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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

Editorial

Other

Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Beth King-Smith - Harrison Clark Rickerbys
    • Claire Vale - Lanyon Bowdler

Craig Ridge leads a large team at FBC Manby Bowdler LLP, which is experienced in complex and high-value mandates that often have a cross-border element. Its broad practice covers challenges to wills, rectification claims, trust actions and applications for emergency injunctions. The team regularly advises beneficiaries and personal representatives on all contentious issues arising from the administration of an estate or a trust.

Practice head(s):Craig Ridge

Other key lawyers:Kimberly Mears; Joseph Martin

Testimonials

'The team makes you feel you are being treated like a real person not just a client number'.

' The team is well used to dealing with difficult disputes in different cultures especially given the large Polish and Indian communities in Wolverhampton. They also have good knowledge and experience in farming estate disputes on account of work from the Shrewsbury office. They are a bit of a hidden gem of a team'.

'FBC is always very helpful, efficient, professional and extremely clear in its advice. The team is highly knowledgeable and I always feel fully confident in the advice provided'.

'Craig Ridge and Joseph Martin. Both took time to understand my problems and explained the  different options open to me. They were always available'.

'Craig Ridge is wise, full of experience and very easy to deal with'.

'Craig Ridge is efficient, experienced, professional, friendly, approachable and skilled'.

'Craig Ridge is superb. He is compassionate with clients, tactically clever and an excellent litigator. He plays the long game and should never be underestimated as an opponent. His whole team is exceptionally good value in terms of fees and delivers an excellent service at modest costs'.

Work highlights

  • Advised on a high-value rectification claim.
  • Acted in a multi-party action involving the removal of an executor.
  • Advised on an application pursuant to CPR Part 64 seeking directions from the court regarding the payment of pecuniary legacies.
  • Representing the independent personal representative in a multi-million pound estate involving several cross claims for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
  • Represented the claimant in a contested removal of executor dispute resulting in a multi-day trial.

MFG Solicitors LLP fields one of the largest groups of ACTAPs members in the country, who specialise solely in contentious probate matters. Its team includes Robert Pearce, who has a particular capability in claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975. The group continues to receive substantial referrals from counsel and other solicitors, and it also acts for trust corporations. Robert Weston is the practice head.

Practice head(s):Robert Weston

Other key lawyers:Suzanne Lee; Robert Pearce; Andrew Chandler

Testimonials

'Robert Weston is a very capable lawyer'.

'Andrew Chandler is very experienced, good at what he does and a safe pair of hands'.

Sydney Mitchell LLP has a thriving contentious probate department, which works closely with its busy private client department. It has recently witnessed a significant increase in the number of estates where there is a dispute relating to the ownership of private companies. Team head Kamal Majevadia is well-known for his expertise in advising on estates with cross-border assets, complex commercial and company share issues.

Practice head(s):Kamal Majevadia

Other key lawyers:Hayley-Jo Lockley; Chloe Bolton

Testimonials

'The team is experienced in contentious probate matters and is easy to deal with. They know their stuff'.

'Excellent team with an all-round attention to detail and a commercial, pragmatic approach'.

'Kamal Majevadia is a strong lawyer, practically astute and is always sensible and willing to reach a pragmatic solution'.

'Kamal Majevadia is very thorough and personable'.

'Kamal Majevadia applies a sound commercial approach to this litigation'.

' Hayley-Jo Lockley is experienced in this field and applies a good pragmatic approach to her cases'.

'Chloe Bolton is a very promising junior member of the team. Diligent, and a pleasure to work with'.

Work highlights

  • Represented the executors in respect of a claim made by an only child of the deceased pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 in respect of a large estate.
  • Instructed on two claims, one by an adult son of the deceased to make a claim pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 in relation to a large  estate, and one by the granddaughter of the deceased .
  • Instructed by the claimant to bring a claim pursuant to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 for an order that the property she jointly owns with the defendant be sold, with an option for the  client to purchase the property.
  • Instructed to issue a claim pronouncing against the validity of a will of the deceased.  
  • Instructed by the clients in relation to a dispute regarding various parcels of farmland and to issue a claim pursuant to the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 for an order for sale of the farm land.

Irwin Mitchell, whose excellent reputation sees it regularly generate work from London firms, is currently undertaking a number of large Inheritance Act claims. It also advises on professional negligence claims relating to defective trust instruments and wills. In addition it is skilled at advising on other niche areas such as statutory wills and court of protection matters involving financial abuse. Led by Gavin Faber, its team handles high-value disputes and complex trust litigation for individuals, successful entrepreneurs, executors, trustees, charities and beneficiaries.

Practice head(s):Gavin Faber

Testimonials

'Irwin Mitchell's size means it can deal with almost anything, so that if you have a contentious probate case but with other legal aspects to it the team will be able to draw on the wide expertise in the firm. The group is also pre-eminently practical and tactical in running litigation'.

'Irwin Mitchell has built a very capable team in Birmingham. Gavin Faber is one of the 'go to' litigators in Birmingham, he genuinely cares about each case and delivers excellent results'.

'Gavin Faber has vast experience and he brings that commercial acumen to private client litigation which gives him an edge over others. He gets straight to the point for clients'.

'Gavin Faber is very competent, gets good work in which he does well, is very good technically, knows what he is doing and is sensible'.

'Gavin Faber works collaboratively, is very knowledgeable and experienced'.

'Gavin Faber is excellent. He is doing a lot of excellent work in high profile matters'.

'Gavin Faber is a clear leader in his field, strategic and on the ball. Gavin is phenomenal in action. Clients adore him'.

'Gavin Faber is technically very able - a great lawyers to have on your side'.

 

Work highlights

  • Acting for the claimant in a multi-jurisdictional Inheritance (Provision for family and Dependants) Act 1975 claim involving an application to serve outside of the jurisdiction.

James Sommerville at Thomas Horton LLP has extensive experience in contentious probate matters and is a member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists. Sommerville is supported by associate solicitor Sara Atkinson, who joined from Sutton Colfield-based firm Thomas O’Gorman Solicitors in 2018, and solicitor Heleena Gandham.

Practice head(s):James Sommerville

Other key lawyers:Sara Atkinson; Heleena Gandham

Testimonials

'The team has great knowledge of this area of law, is sympathetic with clients, but robust with opponents. Many years of experience'.

'James Sommerville has worked on our matter with diligence. He has completed work with both a professional and friendly manner. He has always been happy to answer questions either by email or in person. I believe he has acted in our best interests always'.

Work highlights

  • Advising client executors in connection with a claim against the father’s estate by the estranged wife.
  • Acting for the executors facing  a claim.  
  • Advising on the proper interpretation of a will.  
  • Acting for a client in a dispute with a sister over  inheritance.
  • Acting for a client  in connection with a dispute over a will.

Wright Hassall LLP has four members and two associate members of ACTAPS. Martin Oliver who heads up the team, is a solicitor advocate (all higher courts) who is knowledgeable about all aspects of inheritance disputes. Oliver is experienced in assisting families with challenging wills where the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a will, or was subject to undue influence. He also provides advice on applications to substitute or remove executors, as well as other issues, such as claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

Practice head(s):Martin Oliver

Testimonials

'The team at Wright Hassall is conscientious and devoted to achieving the best possible outcome for its clients'.

'Martin Oliver is simply one of the best private client practitioners in the industry. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law, especially in relation to contested probate and Inheritance Act claims and he has a shrewd, commercial mind which makes him a formidable opponent'.

'Martin Oliver is involved in some excellent high profile cases and is well able to deal with them'.

Higgs & Sons has a strong profile among wealthy families and wealthy landed clients. It regularly handles disputes in the course of complex and high-value estate administrations, and it also handles matters involving the removal of executors/trustees. In addition, it has particular expertise in disappointed beneficiary claims, with extensive experience of proprietary estoppel cases. Lucy Obrey leads the team, which saw Beth King-Smith join Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

Practice head(s):Lucy Obrey

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the father of the deceased in defending a claim against his son’s estate by the deceased’s partner.
  • Instructed by professional executors to defend an application for their removal.  

The contentious probate department at Lanyon Bowdler acts for clients across the country and further afield internationally on a wide range of matters. Claire Vale heads up the team, which advises on a diverse range of matters, such as claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975 and actions to remove personal representatives. Other areas of expertise include proprietary estoppel claims, professional negligence claims relating to will-drafting or estate administration, as well as TOLATA applications.

Practice head(s):Claire Vale

Other key lawyers:Mandy Brookfield; Gillian Davies

Testimonials

'Claire Vale and her team were very professional. They showed empathy to me'.

'Is able to handle large and complex matters easily, especially when they araise on complex probate matters'.

'Claire Vale stands out as a knowledgeable and unflappable individual'.

'Gillian Davies and Mandy Brookfield were professional, very supportive, provided good and timely communication and treated me with respect'.

Key Clients

Anita Moles

John Williams

Work highlights

  • Acting in the successful recovery of sale proceeds due to the late father’s estate from deceased’s partner.
  • Acte in the defence of a claim for reasonable financial provision that was brought against the late brother’s estate by a deceased’s step-son
  • Acting in the defence of a claim for proprietory estoppel.
  • Acting in  the defence of a claim for reasonable financial provision that is being brought against the late father’s estate by a deceased’s partner.
  • Advising clients about a potential claim for reasonable financial provision against the late father’s estate by the deceased’s partner and children.

Mills & Reeve LLP's specialist contentious trust and probate team is experienced in disputes over the validity of wills, actions involving trustees and executors, claims under the Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and related claims about lifetime transactions. It also acts for a number of charities in contested legacy matters. Principal associate Lucy Howard has relocated to the Birmingham office.

Practice head(s):David Catchpole (Norwich): Simon Pedley (Manchester); Lucy Howard

Testimonials

'Lucy Howard is one to watch and is very highly regarded, she will do great things with that team'.

Work highlights

  • Acting for the executors of a deceased’s estate, providing advice in respect of various contentious queries raised by the deceased’s daughter regarding the estate administration and its assets and liabilities.

The team at Thursfields Solicitors focuses on high-value trusts and estates disputes. In addition to advising a large number of individuals on large estates, the firm also generates mandates from trustees and executors. Michelle O’Hara heads up the team, whose varied portfolio of work includes disputes between co-executors and beneficiaries, the removal of executors, proprietary estoppel claims and will rectification claims.

Practice head(s):Michelle O'Hara

Other key lawyers:Pam Deol

Testimonials

'Pam Deol is extremely hardworking'.

Work highlights

  • Advising on a case about the removal of a co-executor.
  • Advising on an Inheritance Act claim.
  • Advising on a case about testamentary capacity.
  • Advising on a dispute with beneficiaries.
  • Advising on the rectification of a trust deed.

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