve LLP's private wealth practice frequently handles the affairs of ultra-high-net-worth clients, among which are family offices and business owners, landowners, trusts and charities. Partner Chris Belcher leads the firm-wide practice and principal associate Alex Hunt specialises in complex international tax planning, particularly pre-arrival advice, as well as the taxation of residential property holding structures such as offshore trusts. Associate Emma Watton  is also recommended for succession planning. In 2018, the firm acted for an estate with assets in the region of £500m.

Practice head(s):Chris Belcher

Other key lawyers:Alex Hunt; Lucy Howard; Emma Watton

The entrepreneurial wealth practice at Taylor Vinters has nationally renowned experts in their fields including partner Jocelyn Fox, who has 30 years' experience in wills, probate and estate planning, and works with landed estates, world-renowned academics and busy professionals. She also focuses on work with vulnerable clients, being on the Mental Capacity special interest group for STEP. James Packer, who works in both London and Cambridge, is also a leading light for advising high-net-worth entrepreneurs, business owners and managers, City professionals, and non-resident or non-domiciled clients. Emma Parsons is a rising star.

Practice head(s):Jackie Wells

Other key lawyers:James Packer; Jocelyn Fox; Adrian Horwood-Smart; Emma Parsons

Work highlights

  • Full administration of a world-renowned academic's estate including multi-jurisdictional assets.
  • Estate planning advice for one of the largest land owners within the UK.
  • Estate planning advice for a key Cambridge Angel Investor and for his family.
  • Complex administration of a farming estate with trusts involved.
  • Comprehensive estate planning for a multimillion-pound business owner specialising in ultra-luxury property rental and sales.

Ashtons Legal handles complex multi-jurisdictional tax and estate planning and probate matters, with a niche in French legal affairs. Among its clients are professionals, academics and agricultural families in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. It is also well known for its capability in the niche area of Vulnerable Client support and its Court of Protection case management team. Lynn Wicks leads the lifetime planning department and specialises in work for vulnerable and elderly clients. Jennie Pratt is a leading light for advice on wealth management and tax planning. Christina Duck is also recommended.

Practice head(s):Lynn Wicks

Other key lawyers:Jennie Pratt; Christina Duck; Jack Burroughs


'I think Ashtons Legal deliver tremendous strength in depth as a firm.'

'I have always found the Cambridge team to be focused, efficient and very willing to assist. In all my dealings, I am kept fully informed as to the specific progress and the reasons for any delays.'

'I have complete confidence in the team, and am more than happy to entrust my clients to them for their specialist knowledge and advice.'

'Lynn Wicks and Jennie Pratt are also excellent, dealing with matters with clarity and knowledge and ensuring that client matters run smoothly at all times. With a working relationship of this nature, this level of reassurance is extremely comforting, giving me the confidence that all matters are being dealt with professionally and efficiently.'

'Jennie Pratt's knowledge and expertise is a given, and her empathetic bedside manner with clients enhances her approach. She is able to put over complex concepts simply putting clients at their ease. I can mirror the comments for Christina Duck.'

'Lynn Wicks' expertise is a given but her experience of later life care and her understanding and empathetic approach enhances the value of her advice and helps when delivering difficult news.'

'The level of care and expertise and standards of dealing with clients are excellent and consistent. This compares with other firms where there is often a small number of leaders who can "leave behind" colleagues.'

'Solicitor Jack Burroughs advised on estate planning and probate issues for mutual clients who are US citizens domiciled in the UK. It is a pleasure working with Jack and I believe we have both broadened our knowledge base as it relates to each country's estate practice laws.'

'I have always been impressed with paralegal Johanna Morrish - her communication is always prompt, timely and effective, and she is excellent at keeping me informed, acting as liaison with the partners and keeping everything moving.'

At Greenwoods GRM, head of private client Kerri Pellington-Woodrow is predominantly based in Peterborough, but also oversees the practice in Cambridge, where associate Clare Harris is the key lawyer. One client describes Harris as 'considerate and engaging, she always seeks to go the extra mile'. Harris has greatly raised the profile of the firm in Cambridge and has attracted work from high-value and complex estates, hence the firm's rising up the ranking this year. She is a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association and handles the full range of wills, trusts and estate planning, as well as Court of Protection matters.

Practice head(s):Kerri Pellington-Woodrow; Clare Harris


'The team give careful consideration to the client's needs and ensure the work is relevant and focused on the best solution.'

'Whenever I have approached the practice, whether by phone correspondence or email, the query has always been dealt with quickly and efficiently.'

'Clare Harris is always prompt, courteous and easy to understand. She is extremely helpful and very good with clients, putting them at ease and dealing with them very professionally.'

'I have found Clare Harris to be very welcoming to clients and she explains her advice and the implications clearly and in an appropriate language for them.'

'Members of the team seem capable, knowledgeable and very supportive of each other.'

'We dealt primarily with Clare Harris over some complicated will arrangements involving international issues. She was knowledgeable, conscientious, clear and courteous.'

'The strength is the mixture of capabilities and specialities readily available when needed. My instructions were dealt with very efficiently and accurately and my interactions with all the team were courteous and friendly.'

'Clare Harris provided most of the expertise I needed in the most efficient and courteous manner and our interactions were friendly yet focused.'

'Greenwoods GRM always gives a quality service, and is very knowledgeable. Matters are dealt with promptly and when discussing planning opportunities the advice given is not just legally correct it also considers practical aspects.'

'I usually work with Clare Harris, who always gives a quality service and always engages in planning and conversations. Clare is very friendly and explains issues with very little jargon and gives a straight answer.'

'I found Greenwoods impressive and sophisticated, for a reasonable price. The quality of their documentation is very good. I chose Greenwoods because of its quick response, grasp of what I wanted to achieve, and the approachable personality of the people I spoke to.'

'Clare Harris has an impressive grasp of detail and the ability to get to the point.'

Work highlights

  • Advising clients on the transfer of 450-500 acres of agricultural land into a discretionary trust to protect the farm for future generations.

One client describes the practice at Tees Law as 'hardworking, efficient and dedicated, making sure that their clients get the best advice and best value for money'. The practice had its busiest year since arriving in Cambridge in 2008, and it has built up a strong client base for the administration of complex and high-value estates, including those with agricultural and international elements. Catherine Mowat is a leading light in the market for wills, powers of attorney and succession planning for rural clients and high-net-worth individuals, and James Marsh and Angela Sewell are rising stars.

Practice head(s):Catherine Mowat

Other key lawyers:James Marsh; Angela Sewell


'Tees may be largely based in East Anglia but the professionalism and breadth of experience would not be out of place in a City firm.'

'For the last 20 years Catherine Mowat has handled all my family's private client, tax planning and trust affairs. She has dealt with both my parents' estates. Over that period she has provided clear, accurate and efficient advice, cutting through the shifting fog of legislation, but not at the expenses of personal warmth.'

'James Marsh is an effective communicator explaining exactly what is needed and in what timescale meaning that clients' expectations are met and managed. He is well supported by his team.'

'Angela Sewell offers the best advice for clients in achieving their objectives.'

'The team was incredibly understanding and bespoke in its approach.'

'Matters are handled with great dignity and professionalism. Nothing is too much trouble and they went well beyond the call of duty to exceed expectations.'

'James Marsh has simply been outstanding. From the moment of instruction to concluding a case, he is always attentive, knowledgeable and highly professional – whilst remaining approachable.'

'Dedicated team members dealing with the process from start to end. Excellent communication skills throughout the process. Always prompt in replying to issues.'

'James Marsh and paralegal Courtney Searle are able to conduct business at a level and timely manner that I can understand and converse with. They have conducted themselves in a very professional way at the same time as being understanding of why processes have to be followed.'

'Each solicitor is specialised in their field which gives you confidence and satisfaction. We were recommended many years ago and have always made them our first choice.'

'We have every confidence in Catherine Mowat as she has dealt with all our private and personal matters for many years during very difficult times and will continue to contact her should we have any problems.'

Work highlights

  • Angela Sewell advised on the estate of a deceased man who died domiciled in Spain and left only a Spanish will which did not appoint executors.
  • Strategic estate planning following death of client to maximise claims for inheritance tax relief and ensure distribution of assets in line with differing family objectives.
  • Instructed to extract grant of letters of administration required in order to issue proceedings in a negligence claim.
  • Advice to executors on complex issues in an estate valued in excess of £3m.
  • James Marsh advised a well-known farming client with a multimillion-pound estate on how best to structure a will in order to ensure the client's wishes regarding the farming business and assets can be implemented.

Howes Percival LLP¬†specialises in providing planning and strategic advice in complex situations to high-net-worth individuals, families and trusts. This includes lifetime planning, probate, powers of attorney, inheritance and capital gains tax, trusts and pensions advice.¬†The practice is led from Norwich but in Cambridge, associate¬†Amy Wallhead¬†is building the firm's reputation.¬†One client describes the practice as 'very client-service orientated ‚Äď they show a deep care for making sure clients receive the very best advice'.

Other key lawyers:Amy Wallhead


'The firm does not have a very large team, so you get to know the personalities of the individuals you are dealing with. They are very approachable. A member of the team in Cambridge has a deep interest in advice to people with dementia and recognising when clients may be affected which is clearly going to increase in importance.'

'I think they have a genuine interest in clients. It is a well-respected firm, so I would take expertise as a given. It is their ability to interact with clients and to explain complex issues in a way clients will understand which is as important.'

'I feel very confident in Amy Wallhead's ability. She is always available to discuss cases and you always feel she knows what is going on and can give you an informed update.'

Work highlights

  • Advice on creating a charity for client via a will.
  • Advice to trustees on duties and conflicts of interest relating to settlement and related companies.

Woodfines LLP has 'a great level of experience and an excellent industry reputation', and key partner Tim Addinell is 'exceptional with clients, showing great levels of patience in many cases'. The firm has a long-standing reputation as a trusted adviser on private client matters in Cambridge and frequently acts for high-net-worth clients and in complex estate planning matters. It is also well-regarded for all aspects of dealing with an estate, including inheritance tax and complex trusts.

Practice head(s):Tim Addinell

Other key lawyers:Alun Butler


'Tim Addinell's level of experience is unmatched. He is highly professional and well liked by clients.'

Work highlights

  • Estate administration with complex HMRC challenge to trust.
  • Estate administration, including business assets, inheritance tax considerations and shareholder requirements.
  • Tax planning advice incorporating overseas assets.
  • Advising beneficiaries with regards to ongoing business assets and considerations.
  • Complex estate administration, including historic marriage settlement and estate considerations.

Personal tax, trusts and probate: elsewhere in East Anglia

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate: elsewhere in East Anglia
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Ashtons Legal's lifetime planning practice handles complex multi-jurisdictional tax and estate planning and probate, notably for the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire professional, academic and agricultural communities. STEP member, deputy CEO and firm-wide head of individual services Alan Brown is the key partner in Bury St Edmunds and he is best known for his capital tax planning work, which includes acting for clients with foreign assets and non-UK domiciles. Matthew Cameron heads the firm’s French legal services team from Bury St Edmunds.

Practice head(s):Alan Brown; Lynn Wicks

Other key lawyers:Matthew Cameron; Chris Cumberbatch

Fosters has a single private client practice across its offices, in which the Lowestoft and Sheringham teams play key roles. Solicitor Christina Stohr joined the firm from Chamberlins as head of the Lowestoft office, bringing her experience in will writing, lasting powers of attorney, the administration of estates, Court of Protection applications and inheritance tax matters. The Wymondham office houses significant expertise in solicitors Lisa Glynne , Angela Ireland and Lauren Ward.

Other key lawyers:Lisa Glynne; Angela Ireland; Christina Stohr; Lauren Ward

Work highlights

  • Advising the family of a deceased client who had acted as a court-appointed deputy for his adult son who had learning disabilities.
  • Acted for the owner of an addiction treatment and rehabilitation centre in Suffolk who wished the company running the centre to become a charity on his death.
  • Assisted a client who was the executor of her father’s estate and due to its value IHT was payable but there were no liquid assets to discharge the tax liability and funds had to be obtained from the liquidation of investments to do so.
  • Acted on behalf of a client’s deputies in an application to the Court of Protection during the client's lifetime and then during the administration of their estate.
  • Writing a deathbed will for a terminally ill patient who had particular concerns about having a will that protected his minor children.

Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds excels in tax matters, having three qualified Chartered Tax Advisers and two qualified members of the Association of Taxation Technicians, and frequently handles complex taxable estates, trusts and personal tax issues, often liaising directly with HMRC to ensure the correct outcome. Wayne Perrin and Jonathan Mathers, whose skills include residential and agricultural property matters, are the key partners advising high-net-worth individuals with large estates. Martine Swaep and Nigel Scase are rising stars.

Practice head(s):Michael Batty; Rob Adam

Other key lawyers:Wayne Perrin; Jonathan Mathers; Martine Swaep; Nigel Scase


'It is an excellent firm, well established in a cathedral city covering a wide area of East Anglia and beyond. It has an extensive range of commercial and private expertise.'

'Jonathan Mathers has been dealing faultlessly with property issues, concerning our trust, of which I am a trustee.'

'My experience of Greene & Greene was of a highly professional practice that provided very clear advice, both verbal and written. Issues were dealt with promptly.'

'Nigel Scase was most efficient. He set out very clear parameters, including the costs, and I was kept fully informed at all stages.'

Work highlights

  • Application by a cohabitee in the High Court, Family Division under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 in an estate.
  • Advice given on the removal of an executor of a high-value estate and subsequent account on a wilful default basis.
  • Advising a beneficiary of a life interest trust in relation to potential breaches of trust in an estate comprising assets held in offshore trusts.
  • Advising on the challenge to the validity of a will on the basis of lack of testamentary capacity and want of knowledge and approval.
  • Advising a trustee facing allegations of numerous breaches of trust.

Churchgates is a multi-disciplinary professional services practice that provies legal, accountancy, tax, financial planning and investment management advice. Partners Matthew Boardman and Suzanne Alston are solicitors and Chartered Tax Advisers handling matters involving UK trusts, tax and complex wills. The firm stands out for estate planning advice to farmers, owner-managed businesses, investors, doctors and property owners.

Practice head(s):Matthew Boardman

Other key lawyers:Suzanne Alston; Fraser Paskell; Joanne Clayden


'A very efficient and forward-looking firm.'

'It responds quickly and efficiently to enquiries, always helpful on the telephone.'

Work highlights

  • Representing parents/partners in estate planning of farming operations in excess of £10m.
  • Estate planning using will trusts and deed of variation of estate for non-business property owning family. Value in excess of £3m with pension wealth outside estate.
  • Agricultural and business estate planning involving detailed knowledge of Agricultural and Business Property Relief, partnership planning, and wills. Value in excess of £5m.
  • Tax-efficient retirement of principal shareholder using employee ownership trust and Insolvency Act reconstruction. Value £5m.
  • Sale of trade and assets. Metals recycling company trading from various sites in North/North East of England. Value £4.1m.

Fraser Dawbarns is one of the most prominent firms in East Cambridgeshire and West Norfolk and its private client department, led by Harleen Hanson in King's Lynn, handles work including wills, administration of estates, Court of Protection work, tax and wealth planning, and the creation and administering of trusts. One client notes that 'the team has excellent technical knowledge, as well as being very approachable'. Partner Sarah Lamb and associate solicitor Amy Pettitt are praised for their 'dedication to client care'.

Practice head(s):Harleen Hanson

Other key lawyers:Sarah Lamb; Amy Pettitt; Kieren Cross


'Fraser Dawbarns has a comprehensive complement of solicitors including specialists at a local level that are able to deal with any requirements set of them and also have the ability to interpret the most complex of legal jargon in terms understood by the general public.'

'Having dealt with Fraser Dawbarns LLP's Wisbech office for many years, and having many mutual clients, I have been impressed recently by Amy Pettitt in dealing with an urgent Trust case. She was able to firstly put our elderly client at ease, thinking outside of the box and using the power of advancement to distribute the trust's assets before effectively winding up of the trust.'

'I was very impressed by the speed taken and sense of urgency given by Amy Pettitt.'

Work highlights

  • Advising on and drafting complicated wills involving family farming business and assets.
  • Dealing with estate comprising of a former garage which will be converted into eight residential properties.
  • Administration of estate (comprising of the deceased’s estate and that of her late husband’s estate which was un-administered) with no surviving residuary beneficiary, and having to instruct tracing agents to identity possible beneficiaries.
  • Representing client in dealing with the combined estates of her grandmother, grandfather and mother.
  • Acted in the estate of a client worth £800,000, which included an inheritance she had been due to receive.

Gotelee Solicitors¬†has a highly recommended practitioner in its Felixstowe office and clients remark that¬†Matthew Boast¬†is 'exceptional in his field ‚Ästdiligent, efficient and skilled, he adopts a compassionate approach'. In Woodbridge, partner and STEP member¬†Nicola Weldon¬†is recommended for tax planning, trusts and wills, and she is a member of the Woodbridge Dementia Project steering group. In Hadleigh, associate¬†Kay Baker¬†advises¬†elderly and vulnerable clients, as well as families and business people, on tax planning.

Practice head(s):Matthew Boast

Other key lawyers:Nicola Weldon; Kay Baker


'Matthew Boast was pleasant efficient and understanding.'

'There aren't enough superlatives to describe Matthew Boast's sterling work - his consummate professionalism is exemplary.'

'Matthew Boast's communication skills are superb and he is extremely trustworthy.'

The bulk of Hunt & Coombs LLP's private client practice is based in Peterborough, but its Oundle and St Neots offices also house significant expertise. Head of probate Paddy Appleton in Oundle and associate Fiona Prince in St Neots are the key practitioners. They excel in the areas of tax planning and will preparation for high-net-worth individuals, as well as winding up complex estates. The firm also has niche expertise in eligibility for fully funded NHS care for the elderly and issues surrounding mental capacity. Peter Izod retired from the practice. 

Practice head(s):Paddy Appleton


'They are very approachable and friendly, have a good knowledge of things that are important, and are good at sharing the knowledge amongst their team.'

Work highlights

  • A sizeable estate with a property and a number of accounts and investments moving onto future tax planning for the widow.
  • High-value estate including foreign assets, a venture capital trust, an enterprise investment scheme and complex tax issues.
  • Complex estate due to different jurisdictions and compliance regimes and complex tax issues with repatriating the trust.
  • Inheritance Act claim and complex property issues due to previous lack of legal advice of deceased.
  • Contentious agricultural estate due to decisions on who receives what and what the valuations are.

Head of probate Simon Underwood at Butcher Andrews leads a practice with in-depth knowledge of tax matters and handles the estates of numerous high-net-worth clients, often involving substantial commercial or agricultural property. It advises on inheritance tax, capital gains tax and income tax matters, as well as the administration and winding up of trusts.

Practice head(s):Simon Underwood

Other key lawyers:Sarah Parker; Cindy Grand


'My dealings with the firm over the past three decades has convinced me of its pride in trying to do what is appropriate and best for the client in a professional, yet relaxed and friendly manner.'

'The office atmosphere is positive and warm and engenders a feeling of confidence so important when dealing with the unfamiliar machinations of the law.'

The main group of private client lawyers at Clapham & Collinge Solicitors is based in Norwich, but the firm's offices in North Walsham and Sheringham also offer a free will review service and access to STEP and Dementia Friends members. Legal executive Susan Dawe in Sheringham has 18 years' experience in wills, estate administration, equity release, tax planning, care fees and powers of attorney.

Other key lawyers:Susan Dawe; Joseph Keeping


'I visited the firm's branch in North Walsham after previously using an alternative firm who I found to be poor. The contact with the solicitor was conducted in a very professional manner and with a positive attention to our requirements.'

'I have no hesitation to recommend Clapham and Collinge rather than any other in North Walsham.'

'Very friendly and efficient. Approachable and well-qualified staff.'

Work highlights

  • Administration of a multimillion-pound estate which involves two life interest trusts of specific sums.
  • Advised a married couple with two children on both types of LPAs. They appointed each other and the two children as attorneys for both LPAs on a joint and several basis.
  • Advised a married couple with combined estates in excess of £700,000 in relation to spouse exemption, transferable nil-rate bands and the residence nil-rate band.
  • Advised a client who was separated from his wife in hostile circumstances. The client was terminally ill and therefore the draft will was prepared for the client the same day as the initial appointment.
  • Advised on a potentially contentious will where the client wanted to exclude two of her three children from her estate.

Spire Solicitors LLP has seven offices across Norfolk providing private client services, including its head office in Norwich. The firm handles the administration of complex estates, trusts, deputyship matters and lasting powers of attorney. Newly promoted partner Ejike Ndaji in Wymondham frequently handles matters in the charity and not-for-profit sector. Partner Jo Tinson in Watton handles both property and private client matters. Senior associate Rebecca Johnstone is the key contact in Attleborough.

Other key lawyers:Ejike Ndaji; Jo Tinson; Rebecca Johnstone; Susan Dayment; Kiri Nichols

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Ipswich

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate: Ipswich
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1
    • Richard Guy - Birketts LLP
    • Ann-Marie Matthews - Barker Gotelee

The private client practice at Barker Gotelee handles the full range of wills, tax planning, trusts and estate administration work, including matters involving capacity issues, powers of attorney and Court of Protection issues. It predominantly advises family businesses in the agricultural sector. Practice head James Skellorn has more than 30 years' experience and STEP members Nick Palmer and Ann-Marie Matthews are highly recommended. The firm also has a case worker, Roswyn Bradshaw, who acts as a point of contact for vulnerable clients. Clients praise the firm's 'responsiveness, empathy and clarity of advice'.

Practice head(s):James Skellorn; Nick Palmer; Ann-Marie Matthews

Other key lawyers:Peter Gooch; Lindsey Sharples: Gail Frankland


'Having worked with Ann-Marie Matthews and Lindsey Sharples, it is clear that nothing is too much for Barker Gotelee to do in the pursuit of their client's benefit. Those who have used their private client services have been extremely pleased, particularly with how clear and efficient the process was.'

'Ann-Marie Matthews is diligent, punctual, extremely good at explaining complex concepts to those with little or no knowledge, and very personable. Her knowledge of the financial side of clients' affairs is exceptional.'

'From the first introductory phone call I felt confident in placing my trust in Peter Gooch – he was supportive, efficient, informative, reassuring and competent.'

Birketts LLP has a strong probate, estate and trust administration practice that provides 'friendly, approachable and personal service'. The practice led by Louise Long, who deals with multimillion-pound estates with complex family and tax issues, expanded significantly in 2018 with the recruitment of a solicitor and two tax executives. Senior associate Richard Guy is a rising star who has ten years' experience in advising business owners, farmers and high-net-worth individuals as well as retirees and the elderly.

Practice head(s):Louise Long

Other key lawyers:Richard Guy


'The firm is highly competent in its field and speaks to the client in their language.'

'Richard Guy takes a practical approach to his work and is very good at explaining things to clients in a way they understand.'

'Clients always speak highly of Louise Long. It is always a great relief when you find out that Louise is a client's solicitor.'

'Birketts has grown quite rapidly over the last few years, but has remained client-focused. The individuals are always on hand to provide guidance and support.'

Work highlights

  • Advised a family in relation to wills taking into account the family business structure.
  • Advising a client in relation to existing trusts of land and the impact on his new will.
  • Representing a family and its family business in respect of its ongoing tax issues.
  • Advising a married couple living in two jurisdictions in respect of wills and inheritance tax.
  • Advising a married couple in order to dismantle an existing complete trust structure which was entered into several years ago.

Ashtons Legal handles complex multi-jurisdictional tax and estate planning and probate, with a particular niche in French legal affairs. Senior associates Janette Wand and Louise Cardwell are the key practitioners in Ipswich and they work closely with the deep bench of private client lawyers in the firm's other offices to advise on tax, estate planning, trusts, powers of attorney and probate. Both are members of STEP and Solicitors for the Elderly.

Other key lawyers:Janette Wand; Louise Cardwell

A client remarks that at Gotelee Solicitors 'the whole team works together to ensure an outstanding service'. Ipswich is the main hub of the firm's private client activity, though it draws on the expertise in its offices across Suffolk to advise on tax, trusts, wills and probate matters, and it has several lawyers trained to handle the needs of dementia sufferers. Head of private client Peter Crix has been with the firm for almost 40 years and acts as trustee of numerous trusts in Suffolk. Associate Karina Jowitt specialises in tax and trust matters.

Practice head(s):Peter Crix

Other key lawyers:Karina Jowitt


"Their total professionalism, coupled with excellent communication skills, allows them to outperform other firms."

"They are incredibly trustworthy and efficient."


Kerseys Solicitors LLP has a busy practice handling wills and lasting powers of attorney as well as the administration of both testate and intestate estates. The firm's long history and loyal client base give it a prominent role in the local market and it is often called upon to advise on complex inheritance tax issues and high-net-worth matters. Peter Awad is the key partner for wills, trusts, tax planning and legal advice to the elderly.

Practice head(s):Peter Awad

Other key lawyers:Geoffrey Sutton; Leila Murray; Thara Thangavel


'Very professional indeed, and very helpful in describing legal activities in layman's language.'

'Geoffrey Sutton has been excellent in the work and detail he has put into my late wife's estate. He has communicated very well with me and my children. We couldn't have asked for better service.'

'Communication was, from the outset, excellent.'

Prettys Solicitors LLP has a long history in the Ipswich market and head of estates Zoe Hodge leads a practice that is known for its high standards of client care and the breadth of its work, which includes matters involving mental capacity issues, high-net-worth estate planning, tax planning and trusts. Hodge is a STEP member known for her work in tax-efficient succession planning for individuals, business owners and agricultural clients. Associate Laura Parker is recommended for estates and probate matters.

Practice head(s):Zoe Hodge

Other key lawyers:Laura Parker

The private client department at Blocks provides an extensive collection of services including wills and estate planning and advice, probate and estate administration, and deputyship and Court of Protection work. The firm has a large wills bank and key partner Emma Woollard has more than 20 years' experience that includes property transactions as well as a role as trustee of a multimillion-pound fund for a disabled beneficiary.

Practice head(s):Emma Woollard

Work highlights

  • Advising on the estate of a retired law firm partner whose £2.5m estate was split between Suffolk and Cumbria and included an extensive art and literature collection.
  • Acting as deputy for a £4.9m clinical negligence award that the client is unable to administer herself.

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Norwich

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate: Norwich
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners
  5. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1
    • Lauren Abbs - Clapham & Collinge Solicitors
    • Amy Taylor - Steeles Law

Birketts LLP runs an integrated wills and advisory practice across its four regional offices and the Norwich team, led by Lorna Spear, plays a central role. It advises on all aspects of private client law including lifetime tax planning, wills and succession planning, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. The firm's diverse client base includes farming families, landed estates, business owners, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals. Veteran senior associate and ACTAPS member Margaret Smith is highly recommended.

Practice head(s):Lorna Spear

Other key lawyers:Margaret Smith


"We were pretty well wholly dependent on the advice and guidance we received from Birketts as the solicitors involved. Margaret Smith, the senior associate who dealt with the case, was both a tower of strength and a sure guide from the start."

"Margaret Smith saw clearly what needed to be done, guided us through it, and inspired confidence. I always found our meetings reassuring, practical and helpful. Moreover, she was kind and sensitive."

"I have absolutely no regrets about how we, as friends, dealt with this situation, with Margaret Smith's guidance, support and help."

Work highlights

  • Dealt with the complete restructuring of the trusts and partnerships of a landed estate.
  • Dealing with the administration of a £7m family estate and advising on a variation of the will to mitigate tax.
  • Advised on the restructuring of a £20m farming estate.

Howes Percival LLP provides bespoke planning and strategic advice in complex situations to high-net-worth individuals, families and trusts. Catherine Scott is head of the private client services group across all of the firm's offices and is head of the estates practice. Stuart Maggs is a leading practitioner for strategic planning, management and tax minimisation for trusts, partnerships and companies. Tom Lawrence advises business owners and their families on complex succession and estate planning issues including wills and tax matters.

Practice head(s):Catherine Scott

Other key lawyers:Stuart Maggs; Tom Lawrence


"The work of Stuart Maggs has been exceptionally impressive. He understands complex issues and can simplify matters for the lay client."

"Stuart Maggs' thorough knowledge of family estate matters was far above his competitors and the speed and efficiency with which he produced solutions were of the highest standard. I look forward to receiving his further guidance in the future."

Work highlights

  • Acted on the sale of the Sutton Hall Estate, in excess of 2,000 acres in Suffolk, for a sum in excess of £30m.
  • Comprehensive review of a family’s affairs, including consolidation of numerous existing family trusts, wills, estate planning and lasting powers of attorney.
  • Transfer of significant funds to family investment companies, securing protection for the family and achieving tax-efficient arrangements.
  • Working with client on restructuring their estates to create a family investment company, family constitution, redrafting their wills and creating powers of attorney.
  • Advising a farming family on bringing their affairs up to date, drafting new partnership agreements, transferring land to children, redrafting family wills and preparing powers of attorney.

Mills & Reeve LLP has the deepest bench of private client partners in Norwich. The firm has several leading lights including practice head Virginia Edgecombe, who handles complex and high-value probate and tax matters; Lauren Parker, who acts for landed estates and other high-net-worth individuals; Gregory Laming, who frequently advises UK-based and international clients with foreign domiciles and residence status, and trust companies resident in the Crown Dependencies; and senior partner Justin Ripman, who handles strategic and tax matters for landed estates across the UK.

Practice head(s):Virginia Edgecombe

Other key lawyers:David Catchpole; Justin Ripman; Gregory Laming; Lauren Parker; Elizabeth Field; Alexandra Clark

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors 'makes sure all clients are well looked after and informed, and goes that extra mile, to ensure the client is satisfied'. Leading light Lin Whitehead and family, personal injury and charitable trusts expert Ben Lowe lead the practice, which attracts a growing amount of work for high-net-worth individuals in Norfolk. All of the lawyers in the practice are members of Dementia Friends and STEP. Rising star Lauren Abbs is recommended for wills and trusts.

Practice head(s):Lin Whitehead; Ben Lowe

Other key lawyers:Lauren Abbs; Jennifer Morgan


"Clapham & Collinge's work ethic and customer service matches my own, leaving me completely confident in using them for my own personal needs and my clients. I know I can always pick up the phone to ask questions and get any information i may require."

"All of the partners and staff that i have dealt with all have one thing in mind and that is the client."

"Lin Whitehead is superb, as is Lauren Abbs. They exceed expectations in everything they do. I have always highly recommended them and will continue to do so."

Work highlights

  • Lin Whitehead was appointed as Panel Deputy for a client after she was admitted to hospital having lost capacity following numerous admissions for psychotic episodes.
  • Lin Whitehead is acting in an unusual case where the paternal grandparents have been refused contact with their adult grandchild, who suffers from severe educational needs and complex autism.
  • Lin Whitehead is appointed as a Deputy in a case of a young man who suffered an acquired brain injury after a near fatal collision in which he was a passenger.
  • Lin Whitehead was appointed as Panel Deputy in a case where the client’s children were all making accusations against one another of misappropriating the client’s funds.
  • Lin Whitehead was appointed as lasting power of attorney for property and financial affairs in October 2018 to Mr W, who subsequently suffered a seizure weeks later leaving him incapacitated in hospital and lacking capacity to manage his finances.

At Fosters  'all the staff are very friendly, efficient and do their best to help'. The practice is now led by senior associate Julie Sheldrake, from a consultancy role at Notary Express Limited, who handles wills, probate, powers of attorney and Court of Protection, and is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly. Senior associate Rachel Chiarotti  is also recommended. The firm acts for numerous large agricultural estates in trust and estate matters. Experienced solicitor Susannah Parr joined from Spire Solicitors LLP.

Practice head(s):Julie Sheldrake

Other key lawyers:Rachel Chiarotti; Susannah Parr


"Susannah Parr has been helping me with probate for my late brother's estate. She has been very kind, sympathetic and extremely professional - it was a quite complicated issue but was dealt with speedily and thoroughly. I felt that nothing was too much trouble. I am very impressed!"

Work highlights

  • Susannah Parr advised client, a widower, in winding up his late wife’s will trust some time after her death.
  • A client wished to benefit many small local charities under his will but was advised that there was a risk that some of them may have ceased to exist at the time of his death, so  Susannah Parr recommended that he create a discretionary trust which would allow for changes to the distribution of his estate to these charities.
  • Acting for a man who was named as executor for a friend who had died in 2017.
  • Acting for the brother of the deceased who was not on speaking terms with his other surviving sibling who was represented by another firm of solicitors.

Spire Solicitors LLP has a large network of private client lawyers across Norfolk and climbs the ranking this year following investment in its Norwich team. Practice head and STEP member Alisdair Liddle, who handles wills, probate, tax planning, trusts and lasting powers of attorney, recruited associate Teresa Callender from Ashtons Legal; she has more than 20 years' experience in complex probate administration and tax matters. Further recruitment at junior level in 2018 gave the firm a deep bench of specialist lawyers.

Practice head(s):Alisdair Liddle

Other key lawyers:Teresa Callender; Lisa Myhill

Steeles Law has six specialist fee-earners in its well-established wills, probate and tax group, which has a strong reputation in the administration of estates and matters concerning powers of attorney and mental capacity. Associate and practice head Karen Bacon has 30 years' experience and is a leading light in the market. She works from both Norwich and Diss to advise clients in Norfolk, Suffolk and further afield. Associate Amy Taylor is recommended as a rising star.

Practice head(s):Karen Bacon

Other key lawyers:Amy Taylor


"We were dealt with efficiently and in a timely and friendly manner, both in face-to-face contact or for receipt of promised documents. We felt confident in the advice delivered."

"Our needs were dealt with by solicitor Amy Taylor. We appreciated the apparent breadth of her knowledge and the options she presented, while leaving us to make decisions on an informed basis."

"We felt totally at ease with Amy Taylor and at no time did we get any feeling of superiority which appears to be a trademark of the legal profession. Having completed our business, we felt quite satisfied that everything was done in our interest."

Ashtons Legal joins the ranking this year as it has a highly regarded solicitor in Norwich who works alongside the experienced partners in the firm's other regional offices, which includes a French legal services team and a Court of Protection practice. Louisa Bradberry is the local practitioner and one client remarks that she is 'extremely knowledgeable and has a real ability to explain complex matters in a way that clients understand'.

Other key lawyers:Louisa Bradberry


"The relationship I have with my Ashtons team is much more calm and relaxed than I have been used to with other firms that have been driven with anxiety and aggressive competitiveness."

"I have developed a sense of deep trust with this firm which only comes with honesty, openness and clear communications. Ashtons has managed to make me feel like I am part of the team rather than just another fee paying client."

"Dealing with a family death and the subsequent estate organisation and probate from Canada has been made easier by the firm's professional and personal management style. I could not have done this without them."

"I would highly recommend Louisa Bradberry. In difficult times it doesn't get any better than this between client and solicitor."

"Working with Ashtons Legal was a pleasant and efficient experience, and the staff across the board were polite, professional and welcoming. The solicitors we dealt with were very likeable and professional people who appeared to be keen to do the best for us."

"Louisa Bradberry was patient and was happy to answer our questions even when we revisited previously discussed matters. I would say that she had a great ability to relate to us as individuals and patiently work through our needs."

The private client team at Cozens-Hardy LLP attracts complex and high-value trusts, estate planning and probate matters from clients based in Norfolk, London and Europe. STEP-accredited principal Michelle Collins leads a team of eight fee-earners.

Practice head(s):Michelle Collins

Rogers and Norton has a loyal client base around Norwich for complex wills, the formation and administration of trusts and high-net-worth estates, and specialist advice on Court of Protection matters. It has particular strength in work for elderly clients including issues of capacity, estate planning, lifetime gifts, care fees and dementia. Solicitor Louisa Shailes and legal executive Wenke Lie-Critchley are the key practitioners, and both are Dementia Friends who frequently act for elderly clients.

Practice head(s):Louisa Shailes

Other key lawyers:Wenke Lie-Critchley; Laura Rumsey; Charlotte Ranson

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Peterborough

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate: Peterborough
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

The practice at Buckles Solicitors LLP advises on wealth protection, tax planning and wills, succession planning, setting up charitable trusts, lasting powers of attorney, probate, care home fees and Court of Protection matters. Stephen Duffy is the key partner in Peterborough, though partners Duncan Jackson and Karl Dembicki, who is especially recommended for advising elderly clients, work in both the Peterborough and London offices. Head of the firm's international desk Alejandro Verdu de Haro also works on multimillion-pound cross-border estates.

Practice head(s):Stephen Duffy

Other key lawyers:Duncan Jackson; Karl Dembicki; Alejandro Verdu de Haro; Suzanne Evans; Sallyann Short


"The team has specialists in a number of fields and from my experience they work well together."

"Sallyann Short is always ready to see clients and very easily deals with them at their level. They have always been impressed by her readiness to see them at home if they are unable to easily get to the office."

"I was impressed by the courtesy and efficiency of Suzanne Evans. She was obviously well-informed and a caring person. I found her to be professional and efficient."

Department head Kerri Pellington-Woodrow at Greenwoods GRM has built the firm's referral network of local accountants and IFAs, resulting in a busy 2018 for the practice, which now calls on additional expertise from the London office created through that year's merger. One client describes her as 'an efficient and strong communicator with a very good client manner'. She frequently handles complex matters, including for international clients requiring advice on domicile and UK tax issues. She recently handled a challenging matter involving proving a French holographic will in the UK probate registry.

Practice head(s):Kerri Pellington-Woodrow

Other key lawyers:Trevor George

Work highlights

  • Advising a Saudi Arabian based family to create trusts to hold interests in two London residential properties, with a value of £7.5m.
  • Advising a Thailand based client with £2m of worldwide assets on his potential UK inheritance tax liability.
  • Preparing a deed to create a charitable trust to provide counselling, education and support for those suffering from gender dysphoria.
  • The administration of the estate of a French national who died in the UK, which involved issues of domicile as well as proving a French will in the UK probate registry.
  • Instructed by executors to deal with the administration of the estate of a deceased farmer with a value of £2m.

The practice at Hunt & Coombs LLP excels in tax planning and will preparation for high-net-worth individuals and families, as well as winding up estates of all sizes and degrees of complexity. The firm regularly deals with estates with a value in excess of £1.5m. Henry Anstey is the lead partner in Peterborough and he has more than 25 years' experience in this area of law. His recent work includes the development of strategies to fund care home fees and obtaining NHS Continuing Care for elderly clients. One client remarks that he is is 'extremely good at explaining difficult subjects to clients in straightforward language'.

Practice head(s):Henry Anstey

Other key lawyers:John Wright; Andrea Harrod


"The team is a joy to work with as it is both friendly and helpful. Most importantly the level of genuine expertise within the team is incredible."

"They are truly interested in the needs and wants of the client. The staff often go that extra mile on behalf of those clients who need it."

"Henry Anstey is a truly professional and knowledgeable solicitor who has the uncanny ability to explain complex ideas in a manner which is intelligible to all."

"Henry Anstey has a warmth of character which is infectious and clients only have praise for what he does to make sure their wishes are met."

"Andrea Harrod is the future of Hunt & Coombs and it is safe to say the firm will be in good hands. She is an engaging character with whom clients find it easy to work."

Work highlights

  • Acting for a £12m estate following the early death of a director and significant shareholder of a private company.
  • Dealing with an estate where children are in three different jurisdictions and assets are in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Acting as attorney with two lay clients, adult safeguarding issued.
  • Wills and tax planning for husband and wife with large estate.
  • Wills and tax planning for unmarried couple with a sizeable estate including business assets.

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Legal Developments in the UK

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    The Immigration Act 2014 (‚Äúthe 2014 Act‚ÄĚ) reduced the circumstances in which the refusal of an immigration application will give rise to a right of appeal.¬†The¬† explanatory notes ¬†to the 2014 Act state that the Act was intended to restructure rights of appeal to the Immigration Tribunal. Previously, a right of appeal to the Immigration Tribunal existed against any of the 14 different immigration decisions listed in s.82 of the¬† Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 ¬†(‚Äúthe 2002 Act‚ÄĚ). As explained below, whether or not the refusal of an immigration application currently generates a right of appeal depends on the subject matter of the application rather than its categorisation.

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