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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 > London > Private client > Contentious trusts and probate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Who Represents Who

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Routinely instructed in high-value and international trust disputes, Baker McKenzie is β€˜outstanding, and has a genuine global reach’. With β€˜a very high profile internationally’, Anthony Poulton β€˜is the name on everyone’s lips. He is a leading practitioner in the field of complex trust and estate litigation for the many qualities he possesses, such as sure judgement, intelligence and know-how: all of which he delivers in a friendly and approachable manner’. Poulton has extensive experience advising clients on the management of the risks associated with exposure to wealth-related controversy, and routinely advises on corporate governance and family governance in addition to resolving β€˜private’ family disputes. Other members of the β€˜market-leading team of exceptional lawyers’ include Charles Thomson, who regularly advises trustees, beneficiaries and other interested parties across a number of jurisdictions, and associates Gemma Willingham (β€˜a delight to work with’), Luke Richardson (β€˜a star in the making’) and the β€˜very strong’ Yindi Gesinde, who has β€˜a good eye for detail, is extremely efficient, and is also well organised’. Highlights included acting for Mr. Vitaly Smagin in successfully overturning in the High Court an anti-enforcement order relating to a 2014 arbitral award of $72m; the team obtained an ex parte injunction freezing all of Mr Yegiazaryan’s assets in California to secure funds for the recovery of the arbitration award. Clients appreciate that β€˜upon engagement with the firm, the team is clearly identified and the work is handled at the appropriate seniority. This ensures that costs are managed on a sensitive and practical basis’.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP is β€˜a go-to firm for complex and high-value trust work’, with β€˜a perfect litigation team’. The β€˜top-class’ Rupert Ticehurst heads the practice, and β€˜really knows his trust law (both contentious and non-contentious). He provides sound strategic advice’. Associate Simon Goldring is β€˜hardworking and determined’, and he and Ticehurst β€˜together manage very difficult clients with apparent ease’. Another β€˜real star’ is senior associate Jessica Henson, who is β€˜efficient, smart and bright, with a really in-depth knowledge of the law which she delivers with a smile’; she is β€˜one of the most impressive lawyers at associate level in London’. Highlights included acting for the second and third claimants in Isaac Moussa Salem & Ors v Faraj Moussa Salem & Ors, a partnership dispute relating to a multibillion-dollar African trading business and a Mayfair property portfolio; the claim raised myriad complex issues under UK and Lebanese law. The team is also acting for the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough in relation to a number of contentious issues following the death of her husband.

Boodle Hatfield LLP is β€˜a brilliant firm with outstanding individuals who are responsive and accessible’; it has β€˜a very well-deserved reputation for excellence’. The β€˜practical and just brilliant’ Simon Rylatt has β€˜a first-class command of cross-border matters and an impressive understanding of foreign laws, in particular continental civil laws’; and the β€˜technically very able and highly knowledgeable’ Andrea Zavos has β€˜a good bedside manner’ and β€˜inspires fully justified total confidence in her clients’. Newly promoted partner Mark Lindley is β€˜very personable and incredibly smart’, and is β€˜one to watch’; he β€˜shows great determination to secure the best results for his clients and keeps a calm head at all times’. The β€˜highly regarded’ team is in demand for advice to individuals and families, and has a strong record in resolving disputes and managing complex litigation; it has β€˜a superb reputation for working on the most major international disputes’. It has considerable expertise across multi-jurisdictional tax, asset protection, trusts, family businesses and governance, as well as succession, and continues to act for key trust companies in high-value matters; its β€˜strong all-round team has expertise across the board that is second to none’.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is β€˜absolutely top of the tree in terms of its depth of expertise – it can handle everything. The combination of the Guildford and London offices gives it good options in terms of fee structures – this is not necessarily open to other firms with just a London office’. Head of department Graeme Kleiner β€˜really knows his stuff and is fantastically good at soothing troubled waters’. β€˜Excellent tactician’ Roberta Harvey β€˜handles complex matters with great skill’, and Tamasin Perkins is β€˜just excellent with clients. Her determination, good sense and diligence all prove to be a case winner’. The β€˜very knowledgeable and capable’ Duncan Elson has β€˜apparently more than 24 hours in his day, as he manages to be personally involved in all his cases’; and Suzanne Marriott is β€˜outstanding’. The team also has some β€˜superb younger lawyers coming up the ranks’: among the senior associates are the β€˜very calm’ Oliver Auld and Aimee West, who has β€˜a lovely manner with clients’, and associate Jessica Stafford is β€˜very hardworking and has an excellent grasp of the detail’. The team had a busy year working on some of the largest and highest-profile cases both domestically and internationally. In a very large ongoing fraud trial with claims in the Cayman Islands and the US, the team is representing AWAL’s subsidiaries in both jurisdictions. It also successfully represented the respondent to a freezing and asset preservation order obtained by his wife in England during the course of divorce proceedings in Israel - the order was granted ex parte and effectively prevented the client from operating his UK-based business, and the team ultimately had the orders discharged as well as obtaining an order for costs against his wife.

Farrer & Co provides β€˜spot-on advice and has built up a very strong and experienced team of litigators who are able to handle the most complex and high-value disputes with total professionalism and commitment’. Jeremy Gordon is β€˜in a class of his own, with immense experience and a stellar list of satisfied clients’. Toby Graham has β€˜a huge reputation for complex, high-value cases which he runs with tremendous determination and intelligence’. Recently promoted partner Charlotte Fraser has β€˜proved herself as an excellent litigator with a track record of successfully working on a range of difficult and highly complex cases’. The β€˜outstanding’ Elizabeth Sainsbury (counsel) β€˜is able to drill down to the core issues of the case quickly and well’. Joanna Poole is β€˜fantastically capable, cool, calm and very effective’, and Adam Carvalho β€˜has learnt well from the wise heads at the firm and is now really coming into his own, demonstrating very sound judgement and instincts and an encyclopaedic knowledge of this area’. Associates Tom McPhail and Luca del Panta are β€˜rising stars – they are both industrious and pay great attention to detail’. The group routinely acts in the most complex and high-value disputes with an international dimension, with particular strength in offshore jurisdictions. Among its recent work, it successfully acted for the widow of a deceased wealthy landowner and farmer in Lincolnshire; the deceased had made a new will and the claim was for the will to be admitted to probate in solemn form.

Forsters LLP is β€˜undoubtedly a "blue-chip" private client firm’, and β€˜with the addition of the Gowling WLG team, it is now among the top firms for contentious trust litigation’; it is β€˜a well-respected outfit with an ever-increasing presence in the market’. The β€˜extremely bright and practical’ Emily Exton attracts resounding praise for her β€˜great client skills and as someone who gets the job done’; she is β€˜a seasoned and unflappable trust litigator who runs rings around her opponents’. Catharine Bell was β€˜a great addition to the team’ from Gowling WLG, joining the team in May 2017; she has β€˜a wonderful analytical mind and great skill in co-ordinating multi-jurisdictional matters. She deals with very large, complex disputes in which there is a great deal at stake, the pressure is high, the issues are difficult, the atmosphere is tense and time is often short with calm, unruffled and genial efficiency no matter how her opponents are behaving’. Senior associate Katherine Needham is β€˜also fantastic’, and β€˜very, very bright and incredibly hardworking’ associate Emma West is β€˜one to watch’. Exton is experienced in cases involving challenges to the validity of wills, the removal of executors/trustees, and claims under the Inheritance Act 1975, as well as in complex breach of trust claims, trustee fee disputes and professional negligence claims in the context of trusts and estates work.

Macfarlanes LLP is β€˜invariably involved in the most significant cases domestically, and has a very strong offshore presence. The strength in depth among its lawyers is outstanding. It has a broad range of fantastic individuals at all levels’. Head of department is the β€˜completely unflappable’ Charles Lloyd, who has β€˜huge experience and brings gravitas to each situation. He is an incisive thinker and has an excellent strategic awareness of his cases. He is rock solid in his support of his clients and his team’. Jonathan Arr has β€˜a razor-sharp mind and a great feel for litigation. He is tenacious and hardworking and handles his cases brilliantly’. The β€˜hugely experienced’ Matthew Pintus is β€˜fantastic with clients and has a sharp legal mind’, and the β€˜tactically very strong’ Dan Lavender β€˜successfully handles the big litigation’. Sebastian Prichard Jones is β€˜a brilliant tax lawyer who is also excellent when matters become contentious’. Also well regarded are senior solicitors Simon Day (β€˜a rising star with substantial litigation experience’) and the β€˜up-and-coming’ Elliot Aron, who is β€˜very bright with a great work ethic’. Solicitor Melody Munro is β€˜responsive and highly professional’. The β€˜first-rate’ team acts for trustees, protectors, financial institutions, entrepreneurs and those with hereditary wealth, on high-value and challenging matters. The quality of its practitioners is β€˜second to none - they strive for excellence at every level. They combine great technical accuracy with clear strategic thinking and superb client skills’.

The β€˜very well-established and large’ team at Mishcon de Reya LLP is led by β€˜excellent litigator’ Mark Keenan, who now has β€˜near-legendary status’; he is β€˜a master tactician who is also commercial and knowledgeable and stays calm even when dealing with the most difficult clients’. The team has some β€˜excellent partners and numerous very talented associates and managing associates coming up through the ranks’, with Claire-Marie Cornford, Jessica Medus and Victoria Sara-Kennedy singled out; β€˜it comes as no surprise that the team is involved in the most complex and sensitive important cases’. Peter Steen (β€˜an experienced litigator’) has a wealth of experience in a broad spectrum of trust-related disputes, acting for corporate and individual trustees, beneficiaries, protectors and third parties with claims against trustees. The group’s work ranges from complex domestic and cross-border succession disputes through to coordinating international trust litigation, with many members of the team having practised in key jurisdictions. Clients include Lord Weymouth and the Dowager Countess of Bathurst.

Emma Jordan heads the department at Taylor Wessing LLP; a Jersey advocate and β€˜a brilliant litigator’, she is β€˜at the cutting edge of "Z Trust" litigation in Jersey about insolvent trusts’. Jordan and senior associate Kate Silbermann make β€˜an incredibly impressive team’. Silbermann has extensive litigation experience acting for trustees and beneficiaries in England, Jersey and other offshore jurisdictions such as Bermuda and the Bahamas, covering civil fraud, asset tracing and recovery. Andrew Hine is experienced in matters of probate, succession and wills, and has acted in various substantial multi-jurisdictional cases involving conflict of law issues. The team acted for the trustees of the Longleat Estate in hostile proceedings brought by Viscount Weymouth (the remainderman beneficiary) to remove an outgoing co-trustee; the matter went before the High Court in May 2016 but the parties reached a settlement part way through the hearing. The firm continues to advise the trustee board on various estate matters. It is also acting for the trustee of a Bahamian law trust in respect of breach of trust claims brought by a beneficiary. Other clients include Equity Trusts (Jersey) Limited.

Stephen Richards heads the department at Withers LLP, and is β€˜at the top of his game’; β€˜if you want a solicitor who will put you in a strong position to settle your dispute with minimum publicity and get you a great financial deal, he is the person you want’. His team is β€˜extremely helpful and provides workable solutions. It is a force to be reckoned with’. The β€˜very talented’ Paul Hewitt is β€˜a master tactician who is utterly committed to his clients. You would have to go a long way to find anyone as good as he is’; Paola Fudakowska has β€˜a keen intellect and polished communication skills as well as an ability to give client-focused and concise advice in a no-nonsense yet considered way’; and the β€˜brilliant’ Dawn Goodman is β€˜a leading light in this field’. Also recommended is Steven Kempster, who regularly acts in significant UK and international trusts disputes. The firm is also noted as having β€˜a team of associates and assistants who are second to none’; associates Sarah Aughwane and Alice Tomlin β€˜are doing tremendous work. It is not just their clear legal knowledge and attention to detail that set them apart, it is also that they are very easy to work alongside’. The team acted for the adult children of a deceased whose will left most of his estate (sworn for probate at over Β£9m) on discretionary trusts for a class of beneficiaries including his children and sisters; the will was contested and the terms of the compromise have now been approved by the court.

Clifford Chance LLP’s team is β€˜absolutely first class and regularly deals with the very largest and most complex disputes in this area’. The β€˜extremely able’ Jeremy Kosky has β€˜a great grasp of the detail as well as the bigger picture. He is absolutely brilliant at dealing with highly charged situations and has the rare ability to take the heat out of these situations to move things in a positive direction. He is a problem solver of the highest order’. Maxine Mossman also β€˜always looks for a solution’. Highlights included acting for Affinity Private Wealth in relation to a Cayman Islands claim against Viktor Vekselberg and Renova entities; the action relates to the alleged misappropriation of assets from a private equity fund, and is relatively rare as a derivative action in the trusts arena. In another matter, the team is representing Virtus Trust, which has been joined to proceedings in the English High Court in its capacity as trustee of an offshore trust; the claimant is seeking to set aside certain transactions under insolvency law, including transfers into the trust, and the matter has been stayed pending the outcome of jurisdiction proceedings in Cyprus.

Harcus Sinclair LLP β€˜has over the years been steadily building a well-deserved excellent reputation in this area’. Key figures include the β€˜exceptional’ Alison Meek, who β€˜gets on top of the detail of every case very quickly’; the β€˜very able’ Henry Hickman; and β€˜excellent trust litigator’ Lucy Gibson, who β€˜commands the respect of her clients’. Damon Parker has a broad onshore and offshore trust and probate litigation practice, and is active for professional, charitable and family trustees, private individuals and institutions in large group financial services claims. The team is also notable for its expertise in cases involving high-value works of art and other chattels, in particular disputes over provenance and ownership and tax-related disputes. Its recent work includes acting for a large group of shareholders who are pursuing claims against Sir Victor Blank, other former directors of Lloyds TSB and the bank itself for the recovery of losses as a consequence of the acquisition of HBOS. Other clients include Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, the Iraq Britain Business Council, and numerous offshore law firms and professional trust companies.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP acts for prestigious ultra-high-net-worth individuals, families, institutions, family offices, private banks and trust companies in a wide range of complex and high-value matters involving multiple jurisdictions. Richard Norridge heads the department, and Tom Leech QC is also recommended. The team continues to represent Rawlinson & Hunter Trustees (the trustees of the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust) in relation to the long-running and high-profile Tchenguiz litigation, advising on the appeals pending before the Privy Council. In other matters, Leech has been acting as lead counsel and advocate to Appleby Trust Co Ltd (as trustee of the Glencore employee benefit trust) in litigation over a claim for breach of contract against Glencore and a claim for breach of trust against Appleby in the Commercial Court. Other major clients include Julius Baer and Jyske Bank (Gibraltar).

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP’s β€˜very thorough team is really well known in this area, and is often involved in the most substantial and large cases’ both domestically and internationally, with particular expertise in offshore trusts and the laws of the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands. Ziva Robertson is β€˜just brilliant’, and attracts particular praise for her expertise in hostile trust litigation: she is β€˜a very clever lateral thinker who fights for her clients like a tigress but always within the rules’. Nicholas Holland β€˜is very good at setting out the key issues, and always seems to be further ahead than the other side’. Simon Goldring is another key partner, while at associate level Catrin Hughes is β€˜a very safe pair of hands’ and the β€˜bright’ Simon Gibb is β€˜very quick at absorbing complex facts and then providing practical solutions’. The team is acting for the beneficiary of a Bahamian trust and her adult children in the landmark Court of Appeal case Dawson-Damer v Taylor Wessing, which looks likely to transform not only the rights of individuals under the Data Protection Act, but also the rights of trust beneficiaries to documents and personal data held by a trustee and the trustee’s lawyers. The firm also advised the Canadian executors of an estate on various matters including a potential application to vary a Canadian will in England.

Bircham Dyson Bell β€˜has gone from strength to strength’ under the β€˜very effective’ leadership of Geoffrey Kertesz; it has β€˜a great client base and has been involved in a number of high-profile disputes’. Kertesz is β€˜exceptional’ and β€˜the complete package. He has an extremely impressive grasp of the law as well as being a shrewd tactician’. Richard Langley has β€˜an excellent analytical mind’, and James Freemantle β€˜has the ear of his clients. He also knows how to explain things clearly and most importantly how to win a case’. Kertesz is β€˜ably assisted by a group of talented lawyers’ including senior associate Lorraine Jeffery, β€˜a rising star’ who is β€˜friendly, efficient and a very safe pair of hands’. Highlights included acting for one of the trustees of the trusts relating to the Savernake Estate (Lord Cardigan and Viscount Savernake) in a high-profile dispute. John Darnton is also recommended.

Howard Kennedy LLP β€˜is growing in importance in the market and has been doing some very significant work that often arises out of its large number of clients with large UK property portfolios’. The β€˜very impressive’ Naomi O’Higgins is β€˜one to watch’; she β€˜focuses relentlessly on trying to achieve her clients’ goals and motivates the whole team to do likewise’. The β€˜cool and competent’ Emily Mailer β€˜completely focuses on the best outcome for her client’. The team is β€˜user-friendly and commercial in its approach’, and advises a broad array of clients on high-value and complex matters. It has a strong client base in the creative, entrepreneurial and charities sectors, and is increasingly working with clients and intermediaries in the Channel Islands and other offshore jurisdictions.

Hunters incorporating May, May & Merrimans has β€˜a great team that is knowledgeable and thorough. It combines a client-focused approach based on forming lasting relationships with the ability to act quickly and decisively when needed’. Head of department Richard Kershaw is β€˜an impressively clear thinker who makes sound judgements based on the correct combination of legal, tactical and practical considerations. He works quickly and is an excellent choice where it is necessary to keep ahead and face down a strong opponent’. Associate David Draisey is also recommended. The team specialises in complex and high-value multi-party litigation that is almost exclusively conducted in the High Court and often involves offshore assets, and has acted in a broad range of matters for landed clients, City professionals, and trustees and beneficiaries.

Kingsley Napley LLP β€˜is becoming a significant player in this area’. Team head Ryan Mowat has β€˜a huge amount of litigation experience and therefore great technical and tactical acumen’. Also well regarded are Matthew Duncan and associate Kate Salter, who β€˜is building up a fantastic reputation in this field’. The team has considerable expertise in areas such as undue influence claims, validity claims, and complex cross-border asset- and people-tracing cases, as well as professional negligence claims relating to wills and trusts. The team is defending Confiance Limited (a Guernsey-registered trust company) in a major fraud case involving offshore trusts. Butterfield Trust (Guernsey) Limited is another key client.

The team at Payne Hicks Beach provides β€˜excellent, quick and clear advice. It does not just find problems but actually focuses on finding solutions’; it is β€˜an impressive practice that is acting in high-value and prestigious cases, and handles both onshore and offshore work well’. The β€˜very astute and pragmatic’ Stephen King heads the department and is β€˜terrific with clients’. Richard Manyon β€˜has great presence and is tactically and strategically very savvy, with a razor-sharp intellect’. Robert Brodrick has β€˜huge amounts of experience’, and Dominic Crossley is β€˜very clever’. Senior associate Ane Vernon is β€˜tenacious in pursuing the best possible outcome for her clients and has an excellent manner, always going the extra mile to put them at ease’. The team is acting for Swiss trustees in a substantial breach of trust claim involving complex cross-border and conflict of law issues, concerning alleged excessive distributions by the former trustees.

Penningtons Manches LLP is β€˜one of the best. It is a heavyweight practice with a strong team’. The team is led by β€˜one of the stars of the sector’ Michael Cash, who β€˜is calm, knows his onions, and has unerring judgement and relentless determination. All of these attributes make him one of the most sought after solicitors in this area’. At senior associate level, the β€˜unflappable’ Henrietta Mason is β€˜a calming influence when emotions run high, yet is also whip sharp and fearless, and an extremely imaginative litigator’; and Sarah Lee is β€˜a big hit with clients’. The team is highly regarded for its work in resolving UK and international estate and succession problems in addition to its charities and Court of Protection work. Its recent work includes acting for the administrator of the 7th Nizam’s estate in a complex, long-running dispute concerning Β£35m held by National Westminster Bank; the money was deposited in 1948, and the claimants to the funds include the states of Pakistan and India.

Russell-Cooke LLP is β€˜very highly regarded and well equipped to deal with all issues. It has some excellent practitioners and is handling many of the more sizeable, complex and high-profile matters out there’. The β€˜very practical’ Alison Regan heads the team and β€˜gets on top of the facts incredibly quickly while never losing sight of the bigger picture’. Richard Frimston is β€˜technically superb’, and the β€˜very knowledgeable’ Gareth Ledsham is β€˜great with clients’. Among the associates, Hannah Mantle is β€˜a rising star’ who is β€˜very bright and offers clear and precise advice’; the β€˜no-nonsense’ Emma Saunders β€˜identifies and deals effectively and efficiently with the issues and the other side’; and Andrew Morgan is β€˜very approachable and proactive, with great attention to detail’. The group is experienced in handling complex disputes involving cross-border estates as well as acting for professional administrators in contentious estates.

Stephenson Harwood’s β€˜knowledgeable’ team β€˜has an excellent appreciation of the market, the needs of the client and the subtleties of each matter. It is robust in defending its clients’ interests’. The head of the practice is the β€˜responsive’ Jenny McKeown, who is β€˜a strong litigator with considerable expertise in structured finance and a good understanding of the difficult role of the corporate trustee. She leads large multi-jurisdictional teams well’. Highlights included defending the trustee of a discretionary trust established by a Kazakh billionaire in proceedings in the Commercial Court; the claimant challenged the validity of an assignment of assets to the trust and the validity of the trust itself. Helena Berman also has β€˜a strong reputation in this field’. β€˜The practice is increasingly busy, watch this space as they become real players in the market.’

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) provides β€˜swift and intelligent advice. The team as a whole has extensive knowledge and experience. It is really great to have a team of experts who work together (rather than individually) for you’. The β€˜outstanding’ Michelle Rose leads the team, and is β€˜empathetic, efficient and highly knowledgeable’. Senior associate Fiona Lawrence is β€˜reliable and determined to help, and has a profound knowledge of this area of law. She gives very prompt and thorough explanations’; and Bristol-based associate Julia Hardy β€˜fights her clients’ corner well’. The firm is acting for award-winning Guardian journalist Decca Aitkenhead and her two sons in a proprietary estoppel claim and an Inheritance Act claim against the estate of her late partner.

The β€˜technically very strong’ David Wedgwood leads the β€˜highly professional’ team at Anthony Gold, and is β€˜very thorough, firm, fair and decisive’. Clare Kelly is β€˜exceptionally knowledgeable and extremely efficient, and is a good negotiator who is sensitive to her clients’ needs and finds practical solutions’. At associate level, Beth Holden β€˜has a bright future ahead of her – she could easily rub shoulders with partners at Magic Circle law firms’; and Monika Byrska is β€˜very capable’. The team’s focus is on medium-sized trusts and estates. Its recent highlights include successfully acting for the claimant in the widely reported case of Purrunsing v A’Court & Co & Others; the client was a victim of a property fraud and sued his solicitors and the fraudster’s solicitors for breach of their fiduciary obligations to hold the purchase money on trust for completion.

Bond Dickinson LLP is β€˜a substantial firm that is able to take advantage of its presence outside of London as well as in London to gain good work’, and β€˜is making its presence felt in London’. The β€˜well-known’ Neil Long is β€˜a first-rate practitioner with great experience in all aspects of contentious trusts and probate work coupled with sound judgement and a commercial and measured approach with clients and opponents alike. He has outstanding client skills and is not afraid to face seemingly intractable problems’. Newcastle-based legal director Jonathan Grogan is β€˜an excellent litigator’ who has a wide-ranging practice including professional negligence claims relating to trust and probate matters. Managing associate Richard Pike β€˜shows good knowledge and considerable patience’, and advises corporate trustees, private individuals and insurers on contentious trust and probate matters. The firm’s geographical spread assists it in acting for individuals, trustees and charities across the UK and offshore, as well as numerous insurance clients.

Burges Salmon LLP’s team is β€˜very professional, hardworking and committed to doing the best for its clients’. The β€˜experienced and clever’ Justin Briggs β€˜makes excellent tactical decisions’, and the β€˜considered and highly experienced’ Kevin Kennedy is β€˜an excellent litigator’. Sian Edmunds β€˜is able to take the difficult cases, often involving complex histories and clashes of personalities, and find a workable solution’. The team specialises in advising individual and corporate trustees, trust managers and beneficiaries. Recent highlights include acting for the personal representatives of a deceased who left a complex web of relationships and assets across the world, as well as dealing with the administration of the estate and defending a claim by his second wife brought under the Inheritance Act 1975.

James Badcock manages the team at Collyer Bristow LLP, and specialises in international tax and estate planning. Clients include high-net-worth individuals and their families, trustees, foreign law firms and banks. Senior associates Peter Pratt and Samara Dutton are also recommended.

At Druces LLP, the β€˜down-to-earth’ Helen Freely β€˜puts clients at ease and immediately reassures them’. The team regularly advises on multi-jurisdictional issues and the legal aspects of estate and probate management, in particular where art work is a core asset. Freely is experienced in acting for clients in relation to complex and contested estates of high-profile individuals, in the last year representing a well-known author, a composer and an art collector. Other clients include The Queen’s Club.

Edmonds Marshall McMahon has β€˜well-respected trust litigator’ Robert Hunter and the β€˜very diligent, knowledgeable and meticulous’ Sofie Hoffman. The team is well versed in specialist private prosecutions, civil asset tracing and trust litigation. Hunter is an experienced solicitor-advocate with specialisms in injunctive relief, freezing and search orders, and applications to remove trustees. Hoffman is experienced in acting for beneficiaries, trustees and executors in trust and probate disputes both in the UK and overseas.

Henry Frydenson at Frydenson & Co β€˜knows this area inside out’, and is β€˜an experienced practitioner who works hard to deliver a consensual outcome for clients. He is very knowledgeable and can be very tough and determined on his clients’ behalf’. Frydenson focuses on high-end trust and probate cases, from administration actions and claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 to family trust litigation, sham trust cases and contested Beddoes applications.

Paula Myers and Paula James at Irwin Mitchell are both β€˜charming, very able and also very practical practitioners who have a wealth of experience in private client litigation’, and Gavin Faber is β€˜very commercial and practical’. With β€˜a strong team nationally’, the firm acts for individual clients, banks, executors and beneficiaries in a broad range of cases from smaller disputes through to complex trust litigation. Its recent work includes a significant reported case on the issue of financial provision for cohabitees, acting for Joy Williams in a cohabitee claim brought by a partner of 18 years; and acting in a high-value matter concerning a Β£10m estate plus various trusts worth several million pounds, involving an undue influence claim, a will forgery claim, several Inheritance Act claims, and a number of potential breach of trust issues.

The β€˜very bright’ Arabella Murphy heads the team at Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP, and is β€˜an excellent litigator’ with β€˜a very strong sense of putting the client first’. Another β€˜star’ in the team is the β€˜outstanding’ Clare Maurice. The firm acts for trustees, beneficiaries and members of ultra-high-net-worth families on a wide spectrum of issues, including claims for breach of trust and fiduciary duties both in the UK and offshore. Highlights included successfully acting for the child of a deceased individual who had a very high profile in the entertainment industry; the father died intestate in respect of assets abroad having left only an English will, and another child sought to claim that the client had received double portions by virtue of an earlier lifetime gift.

Mills & Reeve LLP has β€˜a substantial private client practice’ nationally. David Catchpole and senior associate Lucy Howard are both β€˜very strong’, and Manchester-based Simon Pedley is another name to note. As well as dealing with disputes concerning the validity of wills, actions involving trustees and executors, and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the team acts for a number of charities in relation to contested legacy matters, and regularly assists organisations such as higher educational establishments in relation to contentious issues arising from trusts and disputed wills.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s team provides β€˜an immaculate service with excellent response times, and has a depth of knowledge and experience which shows that each matter has been researched beforehand to the highest standard’. Head of department Michael Pulford has β€˜a great eye for the tactical points and on how best to protect the client while always ensuring the information provided is kept confidential’. Pulford is β€˜more than ably assisted’ by senior associate John Ford, and there is β€˜great strength in depth in the team’. It is particularly strong in large and complex cross-border trust disputes. Recent successes include overturning a $3bn β€˜without notice’ worldwide freezing injunction brought by Russian crude oil producer PJSC Tatneft against eight of the firm’s clients who are trust and corporate entities incorporated in England, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man and Jersey. Clients include Kendris, Equiom Group, Standard Bank (Jersey) and Capco.

The β€˜very experienced’ James Price is the new head of department at Stewarts Law LLP, having joined from Farrer & Co. He is β€˜a hardworking and experienced litigator’,’ a first-rate lawyer and a formidable opponent with excellent client skills’, and β€˜a superb addition to the team’; β€˜his reputation is such that there is no doubt that he will make a success of it’. Associate Emma McCall is also well regarded. The group has been acting in various significant cases for high-profile individuals, and is also acting for a number of large corporates in trust disputes.

Wedlake Bell LLP has β€˜a very strong practice’ led by Andrew O’Keeffe, who is β€˜extremely experienced and a formidable opponent’. Also recommended is the β€˜very knowledgeable’ Caroline Miller, who β€˜deals with her clients well, is immaculately prepared for each case and fights hard for her clients’. O’Keeffe specialises in contentious probate matters and has extensive experience in trust disputes, the administration of estates, and claims under the Inheritance Act 1975.

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Legal Developments in London for Contentious trusts and probate

  • New β€˜ROE Bill’ draft published

    Following from the recent public outcry regarding the lack of β€˜transparency’ in the UK property market, a new β€˜ROE Bill’ draft has now been published.
    - Hudson McKenzie

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