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For some, Hugh James’s six-lawyer team is ‘the go-to-firm for contentious trusts and probate litigation in Wales’; its ‘unrivalled depth of experience and knowledge in the area’ enables it to ‘handle the largest matters easily and professionally, while also being able to take on mid-sized work effectively and proportionately’. Team head Matthew Evans attracts praise for his ‘incomparable knowledge of the law and tenacious approach to litigation’; his clients include lay beneficiaries, professional trustees and executors, as well as financial institutions and trust corporations. Although Evans is active across the spectrum of contentious matters, he has developed a particular niche in proprietary estoppel claims and is also noted for his work within the agriculture sector. The ‘very commercial and hardworkingRoman Kubiak was recently promoted to partner and has a strong reputation for cross-jurisdictional trust and estates disputes, where ‘he is more than a match for leading lawyers in London-based firms’. Associate Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu is a ‘real rising star’ whose ‘knowledge of the law, client-handling skills and no-nonsense approach are a real asset’.

At Howells Solicitors, ‘very knowledgeable’ and ‘technically sound’ team head Laith Khatib is ‘one of the leading contentious practitioners in Wales’ and has significant experience in all manner of estates, including those involving commercial issues. As well as handling direct instructions, Khatib often receives referrals from other law firms. Recent work has included prosecuting and defending numerous claims brought under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

The ‘hardworking and efficient’ team at JCP Solicitors has a ‘substantial depth of knowledge’, and provides ‘very effective advice’ across the spectrum of contentious matters including proprietary estoppel claims, disputes between personal representatives and complex trust disputes. Based out of the firm’s Carmarthen office, ‘highly experienced and intelligent’ team head Richard Howells is ‘extraordinarily good with clients’, and has particular experience handling high-value agricultural disputes for NFU members. Other key figures include Rory Hutchings, who as head of the rural practice handles contentious work for farming clients; and Swansea-based associate Andrew Murphy.

Although it lacks a standalone team, several lawyers at Berry Smith have considerable contentious probate expertise. While he is best known for his property litigation expertise, Simon Care ‘combines mastery of detail, the law and procedure with a very astute tactical nous’, and is particularly well placed to advise on contentious probate matters. Praised for his ‘extremely effective litigation skills’, Care acts for clients who are challenging wills on grounds of capacity, seeking the removal of executors, and in estoppel claims. Recent highlights include defending a client against a claim made by a solicitor personal representative concerning the recovery of monies allegedly overpaid to the client in an estate with which she was a beneficiary. Iwan Doull also handles contentious probate work as part of his wide-ranging litigation expertise.

At Hutchinson Thomas, the ‘hardworking and professional’ Simon Thomas has a strong focus on contentious probate work and is one of only four full members of the Association of Contentious Trust & Probate Specialists in Wales. Thomas provides ‘well-considered advice’ and has a ‘keen perception of the merits of the claim’.

Hutton's has wide-ranging expertise of contentious probate matters, including work in relation to claims under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, challenges of the validity of wills, and disputes over the existence of mutual wills. Head of both the firm’s commercial litigation and private client departments, the ‘charming, professional and thorough’ Clare Strowbridge combines both these skillsets to good effect and provides a ‘tenacious and diligent service’ to clients on contentious probate matters. ‘Impressive’ solicitor Ian Moore is ‘one to watch’ and regularly handles contentious probate work as part of his broad-ranging private client expertise.

At Douglas-Jones Mercer, associate director Laura Alliss has built up considerable experience in relation to contentious probate matters, acting for claimants and defendants across a broad array of matters including litigation relating to the improper execution of wills, rectification of wills, as well as disputes between beneficiaries and personal representatives. Recent highlights include successfully acting for a claimant to set aside a trust and recover the sum paid into the trust on the basis that the settlor lacked the capacity, knowledge and approval to set up the trust, and was unduly influenced to do so.

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