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



Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Contentious trusts and probate clients in South East 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


A 'market leader' for contentious trusts and probate work, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP fields a practice that is 'very approachable, understanding and sensitive to their client’s needs;  legal knowledge and expertise is first class'. Duncan Elson heads the department and is noted for his 'huge wealth of experience and ability to achieve extraordinarily good results for his clients, both in court and in ADR'. Also recommended are Edward Birrell, who joined in February 2017 from Mourant Ozannes and is 'wise beyond his years'; Court of Protection expert Samantha Ewing, who joined in May 2017 from Irwin Mitchell and whose 'in-depth knowledge and strong negotiating skills inspires confidence'; and Rebecca Piper, who is noted for her track record acting for charities in contentious legacy work. The practice handles the full range of contentious work, with notable expertise in family business disputes and cross-border matters involving multiple foreign jurisdictions. Other key figures include Katelyn Silver, who is noted for her ability to 'explain complex legal issues clearly'.

Cripps LLP is 'one of the regional leader for contentious trusts work', with clients singling out the practice for its 'practicality, pragmatism and ability to manage client expectations during difficult circumstances'. Clients include high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs and family businesses, for which Russell Simpson and his team handles the full range of contentious probate and trust matters, from Inheritance Act claims to issues of testamentary capacity and cases involving multimillion-pound estates and offshore assets. Other key figures within the team include the 'excellent' Philip Youdan, who is noted for his 'high level of integrity'; Myles McIntosh, who is 'affable but to the point, and whose advice is well balanced and straightforward';  Dino Sikkel, who is noted for his 'practical approach to difficult matters' and 'eminently sensible advice'.

'A top-flight firm with a national profile', Freeths LLP's team is 'a really good option for serious contentious litigation'. The practice covers the full range of contentious trust work, including Inheritance Act claims, challenges to the validity of wills, Court of Protection matters and estoppel claims. Sarah Foster heads the practice and is noted for her 'wealth of experience in the field, which she can draw on to secure good results for clients'. Other key figures include Sally Goodger, who is 'highly experienced, always communicates clearly and remains calm under pressure'; Rosalyn Shephard, who 'always fights for the clients' best interests'; and Paul Brown, who is 'very thorough and able to take a good tactical view of a dispute'. Angela Bowman joined Shoosmiths LLP.

Irwin Mitchell's dedicated contentious trusts and probate team 'can go toe to toe with any other specialist litigators in the country; its size and the resource it is able to deploy on cases is impressive to behold'. It has an extensive track record handling high-value and complex disputes for individuals, entrepreneurs, business people, banks, executors, trustees, charities and beneficiaries. The practice handles probate disputes involving issues of validity, testamentary capacity, undue influence and rectification claims; family provision claims; professional negligence claims arising from defective defective trust instruments and wills; proprietary estoppel claims against estates; and statutory wills and Court of Protection matters. Practice head Paula James 'wastes no time in getting straight to the point and finds the shortest distance to a solution no matter how tough the journey'. Senior associate Stephen Ireland is 'particularly proactive when it comes to gathering evidence and always has the client's wider interests at heart'. Samantha Ewing joined Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

B P Collins LLP attracts praise for its 'thorough knowledge of the practice area and ability to identify issues quickly to work towards a resolution that is in the best interests of the client'. The practice's expertise encompasses the full range of contested probate cases, including Inheritance Act claims, disputes involving the validity and interpretation of testamentary documents, the removal of personal representatives, and disputes arising from the administration of trusts and estates. Craig Williams 'always keeps the client’s objectives in mind and is pragmatic and practical in his approach to the legal issues'. Matthew Brandis is also recommended.

Barlow Robbins LLP attracts praise for its 'ability to marshal the relevant issues in a case quickly and efficiently, its practical and commercial approach, and its attention and responsiveness to clients' needs and risks'. The practice's wide-ranging workload covers disputes related to the validity of wills and trusts, Inheritance Act claims, professional negligence claims, and Court of Protection claims, among other contentious trust and probate matters. Practice head Scott Taylor 'cares passionately about his clients and their cases, and provides a stellar service '. He is ably supported by David Foster and Lisa Green, who is 'very good at guiding clients through complex matters'. Recent work includes acting for the daughter of a millionaire financier who died in 2013 in a high-profile dispute concerning his purported last will; the client disputed the validity of the will and sought the removal of the executors and trustees.

Brachers' reputation in this area was further strengthened by the recruitment of the 'redoubtable' Deborah Cain, who is 'a very experienced and thorough contentious trusts and probate lawyer'. working closely with the firm's private client department, the practice acts for clients in the full range of contentious trust matters, including disputes concerning the validity of wills, Inheritance Act claims, disputes between executors, trustees and beneficiaries, and proprietary estoppel claims.

Gardner Leader LLP is 'a forward-thinking, proactive firm with a good grasp of the technical, legal and practical issues that often arise in this area'. The firm's 'very strong litigation team' has been active in a number of trials, ranging from matters such as proving a will in solemn form, to committal proceedings arising from a trial concerning a fraudulent will where a number of witnesses admitted to not telling the whole truth during cross examination. Recent work includes representing two siblings who had been appointed as executors of their late mother's estate in a case against their sibling, who was also an executor of the estate, arising from the sibling's refusal to disclose details of the will or let them see a copy. The practice also acted for the fiancé in an Inheritance Act claim brought against the estate of their deceased partner. Practice head Alastair Goggins 'has a thorough knowledge of the law in this technically complex area, but also understands the commercial realities of the case and the client’s practical requirements, enabling him to give the best possible advice'. Tara McInnes joined Shoosmiths LLP.

Griffith Smith LLP fields a 'well-established' contentious trusts and probate department. The practice acts for high-net-worth individuals and estates on a range of disputes, including cases concerning testamentary capacity and claims under the Inheritance Act. Former department head Abha Pandya has joined 1 Crown Office Row, Brighton.

Mundays LLP attracts praise for its 'brilliant service, excellent attention to detail and thoroughness', with Julie Man singled out for her 'attention to detail and great customer service'. The contentious probate practice handles a wide range of high-stakes disputes, often involving cross-border matters. Stephen Morris has retired.

Shoosmiths LLP provides 'exemplary advice and support, provided in understandable terms and at rates which represent excellent value for money given the quality, speed and clarity of information and advice provided'. Rose Donoghue heads the team in the South East, which was joined in 2017 by Tara McInnes from Gardner Leader LLP, and in 2018 by Angela Bowman, who joined from Freeths LLP and who is noted for her expertise in contested legacy disputes. Recent work includes acting for the claimants in a claim for construction/rectification of the deceased's will, which involved questions over whether a clause in the will left all property to the clients or whether it was just the freehold interest in the property.

TWM Solicitors LLP is 'among the few Surrey-based firms with genuine expertise in the field', with the firm fielding a team of 'subject matter experts' that can handle 'complex, multi-faceted cases in an efficient manner'. Guy Perkins is 'a seasoned professional, excellent at what he does - he invariably gets good results for clients, who know that they are in good hands'. Perkins leads a team with an extensive track record in cases involving Inheritance Act claims; claims concerning the validity and execution of wills; the removal of executors; contested deputyship; and statutory will applications. Recent work includes acting for a client whose partner had died with net assets valued at approximately £4.5m, in a claim for reasonable financial provision, which involved complex issues related to the deceased's domicile.

Adams & Remers is 'a solid regional firm which has been building its practice in this area' in the three years since the arrival of Lloyd Junor and Ashton Davies ('both very experienced and pragmatic lawyers').  Junor has more than 20 years' experience handling contentious trust, probate and estates work on behalf of beneficiaries, trustees, executors and administrators. Recent work includes acting for minor beneficiaries on the removal of a professional trustee arising from their failure to properly appreciate the terms of the trust and needs of the beneficiaries.

Clients of Birkett Long LLP single out its contentious trusts and probate practice for its combination of 'a high level of professionalism with empathy and consideration', with practice head Amanda Smallcombe attracting praise for her 'pragmatism, knowledge and realistic negotiating style'. The team's experience covers the full range of inheritance disputes, including claims under the Inheritance Act, claims concerning breach of trust, unauthorised spending, and undue influence, and estoppel claims. Smallcombe recently acted as the litigation friend to minor children, while John Fawcett acted for the applicant in a case contesting the validity of a Health and Welfare LPA with cross application relating to the applicant’s suitability to act as attorney under an EPA.

Birketts LLP provides 'efficient and knowledgeable advice, given in a timely and compassionate manner'. Daden Hunt heads the practice, which includes the 'very personable, compassionate'  Marie Batchelor, who is noted for her 'efficient service and great knowledge'. Hunt and Batchelor's recent work includes acting for the trustees of a trust created under their late grandfather's will in a claim by the adopted children of the clients' relative for entitlement to a proportion of the trust.

Blake Morgan LLP's practice handles a range of disputes, including contentious legacy matters on behalf of national charities, Inheritance Act claims involving estates worth in excess of £1m, and Court of Protection work involving children, young adults and elderly clients. Stephanie Walls heads the team and brings more than 30 years' experience handling contentious probate matters.

Blandy & Blandy LLP's practice handles disputes concerning the validity of trusts and wills, the interpretation or rectification of trust instruments, breach of trust, and Inheritance Act claims. Philip D’Arcy heads the practice and acted in a claim by one of three brothers in a claim to recover £500,000 on behalf of his late father's estate, which had been removed from the father's accounts shortly prior to his death. Other recent work includes acting for a longstanding client in issues arising from the administration of his father's estate by the surviving spouse, and acting for the widow in a claim against the estate by the deceased's former spouse in connection with alleged unpaid maintenance pursuant to a financial order.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP's contentious probate practice works closely with the firm's family and private client department, enabling it to offer 'a depth of specialisation that is comparable to much larger London-based firms'. The firm further strengthened its capability with the recruitment of the 'knowledgeable, practical'  Katharine Riley from Freeths LLP, who has more than 20 years' experience handling complex and high-value disputes concerning the validity of wills, proprietary estoppel claims, disputes concerning mutual wills, executors and trustees, and Inheritance Act claims. She leads the team, which includes Sue Baker, who has an extensive track record in Inheritance Act claims, challenges to wills and Court of Protection mandates.

Giles Wilson LLP handles an array of contentious probate matters, with an emphasis on issues involving financial abuse, undue influence and dependency claims. Melinda Giles has a well-established reputation for handling complex cases where there has been financial abuse, and regularly represents vulnerable clients in probate cases. Philip Giles and Daniel Curnock are also recommended.

Neale Turk fields 'a polite, prompt, professional and knowledgeable team' that 'keeps clients informed of any incoming issues; its ability to provide a clear, unwavering strategy backed up with evidence and exceptional knowledge of contentious probate is highly reassuring'. Charlotte Searle heads the practice and provides 'a five-star standard of service - she ensures that clients understand what is happening and are kept updated with all possible outcomes at every step'. She leads a team that includes Andrew Green, who is noted for his 'relaxed and knowledgeable approach; he takes the time to get to know his clients and establish the best approach to take'. The practice's expertise covers claims under the Inheritance Act; disputes regarding the validity of wills; professional negligence claims in relation to advice given on wills, probate or trusts; removal of personal representatives and trustees; disputes regarding Court of Protection matters; and trust disputes.

Nockolds Solicitors is 'an excellent regional firm with a strong offering in this area'. Daniel Winter is 'an extremely good, energetic lawyer' with more than 13 years' experience acting for high-net-worth individuals on a range of trusts and probate disputes. He heads the practice, which handles will validity claims, Inheritance Act matters, breach of trust claims and professional negligence cases.

Clients of Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP find the service provided by the contentious trust and probate practice to be 'thoroughly professional, sympathetic, never overbearing, and knowledgeable; the response time is normally 24 hours, if not quicker, and the advice is always helpful and not intimidating.' Practice head Alan Foster is 'a very experienced contentious probate solicitor who provides sound, practical advice focusing on the needs of the client'. He leads a team with a strong track record acting for high-net-worth individuals in contentious probate matters involving high-value estates, some with assets exceeding £15m in value.

Spratt Endicott is 'a good Oxfordshire-based firm with an impressive client list and some seriously knowledgeable practitioners'. Key figures include David Endicott ('an extremely experienced private client lawyer who cares passionately about his clients') and David Whiting ('a thoughtful litigator with an eye for detail'). Also recommended are Lucy Gordon, who handles a range of contentious probate, estate administration, personal tax, succession and post-death tax planning issues, and Tom McInerney, who acts for clients on Inheritance Act matters, proprietary estoppel claims, and issues concerning validity of wills.

Tees Law fields a team of contentious trusts experts who 'respond quickly to queries with sound, well-informed advice based on expert knowledge'. Practice head Caroline Metcalf is singled out for her 'exceptional legal clarity and ability to communicate in a highly effective and personable manner'. She leads a team that has an extensive track record in complex cases arising from estates, inheritance issues, trusts and wills, as well as Inheritance Act cases, Court of Protection applications and cases involving mental capacity issues. Recent work includes acting for a client in a claim for reasonable financial provision from the estate of their late mother, which involved complex issues arising from a number of legacies in the will.

Woodfines LLP handles a wide range of contentious trust and probate matters, including validity disputes and claims under the Inheritance Act; acting for beneficiaries applications to the High Court for removal of executors or trustees arising from breach of trust or non-administration of estates; and professional negligence cases related to wills and probate. Keith Jones Heads the practice and has particular expertise in professional negligence and contested will and probate claims. Hannah Johnson is also recommended.

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