The Legal 500


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

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Index of tables

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

The commercially focused Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP has an impressive commitment to private client work, which shows in the ‘consummate professionalism’ of its team: the ‘highly experiencedMartin Paisner, ‘good communicatorDamian Bloom, ‘efficientSimon Phelps, ‘knowledgeableGeorgina James and ‘throughJonathan Kropman are all recommended. The scope of work includes complex, high-value international wealth structuring and governance, multi-jurisdictional tax advice, voluntary disclosure and Shari’ah law. Clients appreciate the ‘stability in key personnel, in-depth knowledge of clients’ operations, and access to a wide array of complementary services.’

Thoroughbred firm Farrer & Co has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. A super-strong team includes the ‘superbRhoddy Voremberg; ‘dedicated’ Mike Chantler; Russell Cohen(‘approachable; with a mastery of offshore tax’); ‘soundCatherine McAleavey, and ‘very cleverSarah von Schmidt. The ‘standoutMarianne Kafena (former head of wealth planning at Kleinwort Benson) and solicitor (and Chinese speaker) Charles Wang joined in 2015. The firm has a significant international and domestic client base of entrepreneurs, royalty and landed estates. ‘How lawyers should be; a focus on personal service rather than a billing target’, comments one client.

Macfarlanes LLP fields a sterling team that includes Sebastian Prichard Jones (‘a brilliant lawyer who has creative solutions to complex problems covering multiple jurisdictions’); ‘trusted adviserEdward Reed; ‘highly capable’ Robin Vos; ‘superbMatthew Pintus; ‘intelligent and astuteNicholas Harries; ‘switched-onPiers Barclay; ‘efficient, responsive and practicalOliver Court; and ‘excellentCharles Gothard, who ‘is very strong in US-UK planning matters’. The firm’s twin strength in corporate means that it can handle both the business and personal needs of its UK and non-UK entrepreneurial clients. Particular areas of expertise are international asset structuring, tax and trust planning, and family governance. New partner Jennifer Smithson is recommended as ‘efficient and intelligent, with a deep knowledge of FATCA and reporting.

Technically accomplished, with a friendly, collaborative approach’, Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP specialises in advising non-UK-resident ultra-high-net-worth individuals on complex estate planning. Sample work in 2015 included advising on immigration, ATED-compliance obligations for clients with UK properties, and trust and tax advice on the sale and purchase of offshore trust or fiduciary businesses. Clare Maurice, Ceris Gardner, Arabella Murphy, Jennifer Chambers, Emma-Jane Weider, Ed Powles and senior associate Tessa Hulton comprise a strong team.

The ‘pragmatic and capable’ Andrew Hine heads a rounded private client offering at international commercial firm Taylor Wessing LLP, which fields the ‘thorough’ Mark Buzzoni, ‘approachable’ Nick Warr and ‘very knowledgable’ Sanjvee Shah. Clients report that the team ‘provides a high level of service and advice, and is especially good at coordinating the cross-jurisdictional aspects. Its ability to provide a seamless delivery across multiple practice areas is unique and powerful.

The well-connected Baker & McKenzie LLP has a ‘first-class’ wealth management group, which carries out complex high-value structuring for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and prestigious banking institutions. The team has a strong Russia/CIS and Middle Eastern practice, and also considerable expertise in advising on international tax dispute work. Ashley Crossley heads a strong team that has nine associates.

The private client team at Bircham Dyson Bell includes ‘highly experienced’ practitioners Hugo Smith, James Johnston, Judith Millar, Elizabeth Neale, new joiner Karl Woolley, and team head Helen Ratcliffe, who has a ‘fabulous brain for trusts’. A truly inclusive offering provides its client list of entrepreneurs and those with inherited wealth with not only cross-border trust and tax advice, but the spinoff services in immigration, employment, corporate and personal tax, charities, family and real estate.

Boodle Hatfield LLP’s private client group has a supreme level of expertise in personal taxation, estate planning and family succession matters, both domestically and abroad. Sue Laing, Natasha Hassall and Sara Maccallumare first class, serving up practicality with unfailing charm. Clients appreciate ‘the strong client focus; this generates a smart approach and outstanding quality of service’. Geoffrey Todd has ‘unfailing acumen’, and Hayden Baileybrings value with outstanding technical skills.

Technically strong, thorough and open to new ideas’, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP now has one of the largest private client teams in London, with 17 partners. The ‘excellentBart Peerless heads the combined team, which focuses on the private wealth needs of ultra-high-net-worth individuals and institutions across the globe. Robert Blower, Catriona Syed, Andrew Cameron, Piers Master, Bart Peerless - Tom Moran and John Ward are all seasoned practitioners. The practice is ‘first class, and top of the list of go-to firms for high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals’.

Fiona Smith and Andrew Lane jointly head the thriving private client practice at West End firm Forsters LLP. Smith ‘is exceptional in her client care and advice on complex trust matters’. Lane, Patrick Harney - Xavier Nicholas and Carole Cooke are singled out as ‘excellent’. The firm has a quality client list and strong offshore capabilities. Kelly Noel-Smithhas a great rapport with clients and solves problems in a pragmatic and diligent manner’.

Lincoln’s Inn firm Hunters incorporating May, May & Merrimans’ merger has created a sizeable 14-partner team, with a dedicated focus on all things private client. ‘Safe pair of handsJonathan Godwin-Austen heads the team, which includes Andrew Parry, Joe Richardson, Lucinda Tite, Rachel Mainwaring-Taylor, Matthew Yates, Wilfrid Vernor-Miles and Alexandra Sarkis. The firm acts for many landed estates, family businesses and celebrities. ‘The service is first class in every way,’ comments one client.

The dynamic McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP has propelled itself up the ranking in recent years under the able stewardship of ‘doyenne and go-to manMartyn Gowar. Clients rate the firm highly for high-value, cross-border tax and trusts, particularly where there is US element. ‘Response times are very good, and the team has an encyclopaedic knowledge. There is genuine strength-in-depth, and you always get a subject matter expert on specific issues.’ The ‘personableAstrid Owen is recommended for her cross-border knowledge, and the ‘extremely proactiveDhana Sabanathanis very good at explaining a complex matter in simple terms’.

Alastair Murdie steers an ‘extremely sound’ private client team at Payne Hicks Beach, whose loyal client base appreciates ‘the consistency found in every area of practice’. Clients range from established landed estates to Middle Eastern and Scandinavian families. The ‘excellent’ Robert Brodrick, ‘practical and down to earth’ Alice Palmer, and ‘highly proficient’Freddie Bjorn were joined by the ‘intelligent, practical and wise’ Rosamond O’Dowell from Collyer Bristow LLP in 2014.

International private client boutique Withers LLP has a raft of accomplished practitioners, including Matthew Woods, Patricia Milner, Christopher Groves, and Filippo Noseda.

Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP benefits from the firm’s reach in Asia, the Middle East and South America. The private capital practice, headed by ‘established practitionerAnthony Thompson, handles the full range of work for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, banks, offshore trustees, fiduciaries and administrators. Nick Jacob and Catharine Bell are recommended.

Mayfair private client boutique Berkeley Law Limited is now part of the Irwin Mitchell legal services group. The firm typically acts for high-value individuals and families from outside the UK, from Russia, CIS and MENA. Alex Ruffelis excellent technically on complex cross-border work’, and Tim Thornton Jones and Barry Adamsonhave profound expertise’. Glenn Hurstfieldremains a leader in his field, adored by clients, and always up-to-date’.

James Badcock heads the much-praised practice at Collyer Bristow LLP, assisted by senior partner Daniel Simon, John Saner and William Hancock; the latter joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP in 2014. Badcock ‘is a great lawyer who always delivers practical and thought-through solutions. Clients also appreciate the firm’s international reach, through its Geneva office.

Harcus Sinclair is a ‘classy outfit’ that focuses exclusively on meeting the needs of wealthy individuals, both UK and international. Private client is one of three core areas, complementing family and litigation. Firm founder Keith Bruce-Smithhas bags of experience’, Lucy Gibson is ‘tenacious and dedicated’, and Alice Killingbeck’s ‘level of commitment to her clients is seriously impressive.

Mishcon de Reya’s Mishcon Private, aimed at wealthy individuals and families, covers international trust and tax structuring, tax, immigration, art, and reputation management. Head of tax Andrew Goldstone provides ‘considered advice and is lovely to deal with.’ Tax partner Kassim Meghjee is ‘knowledge and commercial’.

The ‘supremely capableLesley Lintott spearheads the nationwide team – ‘a great amalgam of wise heads and dynamic young stars’ - at Penningtons Manches LLP. Highly rated are the ‘personable and pragmaticClare Archer, ‘efficient and constructiveChris Lintott, ‘soundRobert Macro, and ‘highly experiencedNeil Morris. ‘An exceptional team that is outstanding across the full spectrum of private client advice, delivered in a sensitive and commercial manner’, comments one client. Senior associate and ‘rising star’ James d’Aquino joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s Geneva office in 2014.

Russell-Cooke LLP’s head of team Richard Frimston has a stellar reputation for expertise in private international law and tax planning for cross-border estates. The six-partner team includes Dawn Alderson, who specialises in French-related advice, and Rebecca Fisher, who provides international and domestic tax and trust planning for families during marital breakdowns.

Beatrice Puoti and John Barnett jointly head the team at Burges Salmon LLP. Servicing London from its Bristol office, the team regularly undertakes international tax planning for UK and international clients. A sizable client list includes high-net-worth individuals, Barclays and UBS.

Private client is part of the private capital group at the ‘very progressive and friendlyHarbottle & Lewis LLP, which advises UK-resident and international high-net-worth individuals on tax structuring and succession planning, tax investigations and enquiries, as well structuring for efficient investment. The team acts for entrepreneurs and individuals from the media, technology and entertainment world. Glen Atchison is ‘very commercial’, David Scott is ‘extremely diligent’, and senior associate Chris Moorcroft is ‘up and coming’.

At Howard Kennedy LLP, Liz Palmer heads a team that provides its high-net-worth entrepreneurial client base with strong trust and estate planning, coupled with ‘formidable’ tax knowledge on the establishment and efficiency of offshore structures. Asset protection, administration of estates and international probate are also part of the broad remit.

Mills & Reeve LLP fields a strong nationwide team, including Chris Belcher, Gregory Laming and Julia Rangecroft. The firm provides all round expertise - from contentious trusts and probate to agriculture, property and corporate - to a diverse client base, including traditional landed estates and entrepreneurs. Private tax partner Virginia Edgecombe is ‘highly responsive and provides clear advice’.

Pinsent Masons LLP has ‘impressive prowess’ in complex tax disputes, FATCA, GAAR, and high-value onshore and offshore tax planning for international clients. Tax specialists Jason Collins and James Bullock are ‘experienced and know their area inside out’, and Richard Hart is ‘very knowledgeable’ on the Middle Eastern side. Clients praise the practice as ‘effective; legal expertise paired with a practical and cordial approach’.

The ‘accomplishedJim Sawer heads Thrings LLP’s three-partner team, which has a traditional client list including Somerset Trust, Badminton Estates and Wilson Cotton, trustee of the Savernake estate. In 2014, the team successfully defeated a claim by Lord Cardigan that his trustees were planning to sell the ancestral house at an undervalue.

All change at Trowers & Hamlins LLP, as Jamie Atwell retired, and is now a part-time consultant. Simon Goldring leads the team, which hired three new associates in 2014. The practice has a diverse mix of clients from the Middle East and Asia, in particular Malaysian investors, as well as a traditional landed estates client base. Highlights in 2015 include property structuring and immigration advice, and high-level structuring and tax planning.

Wedlake Bell LLP’s strong private client practice, headed by experienced duo Eleanor Metcalf and Ann Stanyer, has a diverse client base, and a strong Middle Eastern niche. Highlights in 2015 included advising the trustees of the Leverhulme family trusts on the £715m sale to Unilever of the rights to shares in its subsidiary. Emma Lovedayhas a depth of knowledge’, and Camilla Wallace is ‘diligent and professional’.

Discreet firm Currey & Co has an established reputation for traditional private client work. William Swan, Edward Perks, Sabina Fortescue, Peter Bostock, John Naunton Davies and Mary Black are key contacts in the team.

Bijou firm Druces LLP fields multi-disciplinary lawyers with a commercial focus. ‘Being smaller is a distinct advantage, and there is always the feeling of a real team spirit’ says one client. Roy Campbell and Richard Monkcom have excellent reputations.

Duo Nick Giles and David Goepel are key contacts at Edwin Coe LLP. The firm handles a raft of private client matters, from succession planning and elderly client work to tax disputes. Notably, the practice benefits from having a team of specialist chartered tax advisers to aid clients.

Penny Wotton heads the private client team at Fieldfisher, where an impressive client base includes ultra-high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs, royalty and celebrities. The firm has a private client focus that includes UK and non-UK-resident trusts and worldwide estate planning. Graeme Nuttall is noted for his work advising the government on structuring employee trusts.

Fladgate LLP’s eight-partner tax and private capital team is headed by the ‘highly capableDavid Way, and was boosted by the addition of experienced practitioner Matthew Bennett from Wilsons in 2014. The firm provides a personal tax service, and complex international trust structuring, to its stable of international and domestic clients.

GSC Solicitors LLP specialises in advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals from Asia, Africa, Russia and the Middle East. Saleem Sheikh is recommended, and Menna Bowen and Alastair Wilson have considerable tax expertise.

Andy Kerman and Amanda Elwell are the key contacts at Kerman & Co LLP, which specialises in global asset structuring for corporate investors and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, particularly those from Russia, Asia and Africa. The team also advises on claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act, and Court of Protection claims.

Kingsley Napley LLP ramped up its capability with the hire of Zoe Sive from Baker & McKenzie LLP. Matthew Duncan heads the team, which has considerable expertise in advising high-net-worth individuals, trustees and financial institutions on trust and tax structuring across jurisdictions.

Clients recommend the ‘quick to respond, technically strong and practical’ Jo Summers at PWT Advice LLP for a breadth of private client work, including IHT, offshore, trusts, charities and foundations. The firm continues to advise the trustees of the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust on their interests under his estate, and successfully overturned an adverse cost order in the Court of Appeal.

Piper Smith Watton LLPprovides a personal and individually tailored service’ to its client list of high-net-worth individuals, trustees and international estates. Key figures include the ‘highly competent’ Mark Spash and Ruth O’Neill. The firm merged with Blake Morgan LLP in August 2015.

RadcliffesLeBrasseur has a solid private client team that advises landed estates, people in business and international, wealthy families on tax and estate planning. The firm fields three partners: the ‘enthusiastic, with an intelligent and thoughtful approachJonathan Shankland; ‘capable and personable, with core of steelVictoria Fairley; and ‘highly experiencedTim NewsomeThe level of service is excellent – a no-nonsense approach combined with a caring and personal attitude to the client’.

Stone King LLP’s charity prowess is complemented by expertise in private client work, particularly in advising older clients, for whom the firm provide a full ‘concierge’ service. Highlights include advice on domicile for a deceased foreign national, and high-value, multi-jurisdictional tax planning for elderly clients. Alison Allen heads the team, and Rod Smith is recommended.

Basil Zirinis heads the global estates and personal group at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, which advises international families - such as the Pritzker family, who have a $25bn international business empire – on multi-jurisdictional tax implications and succession planning. The firm regularly advises on FATCA, and other disclosure regimes, as a result of its US connections.

Squire Patton Boggs has a ‘first-class’ personal tax department, with an excellent track record of advising on residence or domicile disputes with HMRC, as well as advisory work. Head of team Peter Vaines is ‘very knowledgable and thorough, with a superb grasp of the technical issues. Helen McGhee is ‘a rising star: articulate, organised and efficient’.

Thomas Eggar LLP’s well-rounded private client offering includes the ‘highly capableRichard Jordan and ‘experienced’ Andrew Watters. The team advises high-net-worth individuals on international asset protection and succession planning, and acts for institutions such as Coutts Jersey, HSBC Trustees and Schroder Trust.

The comprehensive offering at Veale Wasbrough Vizards includes four ‘experienced and capable’ partners in Judith Cuxson, Michael Knowles, Christine Green and Michelle Rose. The team handles complex tax structures, LPAs, Court of Protection issues and tax advice for a client base of entrepreneurs, celebrities, private banks and property advisers.

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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

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