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  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals

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Baker McKenzie LLP has β€˜a market-leading practice’ that is renowned for its excellent work in big-ticket international trusts and estates litigation. Among its β€˜quality lawyers’ is the β€˜extremely knowledgeable’ head of department Anthony Poulton; β€˜for the truly heavy cases with an international dimension, Poulton is without equal’. Senior associate Gemma Willingham provides clients with β€˜clear advice on critically important issues’. Clients include Barclays Wealth, Grupo Torras and the Merchant Navy Officers Pension Fund.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s β€˜utterly excellent’ team provides β€˜very fast response times and practical solutions’, and β€˜can handle the most demanding litigation’. Rupert Ticehurst heads the practice and is β€˜outstanding; technically excellent and with a knack for putting clients at ease while explaining issues in layman’s language’. Also recommended are the β€˜incredibly hardworking’ Damian Bloom, senior associate Jessica Henson and associate (and β€˜very strong litigator’) Simon Goldring. Clients include Rothschild (Singapore).

Boodle Hatfield LLP’s β€˜leading practice’ consists of β€˜outstanding individuals who provide an excellent service’. The β€˜extremely personable and knowledgeable’ Andrea Zavos is β€˜a genuine problem solver’ and Simon Rylatt is β€˜a brilliant and practical lawyer’. Associate Mark Lindley is β€˜formidably bright’. The β€˜very experienced’ team regularly advises trust companies, ultra-high-net-worth individuals and wealthy families on complex matters with an international dimension. Sofie Hoffman is now at Edmonds Marshall McMahon.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has β€˜a leading practice, particularly following its merger; it has excellent national links and an extensive international reach’. The sizeable team includes Graeme Kleiner, who is β€˜very capable of dealing with complex and high-end litigation with ease’; the β€˜unflappable’ Duncan Elson; Roberta Harvey, who is β€˜a superb litigator’ on offshore trusts; and the β€˜hardworking’ Tamasin Perkins, who is now a partner. The β€˜immaculate’ Suzanne Marriott and β€˜tenacious and knowledgeable’ senior associate James Lister are also singled out for praise.

Farrer & Co fields a team of β€˜dynamic and technically excellent lawyers’ that is β€˜regularly involved in the leading cases in England and overseas’. Key figures include the β€˜particularly excellent’ Toby Graham; the β€˜highly responsive and extremely talented’ Mark Bridges the β€˜very practical and extremely knowledgeable’ Jeremy Gordon; and the β€˜technically able and very bright’ Joanna Poole, who is now a partner. James Price joined Stewarts Law LLP.

Macfarlanes LLP is β€˜going from strength to strength’ under the leadership of Charles Lloyd, who β€˜remains on top of every detail’. The β€˜absolutely first-class’ team has β€˜tremendous firepower to handle all the technical and taxation aspects of complex trusts and probates’. Clients include individuals with substantial inherited wealth, entrepreneurs, trustees, protectors and financial institutions. Newly promoted partner Jonathan Arr β€˜brings real energy to a case and relentlessly fights for his clients’, and solicitor Melody Munro is β€˜handling some large cases with great intelligence and commitment’.

Taylor Wessing LLP fields β€˜a team that is going places’; according to clients, the addition of Emma Jordan β€˜has pumped new energy into the contentious trust team’. Jordan, who is also a Jersey advocate, joined the team from Gowling WLG and is β€˜one of the most talented lawyers in London for contentious trusts’. Andrew Hine is β€˜extremely bright and committed’ and Kirstie McGuigan β€˜juggles a large case load brilliantly’. The team is especially strong on complex disputes, and combines its strength with a technical tax capability. β€˜It fights your corner without being unduly aggressive, which is essential when dealing with the bereaved’.

Withers LLP’s β€˜superb team’ is β€˜at the top of the tree’; it provides β€˜well-rounded advice’ across the entire spectrum of private client issues with a β€˜good team structure to ensure that things are dealt with at the right level’, and its β€˜excellent associates and partners’ are regularly involved in disputes both nationally and internationally. Paul Hewitt is a β€˜brilliant strategist and thinker who gets great results for his clients’ and is β€˜very adept at handling tricky situations’. Stephen Richards is β€˜clever and tenacious’ and Dawn Goodman has β€˜vast experience of trust litigation’.

Clifford Chance LLP provides β€˜a thorough and consistent service throughout long-running disputes’. The β€˜calm’ Jeremy Kosky is β€˜very experienced in trust litigation, especially in offshore cases’. Other key members of the β€˜very motivated team’ include the β€˜robust and approachable’ Maxine Mossman and β€˜hugely energetic’ senior associate Nicole Buncher, who is β€˜a rising star’. Coutts is a client.

At Forsters LLP, β€˜everything its team does is commercial, thorough, well executed and focused on finding solutions’. Emily Exton is β€˜an A-list litigator who is first-class on trusts and probate litigation and can handle any tricky issue very well’. β€˜Vastly experienced’ consultant Caroline Bassett has β€˜excellent judgement, great dedication to her clients and a thorough knowledge of the law’. The seven-partner practice is β€˜highly effective and efficient, and is very well known and well regarded in the trusts and private client world’.

Catharine Bell heads the team at Gowling WLG, which provides β€˜advice that is always of the highest quality and that is consistently commercial and practical’. Andrew Witts is recommended for his experience of running large, complex multi-jurisdictional fraud and trust disputes in offshore jurisdictions. Catherine Naylor is an β€˜emerging talent’ and Verity Barker is praised for her β€˜enormous work ethic and dedication to each case’, both are principal associates. Clients include New World Trust Company and Jersey Trust Company. Emma Jordan joined Taylor Wessing LLP.

Clients praise Harcus Sinclair LLP’s team of β€˜very talented individuals’ for its ability to handle complex cases both domestically and internationally and disputes concerning high-value works of art and chattels. Damon Parker is experienced at bringing group investment loss claims on behalf of claimants, and is recommended alongside Henry Hickman, Lucy Gibson (who is β€˜a very impressive trusts litigator’) and Alison Meek, who is β€˜a formidable litigator’. Clients include numerous offshore law firms and the Iraq Britain Business Council.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is praised for its β€˜straightforward advice and good teamwork’ and for being β€˜very good at explaining complicated issues to non-specialists in clear, concise and simple terms’. For high-end, multi-jurisdictional litigation the firm can draw on expertise in a diverse array of offices such as Moscow, Hong Kong and the Middle East. Tom Leech QC is β€˜an experienced and accomplished advocate’. Robert Hunter joined Edmonds Marshall McMahon.

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP’s team is β€˜going from strength to strength’ and is skilled at handling complex multi-jurisdictional trusts disputes. Nicholas Holland is β€˜very thorough, bright, capable and always sees the bigger picture’. Ziva Robertson is β€˜a trust litigator of enormous experience and boundless energy, and is superb on tricky conflict of law issues’. Clients include DYXnet Holdings and Hill Street Trustees. Associate Lynsey McIntrye is β€˜always efficient’.

Mishcon de Reya LLP β€˜regularly attracts the meatiest, toughest and highest-profile disputes and handles them excellently’. The β€˜incredibly successful’ practice is adept at handling major cross-border disputes and is headed by Mark Keenan, who is β€˜very quick at understanding complex issues and relaying these to the client’. Peter Steen, who is β€˜an excellent trusts litigator with wide offshore experience’, acts predominantly for corporate and individual trustees, beneficiaries, protectors and third parties on claims against trustees. Managing associate Claire-Marie Cornford has β€˜a calm manner that helps to diffuse the most difficult of situations’.

Bircham Dyson Bell recruited Geoffrey Kertesz from Withers LLP, who joined as the head of the trusts and wills team. Kertesz is dual US and UK qualified and β€˜has a fantastic eye for spotting things that other people miss’. Helen Ratcliffe is β€˜efficient, thorough and superb with clients’, and John Darnton has β€˜a real flair for communicating complicated matters very simply’.

Howard Kennedy LLP’s workload includes acting for clients with large UK property portfolios. Emily Mailer is β€˜able to manage difficult situations and difficult clients very well and is reassuringly calm, with a good eye for tactics’. New addition to the team Naomi O’Higgins, who joined from Harcus Sinclair LLP, is β€˜an excellent addition and is particularly skilled at acting in major international trust matters’.

Richard Kershaw at Hunters incorporating May, May & Merrimans is noted for his β€˜measured, sensible and confident approach to litigation, which ensures that his clients’ best interests are promoted at all times’. Its specialist tax and family lawyers handle a range of contentious trusts and probate matters, enabling it to deliver β€˜a comprehensive service’. Associate David Draisey is also recommended.

Kingsley Napley LLP’s β€˜efficient and pragmatic team’ is well equipped to handle complex multi-jurisdictional work. Head of team Ryan Mowat β€˜throws his heart and soul into his clients’ cases and knows when to fight and when to settle’. Also recommended are the β€˜exceedingly bright’ Katherine Pymont, β€˜very reliable and capable’ Kate Salter, and associate Laura Phillips, who β€˜really knows her stuff’.

Payne Hicks Beach is noted for its β€˜excellent work and phenomenal service’ provided to high-net-worth private clients and estates. Recommended individuals include newly promoted partner Richard Manyon, who is β€˜very hardworking’; the β€˜extremely diligent’ Stephen King, who demonstrates a β€˜genuine concern for his clients’ best interests’; the β€˜very practical’ Robert Brodrick, whose β€˜technical skills are second to none’; Rosamond McDowell, who is β€˜very quick and intelligent’; and associate Ane Vernon, who β€˜will explore every possible angle to ensure that she secures the best deal for her clients’.

Penningtons Manches LLP provides β€˜a high-end service and has decades of experience in this area; its understanding of offshore vehicles demonstrates its ability to move with the times’. Michael Cash is β€˜a first-rate litigator with a real grasp of the things that matter’, and Sarah Lee attracts praise for her ability to β€˜think outside the box, which is an invaluable skill in estate work where personalities and/or the family dynamic can play a critical role’. β€˜Clever’ senior associate Henrietta Mason is also recommended.

Russell-Cooke LLP provides β€˜top-quality advice’ on cross-border succession disputes. Alison Regan is β€˜extremely thorough’ and Richard Frimston is β€˜very experienced at advising on cross-border estates and foreign laws’. The β€˜talented and pragmatic’ Gareth Ledsham is praised for his breadth of experience and for his willingness to β€˜work hard to keep costs down where possible’. Associate Emma Saunders is β€˜diligent and sympathetic, but firm’.

Stephenson Harwood’s β€˜flawless team’ includes John Fordham and Stephen Roberts, who are β€˜excellent tacticians and strategists who always go the extra mile for clients’. Other β€˜very able litigators’ include Helena Berman, who is highly recommended for complex trusts and family disputes and the β€˜no-nonsense and tenacious’ Jenny McKeown.

The β€˜very calm and deeply knowledgeable’ Michelle Rose heads the β€˜fast and outstanding team’ at Veale Wasbrough Vizards, which includes members appointed as independent administrators and court appointed deputies. β€˜Thorough and helpful’ senior associate Fiona Lawrence is also recommended.

Anthony Gold has β€˜excellent links with local authorities and the Official Solicitor’ and also receives regular instructions from the Public Trustee and the Court of Protection. Deparment head David Wedgwood β€˜really knows his stuff and is absolutely brilliant with vulnerable clients’. Clare Kelly is β€˜an excellent and versatile litigator who has a refreshing no-nonsense attitude’. Kelly has particular expertise in acting for children and incapacitated clients.

Neil Long, who joined from Howard Kennedy LLP, heads the team at Bond Dickinson LLP and is β€˜an extremely competent trusts litigator’. The team acts for individuals, as well as UK and offshore trustees and insurance companies. β€˜Knowledgeable’ managing associate Richard Pike is also recommended.

Burges Salmon LLP is β€˜a leading firm in the South West for this work, and is more than able to hold its own in London’. Sian Edmunds is β€˜totally on the ball’ and is recommended alongside the β€˜very clever’ Justin Briggs and Kevin Kennedy.

Key figures at Collyer Bristow LLP include the β€˜practical’ James Badcock, who β€˜sees the bigger picture’, and β€˜committed’ senior associate Samara Dutton.

Druces LLP’s clients include The Queens Club and a number of high-net-worth individuals. β€˜No-nonsense litigator’ Helen Freely is recommended alongside β€˜responsive, proactive’ and β€˜well-organised’ senior associate Rachel Diedrich.

Edmonds Marshall McMahon significantly strengthened its ranks with the β€˜outstanding’ Sofie Hoffman from Boodle Hatfield LLP and Robert Hunter from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

Fladgate LLP’s team is β€˜excellent’ at handling high-net-worth family finances. Sophia Purkis is rated for her β€˜very quick and clear responses’ and is recommended alongside the β€˜very competent’ Teresa Cullen.

At Frydenson & Co, Henry Frydenson regularly advises on high-end contentious trust and probate litigation and has considerable skill in mediation.

Irwin Mitchell’s β€˜efficient and impressive team’ consistently handles a broad mix of cases. β€˜Very savvy litigator’ Paula James heads the team, which includes associates Margaret Windram, who is β€˜a very calm litigator’, and the β€˜very knowledgeable’ Samantha Ewing.

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP is β€˜a very strong outfit, with tremendous depth and experience’. The practice is a regular fixture on heavyweight trust applications. Arabella Murphy and Richard Turnor are recommended. Jenny McKeown and Helena Berman left to join Stephenson Harwood.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s β€˜excellent team’ mainly acts on disputes concerning the validity of wills, actions involving trustees/executors and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The team is headed by the β€˜very experienced’ David Catchpole in Norwich, and includes β€˜knowledgeable and highly organised’ senior associate Lucy Howard.

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Legal Developments in London for Contentious trusts and probate

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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