The Legal 500

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

Editorial

Index of tables

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

Jonathan Kropman’s team at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP is active on behalf of wealth management institutions and ultra-high-net-worth individuals across a range of jurisdictions, including Malaysia, Singapore and Switzerland. Martin Paisner is ‘one of the best-respected trust lawyers in the country'; Damian Bloom and senior associate Tracey Hawksley ‘give positive advice'; Anthony Bunker is ‘rated highly in the field of taxation'; and Simon Phelps provides ‘solid, swift and clean solutions'. Georgina James was promoted to partner in 2014.

A ‘Premier League' firm, Farrer & Co has strong links in Switzerland, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Ireland and the US, and has an exceptionally strong practice advising landed estates. ‘Apart from its core of UK focused work, its lawyers now handle a lot of high-value international cross-border work, and this success may well be due in part to able leadership and the role that a pleasant working environment has in attracting able lawyers'. Rhoddy Voremberg leads a ‘strong' team which includes Mike Chantler, Catherine McAleavey and Sarah von Schmidt, who are ‘particularly good'.

Macfarlanes LLP has ‘enormous depth of experience' and ‘huge strength in depth'. Sebastian Prichard Jones, Robin Vos, Owen Clutton and Matthew Pintus are ‘outstanding', and are supported by Nicholas Harries and Piers Barclay, along with Charles Gothard, who recently re-joined the firm from Speechly Bircham LLP. The team ‘lends some considerable weight to discussions without coming across as patronising, and also tries to approach matters from a practical perspective'. Clients include Barclays Wealth, Coutts Private Office, and Lloyds TSB Private Banking.

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP ‘is absolutely first rate for private client work, and has enormous experience and expertise in complex, multi-jurisdictional planning. All of their partners are impressive, as are their associates'. Clare Maurice, Ceris Gardner, Arabella Murphy, Jennifer Chambers and Emma-Jane Weider all stand out, and newly promoted partner Ed Powles and senior associate Tessa Hulton are also ‘very strong'. The firm’s work is ‘consistently superb'.

Taylor Wessing LLP is ‘one of the pre-eminent firms in this practice area'. Mark Buzzoni is ‘highly knowledgeable on international tax and trusts', and recently advised an Italian UK-resident foreign domiciliary and her Jersey trustees in relation to a £115m bare trust governed by English law but managed in Jersey and subject to an Italian legal usufruct. Andrew Goodman is ‘intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced'; Andrew Hine is ‘eminent in the profession, and highly respected by his peers'; and Nick Warr ‘quickly wins the trust of clients'. Sanjvee Shah, who joined from Speechly Bircham LLP, ‘works hard to reach practical solutions for clients'.

Withers LLP ‘fields a very hardworking department with strong ability'; Matthew Woods, Patricia Milner, Christopher Groves and Charlie Tee in particular stand out. Groves recently advised The Barton Consortium, a group of landowners who wished to jointly market a number of plots of agricultural land for development. Ceri Vokes was recently promoted to partner. Filippo Noseda, who jointly heads the team with Milner, also has a superb reputation. Barrister Tessa Lorimer joined as special counsel in 2014.

Baker & McKenzie LLP is ‘one of the few firms with a real global presence in the field of private wealth in terms of advisers in multiple key locations'. The team leverages the firm’s international capabilities to handle unique restructurings, with matter values often reaching billions of pounds. Ashley Crossley and Salpy Kouyoumjian are ‘highly regarded in terms of technical knowledge'.

At Bircham Dyson Bell, Hugo Smith ‘impresses with his thorough knowledge of trust law and related tax issues, and with his proactive approach to planning matters'; James Johnston is ‘reliable, and dedicated to clients'; Judith Millar is ‘up and coming'; Helen Ratcliffe is ‘a very fine lawyer'; and Elizabeth Neale is ‘a strong member of the team'. In addition to its well-established strength in domestic succession planning and tax advice, the firm is active in relation to estates with assets in wide-ranging foreign jurisdictions.

At Boodle Hatfield LLP, Sue Laing is ‘exceptionally able, and leads a strong team'. Natasha Hassall is noted for her ‘in-depth technical insight'; and Sara Maccallum is praised for her ‘practical and in-depth tax advice'. The team’s recent work includes conducting international succession planning on behalf of a South American family worth £100m, as well as handling significant strategic matters for longstanding client Grosvenor.

Charles Russell LLP is ‘a first-class law firm' and ‘fully understands the client’s needs'. Robert Blower ‘applies a level of practicality and common sense to his advice when many of his peers seek to overcomplicate - a truly trusted adviser'. Catriona Syed is ‘an exceptional practitioner in this field with the innate ability to identify the key issues at stake quickly and with clarity'. Andrew Cameron is ‘a pleasure to work with'; Piers Master ‘exudes competence'; Bart Peerless‘instincts are spot on'; and Terence Bennett is ‘outstanding'. The firm is currently active in introducing special powers in relation to exceptionally high-value trust assets held for a Russian family, a matter worth in the region of £10bn. Since publication, Charles Russell LLP and Speechly Bircham LLP have merged to form Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

Forsters LLP’s ‘expertise in dealing with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth families with a global exposure is very obvious from the moment they are engaged'. Patrick Harney and Peter Golden are ‘pragmatic and understand their clients ’ needs, and ensure transparency with regards to fees'. Fiona Smith is ‘a first-class lawyer who is technically brilliant, and warm and approachable'. Xavier Nicholas is ‘attentive to detail, and has strong technical knowledge'.

The ‘excellent' Hunters has an impressive array of lawyers handling the full array of private client work, led by Jonathan Godwin-Austen. Andrew Parry is ‘exceptionally sensitive to family politics'; Joe Richardson is ‘uniquely good, and all that a private client tax solicitor should be'; Lucinda Tite and Rachel Mainwaring-Taylor are ‘technically strong and pragmatic'; Matthew Yates is ‘reliable'; and Wilfrid Vernor-Miles is ‘sensitive, calming, and on top of the subject matter'.

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP has ‘a very high-quality offering' which benefits from the support of the firm’s capabilities in London and internationally; ‘with large clients becoming increasingly global, having a firm with a global presence and in-depth capability is invaluable'. Martyn Gowar is ‘very experienced and extremely client friendly'. Astrid Owen’s ‘key strength is cross-border planning with an emphasis on UK/US issues'.

Alastair Murdie’s 26-fee-earner team at Payne Hicks Beach is noted for its ‘excellent level of service' and ‘in-depth knowledge of the sector'. The practice is evenly split between domestic and international work, with work in the latter category including acting for the ruling families of four Middle Eastern countries. Robert Brodrick and Jeremy Lowe are ‘approachable and quick to respond'. Rosamond McDowell, who is 'multilingual and has a great client manner' joined, along with Andrew Dixon, from Collyer Bristow LLP in June 2014.

Speechly Bircham LLP is ‘a leading provider of private client services and advice', and has ‘a particularly good view of what is going on in Europe'. Team head Tom Moran ‘has the ability to apply his technical knowledge both practically and commercially'; James Trafford is ‘a pleasure to work with'; and William Begley has ‘a reassuring manner and the ability to bring proceedings back on track'. Solicitor Sangna Chauhan ‘has particular strength in the field of advising non-doms and in offshore tax planning, and is very impressive in front of clients'. Since publication, Charles Russell LLP and Speechly Bircham LLP have merged to form Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP’s team head Anthony Thompson specialises in advising on effective structures for the protection of wealth for international families, and has strong support from Nick Jacob, Rose Chamberlayne and the ‘very knowledgeable and pragmatic' Catharine Bell. Key clients include Scotiatrust and HSBC Private Bank.

Berkeley Law Limited is ‘a boutique private client practice with specialists working at the top of their profession. It is a very highly regarded firm with an enviable reputation for high-quality client service and excellent legal advice'. Alex Ruffel ‘is very reliable technically and creates a good working atmosphere'; Tim Thornton Jones is ‘very professional and approachable'; and Barry Adamson’s ‘easy-going personality endears him to clients'.

At Burges Salmon LLP, Beatrice Puoti is ‘bright and energetic, and a pleasure to deal with'; and John Barnett has ‘excellent technical skills'. The firm ‘compares favourably' when it comes to advising large institutions and wealthy individuals on their tax affairs.

Collyer Bristow LLP fields a strong team including new department head James Badcock, Daniel Simon and John Saner. The team is particularly noted for advising on offshore trust structures in the US, Russia and Egypt, and also draws on the capabilities of the firm’s Geneva office. Rosamond McDowell joined Payne Hicks Beach in June 2014.

At Harcus Sinclair, Keith Bruce-Smith and Lucy Gibson are ‘both exceptionally able', and Alice Killingbeck is ‘an impressive and highly competent lawyer'. The firm is very active in complex tax planning, often with a multi-jurisdictional element.

May, May & Merrimans ‘has an enviable client base, and retains its clients ’ loyalty by providing detailed, thoughtful and very well-informed advice'. Practice head Alexandra Sarkis is ‘very, very good and about the best private client solicitor there is. She can ’t be praised highly enough'.

Mishcon de Reya’s sizeable team advises both UK and international clients on direct and indirect taxation. Andrew Goldstone acts for UK and international families in relation to onshore and offshore trusts matters, and Kassim Meghjee is well versed in areas such as the interpretation of double taxation arrangements and the application of transfer pricing rules.

Penningtons Manches LLP is ‘certainly one of the best in the field. It has strong individuals from a technical point of view who certainly have the right approach and personality to advise individuals, families and groups on their tax and trust matters. Their combination of sensitivity and technical knowledge is as good as it gets'. Clare Archer has ‘a wonderful mixture of technical excellence and warm personality'. Robert Macro and Neil Morris deliver ‘down-to-earth, good-quality advice'.

Russell-Cooke LLP has strength in international law issues such as cross-border succession, matrimonial property regimes and capacity. Richard Frimston is ‘a highly experienced and impressive adviser'; and Dawn Alderson leads a team acting for high-net-worth French nationals. Rebecca Fisher joined the firm in 2013.

At Currey & Co, William Swan and Edward Perks ‘impress with their thorough grasp of trust law and their reassuring client manner', whilst up-and-coming assistant solicitor Sabina Fortescue ‘makes a very favourable impression with her all-round technical knowledge and close attention to client service'. Peter Bostock, John Naunton Davies and Mary Black are ‘immensely able'.

GSC Solicitors LLP has an impressive mix of advisers including Saleem Sheikh and Peter Belcher. The firm is focused on advising individuals in Africa, China, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and the Indian subcontinent. Barrister Tessa Lorimer left for Withers LLP in 2014.

Harbottle & Lewis LLP, under Glen Atchison, is ‘always a pleasure to work with'. Matthew Barnett is ‘very capable'. Moore Stephens and Barclays Private Bank & Trust (Isle of Man) are clients.

HowardKennedyFsi is recommended for complex planning in the UK, the US and Europe, and is ‘very good particularly on response times and value for money'. Liz Palmer is ‘competent, pragmatic and practical'. Susana Miranda has notable expertise in Spanish law.

At the ‘faultless', Pinsent Masons LLP, Karl Woolley ‘has drive and commitment, and is particularly helpful on Russian/CIS issues', and Jason Collins is ‘particularly helpful on tax issues'.

Thrings LLP ‘punches above its weight'. Jim Sawer is the standout figure and is experienced in succession and tax planning in respect of high-value estates.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP was bolstered by the arrival of Simon Goldring from RadcliffesLeBrasseur; he is ‘a fantastic adviser' who ‘gets straight to the crux of a matter'. Jamie Atwell and Neil Cohen give ‘trustworthy advice'.

Wedlake Bell LLP’s service is characterised by ‘personal chemistry both within the firm and towards the client' and by its ‘readiness to wrestle with the intractable problems and to reach wise and humane solutions'. Team head Eleanor Metcalf ensures that ‘things are done thoroughly and on time'; Charles Hicks is ‘wise and imaginative'; Fay Copeland and Caroline Cook are ‘outstanding, and continually keep the client updated'; and Camilla Wallace has ‘strong client skills and a keen interest in tax'.

Hugh MacDonald’s team at Winckworth Sherwood is highly recommended for the full suite of private client work, including estate planning. Solicitor Tim Snaith is ‘a real star in the making'.

Druces LLP has an ‘excellent' wills and estate planning practice. Roy Campbell is ‘knowledgeable and sympathetic', and Richard Monkcom has ‘extensive knowledge'.

Edwin Coe LLP ‘compares well to other firms'. Nick Giles acts for family- and owner-managed businesses, as well as acting for a wide range of individuals, unincorporated businesses and charities. David Goepel is recommended.

Fieldfisher is ‘one of the best' when it comes to representing the tax interests of household names and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Penny Wotton is ‘unfailingly courteous, friendly and super-efficient', and Graeme Nuttall is ‘highly practical'.

At Fladgate LLP, Richard Kaufman is noted for his ‘deep knowledge'. The firm represents international trust companies, fund managers, and individuals and families with significant personal assets. David Way, Antonia Brandes and Helena Luckhurst also have strong reputations.

Kerman & Co LLP is capable of handling very large and complex matters, including succession planning for families with assets in the tens of millions. Andy Kerman and Amanda Elwell are the names to note.

Clients of Kingsley Napley LLP can draw on the expertise of the ‘flawless' Ryan Mowat and Matthew Duncan, who is experienced in complex probate matters and in acting for high-net-worth individuals.

At Mills & Reeve LLP, Chris Belcher is an expert in inheritance and capital gains tax issues; Gregory Laming is well versed in trusts and tax-efficient wills; and Julia Rangecroft is particularly noted for complex tax planning.

PWT Advice LLP ‘provides dependable, conservative advice'. Jo Summers is ‘no-nonsense and practical'.

At Piper Smith Watton LLP, Mark Spash is ‘a wise head of team', and Ruth O’Neill has ‘a good grasp of US/UK tax issues from the UK perspective'.

Stone King LLP has expertise in cross-border wills and estates and disputes, and inheritance tax planning. Alison Allen heads the team.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP takes ‘an excellent approach to the complexity of the problems of clients', and is ‘a first-choice firm for advice on US matters'. Basil Zirinis ‘explains complicated issues in a very clear and concise style for the benefit of a layman'.

Thomas Eggar LLP’s Richard Jordan is ‘a very, very good lawyer', and advises UK and international families on preservation of wealth, tax mitigation, succession and governance issues.

At the ‘excellent' Veale Wasbrough Vizards, Judith Cuxson is ‘very capable and a pleasure to work with', and Michael Knowles ‘is extremely competent, efficient and courteous, and has an outstanding ability to communicate with clarity'. The firm recently merged with George Carter LLP, bringing Martin Standen, Philip Vickers and Ping Leung to the team.

Wilsons’ broad offering is built around the expertise of Frances Mayne and Belinda Watson, who handles tax advice in the landed estates context.

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