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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



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At Ward Hadaway, commercial litigator Martin Woodford is well versed in acting for trustees and beneficiaries in claims relating to fund investments and claims against third party advisors, as well as handling contentious breach of trust matters pertaining to trust funds. Julie Huntingdon handles a wide range of contentious trusts and probate matters such as claims involving capacity challenges to wills and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. She frequently acts for charities as does Gaynor Jackson, who handles a wide range of contentious and non-contentious trust and estate issues. Associate Joe Kelley ‘offers an extremely good service’; he focuses on breach of trust cases and challenges to wills based on testamentary capacity issues.

Considered by many as the ‘clear market leader in the North East’, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has ‘considerable expertise and experience in trusts and probate matters’ which makes the team of ‘effective litigators’ a ‘safe pair of hands’. It is regularly called on by individuals and trustees as well as landowners and landed estate clients. The ‘clever, hardworking and empathetic’ Neil Long heads the team from London and is also noted as being ‘imaginative, innovative and determined’. In Newcastle, ‘excellent litigator’ and managing associate Richard Pike is ‘very strategic in litigation’ and ‘fights hard for his clients’. Clients also benefit from his ‘very realistic assessments’ and regard him as being ‘unfailingly courteous while at the same time maintaining a firm stance for his client’; attributes which make him ‘extraordinarily adept at handling substantial cases without losing the personal touch’.

Hay & Kilner works in close co-operation with the non-contentious trusts and tax team when handling contentious trusts and probate matters which frequently pertain to disputes in the agriculture sector. Consultant and team head Martin Soloman continues to act for a farmer’s widow in contentious matters pertaining to his will and ownership interests, and has been acting for a client in a dispute with his sister over the assets of their mother’s estate. Lucy Gray acted for a client in pursuing various claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In non-contentious work, the team including Rodney Jones works closely with private client practice head Alison Hall.

The team at Cartmell Shepherd has a ‘good reputation’ and is led by the ‘very experienced and approachable’ Peter Stafford, who ‘has a great way of explaining complicated issues in a straightforward way’; his expertise encompasses Inheritance Act claims, disputes over the validity of wills and the removal of executors and trustees. The team also has a niche specialism in issues arising from NHS continuing healthcare assessments and other care-related matters, with health and social care team head Stephanie Johnson the key figure for those matters. In recent work, Stafford acted for an executor in a dispute with his sister over their mother’s estate consisting of one property, approximately 48 acres of land and various chattels.

Sintons LLP ‘handles matters quickly and sensitively’, with clients, including individuals, charities, professionals and corporate bodies, also benefitting from the practice's close co-operation with the firm’s robust private client and dispute resolution teams, leading to regular instructions on will and constructive trusts disputes alongside Inheritance Act claims. Team head and firm chairman Alan Dawson is the main contact alongside head of dispute resolution Angus Ashman, who ‘always keeps clients fully informed’. The team increased its bench strength by adding ‘very knowledgeable’ senior associate Emma Saunders from Russell-Cooke and solicitor Jonathan Grogan from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP; Saunders ‘keeps an eye on the detail of the matter while at the same time keeping the big picture and the client’s best interests in mind’ and is also praised as ‘leaving no stone unturned when preparing a case’. ‘Good and very approachable’ senior associate Julie Garbutt ‘puts clients at ease quickly’.

Working in conjunction with the firm’s private client team, Tilly Bailey & Irvine covers the full spectrum of contentious trust and probate work, including Inheritance Act disputes, financial claims and executor and trustees removals. Solicitor Gemma Smith is the main contact after former team head and commercial litigator Kenton Bazeley left the firm to join Archers Law LLP in 2018. In recent work, Smith represented the executor of an estate in a claim based on the Inheritance Act 1975 brought by a lodger who lived with the deceased prior his death and refused to vacate. Associate Debra Burton is now at Shakespeare Martineau LLP.

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