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



Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Contentious trusts and probate clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


One of the best firms in the North East for contentious probate matters’, Bond Dickinson LLP combines ‘outstanding service delivery’ with the ability to ‘make the subject matter clear’. Newcastle-based legal director Jonathan Grogan has experience in trust litigation, probate disputes and related professional negligence issues, and ‘is able to plot his way through complex, multi-faceted issues with clarity. ‘Thorough and careful’ managing associate Richard Pike ‘handles complexities with great professionalism, knowledge and expertise without ever losing his personal rapport with clients, acting as a calming influence from beginning to end’. Neil Long in London leads the practice and has notable experience in validity and capacity disputes, trustee and beneficiary issues and contested Court of Protection applications.

Julie Huntingdon leads the department at Ward Hadaway, which features individuals from the firm’s private client and litigation practices. Huntingdon is recognised for her contentious probate expertise, with particular emphasis on issues affecting charities and individuals. Gaynor Jackson primarily handles contentious trust matters for national and international charities, with a focus on inheritance issues and estate disputes. Also recommended are litigator Martin Woodford, who focuses on trust disputes, the mis-selling of financial products, and pension-related claims; and Andrew Facer, who is noted for his experience acting for entrepreneurs and landed clients in succession planning litigation.

Hay & Kilner’s team, which works closely with the firm’s non-contentious trusts and tax departments, has a core strength in the agricultural sector, where it advises farmers and agricultural trusts on probate and trust disputes. The group is also highly experienced in alternative dispute resolution and has substantial expertise in mediations. Martin Soloman leads the group, which includes professional negligence and inheritance specialist Rodney Jones; Lucy Gray, who focuses on agricultural law; and non-contentious expert Alison Hall, who leads the firm’s private client department.

Cartmell Shepherd’s Peter Stafford has marked experience in validity issues, capacity disputes and litigation regarding the removal of executors and trustees. He leads the group, which includes Stephanie Johnson, who advises on provision-of-care matters, capacity issues and work involving vulnerable clients, and associate Caroline Smith, who handles Inheritance Act claims and validity disputes. The group also has a niche specialism in issues arising from NHS continuing healthcare. Recent work includes defending an executor in a validity claim brought by the client’s siblings regarding their late mother’s will; representing an individual in proceedings seeking the removal of an executor; and acting in an Inheritance Act dispute.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine’s specialist department provides ‘an exceptional service, from the initial call to the matter’s conclusion’. The firm provides ‘clear, concise and informative advice’ covering the full spectrum of contentious trusts and probate work, including Inheritance Act disputes, validity issues, constructive trust claims and executor and trustee removals. Commercial litigator Kenton Bazeley heads the group, which includes ‘practical and down-to-earth’ associate Debra Burton, who is ‘well versed and proficient in contentious probate matters’ and ‘always ensures that clients understand the complications, causes and effects that can arise’. Clients single out non-contentious specialists Nicola Dalzell, who is ‘a real asset in litigation with an incredible working knowledge of inheritance tax issues’, and Helen Dexter, who is ‘an excellent all-rounder’.

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