The Legal 500

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United Kingdom > London > Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate

Editorial sections

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

Jonathan Kropman’s team at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP is ‘first choice for advice on complex taxation and trusts work’. The firm is notable for its work on the voluntary disclosure of undeclared tax liabilities under the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, in particular its experience in negotiating with HMRC in complex investigations. Ron Downhill and Marilyn McKeever are ‘good communicators on complex subjects’; Martin Paisner is ‘a quite exceptional lawyer’; Simon Phelpsdraws on deep experience’; and Damian Bloom is a significant presence in the market.

Farrer & Coexcels in this area. Whether the clients deal with a senior person or someone junior, the technical expertise is excellent’. Numerous individuals in Jim Edmondson’s 18-lawyer team attract praise: Sarah von Schmidt is ‘a dynamic personality’; Russell Cohen is ‘strong on international work’; Nick Dunnell’s ‘international reputation precedes him’; Alison Springett is ‘very knowledgeable on structures in the Middle East’; Mark Bridges is ‘clever and well connected’; and Catherine McAleavey and Diana Davidson are ‘extremely professional’.

Providing an ‘absolutely superb’ service, Macfarlanes LLP is ‘an outstanding firm with a high level of integrity’, and its practice in this area is expanding; it now conducts ultra-high-net-worth work in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Middle East, drawing on wider expertise in property, financial services, and corporate. Sebastian Prichard Jones is a ‘stress-proof, commanding presence’; Helen Darling is noted for her ‘meticulous planning’; and Jonathan Conder and Matthew Pintus also have superb reputations. Clients include Barclays Wealth and Coutts Private Office. Charles Gothard joined from Speechly Bircham LLP in 2012, and Michael Ranson and Oliver Court were recently promoted to the partnership.

Taylor Wessing LLP’s team is ‘without doubt top tier’ and ‘very commercial’, and is ‘particularly impressive on resident and non-resident non-doms’. In 2012 it handled numerous large multi-jurisdictional restructurings, and practice head Mark Buzzoni also acted as court-appointed guardian ad litem for children and unborn beneficiaries of a group of Bermudan trusts worth $5bn. Nick Warr ‘has the ability to do the smart stuff, and then communicate it to clients’; Andrew Hine ‘inspires confidence’; and Kirstie McGuigan is ‘strong in complex family situations’.

The highly rated Patricia Milner and ‘pleasant and energeticFilippo Noseda now jointly head the team at Withers LLP, which has ‘good depth within teams’, and is particularly notable for its US/UK tax expertise, with Richard Cassella leader in the field of US tax advice’. Christopher Groves recently advised the management on the buy-out of Premium Credit.

With its strong track record acting for leading billionaire families and prominent Middle Eastern clients, the ‘top-quality’ team at Baker & McKenzie LLP is well placed to benefit from the recent influx of super-rich individuals into London. Ashley Crossley and Salpy Kouyoumijian come highly recommended. Kouyoumijian is active on the Barclays panel.

Bircham Dyson Bell is ‘one of the top London firms, and has developed its non-contentious and contentious practices in a holistic way’. The team is particularly valued for its experience in multi-jurisdictional succession issues, and also for expertise in complex Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act issues. Helen Ratcliffe has ‘sound UK tax/trust knowledge’; James Johnston ‘approaches matters with insight’; Simon Weil has a superb reputation; and Hugo Smith is ‘very strong at the black-letter law’. Stephen Lewin, Alastair Collett and Elizabeth Neale are also noteworthy practitioners.

Boodle Hatfield LLP advises domestic family businesses in relation to succession and asset protection, and also conducts high-profile international work for clients in Australia, Singapore, South Africa, and the US in relation to offshore assets. Geoffrey Toddoffers professional expertise in a friendly manner’; and department head Sue Laing and Simon Rylatt both have superb reputations. Clients include the Grosvenor Estate and the Bedford Estate.

Charles Russell LLP is ‘very strong, particularly in offshore trusts’, and regularly conducts very high-value multi-jurisdictional work. It is also noted for its farsightedness in responding to recent Finance Bill changes relating to the holding of UK property; ‘it started thinking about the problems early, and anticipated many of the problems others were left grappling with at the last moment’. Bart Peerlessinspires confidence’; Piers Master is ‘technically outstanding’, and Robert Blower, Andrew Cameron and Suzanne Marriott also have superb reputations.

Forsters LLP has ‘one of the leading London-based private client practices’. It is active for super-wealthy Indian and Middle Eastern clients, and on the domestic side assists with traditional and non-traditional tax structures for sportsmen, entrepreneurs and film producers. Catherine Hill ‘sees things from the client’s perspective’; and Fiona Smith has ‘a brilliant manner with people’. Patrick Harney has an outstanding reputation for UK tax planning advice for non-domiciliaries, and Kelly Noel-Smith has expertise advising high-net-worth non-UK domiciled clients in mitigating their UK tax exposure. Eliza Mellor and David Robinson are also serious players.

Graham Ogilvie’s team at Hunters is valued for its ‘effective’ service; the lawyers are ‘leaders in the private client arena’. The firm continues to make ground in terms of attracting celebrity clients and on the international front, with the US and Switzerland among its areas of focus. Jonathan Godwin-Austen and Patricia Sykes are ‘calm, effective, and swift’, and Joe Richardson, Andrew Melvin and Matthew Yates are also recommended.

Anthony Thompson’s ‘highly professional’ team at Lawrence Graham LLP acts for an array of international multimillionaire and billionaire clients, including advising on complex structural issues of heredity, an area for which Rose Chamberlayne is particularly well respected. The firm recently implemented a series of innovative structures on behalf of Middle Eastern, Bahamian, South East Asian and Latin American clients. Thompson is ‘the quintessential family adviser’; Catharine Bell is ‘a quick, no-nonsense lawyer’; and Nick Jacob is ‘very good technically’.

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP is ‘of the highest quality’ at partner level, and at associate level also it is ‘consistently talented and dedicated’. The firm has attracted an impressive influx of clients from the Middle East and North Africa, and is increasingly active in pre-arrival planning for international businessmen in the MENA region and from France. Clare Maurice, Arabella Murphy, Jennifer Chambers, Emma-Jane Weider and Tessa Hulton are ‘extremely hardworking and sophisticated’, and associate Ed Powles is a ‘top-quality lawyer’.

Alastair Murdie’s team at Payne Hicks Beach handled an impressive mix of work in 2012, including advising French high-net-worth residents looking to relocate to the UK and US citizens to take advantage of the $5m estate and gift tax exemption. Robert Brodrick displays ‘a willingness to explore lateral solutions’; and Christopher Sly and Stephen Woodward ‘form strong relationships with their clients and anticipate their needs effectively’. Woodward was promoted to the partnership in 2012.

Speechly Bircham LLP has ‘technical expertise across a wide range of complex issues, both onshore and offshore’, advising on matters ranging from the mitigation of IHT on arts and heritage to the restructuring of high-end property and protection of trust assets from dissolute beneficiaries. Graeme Kleiner, Mark Summers, Dominic Lawrance, Alison Broadberry and John Wardall have excellent reputations, superb knowledge and a friendly, doctor-like approach’. Charles Gothard joined Macfarlanes LLP in 2012.

Rosamond McDowell heads a four-partner, ‘value-for-money’ team at Collyer Bristow LLP, which is experienced in cross-jurisdictional estate planning, and has seen an increase in Arab Spring related instructions. Daniel Simon, John Saner and James Badcock are ‘excellent and professional’. McDowell is noted for her ‘legal acumen’.

Harcus Sinclair’s team was bolstered in 2012 by the arrival of Jonathan Burt from a management role at Barclays Wealth. Keith Bruce-Smith is ‘high calibre’, and Lucy Gibson is also recommended.

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP is recommended for complex cross-border issues, leveraging its US-UK strength to conduct high-end work. Martyn Gowardraws on vast experience to act as trusted adviser to many’; he and Andrew Vergunst are ‘fine, practical lawyers, with technical ability’. Astrid Owen ‘gets personally involved rather than delegating’, and Dhana Sabanathan is ‘a rising star’.

Mishcon de Reya is ‘excellent in all areas’. Stuart Crippin ‘leaves no question unanswered’; Andrew Goldstone gives ‘excellent private wealth and tax planning advice’; Mark Keenan has ‘an encyclopaedic knowledge of the relevant cases’; and Tony Morton-Hooper is ‘excellent’. Katherine Forster also attracts praise, for her experience advising foreign domiciles on US tax and offshore structures.

Penningtons Solicitors LLP has ‘one of the leading teams in London’, with practice head Lesley Lintott enjoying an ‘eminent reputation in private wealth management’. The firm specialises in high-end tax structuring for domestic clients, particularly family businesses. Clare Archer and Chris Lintottdeliver a high level of client service and care’; Neil Morris has ‘vast experience’; and Robert Macro takes ‘an agile and pragmatic approach’. Clients include Kleinwort Benson and Vistra (UK).

Russell-Cooke LLP’s Richard Frimston has ‘unparalleled expertise in multi-jurisdictional estates, and deserves praise for making the profession aware of developments in this area, lobbying the European Commission, and raising cross-border mental capacity issues’. Michael Parkinson has ‘a broad practice’, and Dawn Alderson is ‘precise’.

Berkeley Law Limitedgets to the bottom of the client’s concerns and gives robust advice’. The firm regularly handles relocation tax planning for individuals with assets around the £250m mark. Alex Ruffel is ‘insightful’; Glenn Hurstfield is ‘experienced’; and Tim Thornton-Jonesgoes out of his way for the client’.

Burges Salmon LLP’s John Barnett and Nigel Popplewell have an outstanding reputation; ‘few members of the tax profession are their equal’. The firm is also noted for its ‘depth of talent’, with Huw Cooke, Michael Westbrook, Beatrice Puoti, John Manis and senior associate Katharina Byrne all ‘technically strong’. Tom Hewitt is a ‘tower of strength’. Recent work includes a restructuring of £100m family wealth.

Although Currey & Cotends to eschew the limelight’, it has a superb ‘old-school’ reputation, with William Swan and Edward Perks both highly rated.

GSC Solicitors LLP regularly handles complex work for individuals with assets in the £50m-£100m bracket, and is particularly active in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Middle East related work. Saleem Sheikh is ‘strong at assisting trustees’; Peter Belchertranslates the intricacies of property transactions into everyday language’; and solicitor James Cohen ‘manages the details of individual cases very well’. Barrister Tessa Lorimer joined in 2012 from HMRC.

Harbottle & Lewis LLPprovides excellent advice with a commercial bent’. The firm acts for a varied client base of high-net-worth individuals in the financial services sector and UK entrepreneurs. Practice head Glen Atchison, who is also the firm’s managing partner, has a strong reputation, and Rhys Llewellyn has ‘excellent commercial acumen’.

At HowardKennedyFsi, ‘all matters are dealt with efficiently’. Liz Palmer heads the team, and Simon Malkiel, Emily Mailer, Michael Lewis and Robert Craig are also highly rated. James Lewis is ‘fully versed in all the whys and wherefores of wills and estates’. The team has great pedigree in complex tax planning for individuals and families, particularly in the UK, the US and continental Europe, and draws on Susana Miranda's Spanish law expertise.

May, May & Merrimans has private client at its core, and is well versed in matters such as agricultural property relief, heritage relief and Irish/Scottish succession law. Alexandra Sarkis heads the team.

Bright and pragmatic’ and noted for its entrepreneurial approach, the team at Pinsent Masons LLP is ‘well connected, especially in the Middle East and former CIS countries’, and advises some very wealthy families. Karl Woolley is ‘an incredibly charismatic leader’, and Suzanne Gill has ‘immense gravitas’.

Excellent all round’, Thrings LLP is experienced in providing sophisticated tax advice to trading farms, and in handling high-profile trust resettlements. Jim Sawer is noted for ‘his understanding of clients ’ needs’, and Mark Harden is recommended for his ‘international experience and knowledge’.

Jamie Atwell is the contact at Trowers & Hamlins LLP, and has notable experience in shari’ah-compliant structures.

Wedlake Bell LLP has seen an increase in clients from Egypt, Greece and France. Fay Copeland and Robert Dolman have superb reputations, and Camilla Wallacehas her clients ’ interests at heart’. The team is appreciated for its ‘good response times and realistic time schedules’.

Hugh MacDougald’s team at Winckworth Sherwood handles a diverse mix of domestic and offshore work, including the creation of new tax structures on behalf of high-net-worth individuals and issues relating to the migration of trustees.

Jon Toth heads the team at Ashfords LLP (incorporating Rochman Landau). Client panels include AJ Speelman & Sons, and Terry Jordan BKL Tax.

Davenport Lyons’ wide-ranging practice is headed by Jeffrey Cohen, who is recommended for his experience in IHT and capital gains tax. Leslie Powell is also a significant player.

Edwin Coe LLP has a diverse practice led by Nick Giles. Its experience includes £1bn restructurings, and large probates.

Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP has ‘deep knowledge of the UK tax situation in a global European context’. Penny Wotton has ‘extensive knowledge and experience’.

Fladgate LLP’s six-partner team is ‘very approachable, and gets to the point quickly’. Helena Luckhurst is ‘ultra-efficient’.

Keystone Law’s partner-only practice is ‘excellent and thorough’. Rose Phelps is ‘experienced’.

Kingsley Napley LLP’s Matthew Duncan is noted for his work on behalf of immigrant clients. The firm also has strength in the media and entertainment sector.

Linklaters LLP has an ‘extremely professional’ team. Jonathan Evansnow heads up the trusts area well’, with Nigel Reid having moved to a consultancy role. Ellie Radburn is ‘outstanding’.

Manches LLP is ‘practical and reasonably priced’. Colin Russell and Julia Saunders ‘work speedily and with precision’.

McGuireWoods London LLP is ‘excellent value for money’, and remains a popular choice with the Scandinavian super-rich. Anders Grundberg is now the contact, following Helena Whitmore’s departure in 2012.

Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘a match for London practices’. Chris Belcher is a ‘creative thinker’.

PWT Advice maintains its niche conducting work on behalf of institutions such as banks and trust companies. Jo Summers is the contact.

Squire Sanders LLP’s Peter Vaines is ‘the elder statesman of residence and domicile’.

Stone King LLP is notable for its expertise in cross-border estates and inheritance tax. David Ainslie and Alison Allen are the contacts in London and Bath respectively.

Thomas Eggar incorporating Pritchard Englefield provides a ‘very, very good tax service’. Inheritance tax guru Richard Jordan is ‘tenacious’.

The four-partner team at Veale Wasbrough Vizards attracts high praise from clients, and is led by Michelle Rose.

WilsonsMatthew Bennett and Adam Herbert are ‘excellent technically’, and are experienced in assisting high-net-worth individuals.

Press releases

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Legal Developments in London for Personal tax, 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

Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Home Office announces extension of support service for SMEs

    An online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) which need to recruit skilled overseas workers has been extended until 28 February 2014. The pilot was launched by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and provides a step by step guide to sponsoring an overseas worker. This service is available via the GLA website.
  • Penningtons Manches' immigration team considers new changes to the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

    The Home Office has recently published new Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance, version 12/13. This guidance is to be used by all prospective and existing Tier 4 sponsors from 11 December 2013.
  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

  • Behind the corporate veil: is that all there is?

    That companies have an existence entirely separate to that of their shareholders and directors is a foundational principle of English law and commerce.

  • Playing fair with penalty clauses

    It is often difficult to predict what will be recoverable as damages for breach of contract. To provide some certainty, parties will often seek to agree the sum that will be payable in the event of specified breaches. 

  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

  • The role of arbitrators in EU antitrust law

    In May 2014, it will be ten years since Regulation No 1/2003 entered into force. When the legislator of the European Union adopted this Regulation on 16 December 2002, its main objective was to decentralise the enforcement of the two main provisions of EU antitrust law, Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Where do the arbitrators fit in this picture?

  • New Immigration Bill, October 2013: cause for concern or appeasing public sentiment?

    The year 2013 has seen a string of reforms to the immigration system by the current coalition government. On 10 October, the government published a Bill aimed at continuing its drive to reduce net migration figures. 

  • New Schengen EU Regulations: impact on short-stay visa visitors

    The publication on 26 June 2013 of the European Union Regulation EU 610/2013 modified the incumbent Regulation EU 562/2006 in relation to third country nationals (ie non-EU citizens) and those travelling on a short-stay visitor visa, as well as those who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria. Exceptions include EU and EEA nationals travelling to other EU/EEA states within the Schengen area together with foreign nationals holding either long-stay or residence permits for their destination Schengen countries.

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

Press Releases in the UK

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to