Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

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.
Click here for more details

United Kingdom > South West > Private client > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Agriculture and estates

Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Rachel O’Connor - Michelmores LLP
    • Kate Theophilus - Stephens Scown LLP

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Agriculture and estates clients in South West 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


Burges Salmon LLP provides β€˜a comparable service to that of leading London private client firms’, which is illustrated by the extremely high-profile clients it advises including the National Trust, John Lewis Partnership, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation as well as several private estates and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. The team is led by Tom Hewitt, who advises clients on succession and wealth planning and all aspects of trusts, wills probate and capital tax issues. Sian Edmunds is β€˜particularly good at guiding clients through complex and difficult litigation’. The Crown Estate is a key client and a cross-departmental team spearheaded by Edmunds and Richard Owen has recently advised it on issues regarding estate ownership, represented it in disputes arising from the ownership of forestry and acted for it in the High Court trial of The Crown Estate v Wakleys. Agricultural and private client litigation specialist Kevin Kennedy and senior associate Charlotte May are β€˜really tough opponents who know how to run a case well and effectively’. Kennedy successfully represented a farmer in a right to occupy the land dispute and is representing trustees of a landed estate in a High Court case against the tenants regarding the possession of the land. Jim Aveline, whose expertise lies in tax, trusts and estate planning, advised a farming family on restructuring the family trusts and company ownership.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP acts for a significant number of large UK landed estates, and the team includes a number of highly recommended practitioners who are β€˜all excellent in their areas of specialism’. The β€˜diligent and knowledgeable’ Christopher Page and senior associate Alexander Caton are recommended for tax planning, estate formation and trust matters; Henry Fea, who divides his time between London and Cheltenham, has notable expertise in advising on offshore structures of ownership; Christian Massey has notable experience in handling landed estate sales and purchases, supported by the β€˜committed’ Tristram van Lawick; and senior associate Katie Talbot is recommended for advising landed estates on tax and estate planning. Recent highlights include advising on a refinancing of a multimillion-pound estate, acting on the purchase of a substantial grade I listed country house and completing an estate administration which involved, among other issues, obtaining complete inheritance tax relief. David Marsden joined Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s Birmingham office.

The β€˜absolutely first rate’ Michelmores LLP is β€˜one of the foremost leaders in the field’ - β€˜an outstandingly excellent firm with a huge amount of agricultural experience’. It handles complex contentious matters such as agricultural arbitrations, Chancery Division disputes on estoppels, misrepresentation actions and right of way disputes. The team is also recognised for its β€˜great client skills, commercially sensible approach and tenacity in fighting its client’s corner’. The β€˜knowledgeable, intelligent and tactically astute’ Ben Sharples has β€˜an excellent grasp of the law as well as the technical aspects of agriculture and property’. He recently acted in the successful defence of proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court seeking the winding up of a family farming partnership and the sale of the farm and assets, and acted for the Sutton family in the successful defence of a High Court claim issued against it by land promoter Gladman Developments. Vivienne Williams is β€˜particularly strong on arbitration appeals’, while Tom Hyde is a key name to note for non-contentious agricultural law and rural property transactions, regularly handling multimillion-pound purchases of large agricultural farms. Also in the team, Rachel O’Connor is β€˜a real star in the making’ who is β€˜incredibly hard-working, absolutely great with clients and wonderful to work with as counsel’.

Thrings LLP is β€˜one of the leading agricultural firms nationally with an excellent team that excels in handling Agricultural Holdings Act and proprietary estoppel issues’. The practice has β€˜excellent knowledge, providing considered and appropriate advice’, β€˜working very well together at the partner, solicitor and administrative levels’. Bath-based practice head Duncan Sigournay successfully acted for an agricultural tenant whose tenancy is protected by the Agriculture Holdings Act 1986 in an eviction dispute against the landlord. Neil Barbour is assisting several major UK banks with secured lending transactions including the provision of a loan to a trust to facilitate the purchase of a farm and the purchase of a Β£20m farming and sporting estate which has historic significance. Bristol-based Russell Reeves, β€˜a tough litigator with excellent client care abilities’, handled a multimillion-pound farm partnership dispute and represented EU Plants in an agricultural rights of way dispute against the neighbouring farm. Associate Robert James, who focuses on contentious agricultural matters, is β€˜thorough, hardworking and with a clear appreciation of the important points’. National Farmers Union (NFU), The Badminton Estate, Country Land and Business Association and Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust are other clients of the group.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s β€˜extremely strong’ Taunton-based agricultural team routinely assists the NFU on litigation and judicial reviews relating to legislative changes. It also acts for prominent farmers, rural landowners, landed estates and agri-businesses. Recent highlights include Rod Lloyd-Jones acting for an international bank on providing a secured loan for the Β£2.25m purchase of a farm in Somerset; Mark Buckerfield handling the Β£3.1m. sale of a livestock farm, which included dealing with third party rights of occupation, access over common land and capital gains tax issues; and β€˜energetic’ employment specialist Kate Gardner advising a large farming business in relation to claims from three employees relating to disability and race discrimination as well as unfair dismissal and failure to pay holiday pay. Practice head Tim Hayden has specialist expertise in Hunting Act litigation.

Recognised as β€˜one of the main agricultural litigation firms in the south west’, Foot Anstey’s five-partner team also advises on asset and reputation protection as well as strategy planning matters. Some of the work recently handled includes a proprietary estoppel claim, a farming partnership dispute, an arbitration relating to repossession of land rented under an Agricultural Holding Act tenancy, and an enquiry from HMRC connected to a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return on the purchase of a rural property. The group is led by Joel Woolf, who has particular experience of handling agricultural bank recoveries matters, and also includes property litigation specialist Edward Venmore, who has β€˜the ability to grasp and focus on the key issues in a case, taking a pragmatic view when it comes to achieving a settlement’. Other key clients include the NFU, The Newnham Estate and The Bolitho Estate.

Rural land and agricultural specialist firm Loxley Legal Services LLP, based in Wotton-under-Edge, has β€˜an extremely strong and very professional six-partner team’ which β€˜invariably puts its clients’ interests first’. Its knowledge and expertise is β€˜second to none’ and, according to one client, β€˜always gets excellent results’. It is a popular choice for farming partnership disputes and also handles, on the advisory side, the sale and purchases of farms and agricultural land as well as issues relating to telecoms, utilities and minerals. Andrew Baskerville has notable experience in working on the disposals or purchases of large rural estates and development land; Simon Leach, Michael Johnstone, Judith Bell and Fred Harrison-James are β€˜out-and-out agricultural litigation experts’.

Stephens Scown LLP’s sizeable rural team includes several highly recommended practitioners spread across its network of offices. In Exeter, Susie Murray has particular expertise in agricultural property, and her recent highlights include advising on the disposal of a multimillion-pound farming business, acting for lenders in a farm refinancing and assisting a landed estate with sporting rights leases while property litigator Mark Richardson handled a rent arrear claim and advised an institutional investor on a series of farmland mandates. In Truro, Richard Baker acts for landowners on the sale of development lands and on the sale of farms to institutional investors and Kate Theophilus recently assisted with the refinancing of a farm that covered registered as well as unregistered land. St Austell-based Phil Reed leads the practice.

Trethowans LLP strengthened its agricultural and rural property team with the hire of Grainne Alen-Buckley from Wilsons in 2016. Practice head Marcus Thorpe, who is β€˜excellent at formulating ideas’, recently assisted Lloyds Bank with the Β£12m refinancing of a farm which was comprised of a principal house, agricultural land and 14 commercial buildings. He has also recently handled a large number of multimillion-pound purchases and sales of farms. The β€˜very thorough’ Elizabeth Webbe is an expert on tax planning regarding onshore and offshore assets. She recently assisted a landowner with the registration of a farm, restructuring the family partnership, estate planning, trust matters and refinancing existing debt. Litigator Kelvin Farmaner is recommended for animal and faming liability cases as well as insurance disputes.

Ashfords LLP’s agricultural team displays β€˜a can-do philosophy which concentrates on delivering timely and jargon-free advice’. It advises on a broad range of regulatory issues, including farm-based energy projects, while also handling wealth management and succession planning matters for landed estates and owners of agricultural enterprises. β€˜Approachable’ practice head Darren Blackburn is β€˜a high-quality conveyancing solicitor who is at the top of his game’. Tom Biddick is β€˜becoming a force to be reckoned with’, he is β€˜excellent at dealing with clients’ and has β€˜a real understanding of a wide range of agricultural matters’. He has a particular specialism in estate planning for farmers and landed individuals dealing with agricultural property relief and business property relief issues. Robert Horsey, who leads the disputed wills and trusts team, advises on agricultural landlord and tenant disputes and proprietary estoppel claims.

Blanchards Bailey LLP advises on all aspects of agricultural and business law, from land development and renewable energy to partnerships, disputes and commercial contracts. Paul Dunlop and Sarah Heath are the key names to note, focusing on agricultural litigation and property matters respectively while Jerome Dodge is recommended for estate planning and inheritance tax planning. Edward O’Brien is β€˜very thorough, diligent and has good legal instincts’.

Bond Dickinson LLP acts for a number of England’s significant landowners including the National Trust, English Heritage, the NFU, The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation and The Church Commissioners. The group is led by Robert Drewett, who is β€˜excellent at keeping a straight-down-the-line approach’, β€˜steering clients firmly but gently through any troubled waters to gain a satisfactory conclusion’. His recent instructions include the sale of a farm, the restructuring of the assets of a farming family and representing a client in opposing an attempt by the local authority to create a footpath through a farmyard.

At Mogers Drewett LLP, Jonathan Cheal has specialist expertise in public and private rights of way, advising on the management of public access on land, from preventing untoward public access to defending applications made by user groups for new routes. Recent highlights for agriculture and rural affairs practice head Frank Collins include assisting a landowner with the Β£14m refinancing of properties through a private bank.

Royds Withy King advises banks on secured lending mandates and acts for landowners on agricultural property, tax and estate planning issues. It also handles contentious trust matters including Inheritance Act claims and farming family disputes relating to estate administration. Angus Williams is capable of β€˜quickly establishing and maintaining good client relationships, and importantly providing pragmatic problem-solving advice when issues have arisen’. He regularly handles complex sales and disposals of farms. Amanda Noyce is another key name, recently handling a multimillion-pound proprietary estoppel claim.

Willans LLP is β€˜a highly professional firm which is well structured to deal with farms and landed estates’ on the full range of transactional matters including secured lending in relation to rural property. The β€˜approachable’ Robin Beckley is β€˜very experienced in farms and landed estates’, particularly in the area of development land disposals by option, conditional contract and promotion agreements. He β€˜gets to the bottom of matters quickly and effectively’, β€˜cuts through the waffle and straight to the important issues’, and β€˜takes a thoroughly practical view of how to keep a deal going’. Recent instructions include sales and purchases of land and land registration.

Battens Solicitors Limited’s Sherborne-based agricultural team, led by James Owen, combines β€˜a deep understanding of the farming business’ with β€˜commercial awareness’. Owen is supported by rural property specialist Judy Hayter who is β€˜knowledgeable, diligent and approachable’. The team handles succession planning involving Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies and farm business tenancies.

Cirencester-based Sewell Mullings & Logie’s β€˜very capable lawyers’ adopt β€˜a friendly approach’. Its clients include landowners and businesses who have instructed the firm for decades on a broad range of transactions including estate planning, tax and trusts. Nicholas Parsons is β€˜quick to appreciate nuances and complications and explains issues well’. Carol Morris is experienced in advising on inheritance tax planning, trusts administration, power of attorney and court of protection applications.

Charities and not-for-profit

Index of tables

  1. Charities and not-for-profit
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Charities and not-for-profit clients in South West 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


Stone King LLP’s β€˜incredibly strong practice’ is best known for its work with leading cultural, arts, education and faith organisations; it acts for over 200 of the country’s largest charities including the National Trust, the British Heart Foundation, the Stroke Association and the Royal Photographic Society. The team is β€˜well versed in its subject matter and provides timely, detailed responses to issues raised’. Tim Rutherford, head of the national charity and social enterprise sector group, has a strong track record in advising faith organisations, particularly Roman Catholic charities. Noted for his β€˜sharp, incisive mind and pertinent, focused and relevant contributions’, his highlights included assisting St Lawrence’s Hospital with deregistration from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and advising it on establishing a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) to ensure the protection of limited liability for the trustees. Highly regarded consultant Michael King is advising Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of St Martha on the civil law of the international religious orders, and the unification of the two religious orders under Roman Catholic canonical law. Senior associate Alexandra Whittaker is noted for her commitment to β€˜finding a range of practical solutions that apply the"black and white" of legal advice effectively to a client’s particular situation’. Helen Tucker, who recently joined from Ashfords LLP, is also a key contact. All of the individuals mentioned above split their time between the Bath and London offices.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards)’ has an outstanding track record in handling complex issues such as mergers, insolvencies, group reorganisations and staff restructurings, including redundancies. It acts for an impressive list of independent schools as well as academies, however it is also very active for clients from the health and social care, faith and arts sectors, including the United Reformed Church Retired Ministers’ Housing Society, the Institute of Cancer Research, UCAS, Royal College of Nursing, and Prodigal Arts. The practice advises on all legal aspects related to governance, employment, property, state aid, intellectual property, data protection, commercial considerations and disputes. The highly regarded Con Alexander leads the team, which includes Emma-Jane Dalley, who specialises in advising on strategic projects and on franchise projects overseas. They both assisted St Christopher’s School (which was facing insolvency and closure of its business) in finding a solution that protects the long term future of its beneficiaries. Other highlights included acting on the restructuring of a UK charity by migrating it from the UK to another EU country and advising the National Star Foundation on the acquisition of a care home. Clients praise the team for its β€˜quick response times’ and β€˜excellent in-depth understanding of the sector’. Senior associate Rachel Tonkin, who has notable experience in incorporating existing charities and creating new ones, is also a key contact.

Salisbury-based firm Wilsons acts for a broad range of not-for-profit organisations in a variety of sectors, including schools, armed forces and care homes. It advises on legacy administration issues, including ex gratia claims and dealing with difficult executors, and assists charities with probates as well as estate and trust administration. Peter Jeffreys specialises in charity legacy administration and the resolution of troubled estates for charities. He also represents charities in Court of Protection cases. Recent highlights include successfully defending claims against estates on behalf of a number of charities.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is particularly active in trustee liability and Charity Commission matters. The group is praised for its β€˜quick response times’, β€˜excellent charity governance knowledge’ and β€˜practical as well as commercial advice’. Julia Cox successfully advised the prospective trustees of a new charitable trust with their application to the Charity Commission, while Christopher Page (who splits his time between London and Cheltenham) assisted an educational charity with re-mortgaging and securing a multimillion-pound loan against charity land, also acting on the redevelopment and sale of land. Another recent highlight saw the team representing a national charity in a contractual dispute with an IT and electronic system provider. Penelope Byatt, a recent hire from VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards), is singled out for her ability to β€˜resolve technical charity law issues quickly, sensibly and in a straightforward manner’.

Foot Anstey’s team is now led by Lucy Gill following the departure of James Evans who joined Tozers Solicitors LLP in January 2017. The group’s strength lies in legacy administration expertise, advising clients such as Scope and Age UK. Gill advised The Brooke on its appointment as executor to two estates and assisted Truro High School for Girls with the establishment of a trading subsidiary through which the school plans to channel its commercial letting of facilities. Other instructions include a will validity claim, the removal of the executor of an estate, and a misleading and false report dispute. Anna Phillips is advising Broadway Lodge on a number of matters related to the provision of addiction treatment services. Eden Project, Royal Shakespeare Company and Family Action are other clients.

Michelmores LLP has β€˜genuine charity expertise’, especially in the education and faith spaces, and is particularly strong in property-related matters. Exeter-based disputed wills team head Tony Cockayne defended a charity in a claim which was brought by the children of a deceased parent regarding the deceased’s estate which was left to the charity. Senior associate Barny Croft specialises in legacy-related disputes where he acts for charities as well as individuals. He also recently assisted a well-known charity with its restructuring process aimed at maximising available funds and prospective income streams. Associate Andrew White is β€˜an accomplished and incisive lawyer’ who successfully combines a charity practice with private client work. Bristol-based Sandra Brown heads the private wealth team and advised a charity on succession planning for the retiring and new trustees, also advising its trustees on their obligations under charity law.

Devon-based firm Tozers Solicitors LLP significantly bolstered its practice with the hire in January 2017 of James Evans from Foot Anstey to co-head the team with Richard King. Evans’ expertise includes advising on mergers, collaborations, governance and constitutional matters, while King regularly handles issues relating to compliance, fundraising, legacies, property, tax and Charity Commission investigations. The group’s recent instructions include establishing a number of CIOs for Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship and advising an academy trust on the re-brokering of two schools to separate new academy sponsors. Property specialist Vernon Clarke and commercial litigator Stephen Jennings are also recommended.

Lester Aldridge LLP is singled out for its β€˜timely responses’, β€˜commercial and practical advice’, β€˜client-focused approach’, β€˜excellent knowledge of charity law’, and β€˜ability to best handle the charity commission in various circumstances’. β€˜Highly experienced’ practice head Geoff Trobridge has β€˜a commercial outlook and direct personal experience of working at the Charity Commission’. He acted for Careway Trust on a Β£1.25m sale of care homes. The contentious trusts and probate team, which includes Victoria Jones, represents a number of national and regional charities in protecting their charitable legacies; recent highlights include representing a national health charity in an urgent contested statutory will application in the Court of Protection. The practice also handles mergers and restructuring projects. The British Heart Foundation, the Stroke Association and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are clients. Geoff Thomas retired in 2017.

Willans LLP’s β€˜experienced’ team is now led by the commercial property specialist Nigel Whittaker with Margaret Austen moving to a consultant role. The team continues to advise a number of national and regional charities on all areas of charity law; representative clients include Shelter, Macmillan Cancer Support, Cheltenham Festivals and the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Whittaker is assisting Scope with leasehold transactions and various freehold sales, and, in a separate matter, acted on the transfer of a charity from unincorporated to charitable incorporated organisation, which involved the transfer of over 50 properties and the registration of this portfolio at the Land Registry. Senior associate Caroline Leviss joined from Stone King LLP in October 2016. Associate Alastair Garbutt is recommended for commercial property matters.

BPE Solicitors LLP acts for, among others, high-profile third sector organisations, which healthcare sector specialist Jo Bewley assists with property-related matters, and recently founded local charities. Recent highlights include advising Lilian Faithfull Homes on its acquisition of Royal Court Care, acting for Meningitis Now on contractual disputes and assisting Blue Cross on its acquisition of a new lease for an animal rehoming and advice centre. Practice head Helen Martinelli is β€˜responsive and helpful’ and employment law specialist Sarah Lee β€˜gives clear and considered advice’, β€˜leaveing no stone unturned’.

Bond Dickinson LLP is particularly active in projects and partnerships, fundraising, trading, charitable trust issues, and providing governance advice on constitutional matters and regulatory compliance. In 2016, practice head Mark Woodward advised Hargreaves Lansdown on the formation of a charity and accompanying governance issues, and acted for the Stone Family Foundation on its incorporation from a charitable trust to a charitable company limited by guarantee. Other recent highlights include advising Bristol Charites on the acquisition of the Former Bowmead EPH site from Bristol City Council and representing a well-known charity on residential property occupation disputes. Employment specialist Tim Woodward and property litigator James Rees are other names to note.

Stephens Scown LLP’s recent instructions include advising a regional branch of a national charity on the closure of a care home operated by the charity, advising another charity on setting up a subsidiary trading company and acting for a charitable entity on the governance issues following the merger with a smaller charity. Senior associate Helen Furneaux, who heads the charities team, is β€˜clearly a specialist in the charity sector’ who is noted for her ability to β€˜explain complex issues in terms that can be understood’. The Jean Sainsbury Animal Welfare Trust, Charitable Giving, Cornwall Animal Hospital and Cool Earth Action are clients.

Contentious trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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


Burges Salmon LLP has β€˜very impressive resources’ and is β€˜highly competent, capable of dealing with large and complex cases’. The contentious trusts team, jointly led by Kevin Kennedy and Justin Briggs, advises a large number of individual and corporate trustees, trust managers and beneficiaries in contentious trusts matters. Recent instructions include advising on a multimillion-pound proprietary estoppel claim, and representing the trustees of a landed estate in a claim under the Inheritance Act, also handling the subsequent settlement arrangement. Kennedy is β€˜extremely efficient and is an excellent tactical thinker’; Briggs and Suzanne Padmore are highly regarded commercial trusts litigators, particularly in pension disputes; Sian Edmunds is a leading food, agriculture and agri-business specialist, and is β€˜particularly good at guiding clients through complex and difficult situations’; Maddie Dunn is β€˜intelligent and thorough’. All individuals from the team split their time between the Bristol and London offices.

Foot Anstey provides advice across the whole spectrum of private client issues for high-net-worth individuals, corporate trustees and national charities including Scope, Age UK and Dogs Trust. It regularly works with its real estate and private client groups, and leverages its expertise in the agriculture sector to handle complex disputes. The team recently handled a number of will validity claims, a proprietary estoppel claim, claims against executors as well as trustees, and a number of legacy disputes. Recently promoted partner Lucy Gill has a solid track record in advising charities in relation to legacy disputes. Senior associate Alex Rogers, associate Emma Facey and property litigator Edward Venmore are also recommended. Legacy specialist Helen Hoare joined as a consultant from Age UK in 2016.

Royds Withy King combines a β€˜proactive approach in seeking to resolve disputes’ with β€˜a high level of expertise’. The practice has strong expertise in handling will validity claims, trustee disputes, applications to the Court of Protection in mental capacity matters and Inheritance Act claims. Amanda Noyce is β€˜an extremely competent and dedicated lawyer who adopts a pragmatic approach to achieve great outcomes for her clients’. She is supported by Mike Muston, who β€˜gives excellent and fair advice’ and is β€˜very capable of mediating matters by himself without the input of counsel’.

Stephens Scown LLP is, according to one client, β€˜amongst the very best in the South West and compares favourably with similar national teams’. Its strength lies in the β€˜real specialist knowledge and strength in depth which it uses to good effect to get great results’. It has a long established contentious probate team (with offices in St Austell, Exeter and Truro) composed of β€˜well-respected, experienced and dedicated’ lawyers who β€˜provide an excellent service’. The group recently defended a challenge to the validity of a will on behalf of the executor and principal beneficiary, challenged a number of Inheritance Act claims, and acted in a Β£2m High Court proprietary estoppel case. Within the inheritance and trust disputes team, Phil Gregory is β€˜a big hitter who guides the larger cases’, β€˜a wonderful litigator who has a very tough approach, but never at the expense of appreciating the bigger picture’; newly promoted partner Charisse Crawford is β€˜very thoughtful about strategy and tactics for long running cases, both big and small’, and has β€˜experience, charm and excellent legal skills’; St Austell-based Davina Haydon β€˜works tirelessly for her clients’; senior associate James Burrows is β€˜a very sharp analyst and skilled litigator’; and Exeter-based Georgia Wookey has β€˜all the skills to be a future star’.

Combining β€˜a prompt service’ and β€˜excellent communication’ with a β€˜professional yet personal approach’, VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is noted for its ability at β€˜handling complex and high value cases’, including cross-border disputes as well as testamentary capacity and professional negligence claims. Michelle Rose heads the β€˜very strong’ team, which β€˜focuses on getting a resolution in a timely way’ and is β€˜just the sort of champion the client wants to resolve the dispute’. She was, alongside estate administration expert Mary McCrorie, appointed by the court as independent administrator in a complex and deadlocked estate dispute. The team also includes two highly recommended senior associates: Fiona Lawrence, who is β€˜able to clearly and succinctly define the boundaries of a problem, inspiring confidence in the accuracy of her conclusions’, and Marianne Nankervis, who is β€˜experienced and gives robust and practicable advice’. In 2016, the group represented a wealthy landowner in professional negligence proceedings against two legal service providers for the defective drafting of a deed, and handled several proprietary and multimillion-pound Inheritance Act claims.

Wilsons has substantial experience in the charity sector, acting for household names and smaller local concerns alike. James Aspden specialises in trust and probate disputes including those pertaining to the Inheritance Act, international trusts, undue influence, the validity and effect of wills, and actions by or against trustees of landed estates. Aspden regularly acts for clients in mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Recent highlights include assisting with an application to remove and replace the trustees of a landed estate and challenging the validity of a will on the basis of the testator having lost mental capacity. The eight-strong team is spread across Salisbury and London and includes Fiona Campbell-White, who specialises in disputes arising during the course of the administration of trusts and estates, Peter Jeffreys, who has particular expertise in dealing with cases of probate fraud for charities, and Charlotte Watts, who is noted for her experience in handling proceedings in the Court of Protection including statutory will applications.

Ashfords LLP’s Tiverton-based contentious trusts and probate team β€˜competes on a national level’ and is β€˜particularly strong in farming disputes’. It advises a broad range of clients including trust corporations, charities and high-net-worth individuals. Practice head Robert Horsey is β€˜an authoritative and experienced lawyer’ who has β€˜excellent client management skills’, β€˜acting constructively and powerfully for his clients’. Kerry Morgan-Gould is β€˜an experienced, pro-active, detail-orientated and tenacious litigator’ who is particularly experienced in capacity issues and in representing national charities in relation to legacy disputes. The team recently acted for the executors of a substantial estate in claims made against it, and advised the son and granddaughter of the deceased in a claim against the deceased’s daughter challenging the validity of the deceased’s last will. It also regularly represents claimants and defendants in high value Inheritance Act claims. Other areas of expertise include acting on professional negligence claims relating to estates and trusts, and handling contentious Court of Protection matters.

Clarke Willmott LLP has considerable clout in trusts disputes with particular strengths in representing agricultural and landed estate clients in proprietary estoppel claims as well as acting for vulnerable adults. Taunton-based Esther Woolford heads the seven-strong team, and specialises in agricultural and contentious probate matters. Senior associate Daniel Gill is recommended for his ability to provide β€˜pragmatic and focussed advice that always serves the specific needs of each client well’. Associate Sarah O’Grady is β€˜a standout’, noted for her β€˜good legal analysis and negotiation skills’ as well as her β€˜ability to deal with and defuse fraught situations, showcasing real grit and determination in progressing litigation against uncooperative opponents’. Recent highlights include acting for a surviving spouse in a mutual wills dispute concerning a multimillion-pound estate and representing the executors of an estate facing three Inheritance Act claims, the latter case also involving allegations of maladministration.

Lester Aldridge LLP has a strong profile representing charities, care homes, families and private clients in contentious estate administrations, will as well as trust disputes, and, increasingly, contentious Court of Protection matters. Practice head Victoria Jones specialises in handling charity legacy protection issues, cases involving vulnerable adults and matters relating to the Mental Capacity Act. Oliver Phipps specialises in probate with a particular focus on the administration of estates with assets located in multiple jurisdictions. Charities including the British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association are also clients. Geoff Thomas retired in April 2017.

Michelmores LLP’s value for money is β€˜excellent’; it advises across the entire spectrum of private client issues and acts for a broad range of clients including executors, beneficiaries, claimants, defendants and charities. β€˜The firm keeps you involved in determining the strategy and never overreaches itself, recognising where it is appropriate for it to step back and allow the client to retake control of matters’. Clients also choose the firm because of its β€˜understanding of the client’s needs and its capability of providing strategic guidance’. Group head Tony Cockayne β€˜works really hard for his clients’ – β€˜he tries to cover all angles, the legal and the practical’, β€˜seeks feedback during negotiations to make sure of client satisfaction and engagement throughout’, β€˜gives pragmatic advice’ and β€˜really goes into battle to get the best outcome’. Senior associate Barny Croft is β€˜well experienced and sensitive where dealing with a vulnerable client’, drawing on his β€˜depth of knowledge’ to β€˜provide a superb all round level of service’. Bristol-based Miles Farren focuses on advising agriculture sector clients while recently promoted partner Jennifer Ridgway is recommended for trust disputes.

Devon and Cornwall-based firm Coodes Solicitors is experienced in will and inheritance disputes and challenging the validity of wills. Colin Hunter heads the personal disputes team from its St Austell office, handling a wide range of contentious trusts and probate disputes including acting on behalf of either claimants or defendants in Inheritance Act claims, professional negligence claims relating to contentious probate matters, proprietary estoppel claims, undue influence cases and all manner of contentious issues surrounding estate administration. Truro-based Melanie Grose and Penzance-based associate Ben Sidgwick are also key contacts.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP acts for individuals and executors as well as a number of local charities. The team is led by the β€˜very commercial and pragmatic’ Lauren Day and also includes Victoria Riddleston, who is β€˜an excellent, clear-thinking litigator whose advice to clients is thorough but readily intelligible’. The group has notable experience in advising on Inheritance Act claims, professional negligence claims, proprietary estoppel claims, will validity disputes and, increasingly, Court of Protection matters.

Humphreys & Co. is β€˜a small but highly effective’ firm that is β€˜a real player in Bristol and punches above its weight beyond’. The β€˜vastly experienced’ Philip Siddons β€˜gets to the nub of the case fast, adopting a pragmatic and commercial approach’. He recently acted for a trustee in the investigation of potential negligence and Inheritance Act claims, also handling in this matter the investigation of claims of misconduct and devastavit by trustees.

Porter Dodson LLP’s contentious probate team is based in its Taunton office but acts for a regional client base that covers Somerset and Dorset, counties across which the firm has eight offices. It represents individuals and executors on contentious trust and probate matters. β€˜Excellent problem solver’ Stephen Wray is β€˜an experienced commercial and private client litigator’ who β€˜understands the law but also appreciates the client’s needs’, β€˜bringing a commercial eye to complicated trusts and probate disputes’. Solicitor Cara Hough is β€˜an extremely thorough, competent and practical practitioner’ who β€˜goes the extra mile to achieve the best result’. The team’s recent instructions include handling disputes over the validity of lifetime gifts, financial provision claims under the Inheritance Act, undue influence claims, and acting for the executors in respect of claims against an estate.

Slee Blackwell’s team mainly acts for individuals on disputes concerning the validity of wills, claims under the Inheritance Act and disputes involving beneficiaries and executors, with 2016 seeing the group acting in a number of mediated settlements. Newly promoted partner Naomi Ireson is β€˜knowledgeable, experienced and thorough’, also noted for her β€˜exemplary’ attention to detail. Her areas of expertise also include beneficial interest claims involving estoppel and constructive trusts. Lee Dawkins, who has notable experience in handling inheritance disputes and professional negligence claims, is a further name to note.

At Dorset-based firm Steele Raymond LLP, John Andrews has notable experience in dealing with contentious trust and probate matters and related professional negligence claims, as well as Inheritance Act claims. He also has solid expertise in acting in proceedings before the Court of Protection. Sue Adams, who handles both contentious and non-contentious trust and probate issues, is another name to note.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s Exeter office handles the whole spectrum of contentious private clients matters. It leverages its strong real estate sector expertise, acting in claims against solicitors arising out of the negligent transfer of property and representing claimants against surveyors in negligent survey disputes. Recent instructions also include disputes relating to the Inheritance Act, professional negligence, challenges to executors, removal of executors and trustees, proprietary estoppel, and the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act. Paul Keeling is an established litigation practitioner who advises clients with substantial estates, also handling disputes involving joint ownership of land. His deep experience β€˜gives him a balanced judgment and assured manner’. Court of Protection expert Maria Dunn is another name to note.

Wards Solicitors is singled out for its β€˜excellent service’ and its β€˜extremely diligent team’, which displays β€˜a firm but unaggressive style’ and demonstrates β€˜willingness to find solutions through alternative dispute resolution when it is possible to do so’. Practice head Elizabeth Fry is β€˜very thorough and always keeps the client informed as to what is going on’. She acts in contested Court of Protection applications and Inheritance Act disputes. Her recent highlights include acting for a client on both a claim relating to a constructive trust under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 and a proprietary estoppel claim. Within the five-strong team, Ian Williamson is β€˜a very astute lawyer and litigator’ who β€˜genuinely invests his efforts in trying to get the best results for clients over and above generating fees’, and associate solicitor Emma Kerry is β€˜very good with clients and prepares clear and concise instructions’. Kerry has experience in handling undue influence challenges to the validity of wills.

Willans LLP has a well-established private client team which is praised for its β€˜personable and friendly approach’. It advises individuals, executors and beneficiaries, including landed estate clients and high-net-worth individuals, and is noted for its judicious use of alternative dispute resolution. It acted for a potential beneficiary in a challenge to the validity of the will of his deceased mother on the basis of capacity, lack of knowledge and approval and possible undue influence, also acting in several Inheritance Act claims. Paul Gordon is β€˜a proper hard-nosed litigator’ who is β€˜very good at the details and managing client expectations’. Senior associate Nick Southwell is a recommended mediator.


Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Family clients in South West 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


Burges Salmon LLP β€˜provides a Rolls-Royce service’ and its team of market leading lawyers is headed by highly regarded financial remedies specialist Sarah Hoskinson (Woodsford). It further enhanced its family capacity with the hire of two β€˜first class’ family finance lawyers: consultant Alison Hawes and senior associate Nicky Howarth, both joined from Irwin Mitchell. The new additional practitioners β€˜provide practical solutions’, are β€˜technically extremely good’ and β€˜excellent with clients’. The group is best known for its expertise in complex financial settlements related to relationship breakdowns and divorces, dealing with high-value cases locally, nationally and internationally. It also has particular expertise in asset protection, particularly where international or offshore assets are involved. It delivers β€˜the best possible advice at value for money rates’. Recent highlights include acting in a divorce case where there are financial and Children Act proceedings ongoing, assisting a US client on cross-border divorce issues involving multiple jurisdictions to establish where and how the divorce can proceed, and advising on a pre-marital agreement to protect assets acquired from family trusts. Senior associate Mary Gaskins handles cohabitation and marital agreements as well as children arrangements cases. Catherine Hallam retired in April 2017.

Clarke Willmott LLP is β€˜a really excellent firm in family finance, providing top quality service at more reasonable out-of-London rates’. It has expertise in all areas of divorce work and is, according to a client, β€˜one of the best firms in the southwest for matrimonial finance’. The group has particular expertise in international work, acting for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their spouses. Its clients also include entrepreneurs, high-level executives and farmers, which it advises on financial remedy proceedings. β€˜Superb’ Bristol-based family law specialist Gareth Schofield is β€˜extremely intelligent and charming, with a total grasp of the law and the details of the case’, his β€˜vast experience makes him a master strategist’. In Taunton, Daniel Eames is β€˜an incredible lawyer with a razor sharp mind’, β€˜very personable and approachable’. He specialises in complex financial disputes arising from marriage or cohabitation and in cases involving an international aspect. At senior associate level, Alastair MacLeod is β€˜an excellent financial remedies lawyer’ who β€˜always sees the big picture but retains an eye for the detail’, and Emma Gordon is also β€˜a name to watch’, particularly in the areas of financial arrangement for children and financial remedy proceedings involving hidden assets.

Irwin Mitchell’s β€˜well organised, efficient and highly-motivated’ team β€˜boasts genuine specialists in each of the distinct disciplines which make up family law’. It saw several changes in 2017 with Alison Hawes and Nicky Howarth joining Burges Salmon LLP as, respectively, consultant and senior associate, and the highly recommended Nicola Walker relocating from Birmingham to lead the Bristol team. Walker is β€˜an outstanding lawyer with total focus on her clients both within the proceedings and outside of the litigation’. Her β€˜hard work and down-to-earth charm permeates the whole department’. The practice focuses on high-net-worth financial cases, often with additional complexities including family businesses with private equity investment and sizeable property portfolios, and also advises on cohabitation, pre-nuptial and children cases, also working closely with its Court of Protection and serious injury teams on matters involving brain injured clients. Associate Hayley Trim is recommended for international family law matters.

Michelmores LLP is singled out for its niche expertise in surrogacy. Family and fertility specialist Louisa Ghevaert has particular expertise handling complex international commercial surrogacy cases in the High Court, making her β€˜one of the country’s small handful of top practitioners in this field’. Her knowledge is β€˜second to none’, her attention to detail is β€˜painstaking’, and her manner with clients is β€˜exemplary’. Family team head Simon Thomas is another name to note, he handles all family law issues and specialises in complex, high-value financial remedy cases. His recent instructions include acting for an entrepreneur in divorce proceedings with a number of business interests held in different jurisdictions and in different vehicles, and advising an EU resident based in Portugal on the post-divorce financial provision for his children who were resident in the UK. Associates Sue Dowen and Rachel Shearmur are also recommended.

Royds Withy King works β€˜exceptionally hard’ and provides β€˜consistently excellent legal knowledge and support at every level within Family Court proceedings’. The firm has a strong track record in family law, particularly in Bath, Bristol and Swindon, fielding β€˜a dynamic team’, which is β€˜committed to securing the best result possible for its clients’. The group excels in cases involving child arrangement issues. Practice head Richard Ellis is highly regarded for his expertise in public and private children law matters, regularly handling issues relating to adoption, out of jurisdiction cases and third parties’ rights. Senior associate Rebecca Stevens acts for children, guardians, parents and other family members in public and private law proceedings, and is able to conduct her own advocacy in the High Court. Ellis and Stevens have β€˜considerable legal knowledge, manage court proceedings well and engage with children and their parents in a way that endeavours to represent the child’s welfare and enable parties to fully understand what is happening within the proceedings’. Family arbitrator Jon Toogood specialises in financial disputes arising out of divorce and separation proceedings, and Sharon MacDonald is strongly recommended for high-value finance matters and cohabitation disputes. Children team head and family mediator Katherine Lauder handles public and private law cases involving children and domestic abuse. Emma Young is β€˜absolutely diligent in terms of her case preparation’, β€˜very personable and a delight to work with’, β€˜undoubtedly one to watch’. New arrival Kit O’Brien, who joined as a senior associate from Slee Blackwell in November 2016, has β€˜the perfect mixture of technical excellence, pragmatism and a good eye for a deal’.

Stephens Scown LLP has β€˜an extremely strong, organised and well-led group of financial remedy practitioners who are all intelligent, knowledgeable and personable’. The team demonstrates β€˜an excellent understanding of the needs of children’. Recent work covers a diverse range of private children law issues, domestic abuse, international abduction and adoption, and high-value divorces, at times involving company issues and large pension considerations. β€˜Star performer’ Liz Allen has β€˜huge intelligence, experience, a great depth of knowledge and good judgment’. She is a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer, regularly advising on high-net-worth financial and business settlements on divorce including pensions and trusts. Andrew Barton is β€˜a fantastically energetic and efficient solicitor with excellent technical and legal knowledge and an ability to think outside the box’. He specialises in financial cases involving international assets, financial provision following a foreign divorce and jurisdiction issues. Truro-based Jo Stone is β€˜clear, practical and has a strong grasp of complex legal issues’. He is supported by β€˜knowledgeable and diligent’ senior associate Sarah Atkinson. Mark Smith and Bill Wilkins are β€˜vastly experienced in care proceedings and skilled in case management’. Wilkins is representing a teenager in care and wardship proceedings brought by the local authority in the High Court which involved liaison with the police and Foreign and Commonwealth office. Cornwall-based Michael Lowry is a key contact for distribution of financial assets on divorce. Associate Sarah Walls is β€˜a tremendously safe pair of hands’ who is β€˜sympathetic to her clients but always gives them good advice’.

TLT’s β€˜strong team’ shows β€˜strong interest in its clients’, and is widely recognised as β€˜one of the market leaders for complex divorce matters and financial remedy proceedings’. It is β€˜outstanding in its standards of realistic advice to the client’. Natalie Drew is β€˜very dynamic and personable’, β€˜knows her cases inside out’ and β€˜provides amazing backup to colleagues whenever required’. She specialises in high-value financial and Schedule 1 Children Act applications involving business, trust and international aspects, regularly in the High Court. The β€˜efficient and intelligent’ associate Sarah Green advises on private law children matters including intractable contact disputes, sexual abuse allegations, fact-finding hearings and permanent removal from jurisdiction cases. The β€˜exceptional and extremely talented’ David Wheeler has a specialist children practice and regularly advises on international cases; he is a High Court advocate, a trained mediator, and a collaborative lawyer. Joanna Newton and Terri Anson-Dean have β€˜excellent client care skills’. β€˜Superb’ associate Mark Sage specialises pension issues and high-net-worth financial cases with international elements.

The Family Law Practice is β€˜a small niche family law firm that demonstrates the merits of specialism’. Established in 2012, it continues to expand with the recent hiring of associates Bessie Hanson and Zoe Sproull who joined from Bobbetts Mackan and Wards Solicitors respectively. The group acts for high-net-worth individuals, often advising on issues relating to commercial assets, pensions, trust assets and offshore assets, and excels in financial remedy work acting for both married and unmarried couples. It also advises on cohabitation agreements, pre and post-nuptial agreements and complex children cases. The group has expertise in mediation and collaborative law, where Ashley Palminteri is a key contact. Sharon Mahmood handles disputes involving children, particularly in cases with an international element while Elizabeth Bruce is a key contact for TOLATA proceedings involving unmarried couples. Consultant Anna Heenan is also recommended.

β€˜Excellent firm’ Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP has β€˜a strong reputation in multijurisdictional cases’ and β€˜specialises in disputes involving children as well as financial remedy cases’. It is β€˜first rate in Bournemouth and the surrounding area’, notably thanks to its β€˜very good understanding of complex matters’ and β€˜fantastic client care skills’. Joint practice heads Deborah Leask and Sean McNally are β€˜extensively experienced family lawyers’, well respected by peers and clients alike. Leask is β€˜careful and conscientious’, and has β€˜a wonderful manner with her clients, while being robust’ and the β€˜eminently experienced’ McNally is β€˜a firm and knowledgeable litigator’. The group is also β€˜excellent at associate level’; β€˜exceptionally bright’ Katie Taft is β€˜one to watch’ and is considered as β€˜a leading solicitor in the field of international children law’. She has β€˜excellent knowledge of international child abduction and leave to remove from the jurisdiction’. Ian Butterworth is recommended for matrimonial finance and cohabitee disputes. The individuals mentioned above are based in Bournemouth office but also work from London office.

Gregg Latchams LLP’s hire of James Myatt from Thrings LLP in January 2017 adds further weight to an already established family platform which is strong across the board, with particular experience in high-value financial litigation with a cross-border element and private law children’s matters. With expertise in litigious as well as collaborative matters, new practice head Myatt handles the full range of high-value matrimonial finance involving substantial assets, business interests and pensions, as well as Children Act matters including leave to remove from the jurisdiction. Victoria Daniell β€˜works hard for her clients while giving sound and realistic advice’. Hannah Petherick and Sarah Comley are also key contacts.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys β€˜provides clients with an excellent service in terms of results achieved and day-to-day support and communication’. The team handles high-value cases which involve assets such as pension funds, family businesses, AIM listed companies and foreign properties. The firm, according to a client, is β€˜unrivalled by any others in the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire area’. Carolyn Green, who is a family arbitrator and collaboratively trained, recently acted in a number of high-net-worth financial disputes. Sensitive Children Act matters specialist Mathew Waddington, who is also collaboratively trained, handles cases heard in the family courts as well as the higher courts. Associate Rebecca Pike has expertise in financial ancillary relief, private children’s law, injunction proceedings, civil partnerships and assisting on cohabitee matters.

Lester Aldridge LLP is β€˜one of the top firms in Bournemouth’, with, according to one client, an overall level of service provided and calibre of team that β€˜remains unrivalled’ and a client base and level of expertise that β€˜is comparable to that of a central London specialist family practice’. It is β€˜a very safe pair of hands when it comes to any financial proceedings, capable of handling the most demanding of high-net-worth clients’. The firm has a growing practice in advising on pre- and post-nuptial agreements, catering to the concentration of wealthy individuals and families on the South Coast. It also has a strong presence in niche children law areas such as surrogacy and other alternative parenting structures. Jane Porter β€˜blends rigour and a strong client-focused approach with a healthy dose of pragmatism’, β€˜a stand-out regional star’ that is β€˜the match of any London-based matrimonial practitioner’. She has strong experience in advising on divorce matters involving family companies and pension schemes, and regularly acts in cohabitation claims and disputes relating to children under Schedule 1 of the Children Act. Porter is ably assisted by Joanne Clarke who is β€˜an extremely competent and forward thinking family lawyer’. Clarke advises on surrogacy law and other related fertility law issues, and is a mediator, as is Davies who focuses on surrogacy law relating to same-sex couples.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) mainly advises on high-value financial settlements related to divorce and unmarried family financial disputes. Clients include senior executives, entrepreneurs, landowners, property developers as well as professionals and media stars. The team was bolstered with the hire from Co-operative Legal Services of Samantha Hickman, who has a wealth of experience in acting for clients in matrimonial and cohabitation disputes as well as disputes involving children. She is β€˜an instantly engaging solicitor’ who β€˜responds promptly’, β€˜keeps clients up to date with all relevant information’, and is β€˜straightforward, very personable and easy to work with’. Senior associate Sally Rushton is recommended for handling matrimonial finance matters involving significant businesses and partnerships and inheritance issues. Michelle Rose heads the team.

Barcan+Kirby LLP is one of the main players in family law in Bristol, particularly in the matrimonial finance space. Hanni Pennelegion heads the matrimonial finance team, while family mediator Tom Powles leads the care, domestic violence and family mediation group. Senior associate Alison Whiles has experience in all areas of family law, with particular expertise in financial issues, pensions, pre and post-nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements. Anna Wilson is a collaborative lawyer who handles both children and financial matters. Other key contacts include department head Jim Gridley, Chris Miller, Kim Joseph and Kirsten Hale.

Foot Anstey advises high-net-worth individuals across the southwest and its Truro office, which is particular strong in divorce, financial remedy proceedings and cohabitee disputes, is a key player in Cornwall. The team also has notable experience in advising clients on alternative dispute resolution methods including mediation and collaborative law. It is increasingly advising farming families and business owners on pre and post-nuptial agreements. Family finance specialist and high-value matrimonial team head Mark Chanter is β€˜a sound negotiator who is also able to remain objective under pressure’. Exeter-based senior associate Jessica Pitt, who β€˜can be relied on to provide good advice at all times’, advises on divorce matters, financial remedy proceedings pre-nuptial agreements. Consultant Nigel Gosden’s representative clients include business individuals, landowners and farmers.

Laceys handles a range of family matters including mediation arising out of cohabitation, matrimonial and child law disputes as well as cases where collaborative law expertise is required. Practice head Jonathan Talbot also acted in a number of private and public children law proceedings, and is supported by Sara Gilak. Gemma Burden is experienced in all areas of family mediation, including divorce and financial settlements, child arrangements and property disputes between cohabitees.

Within the field of complex international child abduction cases, Lyons Davidson is β€˜in the very top band of firms in the UK, holding its own against any firms in London or elsewhere’. β€˜First-rate practitioner’ Philippa Morgan is singled out for her β€˜breath-taking knowledge’, β€˜responsiveness’, β€˜calm and pragmatic approach’ and her ability to β€˜put her knowledge effectively into practice to the benefit of her clients to achieve astonishing results’. She has solid track record in ground breaking cases in all aspects of child abduction work and cases with an international element including wardship, applications to enforce foreign orders and applications to permanently remove children from the jurisdiction. Iona Phillips is recommended for her public law expertise, and forced marriage and domestic abuse work. In 2016, she acted in a number of high-profile care proceedings before the High Court. Associate Rachel Pritchard handles financial remedy cases in a β€˜calm, sensible and rational way’.

Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors is a well-respected Bath-based firm which fields a number of β€˜solid, capable and hardworking family law specialists’. Tracey Smith, who excels in handling matters arising out of separations, β€˜communicates well with clients’ and β€˜gives well organised briefs that are focused on the real issues’. The β€˜efficient, sensible and pragmatic’ Meg Moss is recommended for high-value cases involving assets, businesses, trusts and pensions as well pre-nuptial agreements, and is β€˜very easy to deal with’. Smith and Moss are collaborative law trained. Childcare specialist Daniela Nickols, who was promoted to the partnership in May 2016, has β€˜good strategic and case planning skills’. Her areas of expertise include representing children, or their guardians, on cases involving public and private law proceedings. Jennifer Hambly is noted for her β€˜extraordinary client care skills’.

NGA Law is β€˜highly recommended for surrogacy law’ and also stands out for its expertise in fertility and same-sex family law issues. The team fields respected specialists who are β€˜extremely professional, knowledgeable and friendly’ as well as β€˜sympathetic to patients in an area of work that is very emotive and high pressured’, providing β€˜excellent support to parents on their journey, whether it be in the UK or overseas’. Natalie Gamble splits her time between the Salisbury and London offices, handling surrogacy cases across the UK. She advises on the full range of surrogacy matters including planning, immigration process, wills and family court applications. Through Brilliant Beginnings, its sister organisation, it assists parents on matching with surrogates and managing the US surrogacy process. It also has capabilities in matters relating to divorce, finance and private children disputes, notably where there is an assisted reproduction or LGBT element.

Plymouth-based firm Nash & Co’s family team is led by mediator William Giles and care specialist Helen Bull. The team advises on ultra-high value financial remedy proceedings, public and private law matters and care proceedings, where it represents children as well as parents. It also has notable experience in acting for individuals with farming, military or medical backgrounds on high-value divorce cases, often involving substantial assets, properties and pensions. Associate Peter Ash is another name to note.

Porter Dodson LLP is praised for its β€˜brilliant responses time’ and its β€˜professional and thorough approach’. It acts for a range of high-net-worth individuals, business owners and landowners on relationship breakdown and divorce and related financial remedy proceedings. The key contacts in the Dorchester office are the β€˜knowledgeable, professional and friendly’ Richard Baker and Nicola Scott, whose specialisms include surrogacy, adoption, fertility treatment, donor conception and co-parenting. Taunton-based mediator and collaborative lawyer Julia Perrins is a recommended divorce and matrimonial finance lawyer. In Yeovil, Rebecca Marshall and Meriel Corrigan are β€˜dedicated to achieving the right outcome for children’. β€˜Immensely capable and pragmatic’ associate Cathryn Smith β€˜puts her clients first’ and β€˜always ensures they are given solid advice’.

Sharp Family Law LTD β€˜genuinely has its client’s interests at heart’ and is singled out for its β€˜practical and collaborative approach to family law’. It advises on a broad range of family law issues and court litigation, and has a fine record of acting in alternative dispute resolution proceedings, including collaborative law and mediation. The group has experience in advising on finance matters for families and individuals with international connections, particularly in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Far East. Richard Sharp and Sharon Giles β€˜adopt a sensible, straightforward and collaborative approach to resolving disputes’. Sharp is regarded as β€˜a top divorce law specialist’ and β€˜an excellent mediator’ and Giles is recommended for collaborative divorce proceedings. Clare Webb has β€˜a friendly, practical and logical approach’.

Steele Raymond LLP’s β€˜very competent’ team focuses on financial remedy and Children Act matters, exceling at handling issues involving third parties intervening in financial remedy or cohabitation disputes. The β€˜extremely commercial and pragmatic’ Julie-Ann Harris and associate Lindsay Halliwell are the main contacts. Harris’ strength lies in matrimonial finance proceedings involving difficult corporate structures, offshore trusts and pensions, an area in which she has, according to one client, β€˜unparalleled knowledge and skill’. Halliwell has β€˜a wealth of experience and knowledge in dealing with matters relating to children’, and handles mediation issues.

Stone King LLP’s family law and mediation team has had considerable success in alternative dispute resolution and acting for high-net-worth individuals with business, trust or pension assets in the UK and abroad. The firm’s β€˜vast experience allows it to give advice that is sensitive and empathetic’, resulting in an β€˜exemplary’ level of service. Senior associate Caroline Fell was made practice head. Former practice head and consultant John Brownrigg is β€˜fantastic on collaborative law cases and mediations’, and is a recognised leader in matrimonial finance disputes. Lydia Berry has expertise in representing children in care proceedings including issues of human rights, mental health, learning difficulties, sexual abuse, fabricated or induced illness and non-accidental injury. Jayne Martins focuses on financial issues for married couples and cohabitees.

The Family Law Company by Hartnell Chanot advises on the full spectrum of family issues and is recommended for its work with children as well as its expertise in divorce issues, matrimonial work, and pre as well as post-nuptial agreements. Within the team, which has offices in Exeter and Plymouth, managing director Norman Hartnell is experienced in all forms of family mediation, advising parents, guardians and children in private and public law cases as well as divorce and related financial issues; Jane Chanot specialises in jurisdictional matters relating to children and is a mediator and a collaborative lawyer; Kirsty Thyer has expertise in handling complex cases involving injuries to children and in taking cases up to the Court of Appeal; Stephen Sowden is particularly noted for his experience in advising parents against local authorities, and specialises in contact, residence, adoption and special guardianship order issues; and Rachel Buckley regularly advises members of the armed forces, police and fire service on divorce proceedings and financial disputes.

Thrings LLP provides β€˜a reassuringly thorough standard of representation and a guaranteed level of quality of advice’. The team is β€˜very experienced’ in handling high-net-worth matrimonial finance cases involving substantial assets as well as matters relating to international child abduction under the 1966 Hague Convention, leave to remove from jurisdiction and Section 8 of the Children Act. Team head Fiona Kellow has expertise in both litigated and collaborative matters. Matthew Kellow advises on matrimonial finance and private law children matters, with expertise in matters involving the Court of Protection. Kellow is β€˜sympathetic but always realistic’, β€˜always appearing reassuring and inspiring the client’s loyalty, whilst at the same time being a tough and robust litigator when required’. Associate Victoria Barnett β€˜always thinks of her clients’ and β€˜appreciates the myriad emotions and difficulties that they are going through as well as their involvement in the legal process’. Samantha Newton and Anna Patterson are β€˜exceptionally hard working’. The team lost family law specialist James Myatt who joined Gregg Latchams LLP in January 2017. Individuals mentioned above are based in Bath and Swindon.

Tozers Solicitors LLP has β€˜a wealth of matrimonial finance experience including complex business and trusts issues’ and gives β€˜precise accurate advice at a very competitive price’. Exeter-based Tracy Lambert, a mediator and a collaborative law practitioner, advises on public and private family law matters, high-net-worth matrimonial cases and cohabitation disputes. She recently handled a removal from jurisdiction case and a matrimonial finance matter with property, business and associated tax implications. The highly recommended Tony Wood leads the Newton Abbot family team, which also includes Mark Williams, Sarah Miller and Louise Barber. Exeter-based Caroline Ryan is also recommended.

At Trethowans LLP, team head Andrew Mercer β€˜combines being a great leader and motivator with being a first-class collaborative lawyer’, he is β€˜excellent with clients’ and β€˜has the knowledge and ability to take on complex and high value cases’ including financial and children cases. Mercer is superbly assisted by Dawn Gore whose knowledge of children law is β€˜second to none’. Emma Wilders-Pratt, who has particular expertise in representing military personnel, β€˜combines the perfect balance of strength and determination to get the very best result whilst being able to sensitively advise her clients on how to reach agreement’. Family mediator Juliet Mayhew is a key contact when it comes to advising individuals with companies or farming assets and handling cases involving trusts and inherited wealth.

Willans LLP’s impressive experience includes handling adoption and removal from jurisdiction-related matters, assisting with pre and post-nuptial as well as civil partnership agreements, and advising high-net-worth individuals on financial issues arising from separation and divorce. The β€˜excellent’ James Grigg has a good track record of representing clients before the High Court, Court of Appeal, House of Lords, European Court of Human Rights and Grand Chamber; he is a collaborative family lawyer that β€˜always seeks to achieve the best outcome for his clients’. Senior associate Jonathan Eager is another name to note.

Family law specialist firm Woolley & Co, Solicitors has β€˜comprehensive and specialist knowledge of family law’. The β€˜extremely professional and efficient’ team has a number of offices in the region, including Bournemouth, Bristol, Truro and Wells. Judith Buckland, β€˜a skilled solicitor who is very good at understanding what the client is going through’, handles expat divorce and finance cases involving properties and overseas assets. Susan Harwood is β€˜a highly competent and experienced practitioner’, β€˜giving practical and client-focused advice’. She handles cases with an international element. Recent instructions include acting on an international nullity case and handling leave to remove applications.

BPE Solicitors LLP’s team is now led by Helen Cankett following the departure of Elizabeth Saunders who joined Tanners Solicitors LLP in November 2016. Cankett is a family mediator, advising on pre and post-nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements. She is also, along with senior associate Jemma Jones, a collaborative lawyer. Jones has experience of advising on private children law proceedings and assisting clients with divorce and separation-related financial matters.

Battens Solicitors Limited’s team is led by senior associate Louise Gidley, who assists high-net-worth individuals on matrimonial disputes and cases involving children. The team is, according to a client, β€˜the go-to firm in the Dorchester area for cases involving allegations of serious injury to children’, and is regularly instructed by children’s guardians in difficult and complex non-accidental injury matters. According to a client, β€˜whether appearing for families or Cafcass, the level of preparation prior to hearings stands out, as does the realistic and careful advice given to clients’. β€˜Fearless advocate’ and associate Gareth Bishop is singled out for his β€˜impeccably calm, personable and effective approach’, β€˜excellent public law children proceedings knowledge’, and β€˜intellectual as well as tenacious approach to all cases’. Hollie Knapman is β€˜committed to the client’s best interests’ and β€˜gives very realistic advice’.

Kitsons LLP specialises in financial proceedings on divorce and cohabitee disputes, and regularly assists with pre and post-nuptial agreements. Practice head Tony Hunt β€˜takes time to understand the client’s position’, and has particular expertise in advising business owners on high-value matrimonial finance cases. Carolyn Croft is another key contact.

Mogers Drewett LLP's team is led by Victoria Strode, who handles a broad range of family matters, and specialises in financial matters involving agricultural and farming disputes. Collaborative practitioner Rebecca Silcock has strong expertise in financial disputes, particularly those involving businesses, pensions and trusts. The team also assists on pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements and has experience of advising on private children law matters including removal from the jurisdiction, residence and contact issues. Another name to note is Sherborne-based Anne-Marie Hamer, who focuses on surrogacy planning and fertility matters and has experience of assisting on Children Act proceedings with an international element.

Pardoes Solicitors LLP fields β€˜a number of efficient lawyers with excellent personal and organisational performance’ and β€˜excellent attention to detail’, enabling them to provide β€˜a tailor-made service for all clients’. Practice head Maggie Roberts is β€˜a consummate professional and extremely good with clients’. She is recommended for representing children, parents and grandparents on public law child law cases, and is β€˜dedicated to achieve the right outcome for children’. Amy Langford and Amanda Shaw are further names to note. The team is spread across Taunton, Dorchester, Bridgwater, Yeovil and Bridport.

Simpson Millar LLP excels at handling high-profile public law proceedings. Clients appreciate its β€˜quick response times when matters are urgent and the calmness displayed in the critical moments of child protection proceedings’. Greg Moss is β€˜a highly experienced solicitor’ who β€˜offers clear, helpful advice’, and that has β€˜very strong advocacy skills’ as well as β€˜a great eye for the gaps in the case’. John Pratley heads the team, and focuses on financial remedy cases involving unmarried relationships and enforcement of financial orders.

Stokes Partners LLP’s wide-ranging practice handles all aspect of children law and financial remedy work. Key individuals in its Crewkerne-based team include Joanne Butler, who specialises in separation issues affecting children, and David Stokes, who handles financial remedy work involving pensions, business considerations and agricultural issues.

Personal tax, trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Personal tax, trusts and probate clients in South West 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


Burges Salmon LLP β€˜operates at the same level as most city law firms’ and, according to one client, is β€˜increasingly challenging the London-based firms as leaders in the private client space’. Its legal expertise is β€˜beyond expectations and up-to-date with current legislation’, its technical ability is β€˜superb’ and its client service is β€˜excellent’. The team has extensive experience in advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals on cross-border estate and succession planning, international tax and property structuring. It also advises global financial institutions on the provision of trust and tax planning services. International tax and trusts specialists John Barnett, Suzanna Harvey and Beatrice Puoti are singled out for β€˜balancing excellent technical skills with an innate ability to explain complex issues to clients in an efficient and effective way’. β€˜Outstanding’ practice head Barnett is β€˜one of the best tax lawyers in the country’, focusing on advising entrepreneurial clients, most of whom are not domiciled in the UK or have business or other interests abroad. Harvey is assisting on the restructuring of the trust established by a non-UK resident non-UK domiciled individual in light of the new rules on UK residential property held through offshore companies. Jim Aveline has β€˜listens, understands and then provides insight accompanied by practical solutions’. Tom Hewitt’s experience and knowledge in succession and wealth planning is β€˜excellent’ and his β€˜level of commitment is exceptional’. The team was bolstered with the hire of senior associate Catherine de Maid, who joined from Investec Philanthropy Services. Charles Wyld retired.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is β€˜definitely one of the leading law firms for private clients’, offering the full range of advice including estate and tax planning, family, charities and trust litigation. The β€˜highly competent powerhouse’ practice is led by senior partner Christopher Page, who splits his time between London and Cheltenham, and also includes Julia Cox, whose client list features UK entrepreneurs, business owners, high-net-worth individuals and non-UK residents as well as their families and trustees. The β€˜knowledgeable’ Henry Fea is highly recommended for offshore tax planning for both UK and non-UK resident individuals and has notable experience in advising on regularising tax affairs, particularly through the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility and the UK-Switzerland Agreement. Senior associate Alexander Caton advises on all aspects of private client work, often with a rural and landed estate dimension. It is also excellent at associate level, adding three new ones in 2016. Tabitha Collett is β€˜technically outstanding’.

Clarke Willmott LLP focuses on complex estate planning and family wealth issues. Its Bristol office acts for over 130 deputyship clients on their financial affairs and advises high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs on estate planning. The Taunton-based team regularly handles estate planning matters for farmers and landowners; Stuart Thorne, David Maddock and Emma Pope are the main contacts in that office. Anthony Fairweather heads the private capital team, which is spread across five offices located throughout England, and specialises in making applications to the Court of Protection to implement inheritance tax planning. Estate planning and inheritance tax specialist Elizabeth Smithers is β€˜highly intelligent and articulate in both spoken and written advice’. Jane Halton is recommended for deputyship applications, statutory wills and the administration of estates. Consultant Carol Cummins is another key name to note, regularly assisting private clients, executors and trustees on issues such as large family trusts, tax and estate planning. The group recently handled the administration of a taxable large landed estate and advised on the restructuring of multiple family trusts as part of a broader succession and inheritance tax planning.

Foot Anstey is β€˜extremely good’, providing β€˜up-to-date knowledge’ combined with β€˜clear and concise advice’. The group is under the β€˜dynamic and decisive leadership’ of Bristol-based Deborah Carrivick, who acts for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, trustees, landed estates and international financial institutions on cross-jurisdictional tax, trust and succession planning. She also works with the firm’s Islamic finance group advising on the UK tax treatment of Shari’ah-compliant alternative financial products and trusts. The team advised an ultra-high-net-worth client on the tax aspects (stamp duty land tax and capital gains tax) of its acquisition of multiple properties using alternative finance products. Other recent highlight saw tax specialist John Pindard advising UK and US beneficiaries of two offshore trusts on new rules applying to the structures of non-domiciled individuals. Within the sizeable team, Exeter-based Simon Gregory focuses on advising farmers and landowners on tax and wealth planning. Consultant Michael Evans has notable experience in advising financial institutions and individuals on international trust and tax matters, with particular focus on the Middle East. Patricia Wass leads the mental capacity unit and is recommended for Power of Attorney and Court of Protection work. Senior associate Anna Parker has β€˜great client handling skills’ and is β€˜definitely one to watch’, while Michelle Seddon is β€˜thorough, prompt, accurate and always willing to listen and answer any questions’. Kirstin Cook joined from Hay & Kilner while Bart Obszynski left for Burroughs Day LLP.

Michelmores LLP fields a team of β€˜knowledgeable, flexible, approachable, and business-minded lawyers who manage clients’ expectations very well’. Private wealth team head Jonathan Riley, who splits his time between Exeter and London, advises UK and non-UK domiciled clients on tax issues, specialising in estate and succession planning as well as mitigating inheritance and capital gains tax. He is advising trust beneficiaries in respect of the restructuring of a multimillion-pound estate, and is assisting a global private bank with the preparation of trust documentation for its worldwide client base. Bristol-based Sandra Brown β€˜stays in touch with clients to make sure they stay focused on the area of planning’. She focuses on preservation of personal wealth, with a particular interest in the use of trusts and has notable experience in advising trustees of onshore and offshore trusts. Jennifer Ridgway is advising a UK resident non-UK domiciled private equity fund owner on tax issues and creating a property trust. The group also regularly acts for vulnerable persons; it has solid track record of advising on the protection of significant clinical negligence and personal injury awards. The team also includes a chartered account and tax adviser who advises on complex accounting for offshore trustees and preparing trust accounts for landed estates. Senior associate James Radcliffe has expertise in assisting clients with US connections on cross-border tax and estate planning.

TLT is β€˜technically excellent’, β€˜cost effective’ and β€˜gets straight to the important points’. It has a well-established team, which is able to handle the full spectrum of private client work in the UK and internationally, supported by its London office, which focuses on acting for wealthy international families. The team is actively advising on the changes to non-domiciliary taxation and inheritance tax. Its clients include ultra-high-net-worth individuals from the banking industry and an impressive range of international private banks. Highlights included advising an ultra-high-net-worth UK resident family on the replacement of an offshore trust structure with a UK company partnership vehicle. The β€˜excellent’ Patrick Wooddisse is β€˜technically strong’ and β€˜gives very clear advice’. Legal director David Wheeler is β€˜a practitioner with real charm and gravitas who is excellent with clients’.

Salisbury-based firm Wilsons acts for a broad range of clients including landed estates, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals, based in the UK and abroad; it also advises UK and offshore trustees on the full range of trust law. Within the team, Adam Herbert regularly acts for international families, advising on governance and succession planning worldwide, while Frances Mayne is the main contact for probate and trust administration matters as well as Court of Protection work. Belinda Watson leads the estates and inherited wealth team, which advises over 50 substantial landed estates on a wide range of wills, trusts and tax issues including inheritance, capital gains and stamp duty land tax as well as agricultural and business property relief. Her clients also include owners of large farms and family businesses.

Ashfords LLP has β€˜the right partners, staff and level of expertise’, β€˜understanding the requirements of high-net-worth individuals and reacting promptly when instructed’. It advises landed estates and high-net-worth individuals on all aspects of succession planning, tax mitigation, wills, trusts and diversification. Recent highlights include acting for the executors in the administration of a taxable estate which included a life interest trust aggregated for inheritance tax purposes. Practice head Michael Alden, a Court of Protection deputy, has β€˜an amazing work ethic’, β€˜an empathetic way of dealing with clients of all kinds’ and is β€˜incredibly strong and very up-to-date technically’. He regularly handles inheritance tax planning matters. The full service team, noted for its β€˜good communication’, includes Tiverton-based agricultural specialists Tom Biddick, who is β€˜especially detail-focused and is prepared to help outside of the brief when necessary’, and Darren Blackburn, as well as Taunton-based Sue Savill, who has particular expertise in succession planning and tax mitigation as well as capacity issues for vulnerable individuals. Other Tiverton key contacts Andrew Carrigan and Laura England are β€˜knowledgeable and approachable’.

Bond Dickinson LLP regularly handles matters relating to landed estates as well as onshore and offshore trusts, and clients, which include trustees, landowners, executors, entrepreneurs non-UK domiciled individuals, are β€˜very pleased with its approach’. β€˜Highly competent’ team head Mark Woodward, whose β€˜technical knowledge is excellent’, advised a family with shares in a private UK trading company on the US tax implication of various trusts where the beneficiaries included US citizens, also assisting with the wills and UK/US tax exposure aspects of these matters. His other recent work includes acting as a neutral administrator to a contentious estate and advising clients on the capital gains and stamp duty land tax implications of de-enveloping UK residential property. Legal director Christopher Kerr-Smiley is recommended for trust restructuring, trust taxation and trustee powers and duties issues.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys expanded its tax practice with the hire of Stewart Jordan from Deloitte. Department head Alex Taylor, who is β€˜a fantastic lawyer with a deep technical ability’, leads a team of β€˜articulate, competent and personable’ lawyers who handle a wide range of private client matters, including cross-border ones, such as wills and tax planning, estate administration and trusts. He is particularly recommended for lifetime estate planning involving inheritance and capital gains tax, the administration of estates, and registration of power of attorney. Phillipa Bruce-Kerr adopts β€˜a very empathetic attitude towards her clients’. She specialises in advising older and vulnerable clients and regularly handles Court of Protection matters. Mark Hartley focuses on agricultural and business property reliefs as well as domestic and international tax issues. Clients include high-net-worth individuals as well as Barnett Waddingham, Ecclesiastical Insurance and GVA Grimley.

Stephens Scown LLP has niche expertise in acting on death in active service exemption cases and Court of Protection work. Its broad offering includes advising high-net-worth individuals on high-value estate and tax planning, trust planning, as well as sale and purchase of trust assets. The team is now led by Phil Reed following the departure of Tracey Wright to Woollcombe Yonge in June 2017. Malcolm Emery, a dual qualified solicitor and a chartered tax adviser, is recommended for advising on domicile and tax residence issues as well as exit planning for business owners. Graham Murdoch, who is a notary public, and Ian Newcombe are key contacts in Truro and Exeter respectively.

At Blanchards Bailey LLP, β€˜response times are very quick’, β€˜the level of specialist knowledge is high’ and β€˜advice provided is succinct and appropriate’, resulting in an β€˜excellent’ overall level of service. Areas of particular expertise include estate planning and tax advice, probate and estate administration and management of clients’ affairs through powers of attorney, deputyship orders and trusts. The team has been active advising on the impact of stamp duty land tax on trusts. It acts for high-net-worth individuals, business owners, farmers amd vulnerable individuals. Blandford Forum-based Jerome Dodge has β€˜excellent specialist knowledge on trust and related tax issues’ and is singled out for his ability β€˜to clearly communicate key points’. Further names to note include Sue Edwards, who is β€˜efficient, effective and very responsive’, and associate Linda Hardy, who is β€˜very clear in her explanations of complex issues’. Senior associate Ian Campbell, who specialises in wills and estate planning and administration of estates, joined from Coles Miller Solicitors LLP in March 2017.

Lester Aldridge LLP is recommended for wealth planning as well as issues relating to taxation of foreign properties and successions of businesses. Private client team head Kurt Lee has strong expertise in inheritance and capital gains tax planning matters as well as the creation, running and breaking of trusts. The highly recommended Oliver Phipps specialises in probate with a particular focus on the administration of estates with assets located in multiple jurisdictions. Richard Light advises individuals and shareholders on tax planning, regularly handling trade sales and private equity transactions. Paula Shea is particularly skilled at advising elderly clients and assisting families with vulnerable children.

Royds Withy King is singled out for its β€˜sensible and commercial approach’ and β€˜good response times’. Private client group head James McNeile is β€˜very good on the technical law’ and is β€˜charming and capable when communicating with clients’; he advises on wealthy families, including non-UK citizens, on estate, trusts and tax planning. Becky Richards Small specialises in inheritance tax planning, and is particularly experienced in Court of Protection and deputyships. Fiona Feggetter, who is advising non-UK domiciled individuals on their tax planning, and Mandy Casavant, who gives β€˜conscientious and well-informed advice’, form part of the team’s β€˜excellent pool of associates’. Recent instructions include handling will and estate administrations, and advising a family as well as trustees on the transfer of a large landed estate to the next generation.

Steele Raymond LLP’s three-partner team has particular expertise in acting in the administration of high-value estates, including those involving international assets. Group head Sue Adams and consultant Paul Causton are both dual qualified as solicitors and chartered tax advisers. Adam is advising the life tenant of a landed estate, consisting farmland, farm cottages and other buildings, on reducing inheritance tax by partitioning the estate, and is asisting a family with inheritance tax planning, trusts and applications to the Court of Protection for a statutory will and later permission to make gifts. Richard Smith β€˜works to a very high, professional standard’ and has β€˜great attention to detail’. John Andrews is is also recommended.

Stone King LLP handles a significant amount of estate planning, succession planning and tax issues for individuals, including non-UK domiciled ones. It also provides an incorporated legal and financial care service tailored to the needs of elderly clients. Trusts and estates team head Alison Allen has particular experience in advising families and carers of vulnerable individuals with impaired mental capacity on estate planning, trusts and care funding. Daniel Harris has β€˜a charm, sincerity and genuine desire to provide the best advice and most proactive service possible within an agreed cost forecast’. His areas of expertise include international succession issues, cross-border estate administration, probate and domicile issues. Tax expert Andrew Mortimer also practices as a notary public.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s team, consisting of private client practice head Helen Honeyball and recently promoted partners Amanda Rainford and Frank Cook, provides β€˜a consistent approach to estate planning’. β€˜Each of them has strong technical knowledge’ and β€˜their strengths complement each other’. Clients also praise the team for its ability to provide β€˜sound, client-friendly as well as cost effective advice and service’. Honeyball is recommended for estate planning for high-net-worth individuals. Cook is β€˜a complete professional’; β€˜calm under pressure with an exceptional knowledge of probate, wills, trust and tax’, and β€˜excellent interpersonal skills which helps cement his relationship with his clients’. Rainford has particular expertise in establishing and managing trusts for vulnerable beneficiaries.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is β€˜proactive, diligent and expeditious’. It β€˜looks beyond the face-value facts, endeavouring to look under the bonnet of a client’s circumstances’. The team advises on estate and trust issues involving inheritance, capital gains and stamp duty land tax. Recent work covers the administration of estates and trusts, setting up lifetime trusts, and assisting on succession planning for high-net-worth individuals and individuals with vulnerable adult children. The team, led by Michelle Rose, includes the β€˜astute yet intuitive’ Mary McCrorie, whose,β€˜thorough questioning helps extract from clients exactly what their needs and preferences are’. Her ability to think "outside the box" is also β€˜particularly refreshing’. Senior associate Helen Robertson’s expertise lies in the administration of trusts and inheritance tax planning. Associate Megan Alexander joined from Meade King LLP in January 2017.

Key figures at Cheltenham-based tax and private client boutique firm Wiggin Osborne Fullerlove include the β€˜thorough and approachable’ Tim Osborne, who handles tax planning for clients with international interests, Stephen Pallister, who advises private clients, their families and ownership vehicles both in the UK and abroad, and Edward Hall, who is a key contact for advising high-net-worth individuals and institutional clients on cross-border tax planning, establishment and taxation of trusts, estate planning and philanthropy. The team is β€˜able to handle very complex international matters, be it tax planning or establishing overseas trusts and foundations’. Michael Fullerlove retired in 2017.

Willans LLP is, according to one client, β€˜a leading medium-sized firm for tax, trusts and probate work in the Cheltenham and Gloucester area’. Clients praise the eight-strong team’s β€˜ability of delivering advice in a professional and, where appropriate, simplistic way, removing any jargon or perceived prior knowledge’. Group head Simon Cook is β€˜excellent in dealing with a range of issues surrounding inheritance tax’. In 2016, he advised a life tenant on the administration of an estate and related inheritance tax issues, and handled several Court of Protection matters. New partner Ruth Baker is β€˜very responsive’ and has β€˜excellent communication skills’. She handles a steady flow of wills, powers of attorney and Court of Protection work, and is increasingly advising high-net-worth individuals on their estate planning. The group enhanced its capabilities in advising agricultural clients through the hire of Robin Beckley, who joined from Lodders Solicitors LLP.

BPE Solicitors LLP has particular expertise in advising on succession planning for clients with commercial interests and the β€˜very personable’ Clare Young is a key contact for such matters. The β€˜incredibly hard working’ Peter Tyrrell has particular experience in Court of Protection matters, deputyship applications and contested power of attorney applications.

Farnfields LLP is β€˜extremely professional in its approach’, β€˜extremely knowledgeable’, and has β€˜excellent communication skills’. The team mainly acts for clients in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire on a broad range of issues including succession planning, personal tax planning, lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection work. Managing partner Fiona Thomas and Susan Lacey specialise in inheritance tax mitigation, estate administration and the creation as well as administration of trusts. Sophie Horton made partner in April 2017.

Christchurch-based firm Frettens LLP is led by wills and probate specialist Lee Young, who β€˜explains complex legal matters in simple, understandable language’ and provides β€˜bespoke advice that reflects his clients’ needs’. The group advises individuals whose estates value up to Β£5m. Recent work covers estate planning and administration.

Kitsons LLP is β€˜very knowledgeable in every area of private client work’. The team is spread across Exeter, Torquay and Plymouth, and is particularly noted for its β€˜prompt as well as professional responses’. β€˜Very experienced’ practice head Lynn Smith has β€˜an excellent manner with clients’. Tax planning expert Charlie Siegle and trusts specialist Jonathan Dickson are recommended for probate cases with an international element. Marjorie Creek has β€˜comprehensive as well as practical knowledge and expertise’ - β€˜the care and empathy she shows to her elderly clients whilst at the same time ensuring that all relevant legal areas are dealt is exceptional’.

Laceys’s level of service is β€˜excellent’; it is able to β€˜handle complex matters promptly, efficiently and at a fair price’. β€˜Excellent communicator’Kate Mansfield is β€˜very personable and professional’, β€˜displays a good understanding of the relevant legal and fiscal issues’ and β€˜delivers advice in a readily understandable manner’. Natasha Cross is a key name for the administration of trusts and estates, drawing up wills and advising on lasting power of attorneys. Simon Nightingale, who handles both contentious and non-contentious probate matters, is also recommended.

Meade King LLP’s β€˜very knowledgeable and practical’ team has β€˜breadth and depth of experience’ and β€˜finds workable solutions for clients’. It advises a range of clients including SME owner-managers, property owners, high-net-worth individuals, philanthropists, and trustees of family trusts, and has notable tax and estate planning expertise. Recent instructions include advising on the administration of a Β£1.5m estate and acting as court appointed trustee to a Β£5m trust with complex investment arrangements. Vanessa Eyre is β€˜a very safe pair of hands’.

Mogers Drewett LLP advises high-net-worth individuals, including farmers and business owners, on inheritance tax and succession planning, and also handles estate administrations, often working on cross-border matters. Rory McFarlane and Rebecca Beresford are the key contacts in Sherborne office, while Tom Chiffers, David Hill and Sarah Dodd are the names to note in Bath.

Bath-based boutique firm Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors provides β€˜professional and timely communication’. The group is recognised for its work on complex estate and succession planning, where it acts for medium and high-net-worth individuals and business owners. It is also experienced in inheritance tax planning, mitigation of capital gains tax and Court of Protection work. The team further strengthened its ability to advise elderly clients and assist with mental capacity-related issues when it hired associate Heledd Wyn from Clarke Willmott LLP in July 2016. Practice head David Whitworth has qualities which β€˜enable him to get inside problems’- he β€˜teases out solutions with people who are difficult’, and β€˜develops arrangements which draw on an exceptional knowledge of the law coupled with practical ways to make things work’.

Porter Dodson LLP is praised for its β€˜excellent advice and service’ which is delivered β€˜promptly at realistic cost in a friendly and professional manner’. Practice head Ian Sankey is a key contact in Sherborne, Taunton-based Sharon Collier impresses with her β€˜knowledge, common sense and manner’, Dorchester-based Chris Pemberton is recommended for succession planning and Wellington-based Kate James has notable experience in acting for agricultural clients and landed estates. It advises on tax and succession planning, estate and trust administration, as well as Court of Protection applications and powers of attorney.

Thrings LLP acts for high-net-worth individuals, including farm and business owners, landed estates, and vulnerable individuals. The team advises on high-end tax and wealth planning, including the management and mitigation of liability to inheritance and capital gains tax. Key names to note include Bath-based Michael Young, Ann Carlton and Elizabeth Evans.

Trethowans LLP has a niche specialism in advising entrepreneurs, farmers and landed estates on succession and capital tax planning. It also handles Court of Protection and mental capacity issues as well as probate administrations. Recent works covers the administration of the estates of deceased individuals and negotiating with HMRC on inheritance tax and business property relief matters. Elizabeth Webbe has experience in advising on tax issues for clients with overseas assets, and is also a key name to note for preparing and administering wills and trusts. Gary Pick and senior associates James Hammersley are also key contacts. Individuals mentioned above are based in Salisbury and Poole.

Wansbroughs’ β€˜excellent’ practice head Alan Ciechan is highly experienced in advising on inheritance and capital gains tax , acting for landowners, business owners, as well as other individuals. Andrew Jenkins handles wills and tax planning, particularly in the agricultural sector, and has notable experience in Court of Protection work, while Anna Wensley Stock focuses on advising high-net-worth individuals on estate planning. Stock is also experienced in will drafting and administering estates, including those with an international element. The team hired associate Emily Anderson from Mishcon de Reya LLP.

Wards Solicitors has β€˜a clear set of processes which assists in ensuring client relationships are always kept up to date’. It is also singled out for its β€˜helpful and appropriate information and advice’. The team advises on tax planning, trust management, powers of attorney, mental capacity and asset protection with particular expertise in advising elderly and vulnerable clients. Jenny Pierce’s knowledge is β€˜exemplary’ and clients praise her ability to β€˜explain everything in a manner that is easily understood’. Tom Scoffham is β€˜very efficient and knowledgeable’. Associate Mary Harty is recommended for the administration of trusts.

GC Diversity and Inclusion Report

In partnership with...

International comparative guides

Giving the in-house community greater insight to the law and regulations in different jurisdictions.

Select Practice Area

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

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