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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > West Midlands > Private client > Contentious trusts and probate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals
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Who Represents Who

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Key figures at FBC Manby Bowdler LLP include the Wolverhampton-based Craig Ridge, who heads the contentious trusts and probate practice and has a strong specialism in high-value and complex multi-party probate claims. In recent work, the team handled a trust deed rectification matter, which involved professional negligence proceedings; the removal of a personal representative on the grounds of breach of fiduciary duty; and a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. Associate Kimberly Mears handles Inheritance Act matters and is recommended alongside family partner Philip Cowell and STEP practitioner Margaret Rowe, both based in Telford.

Clients of MFG Solicitors LLP for its ‘absolutely outstanding commitment to service’. Practice head Robert Weston – who is described as ‘most approachable, considerate, courteous and professional’ – and Suzanne Lee are experienced litigators and exclusively focus on contentious probate work. Recent work includes handling several Inheritance Act disputes, applications to the Court of Protection, and defending clients in claims of financial abuse or misappropriation of estate assets. Andrew Chandler is also recommended.

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s contentious trusts and probate team is based in Shirley and demonstrates ‘sound knowledge of the law, which it applies for the practical benefit of the client’. The team, led by Kamal Majevadia (who ‘is very thorough and applies a good commercial approach to his cases’) handled an Inheritance Act dispute in which a significant portion of the assets was held overseas. Solicitor Hayley-Jo Lockley supported the team in obtaining a grant of probate, forcing the removal of caveat and removing an individual from the deceased’s property, and led on the advice on the recovery of monies due to a client as per the deceased’s will. Tracy Creed is also a key contact.

According to some clients, ‘no other firm in the contentious trust and probate area come close’ to Higgs & Sons for its ‘quality and professionalism’. Julia Lowe heads the practice, which includes associate and ‘tenacious litigator’ Beth King-Smith, whose ‘client care is second to none’ and who is ‘very proactive in protecting against litigation and ensuring that each claim is put through as forcefully as possible’. Recent highlights include handling a number of high-value disputes, including Inheritance Act claims involving significant overseas assets, alongside private client partner Peter Gosling. Other key names include Lucy Obrey.

At Knights Professional Services Limited, Jessica Neyt handles contentious trusts and probate work for claimants, trustees and executors. The team is supported by Lindsey Howland, who handles contentious and non-disputes private client work, and property litigation practitioner Richard Jones. All named individuals are based in the Stoke-on-Trent office.

Clients rate Thomas Horton LLP’s contentious trust and probate team as ‘experienced, well-regarded, very patient and good listeners’. James Sommerville, who heads the firm’s employment and dispute resolution practices, ‘can be hard-hitting and soft-hitting as the situation dictates’, and ‘understands this is an area of law which evokes strong feelings’. His recent work includes handling disputes revolving around uncooperative estate executors, applications for grant of probate, and the validity of wills and claims against estates.

One client rates Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham team as ‘one of the best in the region’, and another singles out Gavin Faber as ‘an extremely safe pair of hands on the helm’. Recent work includes representing the deceased’s step children in an Inheritance Act 1975 claim against the deceased’s natural children as well as the beneficiaries and executors of the estate; and advising on a complicated dispute involving a Court of Protection order and a breach of fiduciary duties through fraud. Clients appreciate associate Douglas Houghton for his ‘steady and calm approach and insight’.

Lanyon Bowdler’s ‘highly capable’ lawyers attract praise for their ‘combination of in-depth tax knowledge with good litigation experience’. The team is headed by ‘clear-headed litigator’ and associate Claire Vale, who ‘will go the extra mile to advance her client’s case’. Bases in the Shrewsbury office, she works closely with the firm’s private client and Court of Protection departments to act for clients, including a large number of farmers and landowners, in disputes regarding Inheritance Act issues, proprietary estoppel, and questions of testamentary capacity. Assistant solicitor Jemma Land recently joined the Shrewsbury office.

John Grundy is the key contentious trusts figure in Mills & Reeve LLP’s Birmingham office. He acts for domestic and international high-net-worth individuals in all aspects of estate and tax planning, including Court of Protection work and lasting powers of attorney. Matthew Hansell specialises in estate management and protecting assets against tax charges and divorce proceedings. Also recommended are senior associate Adam Williams and trust and estate practitioner Claire Nash.

Thursfields Solicitors’ contentious trusts and probate practice primarily handles breaches of trust, Inheritance Act claims, and issues revolving around executors and testamentary capacity. Commercial services director Michelle Chamberlain leads the practice and is supported by Mark Pittaway, who advised the named executrix on a fraudulent will case, and Tim Lawrence, who handles claims for claimants and defendants. Newly promoted senior associate Pam Deol is also recommended. Tracey Ashford recently left the practice to join a firm in Gloucestershire, and property litigation solicitor Stefania Bennett departed for Gowling WLG.

Wright Hassall LLPhas real strength and depth’, according to clients, who single out team head and ‘a determined litigator’ Martin Oliver. He specialises in high-value inheritance disputes and recently represented Heather Ilott before the Supreme Court regarding her Inheritance Act claim against her deceased mother’s estate for reasonable financial provision. Gemma Carson, who regularly handles disputes relating to farming estates, attracts praise for her ‘clear appreciation of the economic and legal merits of any claim’. Clients also recommend senior associate Anna Sutcliffe who is ‘tough, tenacious and has a good rapport with clients’ and dedicates her time exclusively to contentious trusts and probate work.

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