Contentious trusts and probate in London
Baker McKenzie regularly acts in major international trusts disputes and is ‘able to bring global strength and depth to private client cases in a way in which few other leading private client firms can’. These disputes are frequently high-value, multi-party and cross-border. Practice head Anthony Poulton is a ‘star of the London legal market’ and has extensive experience of advising clients on managing the risks associated with wealth-related controversy. He is skilled at advising on corporate governance and family governance, and at resolving private family disputes. Newly promoted partner Gemma Willingham has been busy representing both trustees and beneficiaries in several substantial disputes. Yindi Gesinde is an experienced trusts disputes lawyer and Luke Richardson specialises in international trusts disputes. Both are senior associates.
‘A true pleasure to work with, particularly on offshore matters in which the team excels in developing truly collaborative relationships with local counsel on the ground. Absolutely solution-driven advice. They work on some of the most interesting cases in the industry’
‘Anthony Poulton is class act – extremely knowledgeable, a clear market leader, always available, and head of a fantastic team of partners and associates‘
‘Anthony Poulton is one of London’s best known and most skilled and experienced trusts litigators. His case list speaks for itself. There is nothing too big or complex for him or his team‘
‘It is uniquely well equipped to deal with large-scale disputes both in England and Wales and across the common law world, especially complex trusts matters. The team has some of the top practitioners in the country and huge amounts of experience. The lawyers are unquestionably among the market leaders in this area‘
‘Baker McKenzie’s contentious trust team goes from strength to strength. It has first-rate lawyers who consistently deliver an excellent and responsive service and who are prepared to think laterally to address situations, but always based on a sound legal foundation‘
‘Pick of the bunch. Great strength in depth. A sensible litigation strategy: thoughtful and not too aggressive. Easy people to work with’
‘Anthony Poulton is calm, authoritative, charming and well liked‘
‘A high-quality London practice which draws on the strength of its international offices. It deals very effectively with large, high-profile international cases.’
‘Gemma Willingham is a thorough, engaging, charming lawyer whose work is excellent and who is an expert in guiding trustees safely through the trickiest situations‘
‘Gemma Willingham is great to have in your corner: very, very clever and a tough operator‘
‘Luke Richardson has shown himself to have considerable maturity for his level and is destined for great things’
‘Yindi Gesinde is a pleasure to work with and has an amazing capacity for work and attention to detail. She is certainly a star of the future, not least due to the profile-raising work she does in various areas‘
Dr. Winston Wong
- Representing Dr Winston Wong, a high-profile Taiwanese individual, in his litigation aimed at setting aside trusts holding assets worth at least $15bn that are presently held by trustees, individuals and companies in multiple jurisdictions.
Under the leadership of Andrea Zavos, the team at Boodle Hatfield LLP has a strong reputation for resolving disputes and managing complex litigation for individuals and families; ‘it appears in almost all the big cases and rightly so, as it has the depth of expertise and some very talented lawyers’. It is also recommended for its considerable expertise in advising on multi-jurisdictional tax, asset protection trusts, family businesses and governance issues, as well as on succession matters. In addition, the team acts for a range of major trust companies. Other key contacts include Simon Rylatt, who is highly regarded for his work on both domestic and international trusts and estates disputes, and Mark Lindley, who is a known name for his work on disputes involving some of the largest estates and trust funds.
‘The team manages to provide a first-class service and is a pleasure to work with. The practice brings heavyweight lawyers to any case and has huge experience in dealing with the biggest trust and estate disputes in the UK. Alongside that profile, it also manages to deliver a bespoke client service and a personal touch, which clients really appreciate‘
‘Andrea Zavos is an outstanding lawyer. Not only does she have enormous experience and expertise in this area but she never loses sight of her clients’ objectives. She is extremely tough and stands up to her opponents without ever falling out with them and that is not to be underestimated.’
‘Mark Lindley is outstandingly clever with a real passion for this area of law. He is extremely sensible and pragmatic and holds his ground while never being unduly aggressive‘
‘Andrea Zavos is a super star who has had an extraordinarily good year‘
‘Andrea Zavos and Simon Ryland do everything to avoid litigation and come up with a sensible solution to try to find the way out of conflict. Mark Lindley is also an excellent litigator who is a very nice guy, very sharp and very smart‘
‘A dynamic team that does a wide range of work. Mark Lindley is extremely bright and driven and prepared to go the extra mile for his clients. James Woods-Davison is a rising star in the department‘
‘Mark Lindley is extremely bright, thorough and responsive‘
‘Mark Lindley is one of the brightest young partners in the London market in this field. He is unflappable and knowledgeable in equal measure‘
‘Simon Rylatt and Mark Lindley both have extremely sharp minds and stand out for their excellent legal expertise and experience in cross-border trust and estate disputes. Their advice is incredibly clear‘
Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has had a busy year acting in some of the biggest domestic and offshore cases, including a heavily contested hearing in Bermuda and a privately heard matter for a very well-known individual in the English Court of Protection. It continues to attract a steady flow of high-value and complex cross-border work that spans multiple jurisdictions. Graeme Kleiner advises trustees, executors and beneficiaries on a broad range of disputes and heads the firm’s private wealth disputes team. Duncan Elson is an established name in the UK contentious trusts and estates world. Tamasin Perkins advises wealthy individuals, trustees and fiduciaries on complicated international trust disputes such as claims involving protectors. Oliver Auld was promoted to the partnership and senior associate Jessica Stafford is another respected member of the team.
‘One of the best‘
‘The team has an excellent reputation for contentious trust and probate work and is involved in many of the largest and most complex cases’
‘Graeme Kleiner is a well-respected litigator. He is a friendly but firm opponent – not to be underestimated’
‘Oliver Auld is very on top of the detail of his cases. He is efficient, responsive, approachable and an excellent communicator’
‘Graeme Kleiner is a tenacious trust litigator. He is easy to work with and delivers a great service for his clients. Graeme can be very effective in a difficult situation’
‘Graeme Kleiner is very good on technical points, especially complex points on trust law. Oliver Auld is excellent also’
‘Graeme Kleiner is bright, able and sees the big picture’
‘Duncan Elson is a seriously good litigator – balanced but firm’
Alan Shearer CBE
Trustees of the Bathurst Estate: the Earl’s Fund
Trustee of the Michael Cowan Foundation
- Acting for the trustees of the Michael Cowan Foundation, a registered charity which is the ultimate beneficiary of the late Michael Cowan’s will trusts, after Michael’s wife, Mary.
- Advising four private trust companies in a complex family dispute and restructuring process in relation to numerous trusts valued at several billion dollars.
- Acting for the protectors of various Cayman law trusts established for the family of a well-known industrialist in relation to an application by the trustees to vary the terms of each of the trusts, collectively valued at several billion dollars.
Clifford Chance LLP fields a heavyweight team that has ‘the resources to deal with litigation of any size or complexity’ and has immense experience in cross-border, sensitive and high-value claims. It acts for institutional and individual clients on a broad array of cases in London and overseas, predominantly handling offshore cases but also onshore matters. The team is skilled at acting in claims relating to family trusts, inheritance and divorce, in addition to shareholder disputes in family companies. The team is led by ‘seasoned litigator’ Jeremy Kosky, who garners praise for his considerable experience in the most significant trust litigation. Maxine Mossman receives plaudits for her extensive trust disputes expertise. Nicole Buncher is another key member of the team, which has 'significant experience in handling big-ticket trust disputes and works really well with local counsel and London silks alike'.
‘Jeremy Kosky is a master strategist with a team that obviously enjoys working with him and respects him. He works incredibly hard to get the client a good result. He also has very good people skills with his team and the client‘
‘Jeremy is extremely hardworking, very thoughtful, and tough without being pointlessly aggressive. He is also very sensitive when dealing with clients’
‘Clifford Chance is unique for the knowledge it possesses of the Bermuda court system, the judiciary system and the local legal system. This experience and knowledge comes from having been present in Bermuda for some of the most significant cases in terms of complexity and value that have been adjudicated there‘
‘Max Mossman alone would be a formidable department. Joining her and Jeremy Kosky makes the team almost unrivalled. Max Mossman is an absolute delight. Very knowledgeable and hugely user friendly‘
‘Maxine Mossman has an encyclopaedic knowledge of trust disputes, and if you want a solicitor who has unparalleled experience in this area, then there really is no one else to choose. She’s a formidable opponent. On a human level she is a genuinely nice person with great emotional intelligence‘
‘Fantastic strength and depth and undoubtedly one of the best teams in London. Jeremy Kosky is exceptional and a genuine pleasure to work with. He offers sound commercial advice and is incredibly reassuring in his manner. Associate Laura Hasson is a star of the future, as is Nicole Buncher‘
‘Jeremy Kosky is literally world class in his field. Nicole Buncher is incredibly hardworking and motivated‘
‘We have worked with Nicole Buncher for many years and she is always so enthusiastic and proactive in everything she does and determined to do the best for her client. Jeremy Kosky is both a brilliant lawyer and also a really engaging and personable individual’
‘The team combines legal expertise with a human, friendly approach to clients, making it a pleasure to work with them‘
- Advising a client in relation to a multi-jurisdictional trust disputes involving a London-based family. The assets of the trust are held in a variety of forms and in a variety of jurisdictions.
- Successfully acted for Credit Suisse AG in an action that was brought by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former Prime Minister of Georgia, in relation to an alleged fraud causing losses to assets of $1.1bn that were invested with the bank.
- Representing Vladimir Chernukhin and Navigator Equities Limited in a shareholder dispute with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Filatona Trading Limited concerning a joint venture relating to the Russian textiles company OJSC “Trekhgornaya Manufaktura”, which holds valuable real estate holdings in central Moscow.
Farrer & Co has acted in many of the largest trust and estate disputes, which often span multiple offshore jurisdictions. Recently, it has been involved in proceedings in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Jersey, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, as well as in the UK Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Led by Toby Graham and Jeremy Gordon, the team handles a significant proportion of very high-value cases, often amounting to several billion pounds. Adam Carvalho was promoted to the partnership. Charlotte Fraser and Joanna Poole are among the other key lawyers in a group that is ‘a benchmark for quality in this sector, with the right mix of experience and fresh talent to ensure that any contentious matter is dealt with assuredly and with commitment’.
‘Farrers is one of a few standout firms for this kind of work. It has a great pedigree and depth of knowledge and can offer a complete service. Toby Graham is an outstanding team leader and manager for large-scale litigation. He is strong across the board but I would say his standout attribute is a relentless focus on achieving what the client wants‘
‘Top-class team with bags of experience. It is a very good example of how private client teams should be’
‘The Rolls-Royce of private client litigation firms. Jeremy Gordon and Toby Graham stand out‘
‘Jeremy Gordon and Toby Graham are both excellent litigators in the trust and probate field with some very good support at associate level. Jeremy Gordon is experienced, strategic and charming. Jo Poole is a brilliant lawyer with real expertise in the law. Adam Carvalho is a bright new young partner – clients love him, and he handles cases with aplomb‘
‘Toby Graham has years of experience. He has a very deep knowledge of trusts and knows how to deal with private clients matters. He is a big asset for Farrers, and the people who have the chance to work with him are really lucky as he is a source of knowledge in the area of trusts‘
‘It has exceptional quality from top to bottom. Jeremy Gordon is one of the best in the business and would be my first choice for any complex Chancery matter. Elizabeth Sainsbury is a star of the future and will be a leader in the field. She is exceptionally good at running complex cases and her client manner is second to none‘
‘Charlotte Fraser has made a real impact since taking partnership. She has been involved in some very high-profile cases and is a fantastic litigator. Adam Carvalho is a dextrous and extremely able litigator with an excellent rapport with clients’
‘Jeremy Gordon is charming, clever and great with clients. Joanna Poole is very bright and takes no nonsense. Elizabeth Sainsbury is calm and collected, and knows her stuff inside out’
Sir Owen Glenn KNZM ONZM
Summit Trust Company
The trustees of the AM Sheffield settlement 1968
The Executors of Mrs Staveley
RBC (CI) Ltd
The Trustees of the Hampden Settlement
Kea Investments Limited
Martin Foreman (as executor of the estate of Michael Cowan)
The Administrators of the Estate of Vladimir Scherbakov
- Acted for Sir Owen Glenn and Kea in a £200m claim against Eric Watson, Novatrust Limited and others relating to agreements entered into and transactions pursued in connection with a joint venture known as Project Spartan.
- Acting for two partners of the firm, Jeremy Gordon and Catherine McAleavey, appointed by the court in England and in the BVI as administrators of the complex and high-value global estate of the late Vladimir Scherbakov in these two jurisdictions.
- Acting for the executors of Michael Cowan in a claim brought by his widow, Mary Cowan, under the 1975 Act, which has already been the subject of one reported Court of Appeal decision and remains ongoing.
Roberta Harvey heads the team at Forsters LLP, which advises fiduciaries, protectors and beneficiaries, as well as high-net-worth individuals and high-profile charities, on the full remit of disputes. Such disputes centre on trusts, trust structures, wills and estates, both in the UK and offshore. The team has noticed a marked increase in the volume of complex international trust work, as well as receiving a steady flow of instructions in its well-established domestic practice. Other names to note include Emily Exton, who is adept at handling disputes in the private wealth sector, and Catharine Bell, who regularly advises on high-end international trust and estate disputes that span multiple jurisdictions with complicated conflict of law issues. Bell also advises high-net-worth individuals and their trustees on the creation and fortification of trust vehicles and other succession planning structures for asset protection and wealth preservation.
Macfarlanes LLP handles a substantial amount of high-value cases, which often run to hundreds of millions or billions of pounds. The 'first-class and highly respected international team of private client litigators' regularly deals with some of the largest structures that hold prominent businesses, sizeable property holdings and large cash and investment portfolios. It acts not just for individuals but also for whole conglomerates and their employees and multiple generations of families. Charles Lloyd heads the team, which acts for beneficiaries, spouses, trustees and financial institutions in addition to entrepreneurs. Other significant clients include individuals with hereditary wealth, protectors and those with significant roles in charities. Jonathan Arr currently has a particular focus on Bermuda, Mauritius, the Bahamas, Jersey and Guernsey. Elizabeth Doherty is well versed in all aspects of trusts disputes, with particular expertise in breach of trust and removal of trustees cases in addition to Public Trustee v Cooper applications.
‘Macfarlanes is one of the big players with a hugely experienced team who have been there and done it all. The lawyers are used to working for the most high-net-worth clients and are totally unflappable. They just bring real authority and gravitas to what they do – it really makes you stop and think when they are on the other side‘
‘At Macfarlanes the lawyers are real chess players – always thinking so many moves ahead and examining the possible consequences from all angles‘
‘Charles Lloyd is the doyen in this field. He is totally unflappable, online at all hours in my experience, and immediately responsive. Jonathan Arr is a talented, clever and well-respected trusts litigator with a particular reputation for offshore work‘
‘Elizabeth Doherty is a superb new partner. She has her team performing at extremely high standards and thinks about every angle‘
‘Wonderful personalities who make complex, challenging matters a joy to deal with. The lawyers really know their stuff and can translate it into plain English for us to understand. They have great outreach to other leading advisers in other jurisdictions. They understand the commercial position and will give advice, not just sit on the fence and state the theory. Charles Lloyd and Elizabeth Doherty particularly stand out‘
‘One of the strongest firms in the field – a good crop of junior partners, trained and raised by the firm, and eager to tackle difficult cases. Jonathan Arr is steady and intelligent. Elizabeth Doherty is enthusiastic and willing to fight a client’s corner‘
‘Macfarlanes has been a leading trusts and estates firm in this country for years, if not decades. They combine an exceptional private client team with equally exceptional litigators in this area. It is difficult to think of a significant dispute involving a high-value trust or estate which they are not involved with in some capacity‘
‘At the very top of the tree when it comes to contentious trusts and probate. The lawyers deliver an all-round superb service with no weaknesses. Charles Lloyd is a superstar in this area. He is unflappable and can bring home a great result for even the trickiest and most sensitive cases‘
Marko Lehtimäki (founding member of CIFF – Children’s Investment Fund Foundation)
Investec Trust (Guernsey) Limited
- Acting for Investec Trust (Guernsey) Limited (ITGL) in the long-running and high-profile litigation regarding the Tchenguiz family trusts following a victory in the Privy Council.
- Acting for Dr Marko Lehtimäki in a case relating to the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, which has been heard in the Supreme Court.
Mishcon de Reya LLP fields a large and dedicated team with a wealth of experience in advising individuals, trustees, wealth advisers, fiduciaries and family offices facing conflicts. Under the direction of Mark Keenan, the team regularly acts in disputes concerning trusts, wills and international succession, as well as Inheritance Act claims, proprietary estoppel cases and estate administration disputes. The majority of the team's cases are international and cross-border. Keenan is highly recommended for his work on complex international and domestic trust and succession disputes and frequently acts for high-net-worth individuals in cases involving offshore jurisdictions. Peter Steen is another important member of the team and is well known for his work on onshore and offshore contentious trusts cases.
‘Mark Keenan is extremely good, very thoughtful about his cases and looks at the issues from all angles‘
‘On a large case Mark Keenan both manages a large team and his client’s needs and expectations excellently, always focusing on the overall strategy and goals. It is privilege and fun to work with him‘
‘I was struck by the close attention which the team at Mishcons gave to the needs of the client and the very friendly relationship with the client that the team was able to establish. There is great strength and depth in the team’
‘Peter Steen is very easy to work with and very experienced‘
‘Peter is a seasoned, talented and experienced litigator who you wish to have on your side and not on the other side of the case. His case management abilities are impressive‘
‘A combination of entrepreneurial flair with technical expertise and personally providing a reassuring feeling that the advice received will be sound. Peter Steen combines a very academic skill set with a practical, pragmatic and responsive approach that sits well in the private client arena‘
‘Jessica Medus is everything you want: serious, very capable, and a master of detail, so great to have on your side in any dispute’
‘Emilia Piskorz combines a very warm personality with technical expertise, so that clients feel very comfortable being advised by her‘
Beneficiary of a settlement holding substantial assets largely comprising an extensive property portfolio in London
7 of the 15 parties in the Bermudian case, In the matter of the X Trusts  SC (Bda) 56 Civ (12 July 2018)
Charles Trevail and Rupert Walters, as executors of the estate of Michael Johnson
The Executors of the estate of The Right Honourable Gloria Wesley, Dowager Countess Bathurst (“DCB”).
- Advised a beneficiary of a settlement holding substantial assets, largely comprising an extensive property portfolio in London, in a cross-border matter involving a Court of Appeal case dealing with the principles of open justice.
- Advising the executors of a substantial estate in relation to applications made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 by the deceased’s widow and minor children of his second marriage.
The team at Taylor Wessing LLP is led by Emma Jordan, who is both an English barrister and a Jersey advocate. Andrew Hine is another well-respected member of the team; he has wide experience across all aspects of probate, succession and wills, and has advised on a vast array of cross-border probate matters involving complex conflict of law issues, as well as handling contentious probate and trusts cases. Kirstie McGuigan has particular experience of advising BVI and Bahamian clients. The team, which has had a 'really great year', is known for its advice to trustees, executors and beneficiaries in relation to trust and estate disputes. It has considerable firepower in multi-jurisdictional matters, especially in an offshore context.
‘A delight to deal with – great knowledge and a sense of humour’
‘Emma Jordan is an exceptional lawyer. She is very calm even when dealing with multiple cases in multiple jurisdictions – a pleasure to deal with‘
‘Emma Jordan’s combination of qualifications as a Jersey advocate and an English law practitioner makes her hugely impressive. She is very able and easy to deal with’
‘Collaborative approach. Well-staffed and efficient. Very high-quality work product’
‘Emma Jordan has an incisive grasp on the most complex of claims. Rob Gibson is clever and efficient‘
‘A large and highly regarded private client team with standout individuals in an international law firm. Kirstie McGuigan is charming, efficient and hardworking – she leaves no stone unturned and no angle unconsidered. Caroline Tayler is a superb senior associate who is utterly on top of everything’
‘There are only outstanding lawyers here. Emma Jordan has a stellar reputation in the contentious trusts world and her experience and expertise are second to none. Rob Gibson is an outstanding associate who will no doubt go very far indeed’
‘An exceptional team dealing with broad range of complex, often international matters. Andrew Hine, Emma Jordan and Rob Gibson are standouts’
‘High-quality lawyers at all levels, with excellent sector knowledge. Emma Jordan combines first-rate trust law knowledge with a very practical and commercial approach to disputes. She is also great fun to work with’
‘Kate Silbermann is a senior associate who combines trusts expertise with experience in fraud and asset tracing. She is extremely forensic and a great team player‘
Equity Trusts (Jersey) Limited
The eldest son of an ultra-high-net-worth Italian family, dealing in oil and gas in Nigeria
The settlor and one of the beneficiaries of a Jersey Trust
The beneficiaries of a Bermudan Trust
The beneficiary of two Guernsey Trusts
The Trustees of the Jacobs Charitable Trust
The Trustees of two Jersey Trusts and Dataquill Limited
The mother of a high-net-worth Italian family
A Panamanian company
An Isle of Man company
Withers LLP's team is a 'powerhouse of experience and talent', with lawyers 'at the top of their game' based in London, the US, Hong Kong and Singapore who can assist clients in high-value and multi-jurisdictional trust and succession disputes. Clients include blue-chip financial institutions, wealthy international families and leading charities. Suzanne Todd leads the large team and Dawn Goodman is another noted name for her work in trust litigation. Paul Hewitt has a particular interest in representing families with connections to the subcontinent. Steven Kempster is skilled in both trusts and estate litigation and also handles cases relating to charities. Stephen Richards is another key figure, with particular experience in estates connected to Russia and countries from the former Soviet bloc.
Other key lawyers:
‘Paul Hewitt is an excellent lawyer and tactician. He never loses sight of what is best for his clients but he fights for them ceaselessly. Dawn Goodman has almost legendary status in this world. Opponents quake when they know she is instructed. Stephen Richards is a superb lawyer and very good with clients‘
‘Paul Hewitt is very thoughtful and considered and looks at the case from all angles’
‘Paul Hewitt and Stephen Richards are both intelligent and sensible litigators‘
‘Paul Hewitt and Sarah Aughwane were very careful in giving the right advice. They were calm even in the most heated arguments, thinking of the next step before answering and therefore working out the future problems before they arose’
‘Its legal knowledge and tactical and strategic skills are unparalleled. Paul Hewitt is the partner I would always instruct and Sarah Aughwane is a future star partner. She has a lot of presence with clients in addition to being brilliant on the law and on strategy‘
‘Its international expertise shines through in the clients it attracts and the complexity of matters it handles. The lawyers draw from all quarters of their trust and private client teams on matters and are able to deploy expert lawyers on tax and matrimonial issues to complement their trust litigation lawyers’
‘Steve Kempster personifies grace under pressure. He has a calm and engaging approach to cases which generates huge confidence but at the same time makes working with him a pleasure‘
‘Stephen Richards has a particularly good manner with clients and is very adaptable. His team’s letters have been a model of succinct, user-friendly, top-flight advice‘
‘Among the associates there is a wealth of talent – Sarah Aughwane is excellent with clients and very steely, and Natasha Stourton is one of the calmest lawyers I have encountered‘
His Exalted Highness the VIII Nizam of Hyderabad
Vicar and Churchwardens of the Benefice of Binfield
A Nigerian Ultra High Net Worth Individual
The Trustees of The Greek Cathedral Trust Fund
Administrator of deceased Iranian’s estate in England
Former wife of the founder of a mineral water company
Deborah Barker (as litigation friend of Euan and Rowan Barker)
- Advising His Exalted Highness VIII Nizam Hyderabad on a dispute over the ownership of funds held by NatWest in London and also claimed by the governments of India and Pakistan.
- Advising the former long-term partner of Boris Berezovsky in connection with claims of £30m against his estate.
- Advising the California-based widow of English bin bag millionaire Michael Cowan in connection with her claim for reasonable financial provision from his £29m estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The 'tight-knit and extremely capable' team at BDB Pitmans is regularly instructed in high-value matters that span trusts, probate and divorce. The practice is adept at handling all types of private onshore and offshore wealth disputes, advising on contested wills and trusts, charity legacies and inheritance tax claims. James Freemantle is a key name to note and is also a higher rights solicitor-advocate. Legal director Lorraine Jeffery is also well regarded for her advice to trust companies, professional trustees and charities. The 'absolutely terrific' Lucinda Brown, who joined the firm from Hewitsons in April 2020, now heads the team. Geoffrey Kertesz left for Stewarts Law LLP in August 2020.
‘BDB Pitmans brings a more thoughtful and imaginative approach to contentious litigation than its competitors, carefully weighing up the innovative against the normal to craft the very best approach for its clients’
‘The BDB team is tight-knit, extremely capable and able to stand up to any competitor’
‘The lawyers are very experienced, with vast knowledge in the practice area’
‘The BDB team is a young and dynamic one which is involved in a number of interesting and high-profile cases. The lawyers take a pragmatic and commercial approach and are good to work with’
‘Lucinda Brown is absolutely terrific, and one of the best trust and probate litigators in this practice area. Nothing fazes her’
‘Helen Fry and Lorraine Jeffrey are both extremely capable and delightful to work with’
‘Lavinia Randall is an excellent up-and-coming lawyer. She works hard for her clients, and will have all the details of their case at her fingertips without losing sight of the bigger picture. She is definitely someone who you would want on your team‘
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity
Barts Health National Health Service Trust
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP regularly advises institutional clients such as banks and trust companies, trustees, their insurers, beneficiaries, family offices and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. It has a strong global reach and a practice spanning pure advisory work through to complex actions pursuing or defending trustees in relation to claims for breach of trust and third-party claims. It also acts in arbitration relating to trust disputes. The team led by Richard Norridge is particularly well regarded for its work in advising trust companies on complex cross-border issues relating to succession and tax planning. Tom Leech QC remains a key member of the team. Gareth Keillor left the firm to set up his own practice.
Other key lawyers:
‘The breadth of international expertise is impressive. The firm has extensive expertise in acting for high-net-worth individuals and has the cultural sensitivity to handle family disputes in offshore jurisdictions. Richard Norridge stands out‘
‘This is a strong team within the wider firm and can be relied on to deliver first-class service‘
‘A strong, very international practice. Richard Norridge is very bright; he has a great legal mind and is responsive and efficient’
‘The team as a whole is very well versed in the international aspects of disputed trusts and estates which is a key strength. Richard Norridge is pragmatic and fair to deal with‘
‘Richard Norridge is intelligent, thoughtful, shrewd and collaborative‘
‘Richard Norridge is making quite a splash. He is quietly impressive‘
‘High quality of instructions and top-class support and commercial advice‘
‘Richard Norridge is clear and knowledgeable, with a calm approach. A pleasure to deal with‘
Kingsley Napley LLP is an established name in the market for contentious estate disputes, particularly high-value and complex 1975 Act claims, will validity cases and proprietary estoppel claims. It frequently handles trust disputes that span multiple jurisdictions and involve serious allegations of breach of trust and fraud. The team combines expertise in private client litigation with considerable strength in criminal, fraud and media-related disputes. It routinely works with the firm's Court of Protection practice to act on the behalf of deputies where there are allegations of serious wrongdoing or fraud, and alongside the family team to assist with high-value trust and divorce matters. Ryan Mowat heads the team, which also includes Kate Salter and Katherine Pymont.
‘Ryan Mowat is fantastic. He is incredibly experienced and tactical in his approach to sticky situations. His methodical mindset was invaluable when emotions were running high‘
‘Kate Salter is absolutely brilliant. She is calm, which allows for excellent tactical judgement, and she is on top of every detail and really knows her law‘
‘From my initial enquiry through to the conclusion of my dispute Kingsley Napley was professional, approachable and understanding. Ryan Mowat stands out‘
‘Combines technical knowledge and analysis with commercial nous. Ryan Mowat is a very commercial and experienced operator. Katherine Pymont provides excellent advice, and is extremely pleasant to work with, clever and commercial‘
‘Anna Metadjer is very knowledgeable in the area. She is extremely organised and will fight hard for her client’s interests‘
‘The team at Kingsley Napley is well regarded in the contentious trusts and estates market. The lawyers are successful because they are intelligent and tenacious. They do not gild the lily, but instead they retain their focus on their client’s commercial objectives and achieve them through hard work. They litigate as it should be done‘
‘Ryan Mowat is an established partner in contentious estates and trusts. He has overseen several heavyweight pieces of litigation in the past few years. You would prefer not to be against him. Kate Salter is a rising star in estates litigation, with good judgement and a commitment to getting results for her client‘
‘Ryan Mowat is a first-rate strategist, with excellent analysis combined with an eye for the big picture. I want him on my side not the other side. Kate Salter is also great. She works very hard, has great experience, and is a pleasure to work with‘
Boutique firm Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP has an international reach and focuses exclusively on private wealth matters for its global client base of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth families. Team head Rupert Ticehurst has considerable strength in high-value and complex trusts and estates litigation. Simon Goldring, who was recently promoted to the partnership, is well known for his expertise in onshore and offshore trust and estates disputes. Associate Rosalind Hetherington is another key member of the team, with a particular focus on trust litigation. Paul Whitehead joined from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP while Arabella Murphy left the firm to set up an independent consultancy.
‘Fantastic yet personable litigators, but probably more commercial than many of their peers. They can turn their hands to complex fraud as well as high-value trusts and estates matters‘
‘Rupert Ticehurst is a pleasure to work with as he tries to avoid unconstructive dialogue and is genuinely interested in finding solutions where available. Simon Goldring seems to be everywhere at once. He is one of the most hardworking lawyers in the field’
‘All the advantages of dealing with a small and nimble practice, but with an incredible pedigree. Rupert and Simon are very well known in the industry, and are cut from the same cloth – they have huge amounts of energy and drive‘
‘This firm has been growing from strength to strength, and is now one of the leading players in the field, rivalling larger and longer-established firms. Rupert Ticehurst is insightful and practical, dealing with both contentious and non-contentious matters. He also excels at inspiring and promoting a team of up-and-coming associates‘
‘The MTG team has a very strategic and forward-thinking approach to contentious trust matters. Planning is done very carefully with any (possibly necessary) fall-back positions worked out in advance which are sensitive to client needs and wants‘
‘Simon Goldring is an outstanding proactive and strategic thinker who works directly with clients to plan out how to best achieve what the client needs or wants. He works extremely well with offshore counsel. Rupert Ticehurst is excellent and very experienced and Ros Hetherington is equally excellent‘
‘Simon Goldring is rapidly carving a name out for himself and thoroughly deserves his recent invitation to join the partnership‘
‘Simon Goldring continues to impress. He has a real eye for detail, is very dogged and doesn’t give up. Rupert Ticehurst is a very good strategist‘
- Acting for Amit Patel in a £260m claim involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and tracing remedies over assets held on trust.
McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP has particular expertise in disputes involving offshore trusts and the laws of the Cayman and British Virgin Islands as practice co-head Ziva Robertson is qualified in both jurisdictions, while Nicholas Holland is also qualified in the Cayman Islands. The group also works with Canadian intermediaries and families and has been involved in some of the most high-profile Canadian trusts disputes. The practice represents multibillion-dollar net-worth clients, structures and fiduciaries, both in the UK and globally. Lynsey McIntyre is in demand for her cross-border offshore trusts expertise, and often attracts Jersey, Guernsey and other overseas-based clients.
Other key lawyers:
‘Ziva Robertson is simply the go-to specialist in contentious trust matters both here and overseas. She stands out because she will not give up when a difficulty hits her, but will simply work to the bone to explore other avenues or other ways of pursuing the same points. In my experience she is a dynamo who charges the batteries of those she works with‘
‘MWE offers a Rolls-Royce service to its clients, which include a large number of high-net-worth individuals. Ziva Robertson is one of the leading solicitors in the field. She has seen it all and has been involved in some of the most significant trusts cases both in England and offshore in the last ten years‘
‘The contentious trusts practice is highly focused and expert. The team also benefits from related expertise across the office and from the firm’s global reach‘
‘Nick Holland is one of the standout leaders in this field, both in London and internationally. He has immense knowledge and experience of trusts litigation in England, Canada and the main Caribbean and Channel Islands jurisdictions. This enables Nick to find creative solutions. He is committed and enthusiastic and his clients find themselves well cared for‘
‘Nick Holland is extremely hardworking, brings Canadian and Cayman expertise to bear, and thinks outside the box‘
‘Well-known and effective international practice. Very good for cases with a US angle’
‘Nick Holland is a highly experienced litigator who deals very well with difficult clients and situations. He deploys extensive technical knowledge with humour and empathy, which achieves excellent results for his clients‘
‘Very senior and experienced partners who really know the area. Nick Holland has good intuition and is charming and able‘
‘The team under Ziva Robertson’s command is simply extraordinary. She is smart, she thinks outside the box, she can improvise at any given moment and under any circumstance, she rises to any occasion and any challenge, she is dedicated, she is kind, and she will give 100% of herself to your case and then give you 100% more. She is magic‘
Hill Street Trustees
Royal Bank of Canada
- Continuing to act for the beneficiary of a Bahamian trust and her adult children in the landmark Court of Appeal case of Dawson-Damer v Taylor Wessing.
- Successfully acted for the trustees (most of whom are in Jersey) of a trust in a series of English proceedings arising from an invalid deed of retirement and appointment of trustees.
Payne Hicks Beach has an excellent track record advising trustees, protectors, high-net-worth private client beneficiaries and landed estates in trust and probate disputes. Under the leadership of Richard Manyon, the team's reputation has been continuing to grow in the international sphere and the department has handled substantial disputes relating to Jersey, Guernsey, the Bahamas, Liechtenstein and Gibraltar. It garners praise for advising wealthy clients and public figures from Russia, the subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East. Jessica Henson recently joined the firm as a partner from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, enhancing the practice’s contentious trust capabilities and bringing 'exceptional intelligence and ability to an already strong team'. Ane Vernon was promoted to partner.
‘Richard Manyon is absolutely dedicated to his clients, and is exactly the kind of solicitor whom clients love to instruct. He is very ably assisted by Emily Stoneham, who is impressive and really efficient‘
‘Jessica Henson is knowledgeable beyond her years and inspires confidence in her clients – she is definitely playing with the big hitters‘
‘Jessica Henson is a real class act – efficient, smart and does everything with a smile. A new jewel in the Payne Hicks Beach crown‘
‘Ane Vernon is an excellent new partner – she is tremendously organised. Charlotte Henshall is extremely bright and offers top-level service‘
‘The firm is rooted in private client and family work, which gives the contentious trusts and probate teams a depth and quality that is hard to replicate‘
‘It is rare to find two partners with the global profile of Richard Manyon and Jessica Henson working together in the same practice. They are regulars on panels and lead the academic debate in the area as well as acting for a large number of very happy clients‘
‘The team at Payne Hicks Beach has some of the best junior partners in this field – it has an extremely bright future ahead of it. Richard Manyon has very quickly emerged as a serious player in contentious trusts and already has an extraordinarily impressive client base‘
‘A superb team dealing with complex trusts matters and with an unparalleled reputation in this area. Richard Manyon is extremely clever and extremely tough as an opponent. He is one of the best tacticians I have come across, as well as being enormous fun to work with. He gets excellent results for his clients’
‘Stephen King has enormous experience and expertise in this area‘
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP acts for high-net-worth individuals, families, trusts and estates and the majority of its work has an international component. Practice head Michael Cash is adept at advising on domestic and international trust and estate litigation such as breach of trust claims and claims under the Inheritance Act 1975. Henrietta Mason is another noted name in the market for her work with UK and overseas individuals and charity clients. Sarah Lee has advised on the interaction between estate law and human rights claims, as well as issues under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 where money in trusts and estates is linked to criminality.
‘Michael Cash is a giant of the contentious private client world. His experience and calm approach are deeply impressive, the service he offers clients is superb and he is a delight to work with‘
‘Henrietta Mason is excellent legally and technically and has fantastic client skills‘
‘Henrietta Mason is constantly seeking to find a solution‘
‘It has a country-wide presence, but still gives a bespoke service. Sarah Lee is a very bright and tenacious litigator. She intelligently plays to the strengths of the client’s case, while fully alive to any weaknesses‘
‘Great team, knowledgeable, true specialists, great work’
‘Michael Cash and Sarah Lee are both excellent. Both are very approachable and collaborative to work with‘
‘Jack Bailey is an up-and-coming associate with a bright future. He fights hard for his clients and is gaining a well-deserved reputation for his tenacious but realistic approach to trust litigation’
‘Ruth Giddings is a junior associate who has recently joined the team and has already made herself invaluable in a lot of trust litigation‘
‘The defining feature of the PMC contentious trusts and probate practice is its user-friendliness. PMC take great pains to ensure that the client is kept informed at all stages, and the lawyers are experts at navigating the client through what even to fellow lawyers might appear to be a highly complex process. Mike Cash leads the team to great effect. A disarmingly understated exterior conceals a first-class tactical brain, and an ability to cut through the undergrowth to identify the key issues‘
‘Michael Cash is an exceptionally calm and thoughtful litigator. He is ably supported by Jack Bailey, who manages efficiently to process the inevitably large amounts of paper involved in a case, and demonstrates a clear understanding of the key features of the case‘
Administrator for the estate of His Exalted Highness the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad
- Acting for the administrator of the estate of His Exalted Highness the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad in the long-running dispute over £35m held by National Westminster Bank that was deposited in 1948.
- Acting on behalf of the first wife and five US family members of the Morigi family in an international trust and estate dispute.
- Acting for Patrik Schumacher on his application to remove his co-executors from acting as executors of the estate of Zaha Hadid, the internationally distinguished architect.
Stephenson Harwood is best known for advising on some of the most complex high-value disputes in the market, with a focus on international cross-border issues. The team is closely integrated with the firm's non-contentious private wealth offering and its expertise spans its offices in London, Hong Kong, China and Dubai. The group led by the 'excellent' Jenny McKeown excels at advising high-profile UK dynastic families and at acting in contested probate disputes. It also has considerable experience in advising trustees involved in high-value matrimonial disputes. Helena Berman is another a key member of the team, along with associate Peter Gillis.
‘The team is concise and clear in its correspondence and has taken the time to explain complicated and detailed issues to someone who is not in the legal profession. The lawyers are prompt with replying to questions and are extremely accessible, often taking calls at weekends and late into the evening‘
‘Jenny McKeown and Peter Gillis have been patient and unrushed in their explanation of any questions I have had and have always taken the time to explain complicated legal text and documentation in a manner that a non-legal professional can understand. They will give an honest and concise opinion on any matter, even if that opinion may not be what you want to hear, which is refreshing‘
‘Bring big City firm and commercial fraud expertise to trusts litigation in way which makes them top drawer‘
‘This firm has an excellent and well-deserved reputation in this field. My experience with the firm is in relation to contentious trusts, where I was really impressed by its expertise. Our successful result was only possible because of the team’s knowledge and dedication‘
‘Jenny McKeown is an excellent partner, with great strategic insight. She ensures that her team remains focused on the client’s overall objective so that – no matter how complicated a case becomes – everyone is always working towards securing the best possible outcome for the client‘
‘This team has a huge amount of experience. The lawyers have a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that makes it ideal for cross-border trust litigation‘
‘Jenny McKeown is a gem. A real darling of the trust litigation arena. She is well respected by her global peers and her opinion adds gravitas and strength to any matter. A delight to work with, she is always available, calm, savvy and deftly tactical. Great to have on your side‘
‘Peter Gillis has very good technical skills and sound instincts‘
Michael and Alison Garlick
The administrator of the high-value BVI estate of a Hong Kong resident
Sachin Dev Duggal
The executors of a large Hong Kong estate
Executors and beneficiaries of the estate of a wealthy North London businessman
The UK and Hong Kong beneficiaries of a high-value family trust settled by their father
- Advised the beneficiary of a HK$1bn offshore trust on a multi-faceted and multi-jurisdictional dispute with the trustee and other beneficiaries.
- Advised the trustee of a £50m Jersey trust on defending negligence claims in respect of English tax liabilities, which were alleged to have arisen as a result of a complex cross-border tax planning exercise.
- Advised a Liechtenstein foundation, as the trustee of a Jersey settled trust, on various issues in the wider family trust structure and advised on the removal and appointment of new council members and the negotiation of an indemnity.
David Wedgwood heads the team at Anthony Gold and is adept at handling all aspects of trusts and estate disputes. Clients include individuals, trustees, executors and the Official Solicitor's office, as well as trust companies. Wedgwood has also developed particular expertise in working with beneficiaries who lack capacity for both the Official Solicitor and the Court of Protection, as well as in cases involving fraud and breach of trust. Beth Holden is another important member of the team. Clare Kelly is now at 5 Pump Court, while Oliver Jackson joined the team from Mundays LLP.
‘Anthony Gold is a firm that really punches above its weight in this area. What is notable is the number of non-contentious probate firms that refer anything contentious its way – the team is thus the practitioner’s choice in this field. The lawyers are equally at ease with everything from straightforward Inheritance Act claims to complex will challenges and trusts disputes‘
‘The team continues to go from strength to strength, under the watchful eye of the long-experienced David Wedgwood‘
‘This is a good firm handling a diverse range of matters, from larger trust and estate disputes to smaller cases. David Wedgwood is a very well-known and experienced individual with detailed knowledge of the market‘
‘Excellent knowledge base across the board. Great client care coupled with first-class professional judgment. Beth Holden remains a star individual’
‘Two standout up-and-coming lawyers amongst its associates are Ryan Taylor and Tom Dickinson. Both have a natural aptitude in this field. Ryan’s apparently laid-back attitude belies a sound tactical nous and tenacious approach to fighting his client’s corner. He clearly will go far. Tom similarly approaches his cases with both diligence and skill and punches above his weight when it comes to his case load‘
‘Strength and depth of knowledge. Excellent at making the deals that resolve their clients’ problems. Tom Dickinson is diligent and thorough‘
‘The firm is excellent in its case management, and always adopts a commendably pragmatic approach to litigation. In contentious work, Oliver Jackson stands out as being highly knowledgeable and well respected; he takes a commercially pragmatic approach to all of his cases, and is confident in dealing with private client matters‘
‘Tom Dickinson stands out as striking the balance between being a firm and effective litigator whilst always being commercially pragmatic. He is highly knowledgeable and at ease in dealing with matters of all complexities‘
The estate of Bhusate
The estate of JO
The estate of Mrs B
The estate of SS
The estate of KM
The estate of AH
The estate of Mr L
The estate of Mrs H
The estate of JS
The estate of Mr H
- Acted for the Bhusate estate in relation to an appeal over a preliminary issue as to whether a widow might proceed 25 years out of time to make an application under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
- Obtained a creditor’s grant for the Official Solicitor’s office to safeguard a protected party’s estate, and subsequently took proceedings to defeat an adverse possession claim against the estate assets.
- Acting for the estate of SS in a complex proprietary estoppel case, with a linked professional negligence case against the will writer.
Burges Salmon LLP has a longstanding reputation for its strong client base of traditional British landed estates, including a large proportion of the aristocracy and many major farming families. It is also increasingly acting for the international super-rich and clients who have made fortunes in the City and have invested in landed estates. It has recently witnessed a growth in instructions from Asia, the Middle East, Australia and a number of European jurisdictions such as Switzerland. Kevin Kennedy and Justin Briggs co-head the large team.
‘This team is one of the easiest to work with in the sector. The lawyers are highly responsive and offer sound commercial advice to individuals and trustees alike. Its longstanding approach of recruiting talented lawyers gives it a remarkably coherent cohort throughout and the lawyers all give the impression of being very happy to be a part of the firm‘
‘The strategic advice, expertise and follow through has been exceptional in all respects. I cannot imagine being able to access the skills available within this team at Burges Salmon anywhere else‘
- Suing the trustee on behalf of an Australian beneficiary who alleges that a large amount of money has been improperly paid away from the trust.
Howard Kennedy LLP’s private wealth disputes practice focuses primarily on trusts and estate cases, including trustee/beneficiary disputes and breach of trust claims. The team is also skilled at using methods of alternative dispute resolution to help its clients to reach a settlement. With Emily Mailer at the helm, the group frequently handles major cross-border disputes with a large proportion of its work involving international succession and offshore assets and trusts. Naomi O’Higgins advises on a broad array of matters; she routinely works with lawyers in offshore jurisdictions and also acts in various inheritance disputes.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is truly on your side: it is interested in solving the problems of people (which has a slightly different focus from solving people’s problems)‘
‘Naomi O’Higgins is a robust litigator‘
‘Emily Mailer is patient with clients and determined to find the best outcome‘
‘Naomi O’Higgins has the full package. She has the ability to empathise with a client and realise what they would want to achieve and yet has the skills of a tough litigator‘
The team at Hunters Law LLP is led by Richard Kershaw, who specialises in family law and the contentious matters that arise out of relationship-generated trust and Inheritance Act disputes. The practice receives a steady flow of onshore and offshore instructions, acting for trustees and beneficiaries as well as landed clients and City professionals on a range of trust and probate matters in the Court of Protection and the Chancery Division. David Draisey has a broad range of experience in complex trust and probate disputes.
Other key lawyers:
‘Total honesty and attention to detail. Richard Kershaw has been my solicitor for over 11 years. His devotion to each case and attention to detail is outstanding’
‘A high level of client care among a highly skilful team based in the heart of Chancery legal London‘
‘David Draisey is an emotionally intelligent, capable, young and dynamic practitioner‘
‘Richard Kershaw is an experienced and well-regarded trust and family law practitioner‘
‘Hunters is a long-established and very experienced private client firm with strengths both in technical non-contentious trust and estate work and litigation‘
‘Richard Kershaw is a strong private client litigator. David Draisey is a rising star in private client work’
‘A rare mix of toughness with the opposition and sensitivity to its own clients means that its clients are devoted to the team, and rightly so. The lawyers carry the heaviest cases with ease, and never lose sight of the human issues which underlie them‘
‘Richard Kershaw is an absolute master of all the arts. He can be hard when that works, or gentle if that helps. And he still manages to retain a sense of humour. David Draisey is an imaginative as well as dedicated litigator. You do not want to see him on the other side‘
Russell-Cooke LLP handles a wide range of trusts and estate litigation and is increasingly known for its cross-border expertise, covering jurisdictions such as the BVI, Canada, Jersey and Belgium. The department is also well known for its family offering, and team head Alison Regan regularly deals with matters involving trusts litigation and family law. Other strengths include handling will challenges due to a lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence, as well as claims under the Inheritance Act involving novel applications for cohabitants or minor children. Gareth Ledsham has considerable experience of dealing with civil law jurisdictions.
‘The team always tries to deal with things in a cost-effective manner and its advice really is to the point, professional and invaluable. Alison Regan is extremely professional and her knowledge within her field is second to none‘
‘Specialist trust and private client knowledge. Gareth Ledsham is super dedicated and knowledgeable, particularly with regard to conflicts and foreign issues‘
‘It is a quality outfit. It combines a detailed knowledge of the law with a common-sense and practical approach. Alison Regan and Gareth Ledsham are seasoned campaigners with a great track record. Tom Deely is a rising star’
‘Alison Regan is a committed and skilled litigator who strives for her clients and engages forcefully in her cases. Gareth Ledsham is a thoughtful and analytical lawyer with an impressive command of the scope of a big case‘
‘Russell-Cooke offers an exceptional boutique service. Alison Regan is hugely experienced in this field and has a fantastic instinct for the right answers. Tom Deely is fast emerging as a very impressive senior associate and will go far’
‘Alison Regan is very capable and straight talking. She is particularly good at identifying the key issues quickly and focusing on how best to address them. Alison is a good strategist. Gareth Ledsham is smart, efficient and reliable. He is a pleasure to work with‘
‘A first-class team. Highly professional but very engaging and commercially minded’
‘Alison Regan has a very pleasant manner but is also a first-class lawyer and absolutely committed to her clients. Tom Deely and Susannah Foden are both excellent, each performing well beyond their years‘
‘I have a great deal of time for Tom Deely. His analysis is excellent, and I trust him to get things right. He has admirable experience of the sector, is really easy to get on with, and I highly recommend him to other lawyers’
Sinclair Gibson LLP routinely deals with trust and probate disputes for private clients in addition to acting for onshore and offshore professional trustees, offshore law firms, landed families, entrepreneurs and charities. The practice has also been busy advising private clients on professional negligence claims against their advisers, as well as receiving a steady flow of instructions in Court of Protection matters for minors and people who lack capacity to manage their affairs. The experienced Alison Meek co-heads the team with Henry Hickman, who specialises in contentious trust matters.
‘Alison Meek stands head and shoulders above most litigators in terms of her wisdom, big-picture thinking, experience, forensic attention to detail and judgement. She is brilliant to work with and inspires great loyalty in both her team and in clients. Amy Williams is terrific too‘
‘The team is highly regarded and deservedly so. The lawyers are first rate at what they do. Alison Meek is excellent‘
‘Alison Meek is utterly fearless in seeking to do the best for her client – she knows how trustees tick and those who use them‘
‘Alison Meek is tenacious‘
‘Hannah Southon was willing to take on our case when others were reluctant to, and through her skill and tenacity obtained a fantastic settlement for us‘
‘The team deals with matters with pragmatism and discretion. The team has tremendous experience and always knows how to approach any situation, no matter how challenging. Henry Hickman is first rate. He is very good technically, has excellent judgement and is a delight to worth with‘
‘Alison Meek has fantastic judgement and knows when to stand firm on a matter and when not to’
‘Henry Hickman is a well-liked litigator who has a calm and authoritative manner’
James Price heads the 'phenomenal' team at Stewarts Law LLP and has been involved in leading trust litigation around the world, including in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the BVI, Guernsey, Jersey, Gibraltar, Hong Kong and the UK. The team acts for high-net-worth individuals, families, family offices, trustees and trust companies in addition to charities. The group is also adept at advising on the financial affairs of those who lack mental capacity. At associate level, Emma Holland and Luca Del Panta garner praise, and the team was further strengthened by the arrival of Geoffrey Kertesz from BDB Pitmans in August 2020.
‘James Price is everywhere at the moment – he has done very well in creating a team so quickly. Excellent and very pragmatic, he makes things easier rather than harder’
‘Stewarts’ private client offering combines all the savvy of a top-flight niche litigation firm with the suave sophistication private clients have come to expect. The team is involved in the largest trust disputes, and the depth of knowledge and experience provides clients with a first-class service‘
‘James Price deals with some extremely fractious cases with tact, care and good humour. He is well known in his field and deservedly so. But he is not a showman, he has a deep expertise that is appreciated by clients and the profession as a whole, with whom he frequently shares his experiences and knowledge‘
‘The firm also has strengths in related areas of family and commercial litigation. James Price is one of the leading figures in the area, with great experience and enormous expertise. He is charismatic and brilliant with clients. Emma Holland is formidably clever and misses nothing. She is also charming and extremely hardworking‘
‘Emma Holland works in a forensic and targeted manner. I think clients will feel she is a very safe pair of hands, and a force to be reckoned with. I highly recommend Emma and think her work is exceptionally good value‘
‘Emma Holland is well versed in trusts law both onshore and offshore and definitely an up-and-coming one to watch. Luca del Panta is bilingual and is a charming associate who knows his trust law and likewise will go far‘
‘Geoffrey Kertesz is masterful and extremely popular. He commands universal respect amongst his peers, and is an energetic and ambitious individual.’
‘Geoffrey Kertesz has a depth and breadth of understanding and connections within the UK courts and legal system that made me confident I was being strongly defended in the case. He is also a member of the California State Bar, which makes him uniquely qualified to address any questions relating to US/California law’
Lands Company Limited
- Advised Lands Company Limited regarding proceedings issued by the Libyan Investment Authority following the civil war in Libya in relation to investments with US and European banks made before the war.
- Advising the principal beneficiary (who was a minor at the time) regarding an application to the Guernsey court on the construction of the trust instrument following the death of the settlor.
- Advising the only family (and non-professional) board member of a trustee to various family trusts and the foundation regarding an application to the Bermuda court substantially to vary the terms of certain trusts under s.47 of Bermuda’s Trustee Act 1975.
VWV recently created a legacy protection team, which now acts for a number of national charities in defending legacies that are being challenged. The department is headed by Michelle Rose, who 'has a settled reputation as a senior figure in the estates litigation marketplace'. She is currently acting as an independent administrator of a number of substantial and complex estates and has also been appointed by the court as a deputy in a multimillion-pound estate. Newly promoted partner Fiona Lawrence has extensive probate and trust litigation experience, particularly in complex cross-border disputes.
‘VWV has a strong national presence. The lawyers have a reputation for taking appointments as administrators or litigation friends in difficult estates. They are also first-rate estates litigators’
‘Michelle Rose has a settled reputation as a senior figure in the estates litigation marketplace‘
‘VWV are one of the most well-liked firms in the field, receiving a constant stream of referrals to act as independent trustees, administrators and deputies‘
‘Michelle Rose remains one of the standout practitioners in contentious trusts and estates work nationally. She is constantly sought out to act as deputy or administrator in the most high-profile and difficult estates and Court of Protection cases, and brings a maturity and focus to the role. She is not intimidated by anyone and has the respect of judges and opponents alike‘
‘Marianne Nankervis is building a strong reputation as a specialist in complex Court of Protection and estates work. She has a knack for bringing parties on-side in multi-defendant disputes and keeps the trust of her clients with a cool and confident manner‘
‘Michelle Rose is confident, outgoing and a real mover and shaker in this sphere. Fiona Lawrence is an excellent lawyer – she remains patient and thorough in long-running and complex disputes and is devoted to the client’s cause, with meticulous attention to detail‘
‘Julia Hardy is a well-established estates litigator destined for partnership. Julia has fine judgement, excellent knowledge and a commitment to getting practical results for clients‘
‘The lawyers commit hugely to getting the right outcome for the client; their dedication to the task is palpable. They have a real energy and commitment in driving matters forward appropriately where lesser firms get stuck in the doldrums, and their client care is second to none‘
Michelle Rose as court appointed litigation friend for Flora Keays
Michelle Rose and Mary McCrorie as independent administrators
- Advising the University of Bristol on a number of estates where legacies that have been left have been under threat.
- Acting in a contested statutory will matter which reached the Court of Protection relating to a £15m estate.
- Acting in the matter being brought by Geri Callen against the executors of a well-known local family attraction park, which is worth over £30m.
Wedlake Bell LLP has an experienced team that handles a range of complex domestic and international matters for executors, trustees and beneficiaries. Areas of expertise include Inheritance Act claims and Court of Protection matters, as well elder law and advising clients with mental health challenges. The team is led by the 'tactically astute' Andrew O’Keeffe, who has been active advising on a range of contentious probate and breach of trust matters. Ann Stanyer’s work covers tax, trust and estate planning matters; she holds over 70 trusteeships in addition to acting as an executor and attorney.
‘Wedlake Bell is a growing presence in this area of law, which is definitely able to take on bigger, higher-profile teams and come out on top. Andrew O’Keeffe is a strong team leader, with great strategic intelligence. Jemma Goddard is a very engaged, knowledgeable associate, keeping everyone else on their toes – she is someone you want on your side’
‘Andrew O’Keeffe is very experienced, well respected and a brilliant tactician‘
‘Andrew O’Keeffe is an able and tough litigator. He obtains great results for clients and is a master of strategy‘
‘Andrew O’Keeffe is a well-known and rightly respected litigator. Caroline Miller is brilliant. Jemma Goddard and Oliver Embley are outstanding associates who are respected by peers and loved by clients‘
‘Caroline Miller is a litigator with deep private client knowledge. The team has a range of talent across the spectrum, including Jemma Goddard who is a future star‘
‘Great experience within the sector coupled with a highly personalised service makes this a unique firm. Andrew O’Keeffe and Ann Stanyer are both excellent‘
‘A very strong team, especially for larger estates work and for complex trusts and tax issues. Andrew O’Keeffe is plain talking and no nonsense; he knows what he is doing and is very good at getting deals. Caroline Miller is able and expert and very good with clients‘
‘There is an ethos of attention to detail, thoroughness and effective communication with both clients and opponents – all of which are required when dealing with contentious trusts and probate disputes’
‘Andrew O’Keeffe is an experienced and tactically astute litigator, who knows precisely how hard to push and when in order to get results for his clients’
‘Jemma Goddard is a talented associate who combines pragmatism with a detailed knowledge of trusts and probate law’
Druces LLP advises entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals in the financial sector, as well as beneficiaries, executors, trustees and charities. Helen Freely and newly promoted partner Matthew Duncan lead the team and also act as professional deputies. The department has recently handled several ‘removal of executor’ and will construction cases where it has been necessary to seek directions from the court. Other highlights include advising on disputes involving the estates of high-profile figures, including an art collector, a famous composer and a novelist.
‘This old, established firm has a strong private client department which means that its contentious practice is underpinned with expertise in this area. Helen Freely is an excellent lawyer with real expertise and her client-handling skills are superb‘
‘Druces combines the best aspects of a long tradition in private client work and a modern approach to practice and clients. Helen Freely is particularly adept at dealing with the most complex and difficult matters, often involving international/offshore elements. She has a properly disciplined forensic approach, as well providing top-class, old-school client care‘
‘A very impressive firm where the associates are as efficient as the partner is excellent. Helen Freely knows exactly what she is doing and is very reassuring‘
Frydenson & Co
Henry Frydenson at Frydenson & Co is an excellent sole practitioner who is well regarded for his work in mediation and is a CEDR-accredited mediator. Frydenson is skilled at handling all aspects of high-end contentious trust and probate litigation.
‘Frydenson & Co has a high profile‘
‘Henry Frydenson has a substantial reputation as a mediator‘
‘Henry possesses unique knowledge and experience’
‘It consistently offers practical, sensible and realistic advice with respect to probate litigation. It is responsive and sensible‘
‘I deal with Henry Frydenson and he knows how to conduct a case and when to negotiate a settlement‘
‘Frydenson & Co is a friendly and extremely efficient professional firm‘
‘Henry Frydenson makes you feel like you are his most important client and always answers immediately, even when working overseas‘
‘This niche practice has very in-depth experience of all the aspects of charity law and contentious trust and probate matters. Henry Frydenson’s integrity and efficiency are second to none‘
The team at Gowling WLG is primarily based in London but draws on the expertise of the firm’s private client practitioners in Singapore, Dubai and Toronto. It handles all aspects of trusts litigation for its clients, many of whom are internationally based. Newly promoted partner Catherine Naylor leads the team and has a particular focus on complex multi-jurisdictional cases. Andrew Witts is well regarded for his work on international and offshore cases, while James Sidwell has extensive experience of contentious trusts matters.
‘Strong relationship with partners. Provides excellent client support during the legal process and court action. In-depth knowledge of court process, collation of documentation and statement preparation. Good underlying support from a strong legal team‘
‘The team here brings its heavyweight commercial litigation experience into the trusts litigation arena‘
‘Catherine Naylor is an exceptional litigator, with great judgement and real analytical and strategic intelligence‘
‘A truly top team in this area, with three internationally recognised partners. A go-to practice for offshore firms needing a firm to deal with the English part of international trust disputes‘
‘James Sidwell is tactical, very astute, extremely well prepared for all cases and very good with clients. Catherine Naylor is very intelligent, sensitive to clients’ needs and will not be pushed around. Andrew Witts has a very sensible approach, and is suitably aggressive when the need arises‘
First Peninsula Trustees Limited
Port of Hercules Trustees Limited
Abdul Rahman Alokozay
TMF Group (Equity Trust (Jersey) Limited)
Chris and Nick Candy (the Candy brothers)
Alliance Trust Plc
New World Trust
Merrill Lynch Bank & Trust Company (Cayman) Limited
- Advised the trustees (administered by Moore Stephens in Monaco) of two discretionary BVI law trusts, which were defendants to litigation arising out of the Madoff Ponzi scheme fraud, in which the claimants sought recovery of trust monies.
- Acted for the chairman of the Alokozay group in a claim brought in respect of a dispute against his son (and others).
- Defended a £132m claim by Mark Holyoake relating to a residential property at Grosvenor Gardens House.
Under the leadership of Claire-Marie Cornford, the team at Irwin Mitchell advises on a variety of national and international private wealth issues for high-net-worth clients, such as contentious trust matters, disputed wills and Court of Protection cases involving incapacity and financial abuses. Other strengths include advising on beneficial interest claims and proprietary estoppel matters, as well as high-value claims under the Inheritance Act 1975. The strong national offering advises clients ranging from successful entrepreneurs to landed gentry, charities, individuals and trustees. Nicola Bushby, who specialises in trust and estate litigation for high and ultra-high net worth individuals and families, joined the team in early 2020.
‘Claire-Marie Cornford has established a team in London quickly and is involved in interesting cases. She is clearly developing the business at a pace. I enjoyed working with Claire-Marie and her team and found them to be effective and good to work with‘
‘Claire-Marie Cornford is a brilliant lawyer, as is her associate Kate Harris‘
‘Irwin Mitchell’s contentious private client practice is formidable. Claire-Marie Cornford is fantastic: she is very bright, dedicated to going the extra mile for her clients, and sensible in her approach to matters‘
‘Irwin Mitchell has a really experienced contentious trusts and probate team headed up by the very experienced and bright Claire-Marie Cornford. The firm has all the benefits of a large multi-office practice, whilst really retaining a personal touch‘
‘Claire-Marie Cornford leads from the front and is a focused and tenacious litigator. She has great experience with heavyweight private client litigation and is not afraid of a fight. She is very well supported by an excellent team. In particular, Kate Harris has really impressed me with her pragmatic and calm approach to difficult issues and aggressive opponents‘
‘Claire-Marie Cornford leads a dynamic and very capable team. Both she and Kate Harris inspire great confidence in their clients‘
‘Led by the very talented Claire-Marie Cornford in London, this is a busy team involved in lots of big litigation. It has the strength of being a nationwide team which is very much on the up in terms of attracting the big cases’
‘Claire-Marie Cornford is an excellent lawyer who is a real expert in this area. She has the skills and experience to deal with really big litigation and her client-handling skills are excellent‘
‘Claire-Marie is not only commercially minded but also technically strong. She has a lovely yet firm manner and deals well with difficult situations’
- Acting for a widow in a high-value claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
- Acting for a trustee of a valuable will trust to obtain a blessing from the High Court.
- Advising an attorney on an investigation into an individual’s financial affairs by the Office of the Public Guardian.
Michelmores LLP's international trust advisory team is spread between the Exeter and London offices. The group, which has significant experience in dealing with complex international trust and probate matters, is headed by Sara Chisholm-Batten and Jennifer Ridgway. Particular areas of expertise include disputes which involve a UK tax element or where there are complex questions of domicile or cross-border capacity issues. Chisholm-Batten also has substantial expertise in fraud and asset tracing. Tony Cockayne is another key member of the team.
‘Its greatest strengths lie in its detailed grasp of UK tax and trusts principles. The lawyers were a pleasure to work with. Jennifer Ridgway and Alice Daniels make a great team. Their availability and responsiveness pretty much 24/7 was absolutely fantastic, particularly in our matter, where we were working to tight and immovable deadlines‘
‘The team was very reactive and client friendly. The lawyers did a great job and communicated very well with the rest of the team in a complex and multinational context‘
‘Jennifer Ridgway is a great professional. She did an extraordinary job at handling complex legal issues with impacts in numerous jurisdictions. She is impressive and always very reactive‘
‘This is a brilliant team with huge skills. Jennifer Ridgway is a young partner with a stellar future‘
‘Alice Daniels is one of the best associates around‘
‘Jennifer Ridgeway is excellent- she was good at keeping the client informed and explaining the issues in the case‘
‘Jennifer Ridgway is a standout partner, both on the contentious and non-contentious side. Enormously knowledgeable, talented and personable. Alice Daniels is an excellent associate‘
With a national presence, the team at Mills & Reeve LLP combines a strong private client offering with a specialist trust and probate department. Under the direction of Simon Pedley and David Catchpole, the practice is adept at dealing with disputes concerning the validity of wills and actions involving trustees and executors, as well as claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 and related claims concerning lifetime transactions. It also acts for a number of charities involved in contested legacy matters.
‘A well-balanced team able to call on other specialisms within the practice if so required‘
‘Simon Pedley is a very experienced and knowledgeable practitioner and a very capable strategist‘
Beneficiary of an Isle of Man trust
An Oxbridge College
Rohita Rajapakse and others
Zedra Trust Company (UK) Limited
Osbornes represents high-net-worth individuals, families, trustees and executors in complex estate disputes such as validity of wills claims, corporate conflicts and family company administration. There is a strong international emphasis to the practice and it is frequently appointed as an independent administrator and litigation friend in long-running disputes. It has been busy advising on claims under the Inheritance Act 1975, working closely with the family department. Team head Jan Atkinson is a well regarded figure in the market. Elspeth Neilson is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘A medium-sized London firm dealing with big litigation and doing it extremely well because of a depth of expertise and experience. Jan Atkinson is extremely experienced and an expert in this area of law. She is utterly pragmatic, always looking at what the client wants to achieve. She can be extremely tough when she needs to be but always knows when to compromise’
‘Osbornes does high-quality work. Jan Atkinson is the go-to partner for independent administrations‘
‘Jan Atkinson stands out for her wide-ranging knowledge and experience of estates; whatever problem you throw at her, she has seen it all before and is able to find a creative and sustainable solution. She has exceptional commitment to her clients and explores every avenue to find the best solution for them‘
‘A very capable team headed by the wonderful Jan Atkinson. She is both able and charming, which is a winning combination‘
‘Jan Atkinson is a formidable litigator in succession disputes – you want her on your team in any such case‘
‘I find Osbornes’ client-friendly approach welcoming and refreshing’
‘Jan Atkinson, with her steely, steady, calming presence, instils confidence in the most highly-strung of us clients. With her masterful knowledge of the law, old and new, and its application, Jan can navigate through the most complex of cases to a successful end‘
‘Jan Atkinson is very capable‘
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP fields a well-resourced team that handles a wide range of heavyweight commercial, trust, family and other private wealth matters for ultra-high-net-worth and aristocratic families and individuals, as well as corporate entities, family companies, trust companies and corporate service providers. Its client base is predominantly international; it acts for clients from the Middle East, the US and Russia, as well as for individuals from the Crown dependencies and overseas territories. Michael Pulford heads the department.
‘Great knowledge and practical experience from many years of practice‘
‘Michael Pulford is a standout star – he has real in-depth knowledge of the field and great tactical awareness‘
‘It is developing a first-class practice in this area‘
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth
Standard Bank (Jersey)
RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP frequently acts for executors, administrators, beneficiaries and dependants in a broad range of high-value and complex trust and estates disputes in the UK and overseas. Particular specialisms include applications to remove or substitute personal representatives, as well as cases relating to negligent trustees and the negligent execution of wills or administration of estates. Jonathan Shankland and Dominic Green are prominent practitioners, along with Nigel West, who is noted for his advice to wealthy clients on their personal and corporate litigation matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘Nigel West is a very focused lawyer‘
Stevens & Bolton LLP's team focuses on advising trustees, beneficiaries, executors and claimants alike on high-value UK trusts and estates. Under the leadership of James Lister, the team has extensive experience of handling claims in multiple jurisdictions and offshore, including disputes over the management and administration of trusts and estates and disputes over deputies or attorneys which come within the ambit of the Court of Protection. The practice has also gained a solid reputation for its work on unusual will disputes.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team has a big hitter at the helm in James Lister, who has done wonders in developing the Stevens & Bolton team into one of the top practices in the country. He is calm and collected, but frightening clever‘
‘James Lister is a standout operator. A shrewd tactician who is admired by clients and opponents alike. Brendan Udokoro is very reliable’
‘James Lister is a very experienced litigator who for years has practised exclusively in contentious trusts and probate and has been involved in some of the most important recent cases in the field. As a result, he has developed a knowledge and tactical acumen well beyond that which might be expected of someone of his seniority. He is a terrific lawyer’
‘Stevens & Bolton has a very high-powered practice in this field. James Lister is an extremely bright lawyer with a great litigator’s instinct; he is comfortable dealing with difficult and high-profile cases‘
‘The dominant figure in this practice is James Lister, who is a superstar in the area. The firm attracts high-quality work and is fast developing a formidable reputation in contentious trusts. James Lister is both charming and extremely sharp and tenacious‘
‘James Lister is very academic, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of this area of law, is very charming and can put clients at ease‘
‘James Lister is the standout individual in the department. His knowledge of the subject area is excellent, and he combines it with first-class tactics and strategy. He is really easy to work with and brings great value to every case‘
‘The team is fantastic. James Lister has rapidly made a name for himself in contentious trusts. He is fiercely intelligent but also very user friendly and phenomenally responsive‘
- Advising the litigation friend of minor beneficiaries concerning claims by and against them for financial provision from the estate of their late parent.
- Acting for a beneficiary of a complex offshore trust structure regarding the beneficiary’s rights to information and payments from the trust structure.
- Acting for the successful claimant in a dispute concerning his inclusion/exclusion as a beneficiary of his father-in-law’s will.
Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has a national offering, acting for individuals, trustees and charities as well as insurance companies on a broad spectrum of trust and estate disputes. The team is led by the 'exceptionally knowledgeable' Neil Long, who is experienced in bringing and defending claims under the Inheritance Act 1975, as well as in matters such as contested Court of Protection applications. The experienced Edward Stone joined the team in September 2019 from an in-house position.
‘Neil Long is an exceptionally knowledgeable lawyer who combines expertise and compassion when helping his clients. I am always impressed by just how quickly Neil unravels complicated and intertwined issues to provide a reassuring route map‘
‘Richard Pike listens to client concerns with great empathy and is well able to provide legally sound but practical and appropriate routes through complex problems for individuals who are often facing legal disputes for the only time in their lives’
‘Neil Long is a very experienced trust and estates lawyer who is able to provide a rigorous analysis of legal problems and deliver solutions to his clients’
‘Richard Pike is very tenacious and knowledgeable‘
‘Neil Long and Richard Pike in particular are litigators in this field whom I trust totally and have a huge amount of respect for. They do a lot of excellent work, especially domestic trusts and probate work, often of high value and complexity‘
‘Winning and charismatic, with a good eye on achieving a sensible solution‘
‘Neil Long is the embodiment of a winning mentality and is charismatic’
‘Richard Pike is never fazed by anything in my experience‘
‘Neil Long has a great bedside manner and an air of competence. He is also a really nice guy’
- Acted for the trustees in a widely reported successful application for equitable rescission of a deed of appointment on the basis of mistake.
- Acting for the court-appointed independent trustee of a number of family trusts subject to complex litigation between the beneficiaries, former trustees and the incumbent trustee relating to Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies.