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Agriculture and estates

Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Agriculture and estates clients in Yorkshire and the Humber 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 david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Wrigleys Solicitors LLP’s agriculture and rural property team consists of 12 fee-earners with extensive track records in the region for delivering ‘in-depth knowledge of legal matters affecting landed estates efficiently and promptly’. Working in close conjunction with the firm’s market-leading tax and trusts team, the practice acts for more than 130 landed estates as well as a growing number of farmers and entrepreneurs looking to invest in farmland, woodland and sporting properties. Recent highlights include advising several estates along the proposed HS2 route on compulsory purchase matters and associated tax implications. Jonathan Attey heads the practice and is a leading light in agricultural and rural property matters; he is ably assisted by Andrew Wriglesworth, who is singled out for his tax planning expertise, Julia Boyes, who regularly acts for large estate and entrepreneurial clients, and Angus Hunter Smart. The practice was joined in 2016 by Maria Graylen from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.

The agriculture and estates practice at Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP attracts praise for its ‘detailed knowledge of all aspects of agricultural law, which it marries to clear, commercial advice’. Martin Whitehead heads the practice, which acts on a range of matters for landed estates, landowning farmers and tenant farmers throughout the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regions. The firm is well placed to benefit from an uptick in renewable energy-related investments: Stephen Unwin and Janice Rawlings have assisted the firm’s landowner clients with several windfarm investments, while Martin Collingwood brings more than 30 years of experience handling the construction aspects of wind farms. The firm also advises its bank clients on lending facilities secured on agricultural land. Helen Mellors and Janice Rawlings handle sales and purchases of farm and agricultural land, as well as issues relating to options and overage agreements. Jonathan Dale, Kevin Webster and Peter Duffus, who regularly handles agricultural disputes, are also recommended. Christopher Harrison joined the firm to establish the Scarborough office in 2016.

Grays handles the full range of agricultural law matters, from land and farm acquisitions and disposals, to agricultural tenancy matters. Lyn Rickatson is highly regarded for her rural property expertise.

The agricultural practice at Harrowells Solicitors is noted for its ‘high-quality, prompt advice’. Headed by Paul Burkinshaw, the practice covers a wide range of agricultural issues for landowners, with particular emphasis on specialist farming sectors such as pig, cattle and sheep rearing. The practice also acts for high street lenders on agricultural lending issues, regularly advises landowners on agricultural property acquisitions and disposals, including negotiating wind turbine, solar panel and other infrastructure agreements, and handles issues arising from livestock auctions. Burkinshaw also heads the firm’s dedicated equine unit, which handles work for trainers, breeders and owners as well as other equine-related businesses, and is highly active in disputes; he is currently advising several farming clients on issues arising from alleged mis-selling of farm refinancing. Other highlights included advising a landowner on the negotiation of mineral leases and related documentation with various national aggregates companies. Stephen Proctor is also recommended.

Langleys Solicitors LLP handles a range of agricultural matters, with a particular specialism in succession issues arising from the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, as well as matters concerning gravel extraction and potash mining. The practice has been especially active in renewable energy matters involving solar panel arrays, wind turbines and anaerobic digesters. Andrew Fearn regularly handles sales and purchases of high-value farms and estates, and assists farming businesses with partnership matters, formations, disputes and exits. Other key figures include David Wood, who is noted for his expertise in agricultural property relief for inheritance tax purposes, and Françoise Vandale, who has a notable focus on agricultural, renewables and minerals related property work.

Lupton Fawcett LLP fields a ‘very professional’ agriculture team led by the ‘faultlessJohanne Spittle, whose ‘invaluable advice and quiet, polite and authoritative manner’ puts her ‘always one step ahead of the game’. She focuses on property-related disputes for agricultural and ecclesiastical clients, as well as landed estates, and also assists agricultural clients with issues arising from their dealings with banks. The practice’s other key areas of strength include advising on land use issues related to the sale and purchase of agricultural land and farms, as well as Agricultural Holding Act 1986 tenancies; assisting with option, promotion and equalisation agreements related to land development; and advising agricultural clients on renewable energy projects. It also works closely with the firm’s wider private client department to provide succession, inheritance tax, agricultural property relief and business property relief to high-net-worth individuals and rural business owners. Julian Rowden is noted for his handling of sales and purchases of quarries and former gravel pits as well as associated mineral rights issues. Also recommended are Kirsty Barsby, who regularly acts for lenders and borrowers on agricultural land and property refinancings; Hannah Farmer, who, in addition to handling acquisitions and disposals, has particular strength in equine law; and Jessica Richardson.

McCormicks is ‘an excellent firm that punches well above its weight’ and its agriculture and estates team attracts praise for being ‘pleasant to deal with and willing to consider fee structures to suit its clients’ needs’. Peter McCormick heads the practice and is singled out for his charity expertise; he regularly acts on agricultural law matters for charities including the Royal Horticultural Society, which recently instructed the firm on its acquisition of land and buildings for the development of its northern garden. Other key figures include newly promoted partners Heather Roberts, who advises the firm’s agricultural clients on property issues; Elaine Lightfoot, whose clients include the estate of the late John Strutt and its associated charities and trusts; Philip Edmondson, who handles a variety of litigation for the firm’s estates clients; and Lewis Goodwin, who has notable expertise in issues concerning shooting estates.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s agriculture practice demonstrates ‘impressive range and depth of expertise in the area; it is well placed to advise on potentially complex structural issues which arise for estates’. The Leeds-based Julia Rangecroft is highlighted for her ‘exceptional grasp of relevant issues and in-depth understanding of clients’ varying objectives and priorities’. She has expertise in tax planning related to agricultural assets and heritage property, complementing the firm’s national reputation for agricultural law matters and agricultural property in particular.

Raworths’ ‘extremely knowledgeable’ agricultural department attracts praise for its ability to provide ‘extensive, comprehensive and practical knowledge’ to a client base of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families, as well as high-growth owner-managed SME business clients. David Garfitt heads the team; in addition to handling trust, inheritance tax matters and related property work, Garfitt also acts as the trustee of the Nunnington Estate in North Yorkshire, which comprises 2,000 acres and has an estimated value in the region of £25m. Garfitt is ably assisted by Matthew Hill, who combines ‘a knowledgeable and professional manner with a personable attitude’, William Kinread, who ‘stands out a mile as far as agricultural property is concerned’, and Christopher Butterworth, who is ‘a top-notch mediator for anything rural’. Other clients include the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Rollits LLP’s private wealth team regularly handles farm and land acquisitions and disposals, Agricultural Holding Act 1986 tenancy matters and secured lending work for farm owners, estates and banks in the rural sector. Neil Franklin heads the team and assisted with the agricultural property aspects of Cranswick Plc’s multimillion-pound purchase of Crown Chicken.


Charities and not-for-profit

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Charities and not-for-profit clients in Yorkshire and the Humber 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 david.burgess@legal500.com.

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DWF’s ‘excellent’ charities practice has a track record of handling governance and constitutional issues and charity incorporations for more than 350 charities nationally. Clients include Tees Valley Community Foundation, a £13m endowed foundation, which the firm assisted with drafting social enterprise legal structures training; and Skill Force Development, which assists ex-service men and women with delivering vocational education to children and young people, and which the firm advises on data protection, employment and governance issues, among other matters. Catherine Rustomji joined Browne Jacobson LLP in May 2017.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP is many clients’ ‘firm of choice for charity work in the North of England'. Seven partners and 14 other fee-earners make up the sizeable charities team, which handles matters including national and international governance advice; social investment, including charity bonds and community shares; and charity mergers. Its client base encompasses a wide range of education, health, and ecclesiastical and faith-based charities. Malcolm Lynch (‘particularly good in the commercial-charity interface and very knowledgeable about co-operatives’) and newly promoted partner Peter Parker acted for the trustees of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the drafting and negotiation of loan facility agreements for the purposes of providing financing to social finance organisations and intermediaries. Elizabeth Wilson is noted for her ecclesiastical expertise and acts for Catholic international religious order the Sisters of the Cross and Passion on a variety of matters, including governance restructuring and regulatory advice. Other key figures include the ‘very knowledgeableSylvie Nunn, whose clients include the Power to Change Trust, newly promoted partner Tim Wrigley, and consultant Duncan Milwain, who acts for a number of faith-based charities.

Addleshaw Goddard fields a multi-disciplinary charities team led by Pervinder Kaur, who has an extensive track record advising on the formation of charitable entities, trustees’ duties, and fundraising activities. She is assisted in Leeds by fellow partner Yorke Eaton, who advises charities on property transactions, restructurings and governance and trustee issues, and managing associate Charlotte Smart, who advises on the formation and incorporation of charities for individuals as well as institutional clients. Clients include Bedingfield’s Trust, the National Coal Mining Museum and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Irwin Mitchell acts for a wide range of charities in the sports and leisure, ecclesiastical and education arenas, on issues related to procurement, real estate, state aid and the winding up of charities. Laurence Gavin leads the practice and regularly advises on governance, funding and trustee duties. He is assisted by Nigel Bolton in Leeds, who has extensive expertise in pensions issues related to the non-profit sector, and Sheffield-based associate Graham Walker, who handles real estate matters for charity and third sector clients. Highlights included advising Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust on the purchase of Wentworth Woodhouse, the largest private residence in the UK, using public money, and assisting Sheffield Futures with the acquisition of another charity and on the funding and contractual aspects of several public programmes.

Lupton Fawcett LLP is noted for combining ‘excellent legal analysis in often complex circumstances with sensitivity and commitment to its clients’ charitable ethos’. The firm’s multidisciplinary charities practice has a particularly strong ecclesiastical law capability and acts for a number of faith-based organisations, including the Yorkshire Congregational Union and the Diocese of York. In addition to its work for faith-based charities, the practice acts for various schools and multi-academy trusts on academy conversions and rebrokerage matters. Caroline Mockford heads the practice from the firm’s York office; she has more than 30 years of experience in trust and ecclesiastical law matters. Other key figures include Peter Foskett, employment specialist Louise Connacher (both based in Leeds), and Mark Honeywell, who joined from Bond Dickinson LLP.

In keeping with the firm’s outstanding reputation in the sports field, McCormicks acts for a number of sporting charities; managing partner Peter McCormick is a trustee of the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sporting charity. In addition to its market-leading reputation in the sports field, the firm acts for charities in a variety of other fields, with longstanding clients including Harrogate International Festivals, which the firm recently advised on a range of employment matters as well as on the drafting of a sponsorship agreement for a literary festival. The firm also acts for the War Memorials Trust, which it is assisting with the redrafting of the client’s governing document in line with an expansion of work into Scotland. Other key figures include private client head Elaine Lightfoot and Heather Roberts, whose clients include the John Strutt Memorial Fund.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s ‘excellent’ charities practice is noted for its ‘great overall coverage’. Janet Hoskin is the key figure in Leeds; she is ‘very good at organising projects involving a large number of participants and at building long-term relationships with clients’. The practice has particular strength in the universities arena, where it acts for clients including the University of London, the London School of Economics, and the University of Gloucestershire. Highlights included advising a university client on its overhaul of documentation for donations and gifts, including a review of its gift acceptance policy. Other areas of expertise include advising corporate clients on the establishment of corporate foundations. Senior associate Chris Thomas regularly assists charities with governance, tax and fundraising matters.

Gerry Morrison heads the charities and social enterprise team at Rollits LLP, which includes Sarah Adams and also draws on resources from the firm’s corporate, dispute resolution and real estate practices to handle a diverse range of issues for its charity clients. Highlights included assisting The Charity Bank Limited with its security and loan arrangements, and advising Exceed Academies Trust on the academy conversions of Horton Grange Primary Trust, Horton Park Primary School and Copthorne Primary School, which involved the creation and incorporation of the trust, the transfer of assets and undertakings from the three primary schools between the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and the client, and the negotiation and finalisation of master and supplemental funding agreements with the Department for Education. Other clients include Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, which it advised on the establishment of a new independent charity to operate in the community safety arena.

Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP’s charities practice attracts praise for its ‘availability, knowledge and advice’. The firms acts for a variety of local and national charities, with longstanding clients including the Hull IVF Trust. Associate Daniel Hammond heads the team and has more than 15 years of experience advising on charitable registrations and assisting not-for-profit regional development or trade organisations. He is ably assisted by Kevin Webster, who has a significant track record handling the creation and administration of charities, real estate specialist Paul Barker, and dispute resolution practitioner Peter Duffus. Highlights included advising The Viola Trust on its establishment, and assisting registered housing association Pickering & Ferens Homes on a £10m specialist funding package for the purposes of its expansion.

Gosschalks has an extensive track record in academy conversions. Joint managing partner Nigel Beckwith is the key contact.

Based in Hempsons’ Harrogate office, Faisal Dhalla regularly advises charities and social enterprises on group structures, corporate governance, mergers and commercial contract issues. He works closely with the firm’s national charities practice, which has an excellent reputation for charities issues relating to health and social care. Clients include the Royal Mencap Society and St Gemma’s Hospice Leeds.

Schofield Sweeney acts on a wide variety of issues for regional and national charitable entities, including assisting with devising new charitable structures, governance issues and funding, fundraising and investment. Andrew Hurst heads the team, which also includes Simon Petchey, who handles real estate matters, with a particular emphasis on property issues related to educational charities. Highlights included advising North Cestrian Grammar School on its conversion to a state-funded independent school and joining the Hamlin Education Trust.

Taylor Bracewellgoes to great lengths to understand the client’s needs and problems’, which is reassuring to sources, who also say that ‘the firm is in control of every situation and gives the best legal advice’. Phil Crawley heads the practice and attracts praise for his ‘extensive knowledge of academy issues; he is friendly, reliable, precise in everything and will never let you down’. In an illustration of his track record in academy conversions, Crawley acted for the founding schools of the Rose Learning Trust on the creation of the new multi-academy trust. Other key figures include Sharon Beck, who has an extensive track record advising longstanding clients such as Doncaster CVS, and employment specialist Sara Ellison.

At Ward Hadaway, Leeds-based partners Kevin Weston and Jonathan Dickson regularly advise charitable entities on real estate matters. Clients include the Canal & River Trust, which Weston advised on a scheme relating to flood defences in Leeds and on the sale of a multi-let industrial estate in Wigan; and The Land Trust, which Dickson advised on the acquisition of 130 hectares of land at Canvey Wick Nature Reserve from supermarket chain Morrisons.


Contentious trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Contentious trusts and probate clients in Yorkshire and the Humber 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 david.burgess@legal500.com.

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According to some, Irwin Mitchell’s contentious probate team is ‘head and shoulders above any other firm outside London’, as well as being ‘a colossus in the Yorkshire and Humber region; this is the firm that no other firm in the country wants to see on the other side’. Leeds-based practice head Paula Myers is singled out for her ‘remarkable levels of client loyalty and satisfaction; she is not just tactically astute, with an almost unerring instinct for the opposition’s weakness, but is a rock of confidence to her clients’. The practice carries out work nationally for individuals, banks, executors, trustees and beneficiaries, handling the full range of contentious trust matters, including claims involving issues of validity, testamentary capacity and undue influence; claims where rectification of wills or trusts is required; and family provision claims for spouses, cohabitees, dependants and children. Recent work includes advising Viscount Rochdale and other family members in an undue influence claim, a will forgery claim and several Inheritance Act claims.

Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP fields a ‘highly experienced and effective’ team of lawyers led by Peter Duffus, ‘a tenacious litigator who presses the client’s case to the best advantage’. The practice’s workload runs the gamut of contentious trust and probate matters, from cases involving disputed wills, to cases involving multi-jurisdictional issues and estoppel arguments. Duffus works closely with the firm’s non-contentious private client practice to provide a holistic coverage of issues arising from contentious matters, including tax and estate administration issues.

Bell & Buxton attracts praise for its ‘no-nonsense, get-it-sorted approach, which is refreshing and effective’. Mary Butler heads the practice and is ‘forthright but also pragmatic and approachable; her appreciation of the private client aspects as well as litigation adds real value’. She is assisted by John Breeze, and new arrivals Rachel Valentine and Katie Winslow, who joined from Taylor & Emmet LLP and Irwin Mitchell, respectively. Breeze recently acted in a matter arising from the contested estate of the mother of a longstanding client, which involved allegations that the client’s sister had misappropriated the mother’s life savings to purchase a property using the name of their dead grandmother as an alias.

Clarion’s clients rate the contentious probate team for providing ‘genuinely specialist expertise, and a focused and cost-effective service’. The practice regularly acts for high-net-worth clients on high-value multi-jurisdictional disputes, and has an extensive track record in Court of Protection disputes. Lynsey Harrison heads the team; she has ‘an exceptional manner with clients, who feel the utmost confidence in her’. She is assisted by Louise Dodds, who is ‘very clever in her approach and works very hard for the client’. Harrison’s expertise includes disputes involving the validity of wills, administrative claims relating to deceased estates, breach of trust actions concerning both UK and Jersey trusts, and probate-related professional negligence disputes.

Jones Myers LLP’s ‘knowledge is of the highest standard; clients are treated with respect and offered good advice for the right reasons’. The firm regularly handles multi-jurisdictional probate disputes. Martin Holdsworth is the key contact.

Lupton Fawcett LLP’s practice is headed by Howard Rutter, who is ‘very good at getting to the heart of a problem, working out what really matters, and finding a common-sense way of dealing with it’. He leads a team that advises individuals, trustees and professionals on disputes concerning trusts, will and estates. Other key figures include recently promoted senior associate Matthew Morton, who is noted for his ability to ‘straddle several areas of law and effectively provide an overview of the whole case’.

For some, Taylor & Emmet LLP has quickly established itself as ‘the best firm in Sheffield’ for contentious probate matters, thanks in no small part to the ‘exceptional’ Alex Watkinson, who is singled out for his ‘lovely bedside manner’. Watkinson is highly regarded for his track record in high-profile Inheritance Act claims and disputes concerning testamentary capacity; he leads a team that regularly handles work for local, national and international clients, often with a cross-border element. Recent work includes acting for the nephew of the deceased, whose estate comprises assets in the UK, Iran, Panama, Switzerland and Bahrain, in relation to issues concerning the validity of the deceased’s will, Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act claims on behalf of siblings and nephews, and investigations into the beneficial ownership of various joint accounts.

Under the leadership of James Laycock, Gordons LLP is developing its profile in the contentious trust arena. His expertise encompasses disputes concerning testamentary capacity; claims on behalf of partners, widowed spouses and residuary beneficiaries for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; Court of Protection proceedings; variation of trust applications; applications to remove trustees and executors; and family farming disputes involving will disputes and proprietary estoppel claims. Recent work includes acting for the beneficiary in breach of trust proceedings and acting for the partner and cohabitee in proceedings for financial provision from her deceased partner’s estate.

According to some, LCF Lawhas the Bradford market sewn up in this practice area; no other firm in the area has a comparable client-friendly setup’. Headed by Ragan Montgomery (‘very good legally, with a great bedside manner’), the practice handles a range of matters, including capacity issues, Inheritance Act claims, disputes between trustees and beneficiaries, and disputes involving failed gifts and will construction. Recent matters include acting on behalf of an adult child in an Inheritance Act claim involving 93 defendants, and acting for a widow in a contentious probate action involving issues of lack of capacity and undue influence.

McCormicks is particularly well regarded for providing assistance to executors, trustees and beneficiaries of sizeable family estates and trusts. Litigation head Philip Edmondson handles a variety of contentious probate matters, including TLATA claims and claims to overturn wills on the grounds of capacity and duress, and private client head Elaine Lightfoot regularly handles cases involving testamentary capacity, joint ownership issues and disputes between executors and trustees.

Ridley & Hall has a ‘very knowledgeable’ team that many view as providing ‘a boutique service for contentious probate matters’. Headed by Sarah Young (who has ‘an excellent client manner and is very commercial’), and featuring Helen Dandridge (who is ‘very switched on legally’), the practice handles an array of contentious probate matters, with a particular niche in cases involving missing persons; in an illustration of its expertise in this arena, the firm recently acted in an application for declaration of presumed death by a missing person’s cohabitee, which was opposed by his family alleging that the missing person was still alive. Other recent work includes defending repossession proceedings brought by the deputy of the deceased mother’s mentally incapacitated daughter.


Family: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire

Index of tables

  1. Family: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
  2. Leading individuals (region-wide)

Leading individuals (region-wide)

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Family: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire clients in Yorkshire and the Humber 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 david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Clarion’s ‘superb’ family law team is headed by the ‘extremely capable’ Fiona Kendall, who attracts praise for her combination of ‘a measured approach with a pragmatic manner; she will react and expedite all necessary steps efficiently and proactively’. Kendall works closely with private client practice head Justine Osmotherley to provide support to high-net-worth individuals and families, covering a diverse range of matters including divorce and financial settlement, particularly involving complex and cross-border issues. Kendall is dual qualified in England and Scotland, giving the firm the unique ability to provide cross-border advice, which clients appreciate it; according to one, the firm provides ‘not just helpful but unrivalled support on cross-border matters’, including those with an international element.

Irwin Mitchell’s family practice is now headed by Teresa Davidson following Peter Morris’ departure to Shoosmiths LLP. Davidson is singled out for her ‘experience and knowledge, which gives clients confidence that she will be providing the best advice, tailored to the individual circumstances’. She leads a practice that is praised for its ‘no-nonsense approach and ability to distil complex legal language into relatable terms’. Its expertise covers issues relating to high-net-worth matrimonial finance, including tracing hidden assets within the UK and abroad; private law children cases involving international relocation, abduction and schooling arrangements; advising spouses and pension trustees on pension-sharing orders; and all aspects of pre- and post-marriage financial planning and asset protection. Other key figures include Katy Moody, who is noted for her knowledge of financial remedy and cohabitation disputes, and David Lister, who focuses on financial and children matters.

Jones Myers LLP has ‘a family practice that is one of the best in the area’ and that attracts praise for its ‘sensible, expert, conciliatory advice that does what it says on the tin’. The firm is particularly singled out for its track record in financial remedy cases and matters involving children. Richard Peaker is ‘easy to deal with, pragmatic and always fights the client’s corner’.

Lake Legal LLP’s ‘exceptionally strong’ family law practice is ‘comfortably among the top in the region’. The practice, which is noted for its ‘sensible and pragmatic advice’, handles a wide range of family law matters, with a particular emphasis on divorce and financial settlements, often involving overseas assets. Managing partner Lyn Ayrton has ‘a wealth of practical knowledge and expertise that is second to none; her direct and sensible way of communicating is a breath of fresh air’. Other key figures include associate Claire O’Donnell, who is ‘very knowledgeable, committed, compassionate, highly motivated and willing to go the extra mile’. Ayrton’s recent work includes assisting a client with a post-nuptial agreement involving £96m-worth of assets.

Mills & Reeve LLP attracts praise for providing ‘first-class service levels’ and for the practice’s ‘responsive, sensitive and professional manner’. Philip Way stands out for his ‘very clear advice; he takes a holistic view of clients’ interests and the interests of their children, and focuses all his efforts on achieving the best outcome’. Way acts for local, national and international clients on cases involving complex trust, jurisdictional and pension issues, and leads a practice that has wide-ranging expertise in family law, including issues involving marital agreements, trust structures and inherited wealth. David Salter is ‘patient, thorough, with excellent attention to detail; his polite and professional manner is excellent at de-escalating tensions’. The firm was joined by Ellie Foster and Claudia Gilham from Harrogate Family Law in March and May 2017, respectively.

Stewarts Law LLP’s core family law focus makes it a ‘no-brainer; it can deal with simple through to complex matters in a cost-effective way, working collaboratively to deliver a holistic service to clients’. The key figure in Leeds is Adrian Clossick, who is ‘adept at managing client expectations as well as fighting their corner with determination; he can also summon an excellent sense of humour when appropriate’. The practice’s primary area of activity is high-value disputes, often involving cross-border trusts and corporate structures. Jenny Bowden joined the team in October 2016 from Clarion, and Edward Heaton joined in May 2017 from Mills & Reeve LLP.

Berwins fields a ‘very switched-on, well-organised’ family law team led by the ‘incredibly experiencedSarah Smith. The practice is regularly called upon to assist with complex trust issues involving assets in excess of £1m both in the UK and abroad. Smith’s expertise encompasses pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, private children law work, and complex divorce proceedings, often involving foreign assets and pensions. Other key figures include Stephen Root, who attracts praise for his ‘good, sensible approach and sympathetic, caring manner’; his specialisms include financial matters involving trusts and farming assets and collaborative family law, which is an area the firm particularly excels in.

Blacks Solicitors LLP’s family team is singled out for conveying ‘a deep sympathy for the client’s circumstances’ and for providing ‘exceptional levels of support’. The practice handles a wide range of non-contentious matters, including pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements, as well as contentious matters related to divorce and separation, financial settlements and disputes involving children. Ann Robinson (who attracts praise for her ‘very good client manner’) heads the practice and is regularly instructed by high-net-worth clients to act in financial divorce settlements (often involving overseas assets), property disputes involving cohabitees, private children work and Inheritance Act cases. Clients also single out Paul Lancaster for his ability to ‘focus on the points that matter and achieve excellent results’. He has an extensive track record in private children applications, including those involving cross-border residence and contact issues, as well as handling TLATA cases where one party is seeking to assert a beneficial interest in property owned by another.

According to some, boutique firm Harrogate Family Law is ‘the best in Harrogate’ for financial proceedings arising from divorce, separation and civil partnership dissolution. Clients single out the firm’s diligence in ‘leaving no stone unturned; its very quick response times, detailed knowledge and thorough approach amounts to a first-rate level of service’. Andrew Meehan (who is ‘very thorough in his handling of cases, and a good listener to boot’) has a long track record of advice in complex divorce proceedings; recent work includes acting in heavily contested financial remedy proceedings, which were resolved in the client’s favour in arbitration.

Clients single out Lupton Fawcett LLP’s family law practice for its ‘professional, pragmatic and client-focused service, great attention to detail and specialist expertise’. Headed by Christopher Burns (‘particularly good at cohabitation disputes’), the practice provides region-wide coverage to high-net-worth and privately funded clients from its offices in Leeds, York and Sheffield, with particular emphasis on financial provision issues arising from family breakdown. Burns is ably assisted in Leeds by Peter Foskett, who has specialist expertise in financial remedy proceedings. York-based senior associate Nicola Mitchell attracts praise for her ‘knowledge of, and experience in, financial matters and the efficiency with which she runs her team’.

The ‘very professional, responsive and client-centric’ family practice at Raworths demonstrates ‘an excellent level of legal expertise’, combined with ‘exceptional value for money’. Carmelita Ardren (who is rated for her ability to ‘inspire confidence in her ability to manage the case and support the client throughout the process’) leads a family team that acts for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their families on the full range of family work, from pre-marital and cohabitation agreements to financial matters arising from separation and divorce. Recent work includes acting in a high-value separation involving interconnecting business interests, several properties and pensions, and maintenance issues.

Simpson Millar LLP has a strong focus on public law children cases and cases involving domestic violence, although the firm is also growing its workload in divorce and financial proceedings. The practice attracts praise for ‘going the extra mile for clients and taking on challenging cases; it makes a real difference to clients who have struggled to get effective representation elsewhere’. Key figures in the Leeds team include Emma Pearmaine, who is noted for her expertise in ancillary relief, private law children matters and domestic violence cases; and Emma Hopkins Jones, whose expertise covers cohabitation matters and financial issues related to separations.

LCF Law has a ‘well-regarded’ family law practice led by Rachel Spencer Robb, who attracts praise for her ability to ‘negotiate in a constructive manner without needless confrontation’. The firm has capitalised on its merger with Harrogate-based private client firm Barber Titleys to provide specialist coverage of private children law issues and financial matters involving complex pension structures and offshore arrangements. Other key figures include Simon Stell in Bradford, who focuses on matrimonial finance issues, and Harrogate-based Tim Mellors, whose expertise includes advising high-net-worth individuals on children cases, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and cases involving complex business or trust structures.

Langleys Solicitors LLP fields separate family and children law teams, which collectively inspire confidence for their strength in public law and care proceedings and for their ‘great attention to detail’. Headed by Mark Day (‘an absolute expert in his field’), the family law practice handles a range of divorce issues, including those with an agricultural element, substantial business and corporate interests, or divorces involving complex trust and cross-border issues. Day also has a strong track record handling collaborative matters, and is assisted by Sheelagh Coles (‘she approaches cases collaboratively but isn’t afraid to fight her client’s corner when needed’), who focuses on private and public children law cases.

The family law team at McCormicks is headed by senior associate Stephen Hopwood and regularly acts for high-net-worth individuals and their families on a range of matters concerning matrimonial finance and children law. Recent work includes acting for the vulnerable wife of a high-profile entrepreneur in a settlement involving substantial business and other assets, and acting in high-value divorce and ancillary relief proceedings involving farming assets and assets held in trust. In an illustration of the firm’s track record in children law matters, for which Carol Hancock is highly regarded, it recently acted for a father in Children Act proceedings in which the firm succeeded in obtaining a Child Arrangements Order enabling the children to live with their father.

Ramsdens fields ‘a strong team of able and experienced solicitor advocates’ with ‘real breadth and depth in the area of care proceedings’. The family team is praised for ‘expertly guiding clients through divorce proceedings while maintaining an eye on the cast’. Helen Thewlis heads the practice, which includes the ‘knowledgeable, reliable, professional and consistent’ Joanne Coen and Kate McNally, both of whom attract praise for their ‘high standards of case ownership’. Also recommended are Jill McCurdy, Vikki Horspool and Laura Beevers, who ‘have the respect of the judiciary and other advocates’.

Ridley & Hall attracts praise for its ‘excellent response times and up-to-date knowledge; questions and concerns are answered promptly by phone or email, and the team is always mindful to keep client costs minimal and ensure it provides a cost-effective service’. Practice head Vicky Medd is singled out for her ‘excellent mediation skills’, and for her knowledge of children law, particularly cases involving applications for children to be removed from the jurisdiction. Other key figures include senior partner Nigel Priestley, who attracts praise for his ‘very personal and supportive service and advice’, particularly in relation to adoption and care proceedings.

Clients of Stowe Family Law LLP are quick to praise the firm’s ‘high levels of service and knowledgeable, focused advice delivered promptly and clearly, often going beyond expectations’. Based primarily in Leeds and Harrogate but with offices in Ilkley and Wetherby, the ‘highly capable’ family law team regularly handles matrimonial matters involving complex assets and international elements, as well as having substantial expertise in children law matters. Key figures in Leeds include managing partner Julian Hawkhead, who is rated for his mediation and collaborative skills; Leeds office head Rachel Roberts, who focuses on matrimonial finance and cohabitation matters for high-net-worth clients; and Sarah Barr-Young. In Harrogate, David Milburn is rated as ‘a highly astute divorce lawyer who takes charge of cases and ensures they are kept moving with purpose, ultimately delivering very satisfying conclusions’.

Since its establishment in 2015, Consilia Legal has quickly cemented its reputation as ‘dominant in the field of mediation in Leeds’, with many clients viewing it as their ‘first choice for mediators’. Sally Clark and Laura Clapton attract praise for their ability to ‘handle situations where communication has otherwise broken down; to the point where they have achieved agreement between parties in situations that appeared impossible’. The firm’s holistic approach to mediation is singled out, as is its level of service, which ‘regularly goes over and above that which is expected’. The firm’s client base encompasses an array of local, national and international clients, which it assists on matters range from divorce and the dissolution of civil partnerships, financial remedy cases, and private children law matters.

Emsleys Solicitors Limited has an ‘excellent’ family law department headed by Gabbie Clasper, whose ‘knowledge on family law is way above other solicitors’, according to one client. Clasper regularly acts for high-net-worth individuals in financial issues arising from divorce proceedings, often involving international enforcement elements, and handles private children law cases where allegations of domestic abuse are involved.

Harrowells Solicitors has effectively tapped into the local high-net-worth client base across North and East Yorkshire, regularly advising them on complex family law matters, often involving business assets, or property in the UK and overseas. William Kaye heads the team and focuses on high-net-worth matters, including those involving farming assets and senior professionals with multiple occupational pensions and international assets.

Established in 2014 by Frank Arndt (‘the best matrimonial lawyer in Yorkshire’, according to one client) and James Thornton (who attracts praise for his ‘diligent manner and knowledge of the law’), Paradigm Family Law LLP has developed a strong reputation for ‘putting the client at the heart of what it does’. Collectively, Thornton and Arndt have more than 30 years of experience handling domestic and international family disputes, often involving complex onshore or offshore company or trust structures. Arndt has an extensive track record handling international enforcement matters, worldwide freezing orders, and cases involving pre-nuptial and separation agreements. Thornton’s recent work includes handling cases involving family and business trust assets where issues of liquidity are in play.

Switalskis Solicitors has a sizeable family and children law team spread across the firm’s offices in Yorkshire, enabling it to handle a wide range of issues for a variety of individuals and families. Broadford-based joint practice head Razia Jogi has particular expertise in private children law matters; her recent work includes representing the applicant mother in High Court proceedings to discharge a Prohibited Steps Order to enable the client to take her five children to Pakistan for the purposes of marrying the eldest child in accordance with the child’s wishes, which raised complex issues concerning the law pertaining to parental consent to the marriage of a 16-year-old in a foreign jurisdiction. Other key figures include fellow joint head Clare Peckett in Wakefield, who handles financial matters, cohabitation and pre-marriage advice; Ranjit Uppal in Huddersfield, who has extensive expertise in children law, particularly accommodation orders in relation to children at risk of sexual exploitation; and Lorette Law (also in Wakefield), who heads the childcare law practice.

Ward Hadaway made a bid to establish itself as a key firm for family law matters in Leeds with the recruitment of Andrea Dyer and Nicola Hunter, who joined in 2016 from Lupton Fawcett LLP. Dyer and Hunter bring extensive track records in family law matters, from high-value and complex divorce settlements to pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation disputes and children law issues, often with cross-border elements.


Family: Elsewhere in Yorkshire

Index of tables

  1. Family: Elsewhere in Yorkshire
  2. Leading individuals (region-wide)

Leading individuals (region-wide)

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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The leading firm in Hull for family matters’, Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP’s practice provides ‘very quick response times and invaluable advice’. The practice’s expertise covers pre- and post- nuptial agreements, often involving sizeable assets; financial issues stemming from divorce proceedings, including cases with an international element; private children law matters, including leave to remove cases and child abduction; and disputes over child maintenance. Richard Hoare heads the practice, which includes Adele Wilkinson, who is singled out for her ‘professionalism and knowledge of the law’, and Claire Ward, who is ‘friendly, professional and very calming’.

According to some, Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office has a family law practice that is ‘the strongest in the area’. Key figures include the ‘very experience and pragmaticMartin Loxley, who heads the national family team from the Sheffield office; Alison Fernandes, who regularly handles financial cases involving complex assets, often with a cross-border element; and Zoe Round, who is ‘straight-talking, efficient and pragmatic’. Loxley is noted for his track record in high-value financial provision cases involving substantial assets; his recent work includes acting in a case involving five properties, one in Italy, and a circa £2m pension provision.

For some, Taylor & Emmet LLP is ‘the best firm in Sheffield’ for family law, and its ‘pre-eminent’ team is ‘committed to getting the best results for clients’. The firm’s ability to offer legal aid to clients is ‘a big plus; it acts for clients across a broad spectrum of needs and income’. Dedicated childcare and matrimonial teams enable it to provide a holistic service to clients that encompasses divorce cases, care proceedings and protective injunctions arising from domestic abuse, among other matters. Michaela Heathcote heads the practice and ‘approaches her work with a rigorous intellect and profound empathy; she will pursue a line of questioning with needle-sharp focus and perseverance, yet has the good grace not to trumpet her superior abilities’. Other key figures include the ‘very personable, professional and knowledgeable’ Lucy Rodgers, who is praised for ‘handling cases with the utmost sensitivity and approaching difficult situations in a professional manner at all times’.

Gosschalks fields a ‘good-quality family team’ headed by the ‘very experienced’ Mark Reeves, who ‘gets to grips with the real issues in a case very quickly; his extensive experience makes him a natural choice for complicated matrimonial and Schedule 1 cases’. The practice acts for a number of private clients across Hull and East Yorkshire on complex financial disputes, including recent cases involving family assets amounting to £7m. The firm regularly handles pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements, as well as children law matters. Richard Perry and Sue Dunne are the other key figures in the team.

The sizeable family practice at Howells is regularly called upon to handle complex family and children law matters, and is also able to handle legal aid matters. Areas of expertise include financial remedy applications, public and private children work, and cohabitation agreements, with recent work including several cases involving child abuse and child abduction. Alyson Sidall heads the practice, which includes a number of Children Panel members and Resolution Accredited Specialist Panel members.

Rollits LLP’s family law team is headed by the ‘sensible, level-headed’ Sheridan Ball, who is ‘a very safe pair of hands; tenacious and diligent, she adopts the right tone in quite fraught situations’. Her team regularly handles financial remedy applications, often involving overseas assets, complex business structures and pensions, as well as children law matters, including cases involving domestic abuse.

Taylor Bracewell’s family practice is singled out for the ‘courteous and professional manner’ with which it treats its clients. Headed by Alison Kitchman (‘she conducts herself in a non-confrontational way and ensures she is working with her clients’ best interests at heart’), the practice handles a wide range of family matters, including issues arising from separation, divorce, ancillary relief, cohabitee disputes and civil partnerships, as well as public and private children law matters. Kitchman is particularly ‘highly regarded’ for her collaborative approach; recent work included acting for the husband in protracted ancillary relief proceedings, which ultimately resolved in the client’s favour.

Notwithstanding the departure of former team head Sandra Russell to Acclaimed Family Law, Graysons Solicitors attracts praise for its ‘extremely professional service and excellent interpersonal skills’. The practice acts for clients across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, as well as national and overseas clients, on a range of high-value and complex family law cases. Bradie Pell is singled out for her ‘flawless work ethic’, and Nicola Cancellara is ‘always accommodating, highly knowledgeable, empathetic and easy to talk to’.

HLW Keeble Hawson provides ‘high-quality, practical family law advice with a good range of alternative dispute resolution options; it is a natural choice when a collaborative family lawyer is needed’. Vanessa Fox heads the family law team in Sheffield and attracts praise for her ‘broad knowledge of finance and childcare, and for her passion for collaboration; she is efficient, caring and robust’. She is ably assisted by the ‘always approachable and pragmatic’ Antony Ball in Doncaster; together they bring more than 40 years of experience in family law matters. The practice is continuing to grow its collaborative workload, as well as focusing on high-value, complex contentious matrimonial matters and pre-nuptial agreements.

Lupton Fawcett LLP’s ‘extremely competent and hardworking’ family law practice is spread across its Leeds, York and Sheffield offices, giving it ‘a high profile in the Yorkshire area’. Standout figures in Sheffield include senior associate Leigh Green, and legal executives Paul Roebuck and Claire Room, all of whom are ‘very professional and approachable, good with clients and very thorough’. In addition to providing advice on divorce matters, financial settlements, civil partnerships and domestic abuse, the Sheffield team has also developed a strong reputation in childcare proceedings, where it acts for parents, guardians and local authorities throughout Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Headed by the ‘very approachable, extremely efficient, organised and diligent’ Lindsey Canning, Wake Smith Solicitors Limited’s family law practice attracts praise for its ‘empathetic and practical’ service and ‘exceptional value for money’. Canning has more than 25 years of experience handling complex financial proceedings and childcare matters for clients across the Yorkshire region. She is ably assisted by associate Alison Gaddes, who is singled out for her ‘professionalism and sensitivity; her ability to explain even the most complex aspects of the law to someone unfamiliar with it is invaluable’.


Personal tax, trusts and probate

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  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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As ‘one of the leading firms in the region’, Addleshaw Goddard provides ‘a first-class service’ that is ‘comprehensive and professional while being commercially driven and delivered in a manner that is sensitive to each particular circumstance’. Practice head Pervinder Kauris an excellent lawyer who possesses exceptional legal abilities allied with sensible and practical thinking’; she focuses on assisting high-net-worth individuals and family trusts. Other noteworthy practitioners include Yorke Eaton, who ‘is a safe pair of hands for any private client’ and is recommended for trust issues, particularly those regarding trustee duties and liabilities; consultant Paul Howell, who specialises in high-value capital tax planning and trust mandates; and managing associate Charlotte Smart, who demonstrates ‘professionalism and empathy in equal measure’.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP’s ‘outstanding technical expertise and excellent knowledge’ makes it stand out as ‘the go-to firm for private clients in the Leeds market’, and it is ‘always a pleasure to deal with’ and ‘consistently reliable’. The ‘exceptionally strong’ practice focuses on four key areas: assisting clients in the farming and landowning arena, advising family businesses on succession and asset protection issues, representing injured, disabled and vulnerable clients; and providing trust management services. In a recent highlight, Peter Greswold assisted Safe Hands Plans with its drafting of a funeral plan trust. Malcolm Lynch also advised a business owner on succession and trust issues. ‘Strong professionalAndrew Wriglesworth and the ‘approachable and straightforwardMarie-Louise Hamilton jointly lead the firm’s Leeds practice, while the ‘highly effectiveLynne Bradey heads up the Sheffield team. Other key team members include the ‘proactive and understandingJulia Boyes and Angus Hunter Smart.

Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP is ‘unrivalled in Hull’ with an ‘exceptionally strong team that provides elegant solutions no matter how complex the problem’. The practice regularly handles succession and lifetime planning for high-net-worth individuals as well as the creation and administration of lifetime trusts. In the team, practice head Kevin Webster, who is ‘superb at finding innovative solutions and provides clear and sound guidance’, is the key name for trust issues, particularly for charity sector clients; Peter Duffus is singled out for his contentious probate expertise, and associate Deborah Gilpin has a substantial focus on inheritance tax planning; clients praise her ‘very hands-on and personal service, that helps clients easily navigate complex dynamics and difficult situations’.

Caroline Hedges, who has ‘a unique blend of technical knowledge, interpersonal skills and responsiveness’, heads up Bond Dickinson LLP’s ‘proactive, knowledgeable and friendly’ team, which is ‘one of the very best in the North of England and utilises the firm’s excellent national standing’. Hedges’ clients span entrepreneurs, lottery winners and other high-net-worth individuals; she also has particular expertise in wealth devolution and capital tax mitigation. Legal director Susan Maxey, who ‘creates robust legal solutions in a timely and thorough manner’, is recommended for succession planning and capital taxation; and managing associate Richard Pike specialises in trust and probate disputes.

Clarion’s ‘strong and talented team’, which ‘always demonstrates the willingness to go the extra mile and think outside the box’, ‘punches above its weight’ and is led by the ‘highly personableVivienne Wild, who has ‘a wealth of knowledge regarding trusts, tax planning and wills’, with ‘excellent technical skills’ and ‘a helpful attitude’; she focuses on estate and inheritance tax planning. Clients also single out the ‘compassionate, technical and diligentJustine Osmotherley, who has ‘a truly empathetic approach to client relationships’ and ‘an ability to both listen well and articulate law in a practical way’; ‘brilliant’ legal director Clare King, who focuses on estate planning for high-net-worth individuals - particularly business owners and entrepreneurs; and senior associate Stephanie Parish, who is ‘incredible with clients’.

Irwin Mitchell provides an ‘excellent client experience’ and ‘gets the best outcomes possible’ thanks, in part, to the leadership of Gillian Coverley, who is ‘incredibly approachable’ and heads up a team that is ‘passionate about delivering an excellent service that serves the client’s best interests’. The department is recognised for its expertise advising financial services and charity clients; Age UK, Barclays Bank and Leeds Building Society are noteworthy examples. Recent highlights include assisting Capita Trust Company with providing estate administration and will-writing services to its clients, acting for Macmillan Cancer Care’s clients on will-writing issues, and handling estate planning services for Nationwide Building Society’s clients. Associate Emma McCann is also recommended and focuses on estate administration and post-death restructurings.

Neil Shaw, who ‘has a well-balanced skill set that allows him to apply a holistic approach’, heads up the personal law department at LCF Law, which regularly handles Court of Protection applications and also advises clients with learning disabilities on trust and lasting powers of attorney issues. Shaw is recognised for his experience as a professional trustee for family trusts and personal injury trusts and acts as a professional deputy for clients who are unable to look after their property and financial affairs. Ann Christian specialises in care home fee planning, tax planning and trust work, Mark Jones focuses on contentious trust and probate matters, and Judith Long regularly represents charitable trusts and family estates.

Lupton Fawcett LLP’s ‘excellent’ department is led by Tricia Carter and also fields Howard Rutter, John Eaton and consultant David Grice. Key areas of strength for the practice include advising landed estates and SME owners alongside providing assistance to learning disability charities and parents of those with learning disabilities regarding wills, trusts and social care elements (an area of expertise for Carter). The team’s experience also encompasses contentious trust and probate work; Rutter is the key practitioner in this space. Associates Susan Bateson and the ‘highly analytical’ Amanda Simmonds are also names to note and are recommended for estate planning matters and capital tax planning respectively.

At Mills & Reeve LLP, Julia Rangecroft and Andrew Playle jointly lead the department. Playle, who is ‘responsive, pragmatic and a pleasure to work with’, joined the department in 2016 from Bond Dickinson LLP and has ‘an unrivalled ability to simplify complex issues and provide practical and succinct advice’. Rangecroft specialises in tax planning mandates, particularly relating to property-backed businesses, agricultural assets, heritage properties and offshore work. Playle is STEP qualified and assists international families, estates, trustees and companies with succession planning, trusts issues and probate matters. Senior associate Ellie Milner is recommended for estate and succession planning and related tax matters, particularly for business owners and agricultural clients.

Janet Hoskin heads up Pinsent Masons LLP’s department, which is highly regarded for its trust expertise. The group acts for insurance companies, banks, pension providers and government agencies on all types of commercial trust issues, and handles tax-specific trust matters for corporate healthcare trusts and property investment trusts. Aegon, Scottish Widows, Simplyhealth, Standard Life and Canada Life are representative clients. In a recent highlight, Hoskin advised a major insurance company on the tax and regulatory implications relating to the extension of its healthcare trusts product. The group also regularly advises internationally mobile individuals, assisting with inheritance tax, capital gains tax and national insurance matters.

As ‘a good solid firm that clients trust and respect’, Raworths has ‘an excellent reputation’ thanks to its ‘depth of experience, efficient manner and effective communication abilities’. ‘Brilliant professional’ Rachel Tunnicliffe leads the department and regularly advises high-net-worth individuals and families on wills, trusts, powers of attorney, succession planning and inheritance issues. David Garfitt is also highly regarded in the field and was recently instructed by the Nunnington Estate to advise on the estate of a deceased settlement beneficiary and a related financial provision claim. Garfitt is recognised for his strength in the agricultural and business property sectors, and handles inheritance tax planning, trusts and wills for business owners and landed estates.

The ‘very experienced’ Michele Todd heads up the team at HLW Keeble Hawson, which ‘conducts itself in an appropriate way by building a caring and trusting relationship with the client’ and ‘offering practical solutions to highly complex issues’. Todd is noted for her tax and estate planning expertise alongside knowledge of the charity sector, personal injury trusts and Court of Protection matters. The team is also instructed on contentious probate mandates, provides a will-writing service for employers with staff benefits packages, and regularly acts for elderly and high-net-worth individuals. George Connell is highly active in the charity sector, is experienced in professional deputyship work and acts for elderly clients in estate planning matters.

Harrowells Solicitors provides ‘a truly exemplary service’ with ‘remarkably quick response times and a sympathetic manner that is a breath of fresh air’. The practice stands out for its agricultural expertise advising on agricultural estate administration, probate issues and matters involving land assets. The ‘professional, reliable and knowledgeable’ Ed Ryder leads the practice following Andrew Gowar’s move to Langleys Solicitors LLP; Ryder attracts praise for his ‘reassuring and efficient approach that makes him a tower of strength for clients in difficult situations’. Other noteworthy practitioners include probate and tax planning specialist Pamela Precious and solicitor Nick Clarke, who handles will issues.

Clients praise Rollits LLP’s ability to ‘deal with substantial and complex matters with exceptional skill and expertise’. Practice head John Lane is recommended for his estate planning expertise and is a ‘highly competent and very flexible professional’. The team primarily acts for family-owned businesses and landed estates as well as high-net-worth individuals. Litigator Andrew Digwood receives praise, with clients citing his ‘commercial approach’ as the key to his ‘exceptional ability to focus on the right outcome for the individual and get the best results’.

Key areas of expertise for Taylor & Emmet LLP include high-value wills and probate, complex tax planning, trust preparation and administration, powers of attorney issues and Court of Protection matters; the firm’s Bakewell office also handles agricultural probate work. Richard King heads up the five-partner department, which fields wills and estate specialist Chaanah Patton, Juanita Haigh, Richard Barlow, who joined the practice in 2016 from Banner Jones Solicitors and regularly acts for elderly clients on estate management and related tax planning; and Alex Watkinson, who focuses exclusively on contested probate matters. In a recent highlight, the team acted for the executor of a farming estate in issues relating to agricultural property relief.

Wake Smith Solicitors Limited’s ‘incredibly professional team’ receives ‘full marks across the board’ from clients as ‘an approachable and compassionate group’, which ‘is always prompt in its replies, particularly in sensitive situations’. Niche areas of strength for the practice include inheritance tax planning, acting for elderly and vulnerable clients on lasting powers of attorney issues and Court of Protection mandates. Director Suzanne Porter heads up the group and handles probate applications, estate administration, wills and trust work; she recently advised a high-net-worth individual on the creation of a trust. Andrew Vidler is also highly regarded in the field and clients single out Breda Cashell as ‘very easy to work with’.

The ‘courteous, knowledgeable and experienced’ department at Bell & Buxton is led by the ‘well-regarded’ Charles Neal, who advises on lasting powers of attorney, estate administration, trust formation and administration, and will drafting. Recent highlights include Neal handling a high-value probate matter and related negligence claims, Clare Davies advising on a probate matter that involved a residual charity legacy donation, and Martin Sissons assisting a non-domiciled UK resident with inheritance tax planning. Sissons, who ‘is exceptional in his field of expertise and can easily explain complex legal matters in layman’s terms’, is also recommended for his work with elderly clients.

At Berwins, clients of practice head Julie Jewerscan’t recommend her highly enough’ for her ‘clear, concise and relevant advice, incredible efficiency and friendly demeanour’ making her ‘an outstanding lawyer in a sometimes tricky and delicate field’. Jewers primarily focuses on trust work, with other work for the group including contentious and non-contentious probate issues, Court of Protection matters and tax planning. Other key individuals include contentious trust and probate expert Hollie Marcham, Julie Hutchinson, who regularly handles tax planning issues, and Helen Dawson, who focuses on probate mandates; all are associates. Associate director Gareth Marland receives praise for his ‘very sharp brain, friendly manner and personal approach’.

Blacks Solicitors LLPalways does that little bit extra for clients’ with ‘a personal approach that comes across in a very warm and comfortable manner’. Nick Rhodes, who ‘liaises well with clients, understands what they are trying to achieve and makes sure they understand what is being put in place’ heads up the group, which also includes associate Lucy Rigden, who is recommended for estate administration. Areas of expertise for the ‘top-notch’ team include inheritance tax planning, care home fee planning, estate administration, lasting powers of attorney drafting, Court of Protection applications and contentious probate matters.

Diana Smart is the key contact at Gordons LLP for private client work and attracts praise for her ‘approachable and professional manner’, which allows her to ‘explain things in a straightforward but sensitive way’; she ‘always goes the extra mile to find a solution to a problem’ and ‘is a key name on any shortlist in the field’. Smart specialises in tax and estate planning, with clients also recommending her as ‘the only lawyer to go to for trust work’.

At Grays, key practitioners include Thea Holloway and Ben Williams, who focus on probate issues and estate administrations; and Christopher Goodway, who is highly recommended for matters in the agricultural sector, regularly advising landed estates, trustees, farmers and family businesses. The team advises on matters across wills, tax planning, trust mandates and lasting powers of attorney.

In Langleys Solicitors LLP’s York office, associate Serena Brotherton advises on all elements of non-contentious private client work, including landed estates and trust issues; Hugh Thompson handles inheritance tax planning, wills and succession planning and estate administration; Edward Allen is recommended for estate planning and probate issues; and Chelsea Martin has experience in care home fee funding and mental capacity issues alongside trust and will expertise. Clients of the group include agricultural businesses, high-net-worth individuals and family-owned businesses. Andrew Gowar joined from Harrowells Solicitors.

Elaine Lightfoot heads up the team at McCormicks, which focuses on estate planning and administration as well as Court of Protection applications, regularly advising trustees and settlors. The practice’s expertise also encompasses advising trustees on fiduciary duties and the rights of beneficiaries, advising deputies on their duties surrounding the Mental Capacity Act, care home fee planning and lasting powers of attorney. Other key team members include Philip Edmondson, who primarily handles contentious probate mandates, and Heather Roberts, who is recommended for estate issues. Lightfoot, Edmondson and Roberts were all promoted to the partnership in 2016.

Ridley & Hall fields ‘an excellent team’, with practice head Jill Waddington and solicitors Victoria Maude and Helen Webster the key names to note. The group assists clients with will and probate issues, estate administration, inheritance tax planning, trusts, care home fee planning and lasting powers of attorney matters. Waddington also stands out for her experience advising elderly clients and Webster is a dementia friend; the practice has a niche strength advising dementia patients and their carers. Court of Protection applications are another key area of focus of the department, with advice covering statutory wills and deputyships.

Ashley Iredale is head of the department at Schofield Sweeney, which advises regional and national business owners, entrepreneurs, high-net-worth individuals, family trusts and elderly clients. The group is noted for its estate administration work alongside its expertise in wills, lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. Recent highlights include drafting and advising on an employee ownership trust and a family discretionary trust relating to the exit of shareholders from a family business, and handling an estate administration involving charity beneficiaries. Stamp duty land tax specialist John Feaster, Sarah Hodkinson, who focuses on asset protection and wealth preservation, and Kanika Sohpal, who handles estates with foreign properties, are all recommended.

The ‘highly knowledgeable’ two-partner team at Simpson Millar LLPhas the client’s best interests in mind at all times’, which ‘instils great confidence’. Erika Sinclair joined the firm from Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP and leads the practice following Siân Thompson’s move to Swayne Johnson & Wight. Sinclair receives high praise from clients, who label her ‘an outstandingly able individual, who is knowledgeable, determined, thorough and indefatigable’ and who ‘gets to the root of every issue thanks to a detailed and technical approach’. The practice handles all elements of private client work, including will preparation, lasting powers of attorney, estate administration, trust issues and Court of Protection work.

Andrew Facer heads up the department at Ward Hadaway and is recognised for his succession planning expertise, regularly acting for entrepreneurial and landed clients on a range of succession structures; he also has substantial experience in employee benefit trusts. Clients also single out the ‘excellent’ Andrew Evans for his ‘incredible integrity and great listening skills’, which ‘allows him to quickly help clients work out what they need and carry that out in a way that is supportive without being patronising’. The group advises on probate matters (especially those involving high-value estates), tax planning, estates with foreign assets, lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection applications.

Through its Beverley office, Wilkin Chapman LLP fields a ‘knowledgeable, professional and responsive’ team led by ‘true expertLesley Archer, who ‘has an exceptionally warm and friendly manner, is incredibly easy to deal with and delivers sound advice in a timely and effective way’. Archer is highly experienced in trust and estate issues, particularly those involving inheritance tax relief, and she is also active in Mental Capacity Act work. The group’s clients span farming families, business owners, lottery winners and disabled individuals and their carers. Senior solicitor Lucy Butterfint has ‘an excellent knowledgebase and handles issues with sympathy and understanding’; she regularly acts for vulnerable adults through her Court of Protection work.

As ‘a small but perfectly formed firm, which is excellent in the field’, Emsleys Solicitors Limited’s ‘reputation is fast improving’ thanks, in part, to the ‘highly impressive leadership’ of Helen Gott. Gott attracts praise for her ‘incredibly hardworking, sensible and dedicated approach’ that allows her to ‘put across to clients what might be complicated in a straightforward fashion’, making her ‘a true professional’. The group primarily handles will issues, with further expertise in lasting powers of attorney matters, probate mandates and Court of Protection work. Solicitor Ailsa Jarvis is recommended for her work with elderly clients and is a dementia friend.

At Ramsdens, department head Chris Reynolds is the key name in the three-partner team for high-value probate matters, advising high-net-worth individuals and estates. Other noteworthy practitioners include Rachael Sykes, who handles will drafting, lasting powers of attorney, inheritance tax planning and estate administration, and Veronica Mullins, who regularly acts for vulnerable individuals. Consultants John Fryer, Mike Roberts and Gerald Jarvis are also recommended; Fryer is the name to note for Court of Protection mandates, Roberts specialises in matter relating to elderly clients and Jarvis assists with will issues and inheritance tax.


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