Firms To Watch: Contentious trusts and probate

Hugh James is a ‘very impressive firm, recently established in London and doing great things there’ under the leadership of Roman Kubiak who ‘combines strong and confident technical skills with a friendly and personable nature that makes him stand out from many of his competitors’.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP has been busy acting in some large trusts and estate cases. Alex Gerbi is one of the primary contacts at the firm.
Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP has a ‘very knowledgeable and extremely efficient’ team that is led by Devorah Ormonde – it has been active in advising on claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act.

Contentious trusts and probate in London

Baker McKenzie

The ‘first-rate global practice’ at Baker McKenzie is doing ‘top tier work‘ and is ‘notable for the specialist expertise of its team’ in major international trust disputes. The ‘market leading’ practice is led by Anthony Poulton who is highly regarded for his work on the most complex, high-value, multi-party and cross-border disputes. Poulton is a known name too in offshore jurisdictions as the group regularly works with major lawyers, private banks and trust companies both nationally and internationally. Gemma Willingham has extensive experience in advising clients on disputes related to all aspects of private wealth, succession and trusts. Yindi Gesinde is another key member of the ‘responsive, dynamic and excellent’ team while Luke Richardson also plays a significant role in the department who are ‘all very knowledgeable and exceptionally hardworking’. The ‘personable’ team also receives plaudits for its ‘astonishing response times’.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Poulton

Other key lawyers:

Yindi Gesinde; Gemma Willingham; Luke Richardson; Gareth Roberts; Jack Secunda; Rachael Cederwall

Testimonials

‘Anthony Poulton has led the team for some time and is a huge name in trust litigation. We have worked extensively with Gemma Willingham who we think is incredibly bright and also has a wonderful way with clients. Yindi Gesindi is also an impressive partner with whom we have worked for some years’.

‘Gemma Willingham is highly impressive and extremely adept at steering trustees through rocky waters in the most complex of cases. Very bright, charming and -just as importantly – with deep reserves of the emotional intelligence necessary for this work. Anthony Poulton is a seriously big name in the industry and with the clout to handle the largest and most difficult cases’.

‘One of the best firms in the country for this type of work. Its key strength is in its depth of resources both in England and other jurisdictions which makes Baker McKenzie especially capable of handling large multi-jurisdictional disputes. It is no exaggeration to say that if there is a large matter in any jurisdiction in the world, Baker McKenzie will probably be involved’.

‘The firm is one of very few that can boast individuals who genuinely understand the legal issues involved in these types of disputes but can also adopt a constructive and commercial approach to ensure that appropriate advice is given’.

‘Anthony Poulton is so experienced in this area, especially with big disputes, and he just understands how clients and opposing lawyers think. Gemma Willingham is incredibly smart, very friendly and approachable to clients but she is not afraid to be tough where it is in the client’s interests. They are just top tier across the board’.

‘Baker Mckenzie has a unique practice because they bring the global reach of one of the finest and largest firms in the world to the private client sphere. This has advantages not merely when there are international elements in cases but when, as is the case in many contentious trust cases, there is a range of expertise required beyond trust law, whether it be tax, conflict of laws, civil fraud, banking or commercial law’.

‘Simply they are the market leaders and are involved in some of the world’s largest and complex contentious trusts and estates disputes. They are plugged into almost all jurisdictions which provide them with huge agility.  Their focus on digital assets, ESG and diversity demonstrates a real understanding of trends in the market’.

‘Leading statesman Anthony Poulson- brilliant strategic thinker – always calm and incisive in the midst of chaos; Gemma Willingham – absolutely bright as a button and a sheer joy to work with; Jack Secunda – huge work capacity and exceptional turn around time; Yindi Gesinde – inspires confidence and wonderful speaker’.

Key clients

Dr Winston Wong

Work highlights

  • Advising Dr Wong, an ultra-HNW client, in his global litigation to recover assets worth over $20bn presently held by trustees, individuals and companies in multiple jurisdictions.

Boodle Hatfield LLP

Boodle Hatfield LLP ‘is absolutely first-rate in the private client world in general, with deep experience and expertise in complex, multi-jurisdictional planning and litigation. All of the partners are impressive, as are the associates’. It is regularly instructed in numerous high-value, complex and international disputes. In addition it has considerable expertise in disputes concerning the modern family as well as being involved in an increasing number of substantial trust partition cases. It is sought after for its significant experience in advising on multi-jurisdictional tax, asset protection trusts, family businesses and governance issues as well as on succession matters. The ‘highly thought ofAndrea Zavos garners praise for her ‘keen intelligence, excellent judgement and deep experience’. Simon Rylatt ‘sees the whole picture’ while Mark Lindley has ‘ an impressive eye for detail’. The group works with individuals, trustees and trust companies and is ‘bursting with ideas’ while being a ‘very solid and reassuring team’.

Other key lawyers:

Andrea Zavos; Mark Lindley; Simon Rylatt; James Woods-Davison; Michael Duffy

Testimonials

‘There is a wealth of experience and expertise in this team. They are used to dealing with high profile and high value cases. They bring this expertise and experience to bear and will fight their client’s corner very hard but also will try and come to a sensible negotiated agreement if they can. They are formidable opponents’.

‘Mark Lindley is a bright partner with an impressive eye for detail’.

‘Friendly and expert team lead by the highly thought of Andrea Zavos’.

‘Very pleasant to deal with and bursting with ideas’.

‘Simon Rylatt who I’ve been working with most recently is extremely good and sees the whole picture’.

‘Boodle Hatfield is utterly outstanding in this area. They win some of the best work, have a fantastic attitude, are both tough and collaborative and are one of the very best. It is a pleasure to work with them and a trial to work against them’.

‘Andrea Zavos is a true leader in this area. Totally tough, honest, sharp and unflinching. She is in the mix for any substantial instruction in the market. Mark Lindley is one of the best junior partners in the field. He is knowledgeable, reasonable, balanced and uncompromising when needed’.

‘Boodle Hatfield is absolutely first rate in the private client practice in general, with deep experience and expertise in complex, multi-jurisdictional planning and litigation. All of their partners are impressive, as are their associates’.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

The ‘tenacious litigatorGraeme Kleiner heads the team at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and is perceived to be ‘very effective when faced with difficult situations’. Kleiner advises trustees, executors and beneficiaries on a broad mix of national and international trust and succession disputes. The large and specialist team advises on a wide range of issues from providing probate litigation advice to court of protection work as well as assisting the family team on large international divorce cases involving attacks on trusts, asset tracing and fraud matters. Its work often spans multiple jurisdictions. Duncan Elson concentrates on large and complicated trust and estates work both in the UK and offshore. Newly promoted partner Hugh Gunson specialises in tax disputes and investigations.  Tamasin Perkins advises various wealthy individuals, trustees and fiduciaries on difficult international trust and probate disputes. Oliver Auld advises private clients and others who act in a fiduciary capacity in domestic and offshore trust and succession disputes.

Practice head(s):

Graeme Kleiner

Other key lawyers:

Duncan Elson; Oliver Auld; Tamasin Perkins; Thomas Watts; Robert Avis; Hugh Gunson

Testimonials

‘This is probably one of the best teams in the industry. Highly knowledgeable, great systems and strong administrative support. Able to act internationally. Graeme Kleiner – knows everything and everyone. Thomas Watts – the associate everyone wants working on their matter’.

‘Firm has a good reputation in this area. They are aggressive when warranted but also do not alienate their peers. Team is led by Graeme Kleiner who is very highly thought of. Oliver Auld and Tamsin Perkins (both partners) are both very good’.

‘Enormous experience with real expertise, very talented associates and in all the big cases. They are all good with clients, giving sensible advice but fighting their corner hard if they have to’.

‘Graeme Kleiner is a superb lawyer with an excellent relationship with his clients and years of experience. He calms situations down and is a very good tactician. Duncan Elson is also  an excellent and highly experienced litigator who has handled very big cases and fights his corner hard’.

‘An excellent mix in expertise between domestic and international cases, with strength in depth and an ability to cross-fertilise with family and other departments. Graeme Kleiner – highly experienced strategist and knowledgeable lawyer who commands his brief and is very well known in the market’.

‘Graeme Kleiner. Excellent knowledge of the law and analytical ability coupled with a clear practical approach to tactics and strategy. Does not duck difficult questions. Oliver Auld. Superb understanding of clients’ problems and the law’.

‘Very creative litigators with a wealth of experience and good links with their family team. Graeme Kleiner is a particularly hardworking and creative thinking in the area with an excellent client focus’.

‘Just one of the top outfits operating in this area. They have hugely wide-ranging and deep experience of trust litigation and all of the skills you might need. Graeme Kleiner – just one of the best around. Robert Avis – a true heir to Graeme Kleiner’s crown’.

Key clients

Alan Shearer CBE

Mackay v Wesley

Shirazi

Work highlights

  • Acted for a Swiss based litigation friend whose capacity was challenged unsuccessfully in the English courts.
  • Successfully acted pro bono for the claimant in an application (and subsequent appeal) to the High Court to set aside her appointment as trustee of a trust on one of a number of grounds.

Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance LLP ‘is a powerhouse in contentious trust litigation’. Practice head Jeremy Kosky ‘has seen it all before several times – yet still comes up with innovative approaches’. Kosky acts for a variety of clients including private equity firms, trustees, protectors, beneficiaries, financial institutions and corporates. Maxine Mossman is ‘a truly first-class litigator with great instincts and a brilliant tactical eye’. The private wealth and asset management disputes practice has a vast amount of experience in advising clients on high-value and complex disputes, frequently involving multiple jurisdictions, both onshore and offshore. It is skilled at handling heavyweight claims relating to family trusts, inheritance battles and shareholders’ disputes involving family companies. Lindsay Bickerton is another key figure who is recommended for her handling of high profile succession and inheritance disputes involving ultra-high-net-worth individuals, trust structures and substantial family-owned businesses.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Kosky

Other key lawyers:

Maxine Mossman; Lindsay Bickerton; Nicole Buncher; Laura Hasson; Charles Joseph

Testimonials

‘Great experience in high value matters makes them appreciative of high net worth individual’s needs. Jeremy Kosky fits the description set out above and delivers great service to clients’.

‘They are experienced, technically very good but also approachable making working with them all a great experience. You know that they will go the extra mile for clients’.

‘Jeremy Kosky leads the team and is always on hand and happy to help even though he is a senior partner and extremely busy. Maxine Mossman is also extremely good as is Nicole Buncher who works really hard for clients together with Charlie Joseph’.

‘Very commercial, first rate lawyers (obviously) but still approachable. Max Mossman’.

‘From top to bottom, extensive experience of international trusts and trust disputes. Fair and tenacious representatives of their clients’.

‘The team has incredible strength in breadth and depth. There is a benchmark quality in their output which is leading in their field. Lindsay Bickerton is the unsung hero who is exceptionally talented and presents herself in a calm unflustered way. A real star’.

‘It is the only magic circle firm to have a significant presence in this field. Jeremy Kosky is a well respected litigator in the international trust litigation field. Excellent strategic vision’.

‘Commercial, approachable, responsive and highly capable when it comes to complex contentious matters. Jeremy Kosky is incredibly sharp, very experienced and always a true gentleman to deal with. Nicole Buncher is a true rising star. Ultra-responsive, always on top of the facts and a pleasure to work with’.

Key clients

His Majesty Juan Carlos I, King Emeritus of Spain.

Sebastian Kulczyk, Kulczyk Investments S.A. and KI One S.A.

Vladimir Chernukhin and Navigator Equities Limited

Heini Thyssen

Work highlights

  • Advising a large family of beneficiaries in Jersey court proceedings who are being sued by every State of the USA in relation to their pharma business. There is significant cross border litigation and regulatory action which threatens the Trust.
  • Advising a leading global trustee client in relation to a multi-jurisdictional trust dispute involving a London based family. The assets of the trust are held in a variety of forms and in a variety of jurisdictions.

Farrer & Co

Farrer & Co ‘has great strength in depth in this field and has excellent litigation management skills and technology to assist in managing significant litigation’. Toby Graham who has an ‘incredible appetite for hard work, gets the big cases and is brilliant at driving cases forward’ and Jeremy Gordon who is ‘vastly experienced and always completely calm even when under serious pressure’ co- head the department. It is recommended for its work on complex and high-value trust and estates disputes that frequently have an international dimension. The practice is also increasingly instructed as administrator for UHNW estates which are subject to litigation and is instructed more frequently in very high value capacity and court of protection matters. Joanna Poole ‘who brings steely determination to the most complex of disputes’ is also recommended; newly-promoted partner Elizabeth Sainsbury ‘is an excellent addition to the partnership’; and Charlotte Fraser is ‘very capable’.

Practice head(s):

Toby Graham; Jeremy Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Joanna Poole; Henrietta Mason; Charlotte Fraser; Elizabeth Sainsbury; Tom McPhail; Joseph de Lacey

Testimonials

‘An excellent trust litigation team with a good breadth of expertise and an efficient and responsible approach to dealing with difficult matters. Jeremy Gordon and Toby Graham are both excellent litigators in the trust and probate field with some very good support at associate level’.

‘It is always a delight to work with Farrer & Co’s team as it brings such depth of knowledge and experience to every case. The service to clients is impeccable’.

‘Jeremy Gordon – an ‘A list’ practitioner in this area, an effortless strategist who is able to negotiate with polite force. Charlotte Fraser – absolutely fantastic, a superstar’.

‘Toby Graham – massive experience and knowledge, combined with a debonair charm. Henrietta Mason – delightful and hugely knowledgeable. One of the best solicitors in London. Joanna Poole – effortlessly brilliant. Joseph de Lacey – a terrific associate’.

‘Toby Graham is one of the best known partners in this field – he is hands on, really knows his trust law, has great judgment and is very good at managing very large scale litigation. Tom McPhail is pretty much the best associate I have come across anywhere’.

‘Farrers has an extremely strong team in the contentious trusts field. I have worked with a wide variety of the partners and associates over a number of years, on numerous contentious trusts cases. It would be my “go to” UK firm for any contentious trusts matter’.

‘Toby Graham. Toby is simply a star performer. He brings a wealth of academic and practical knowledge and experience – whatever the trusts issues are in a case, he will have seen them before or know a lot about them. He is also extremely dedicated to achieving the client’s goals‘.

‘One of the leading teams with broad and deep experience of all of the issues that crop up in contentious trust litigation. Charlotte Fraser – cool, collected and hugely effective‘.

Key clients

Sir Owen Glenn KNZM ONZM

The Administrators of the Estate of Vladimir Scherbakov

Trustees of family trusts of well-known English family

JTC Employer Solutions Trustee Limited

Executor for the Estate of the Duke of Edinburgh

Guardian of minor beneficiaries of UHNW family trusts

Daniel and Caroline Phillips

Executor of the estate of Keith Beresford (deceased)

UHNW Middle Eastern individual

Work highlights

  • Acting in a highly complex and multi-jurisdictional piece of trust litigation, which has been running for a number of years and has repeatedly broken new legal ground.
  • Acting in the administration of the Estate of the late Vladimir Scherbakov in the context of ongoing cross border litigation over the succession to his estate and lifetime disputes.

Forsters LLP

Forsters LLP‘s contentious trusts and estates practice is led by Roberta Harvey, who is known as ‘an incredibly accomplished lawyer and strategist’. The team, which ‘consistently performs at a high level’, is recommended for ‘private clients who want highest level of advice and representation in the world‘. Managing partner Emily Exton – ‘the doyenne in this field‘ – has a background in complex contentious trusts matters.

Practice head(s):

Roberta Harvey

Other key lawyers:

Ashleigh Carr; Charlotte Evans-Tipping; Hannah Mantle; Alison Meek

Testimonials

‘I love the diversity in the team. And the women are all absolutely exceptional. They know the market inside out, they are great lawyers, perfectionists in their work and treat all clients with respect and kindness. They are incredibly responsive and accessible.’

‘Roberta Harvey is truly excellent. She is wonderful to work with and an exceptional lawyer. Ashleigh Carr is also superb and a joy to work with. Each of them are legally expert, brilliant with clients and approach what is invariably emotionally charged and difficult litigation with an assurance, efficiency and economy that is to be applauded.’

‘Roberta Harvey: Supercharming, superrelaxed, superefficient and supereffective.’

‘Charlotte Evans-Tipping: Relentlessly hard-working and brilliantly insightful.’

‘Roberta Harvey – passionate on behalf of her clients and a real team player; she works well with other professionals to obtain great results.’

‘Roberta Harvey is a fierce advocate and her senior associate, Ashleigh Carr, is a real star.’

‘Ashleigh Carr is a fantastic senior associate.  She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of her cases.’

‘Hannah Mantle is very impressive.’

Macfarlanes LLP

Macfarlanes LLP's 'strength is the depth of quality in its contentious trusts and probate team, from partner through to trainee’. Practice head Charles Lloyd ‘is an outstanding team leader who brings vast experience and insight’. It is a go-to firm for high-value and complex disputes for high-net-worth families and individuals, trustees and family offices on all areas of contentious work. It works closely with other practice areas in the firm such as its excellent private client tax and trusts practice through to its white-collar crime, tax litigation and corporate tax teams. It acts for institutions and individuals from around the world and has seen continued growth in disputes as a result of the mental capacity of wealth creators and office holders. It is also increasingly helping trustees who are drawn into the criminal investigations of settlors and beneficiaries. The team has ‘the complete package in terms of skill, judgement and tactical acumen’. Jonathan Arr, Jacob Ward and Elizabeth Doherty are other key names in the area.

Practice head(s):

Charles Lloyd

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Arr; Elizabeth Doherty; Jacob Ward

Testimonials

‘Macfarlanes has decades of experience of family and estate disputes – You have a single person who coordinates all your advice so that everything is joined up – Macfarlanes is respected for its ability to bring disputes to a close and to be tough without unnecessary hostility’.

‘Charles Lloyd is a very smooth but ultimately ruthless practitioner who is recognised as one of the leading practitioners in the field. Elizabeth Doherty is a brilliant, thorough, determined litigator’.

‘The partners are incredible – so experienced and knowledgeable with excellent client-handling and instincts. They do a superb job bringing through their associates, so whoever in the team you speak to you feel in good hands, regardless of seniority’.

‘Charles Lloyd – the epitome of a big beast in the sector. Been everywhere and done it all, he exudes confidence and competence. Knows how to play the game to great effect.  Jonathan Arr – has so much on but is on top of everything’.

‘Macfarlanes was able to take over a substantial international trust dispute half way through heavy litigation with great ease and professionalism. They were extremely quick to engage and get to the pertinent issues. Jonathan Arr and Jacob Ward are the names to note. Immensely quick response times and very diligent and committed to communications and tasks at hand’.

‘Charles Lloyd and Elizabeth Doherty were fantastic. Charles, as the more senior of the two, demonstrated excellent client support and strategic planning, while Elizabeth was more hands on in the day to day sense and handled a complex matter with impressive skill and organisation’.

‘Great team. Real strength and depth. Continue to dominate the market. Charles Lloyd. Jonathan Arr. Totally solid lead partners. Jacob Ward is making a name for himself’.

‘Macfarlanes is blessed with a team of specialists for this work, from associate level through to partner level. Charles Lloyd is one of the best lawyers in the country. He is incredibly user-friendly with clients while being firm with opponents’.

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP is ‘a powerhouse for trust litigation. It has great experience both onshore and offshore and throws its all into every fight’. It has a global client base of UNHW families. Under the leadership of the well-renowned Rupert Ticehurst the team acts on a select number of very high value or unusually complex cases. It also covers tax disputes, particularly investigations and follow on litigation with the HMRC. Ticehurst’s cases span advising on the removal of trustees, protectors and executors as well as advising trustees on divorce, freezing orders and claims relating to breaches of fiduciary duties. Simon Goldring focuses on both onshore and offshore trusts and estate disputes and has acted in a number of prominent trust cases recently. Senior associate Rosalind Hetherington is another important member of the ‘hugely experienced and commercial team that frankly has a knack for distilling complex issues into something palatable and understandable’.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Ticehurst

Other key lawyers:

Simon Goldring; Rosalind Hetherington; Emilly Chalk

Testimonials

‘The first choice for big trusts cases. Rupert Ticehurst – At the top of the industry. Simon Goldring – Very dynamic and determined. A well deserved reputation at the top of the field‘.

‘This is a team that handles some very high profile disputes. Its engagement with clients is excellent and advice it provides sensible. There is real expertise here. Rupert Ticehurst is an excellent lawyer and highly experienced. He fights very hard for his clients’.

‘The team at MTG combines hardworking, intelligent and thoughtful litigators with experienced private client lawyers. Rupert Ticehurst remains one of ‘the’ names in this field for the strength and depth of his experience’.

‘One of the leading firms in the country in contentious and non-contentious work. Its big strength is that it has an equally strong private client department, so there will always be individuals on hand to provide advice on connected issues such as tax. It has quickly built up a strong following and reputation in contentious work’.

‘Simon Goldring is a very impressive individual and I suspect he will be one of the leading partners in the years to come. His great asset is in building lasting relationships with clients. He seems to have several long-running matters which is a testament to the strength of his relationships with his clients’.

‘A boutique firm with real clout and a very able team at all levels. Equally comfortable with cases onshore and offshore, including hugely complex and valuable pieces of litigation with substantial commercial/fraud elements. A class act.’

‘Rupert Ticehurst leads from the front and gives direction to the whole team. Simon Goldring is absolutely committed to his clients, canny and clever, obviously well liked by all at MTG. Rosalind Hetherington has a fierce intellectual grasp of the law and sound tactical sense’.

‘Headed by Rupert Ticehurst it has grown enormously in a short period of time. Rupert is a doyenne in the world of Trust Litigators and has a steady hand on the firm guiding it expertly into positions of growth. Simon Goldring has helped propel the firm’s practice and has been a large part of the recent growth’.

Key clients

Members of the Al Thani Qatari Royal family

Vince O’Brien (former trustee of Kid’s Company)

 

Work highlights

  • In the Matter of the Estate of Sheikh Saoud Mohamed A.A. Al Thani (Deceased) BVIHCV 2019/0230, unreported (Ellis J) and Court of Appeal BVIHCVAP2021/0001 the team acted for the claimants representing three beneficiaries entitled to 20% of the estate.
  • In the matter of Keeping Kids Company, Official Receiver v Batmanghelidjh & Ors [2021] EWHC 175 (Ch) acted in the very high profile case concerning the “Kids Company” charity.

Mishcon de Reya LLP

Mishcon de Reya LLP has an outstanding reputation for its work in this area under the able joint leadership of Mark Keenan and Peter Steen. The first-class team specialises in complex inter-family domestic and international trust and succession disputes that often involve asset-tracing and recovery in offshore jurisdictions. It has significant experience in advising private individuals and trustees on cross-border inheritance disputes, will disputes, Inheritance Act claims as well as Court of Protection matters. Other areas of expertise include advising on estate administration issues in addition to breach of trust and proprietary estoppel claims. It is regularly instructed in the most substantial trusts and inheritance disputes both in the UK but also in offshore jurisdictions. Jessica Medus is another important member of the department who specialises in trust and succession disputes acting for individuals, corporate trustees, charities as well as private and family offices. Medus’ work often has an international dimension too.

Practice head(s):

Mark Keenan; Peter Steen

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Medus; Emilia Piskorz; Victoria Sara-Kennedy; Mariel Stringer-Fehlow

Testimonials

‘Mishcon delivers a fantastic service to clients in this area. Mark Keenan is a fantastic lawyer and tactician. Peter Steen is also excellent. The associates are very good’.

‘Strategic, tough, will represent the client’s best interests come hell or high water. Immense experience and legal knowledge. Rapid advice, quick turnaround of work. Always commercial, always aiming to be the best. Absolute quality’.

‘Peter Steen – The James Bond of Trusts. Calm, charming, composed and lethal. Huge experience. Represents many ultra high net worth entities and estates. Very much the No.1 person to go to’.

‘Incredibly hardworking and driven team who do what’s necessary to get the case done. Mark Keenan is both a pleasure to work with and an excellent leader. Emilia Piskorz is very able and a partner in the making. Mariel Stringer-Fehlow is excellent and has an excellent eye for detail’.

‘Mishcon de Reya’s trust litigation team is just one of the best around. Hugely effective and always completely committed to the client’s interests’.

‘Mark Keenan – one of the best-known and most-respected trust litigators. One of the names that litigators don’t want to be against. Peter Steen – one of the most effective trust litigators I have worked with. He has great instincts. Jessica Medus – a real up-and-coming star’.

Key clients

Executors of The Right Honourable Gloria Wesley, Dowager Countess Bathurst (“DCB”)

Work highlights

  • Advised the Executors of The Right Honourable Gloria Wesley, Dowager Countess Bathurst in relation to the construction of certain provisions of a statutory codicil and related agreement and the removal of two professional trustees.
  • Acting for a well known international businessman in relation to possession proceedings.
  • Advising a HNW individual, whose assets in his family trust are of significant value, in respect of initial Court of Protection proceedings and subsequently a related contact application and reconsideration of a settlement order in the underlying proceedings.

Payne Hicks Beach LLP

The ‘fantastic team’ at Payne Hicks Beach LLPis in the top bracket of contentious trust litigators'. It is led by the ‘affable and sharpRichard Manyon who is ‘now established as one of the ‘go to’ partners in contentious trusts and probate’. Another significant member of the department is the ‘all round superstarJessica Henson. The team has its roots in traditional chancery work advising on disputes affecting some of the oldest and largest landed estates and domestic trusts. Its reputation has grown in the international sphere too. The team receives plaudits for its 'truly first-rate offering across the board’ and receives a steady flow of instructions in the most challenging multi-jurisdictional and domestic trust and estates disputes. Core areas of expertise include advising on cross-border litigation concerning complex structures, family governance and allegations of breach of trust/duties as well as advising on trusts in the context of divorce proceedings. Ane Vernon is also active in the space.

Practice head(s):

Richard Manyon

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Henson; Ane Vernon; Rosamond McDowell; Charlotte Henshall; Rebecca Moseley

Testimonials

‘This is a long established and highly successful team with real expertise. It is in many of the high profile cases particularly in the area of trusts. It invariably achieves a good outcome for its clients’.

‘Jessica Henson is an excellent addition to the team. A real expert with great experience, she provides pragmatic and sensible advice to clients. Richard Manyon is something of a force of nature but a real expert who knows the area inside out. He is an excellent tactician’.

‘Excellent quality in a young practice; will be market leaders for years to come’.

‘Richard Manyon and Jess Henson both already have a huge profile in this area; Charlotte Henshall is a very good associate’.

‘What sets PHB apart is the incredible value for money for clients. They have top tier individuals and experience with high-value and complex disputes, but they do not charge the same sorts of rates as larger firms. They are also a constantly growing practice, with new individuals at every level being introduced each year’.

‘The entire team at PHB is very smart, switched on to the issues in these areas but also easy to deal with and highly proactive. Richard Manyon is one of the standout partners in this area in the country. He has been a huge part of why PHB has built such a big following in these areas’.

‘The team has vast experience in dealing with high value and complex disputes and has a deserved first-rate reputation. They have the benefit of being able to draw on the expertise of their brilliant private client team, which is invaluable where as so often happens tax considerations shape the litigation or its settlement’.

‘Richard Manyon is incredibly bright and an excellent strategist. He has quick and sound judgment and an ability to cut through the distractions to the essence of a problem. The rest of the team is fantastic too including the knowledgeable and incisive Jessica Henson and Charlotte Henshall who is so bright and committed’.

Work highlights

  • Advising on a matter that was successful at two trials in the High Court to establish client’s co-ownership of various valuable property assets.
  • Obtaining a successful judgment in favour of the Trustees of the Lowther Grandchildren’s Trust on the construction and application of S. 32 of the Trustee Act 1925.
  • Acting in an extremely long running case which came to trial in 2021 involving the SFO and the ownership of a large portfolio of assets scattered across the globe. Judgment by Foxton J in favour of its clients.

Stewarts Law LLP

Stewarts Law LLP has ‘assembled a very talented team of people that has made a real splash in the area’. Led by the ‘outstandingJames Price the team has numerous able lawyers both at partner and associate level among them Geoffrey Kertesz who has a ‘first-class mind’. The department advises exclusively on complex, large-scale and often high-profile trust disputes in England and in other major jurisdictions. It acts for UHNW and HNW individuals, families, family offices, trustees and trust companies in addition to a number of well-known UK charities. A substantial part of its work has an international dimension. The group also has experience of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It garners praise for providing a ‘premier service’ due to the ‘very high quality of its team which comprises several of the leading lawyers in this field, ensuring that it is engaged in many of the high-profile cases in this area’. Emma Holland is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

James Price

Other key lawyers:

Geoffrey Kertesz; Emma Holland; Jemma Goddard; Lavinia Randall; Luca del Panta; Judith Swinhoe-Standen; Marcus Parker

Testimonials

‘A great combination of powerful intellect, experience in the field, tactical thinking and personable individuals make this team unique. James Price (partner) must now be establishing himself as one of the stars of this field. He is simply excellent in every respect’.

‘The team has capacity and ability to handle the biggest of disputes in what can be regarded as a traditional and stuffy field, with the support of a firm known for its innovative approaches to litigation. Since the team was started by James Price, it has hoovered up a significant amount of the associate and partner talent in this field’.

‘James Price is an extremely able litigator whilst remaining charming and collegiate. Geoff Kertesz brings his considerable intelligence, experience and common sense to all matters. Emma Holland is a real star as are a number of the associates in the team, including Jemma Goddard’.

‘James Price is exceptional – he is very intelligent, hands on and gets to nub of the matter. He is one of the best trust litigators in London and someone clients love. Geoff Kertesz is also truly excellent – commercial, responsive and able to find a solution to difficult issues’.

‘One of the best teams in the sector. Superstar lawyers combined with an exceptional quality of work. James Price is one of the top trusts litigators in the business. He is outstandingly able and charming with clients. Emma Holland is extremely savvy and fights very hard for her clients’.

‘The combination of a first class offering with a conflict free claimant-focused practice make this team unique. Providing excellent lawyers, they are real contenders now for the very best work’.

‘James Price deserves enormous credit for establishing the Stewarts contentious trusts team as a major force in the market, crowned by his representation of one half of the claimant parties in the enormous Wong litigation, the largest contentious trusts case litigated in the Commonwealth’.

‘This team is incredibly impressive, and has a powerful presence in the London market. It is really ambitious, and has a great record of success for its clients. In recent years the firm has made wise hires, and the addition of Luca del Panta, Jemma Goddard, Emma Holland, Lavinia Randall and Judith Swinhoe-Standen has created a dream team’.

Marcus Parker. Fantastic addition to an already deep team. His considerable experience as an offshore trustee, particularly in respect of contentious trust matters, gives him a valuable perspective that other lawyers lack. Marcus is extremely collaborative and a pleasure to work with‘.

‘Marcus Parker is a stand-out partner who is assured and hugely knowledgeable. He, along with his team, are able to effectively guide clients through the most complex and difficult cases with ease and a sense of security’.

‘Marcus Parker – extremely practical for tricky trust matters.’

Key clients

Lands Company Limited

Ven-Jiao Wang (a.k.a. Tony Wang)

SS (in the anonymised matter of PTNZ v AS and others)

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and other charities

RET (anonymised)

Work highlights

  • Acting for Lands Company Limited in its successful application for summary judgment/strike out of claims brought by Credit Suisse International.
  • Acting for Ven-Jiao Wang (a.k.a. Tony Wang) in a five-month trial in the Supreme Court of Bermuda concerning trust assets worth in the region of $20-$25bn.
  • Acting for Ven-Jiao Wang (a.k.a. Tony Wang) in an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concerning the proper purpose of trustee powers in the context of the above dispute about trust assets worth in the region of $20-25bn.

Taylor Wessing LLP

Taylor Wessing LLP is ‘the go-to firm with a pre-eminent reputation’. Head of department Emma Jordan is an ’experienced litigator with significant advocacy experience’. Jordan has a dual qualification as both an English barrister and a Jersey Advocate. Jordan advises across all aspects of contentious trusts and has a particular focus on representing trustees and high-net-worth clients. Her practice covers civil fraud, asset tracing and recovery in the context of offshore trusts and structures. Caroline Tayler also plays a pivotal role in the department and specialises in resolving trust and succession disputes both onshore and offshore. Kirstie McGuigan, whose practice spans both contentious and advisory work, has significant experience with Bahamian clients. McGuigan is described as ‘charming, thoughtful and always practical’ and has a strong reputation in the market for her involvement in large complex trusts and contested estate matters. Andrew Hine is now a consultant.

Practice head(s):

Emma Jordan

Other key lawyers:

Kirstie McGuigan; Andrew Hine; Kate Silbermann; Caroline Tayler; Rob Gibson

Testimonials

‘Specialist team in trust litigation. Very experienced in their field. Emma Jordan: clever and composed. Good at reading complex situations and adept at handling difficult clients’.

‘Taylor Wessing is a very well known player in this market, led by the excellent Emma Jordan’.

‘Emma Jordan is a leading individual in this area who combines the managerial skill and judgment of a solicitor running large scale litigation with her practice as a Jersey advocate’.

‘In litigation I have been highly impressed by TW’s teams’ ability to co-ordinate effectively lawyers and clients in multiple jurisdictions. Additionally, it is attractive that the private client team has a strong work ethic and sense of solidarity, which makes it a pleasure to work for them’.

‘Kirstie McGuigan is an outstanding team leader who is capable of efficiently managing litigation being conducted in multiple jurisdictions. She has exceptional interpersonal skills, and a superb rapport with clients and team members’.

‘Kirstie McGuigan – an iron fist in a velvet glove – a very experienced and determined litigator who does not give in. Caroline Tayler – highly intelligent, thorough, knowledgeable litigator with outstanding judgment‘.

‘It is a stellar team of litigation lawyers: conscientious, responsive and unbelievably hardworking. The lawyers have buckets of experience in English and offshore litigation and will always provide excellent, sensible advice on which clients can depend’.

‘I work with partners Kirstie McGuigan and Caroline Tayler. They are quite simply brilliant: clever, sensible, and intuitive. They work all hours and nothing escapes their notice. They manage their time efficiently and take careful note of deadlines and points of detail’.

Key clients

Matteo Volpi

Equity Trust (Jersey) Limited in its capacity as former trustee of the Z II Trust

Equity Trust (Jersey) Limited in its capacity as former trustee of the Z III Trust

Iryna Udovenko

Beneficiary of two Guernsey discretionary trusts

The Trustees of the Jacobs Charitable Trust

Andrew Hine (as administrator of the Estate of Lord Anthony Jacobs)

Acting for a co-executor of an estate in a removal application made against the other co-executor

Withers LLP

Clients of Withers LLP say ‘over the years we have come to rely on the team for providing exceptional service that has helped us navigate the difficult and PR sensitive aspects of litigation. This team is precisely the team that you would want by your side when you come up against difficulties’. Its trusts, estates and inheritance disputes team is excellent due to the sheer volume of experts it has to deal with all aspects of contentious trusts and probate disputes both nationally and internationally. Paul Hewitt ‘is the gold standard when it comes to trust litigators’ and has a particular interest in representing clients with connections to the sub-continent. Senior counsel Dawn Goodman is highly recommended for her work on trust litigation. Steven Kempster is a ‘tenacious and talented litigator’. It is a ‘stand out firm’ where the lawyers provide ‘excellent, forward thinking and pragmatic advice’.

Practice head(s):

Suzanne Todd

Other key lawyers:

Dawn Goodman; Paul Hewitt; Steven Kempster; Stephen Richards; Natasha Stourton; Sarah Aughwane; Alice Tomlin; Richard Walker; Julia Schtulman

Testimonials

‘Some of the most experienced and best trained litigators specialising in this field. Paul Hewitt is an experienced, hands on, determined litigator who thinks hard about strategy and is highly respected. Stephen Richards is a very similar – experienced, determined, strategist. Steven Kempster is an experienced, sensible offshore litigator’.

‘This is a team which is at the top of its game-real depth of expertise and experience, handling the highest profile and most valuable cases. it is also excellent with clients-always trying to do the best for them and looking for a negotiated settlement where possible’.

‘Paul Hewitt is something of a legend in this area. Renowned as tough, he always looks for a good deal for his client. He knows the law backwards and is an excellent tactician. Stephen Richards is an excellent lawyer with huge experience’.

‘Paul Hewitt – supreme tactician. Sarah Aughwane – streetwise, superb judgment and knowledge’.

‘One of the best, if not the best. An amazingly impressive client base is testament to their qualities. Must absolutely terrify their opponents’.

‘Paul Hewitt – understands the area deeply. Understands the landscape intimately and like a chess player can see all the moves in advance. Could not work harder’.

‘Stephen Richards – will be top of the tree for the next 20 years, such is his ability and reputation. Incredibly down to earth, he can get on with any client, not least because they trust and respect him’.

‘What stands out about Withers is that they have the expertise to deal with estates that have complex international or tax complexities. They have teams in the US/Europe so they have the expertise in the relevant jurisdiction’.

Key clients

Chan, Shee Khow

Two BVI Private Trust Companies

Smith, Michael Alexander James and Philpot, Simon Craig

Jah, Mukarram (aka His Exalted Highness the Nizam VIII of Hyderabad)

Klein, Elena

McAlpine, Executors of Ingrid

Etroy, Stephane Roland and RBC Trust Company

Board member of various entities and former CFO of leading oil producer

Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind

Work highlights

  • Successfully acted for an ultra-high net worth family in their application to reverse historic transfers of luxury London properties (c £25m) into a Jersey trust structure, which had resulted in unintentional and substantial tax liabilities.
  • Successfully represented Prince Mukarram Jah, His Exalted Highness Nizam VIII of Hyderabad, in a dispute over c. £40m funds frozen at Natwest Bank for over 70 years.
  • Successfully acted for two high net worth individuals, working with Isle of Man advocates, in their application to set aside a previous transfer of shares into an Isle of Man trust structure, which mistakenly resulted in adverse tax consequences.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Richard Norridge leads the team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP that regularly advises institutional clients (including banks and trust companies) as well as trustees, their insurers, beneficiaries and family offices on a whole host of contentious matters. Other key clients include ultra-high-net-worth individuals. It frequently advises on complex actions where the trustees are being pursued for claims for breach of trust and also handles third-party claims by or against trustees. Tom Leech QC is no longer at the firm as he has secured an appointment as a High Court judge.

Practice head(s):

Richard Norridge

Testimonials

‘Richard Norridge is personable, collaborative and thoughtful. They provide an excellent service, with prompt responses and excellent advice’.

‘Richard Norridge. Excellent and clear communication – approachability and great attitude, including good humour. Strong clear advice’.

‘Strength in depth and the litigation resources to handle large scale international disputes. Richard Norridge has excellent judgment and great client handling skills’.

Work highlights

  • Advising Dr. Lo Ka Shui, a well-known billionaire in the property sector, in dispute with the trustee of the family trust which holds approximately many billions of assets.
  • Advising a large UK law firm in relation to its fiduciary obligations in relation to a large number of matters (over 700) where it acts as trustee, executor or holds a power of attorney on behalf of clients.

Howard Kennedy LLP

Howard Kennedy LLP has a ‘stellar practice that is going from strength to strength’ advising wealthy clients on complex, high-value and high-profile disputes. It handles a multitude of multi-jurisdictional litigation and many aspects of the team’s work relate to cross-border disputes, with a large proportion of the work including elements of international succession, offshore assets and trusts. Head of department is Naomi O’Higgins who ‘is the iron hand in the kid glove, immensely pleasant to deal with but an absolute terrier too’. Emily Mailer receives many plaudits. The practice added Monika Byrska to its ranks from Thomson Snell & Passmore – an ‘excellent addition to the team’. Overall it is praised for providing a ‘Rolls- Royce service’ to clients.

Practice head(s):

Naomi O’Higgins

Other key lawyers:

Emily Mailer; Monika Byrska; Brendan Udokoro

Testimonials

‘Howard Kennedy has a very strong contentious trusts and estates team, with experience across the wide range of disputes that this encompasses. It also has the particular benefit of being supported by an excellent private client team, that is able to provide invaluable assistance with ensuring that the tax and other technical aspects of any dispute are addressed’.

‘Naomi O’Higgins is a hugely experienced litigator. She is a strong team leader and sets by example in the effort she gives each and every case. She is incredibly pleasant to work with and very tough to be against’.

‘Monika Byrska is a fantastic hire. She is one of the best estates and trusts litigators practicing today. Monika combines a deep knowledge of estates and trusts litigation and administration with thorough forensic analysis, excellent judgment and devastating negotiating prowess’.

‘Naomi O’Higgings has a long established and well earned reputation as a formidable estates and trusts litigator’.

‘Partner Emily Mailer is very experienced and knowledgeable, has a great rapport with clients. Partner Naomi O’Higgins is extremely tenacious and determined on behalf of her clients’‘.

‘The team has grown recently with the addition of Monika Byrska which reflects its expanding position in the market place’.

‘Howard Kennedy has an outstanding international reach, with clients from all over the world. The Contentious Trusts team has recruited well in the past few years and has some star players. Emily Mailer remains a market leader. Always calm under pressure and with a commercial sense for the deal, she gets clients’ trust and the respect of her opponents. Nothing is beyond her ability’.

‘Monika Byrska was a great hire. She is trilingual and brings an international view to the team for its increasingly large overseas client base’.

Kingsley Napley LLP

Kingsley Napley LLP has a ‘very high reputation and is increasingly involved in the big cases in this area’. It is superbly led by Ryan Mowat who is ‘highly experienced and easy to work with, while fighting hard for his clients’.  The group frequently works with its criminal, fraud and media related practices to assist its high-net-worth clients. In addition it regularly works on contentious Court of Protection cases where there have been allegations of serious wrongdoing as well as working closely with its family law team on high-value trusts and divorce cases. Another area of expertise is advising on private wealth disputes involving allegations of historic sexual abuse claims against high-profile estates.

Practice head(s):

Ryan Mowat

Other key lawyers:

Kate Salter; Laura Phillips; Katherine Pymont; Anna Metadjer

Testimonials

‘Strong, reliable track record under the respected leadership of partner, Ryan Mowat, whose team like him is highly experienced and knowledgeable. Each member of the Kingsley Napley team has differing, complementary skills for the optimum result, and the trainee solicitor and paralegals were of the same high quality as the senior associate and partner’.

‘Ryan Mowat is pragmatic, realistic, and acutely commercially-minded, but also sympathetic and understanding. His insightful, incisive analyses of cases and how they are liable to go is impressive. He carefully considers all the angles of a case and the different motivations and variables, and steers a path for his client’s best interests’.

‘Senior Associate Laura Phillips is highly experienced, insightful and knowledgeable, able to explain complex process, with an acute eye for the key considerations in a case. In a complex, hostile litigation, with huge volume of documents to be reviewed within an extremely expedited, contracted timescale, she went out of her way to be helpful and supportive’.

‘The contentious trusts and probate team at Kingsley Napley is absolutely superb. It is so brilliantly led by Ryan Mowat, whose instincts for litigation are unerring and whose charming and unpretentious manner belies an extremely sharp mind and great tactical judgment. He is fantastic in a crisis, is able to plan ahead but to react quickly when things change’.

‘Katherine Pymont, Kate Salter and Anna Metadjer are all so dedicated, competent, quick to react –  it’s an absolute pleasure working with them. They are stand-out and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for an absolute first rate service’.

‘Strength and depth – has been a close-knit team for a number of years now and obviously understands each other intimately. They offer exceptional work and expertise across the board of seniority’.

‘Ryan Mowat – a renowned operator who has seen it all. He has excellent strategic insight. You can tell he loves what he does. Katherine Pymont – an incredibly calm head. Understands what clients want and how to provide it. Always offers sage advice. Kate Salter – a ferociously hard worker who is always totally on top of her matters, which is very reassuring to clients’.

‘Ryan Mowat is tough and calm. One of the best estates and trusts litigators in London. He keeps absolutely focused on achieving the client’s objectives, which are often achieved through his first rate negotiating powers. Kate Salter is clever, measured and calm. Clients like her and trust her. Opponents respect her and her work. Anna Metadjer is very very clever’.

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP

The ‘service level and client care are exceptional’ at McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP. It covers the full spectrum of traditional contentious trusts and estates planning work and has particular expertise in cross-jurisdictional work, offshore trusts and the laws of the Cayman Islands and the BVI. Ziva Robertson previously practised in the Cayman Islands and the BVI and represents trustees, beneficiaries and protectors as well as companies and board members when involved in fiduciary disputes. Nicholas Holland has qualified in a number of jurisdictions and is recognised for his work on international trusts and estates disputes. The ‘first rate’ team has the ‘talent and resources to deal with major trusts litigation’.

Practice head(s):

Ziva Robertson; Andrew Vergunst

Other key lawyers:

Nicholas Holland; Jannika Glendon; Anita Shah

Testimonials

‘McDermotts’ enormous US presence gives them a perspective on trans-Atlantic private client litigation with which almost all firms cannot compete. They have a global presence in the market. Nicholas Holland – ebullient and energetic lawyer who is fascinated by the detail and runs a case with aplomb’.

‘Nick Holland is an experienced litigator who has particular experience of Cayman and Canada’.

‘MWE has a small private client department that punches far above its weight due to the enormous depth of experience possessed by its partners (particularly Ziva Robertson and Nick, Holland). MWE one of the few top private client departments which blends its contentious and non-contentious offering. The result is that there is a lot of joined-up thinking and points do not go unnoticed’.

‘Ziva Robertson is extremely able and has an extraordinary amount of experience across virtually all common law jurisdictions. She is particularly good at managing teams of lawyers across jurisdictions and being able to keep sight of the overall strategy of a case’.

‘The things that struck me was the diversity in the team (how refreshing), how they were all extremely calm, about all matters, and the emotional intelligence that the team demonstrated. They had a unique insight into the stress that we were feeling and were able to provide the technical and legal support, but in a way that made me feel both safe and informed’.

‘Ziva Robertson – exceptional legal memory and analytical skills. Excellent in thinking outside of the box. She will always try and creatively think how to get things done even if everyone else will say it is impossible (and she will!). Full of charisma and makes for a wonderful team leader. Anita Shah – extremely smart, thorough, amazing researcher of fact and law. Extremely organised and talented’.

‘Great international team with strength in depth across the board in US, England and South Africa. Nick Holland – a charming, highly knowledgeable and canny operator who achieves great results for his clients’.

Key clients

Foreign Client with a BVI Trust and various South American Elements

Dawson-Damer (Offshore Proceedings)

Trust Beneficiary

Hill Street Trustees Ltd, Pavilion Trustees Ltd, and various individual trustees

Royal Bank of Canada

Wealthy French sibling/UHNWI (1 of 3 siblings)

Royal Trust of Canada

Estate of Patrick Kelly

Work highlights

  • Continues to act for the beneficiaries of a series of Bahamian trusts, in connection with allegations that a number of high-profile professionals distributed approximately $400m in breach of trust.
  • Advised Royal Trust and negotiated with HMRC and the French tax authorities an agreement as to whether a large number of trusts, related to historic mistreatment of the First Nations peoples and their lands, would need to report under the TRS in either the UK or France.
  • Assisted by Anita Shah, acts for a sole beneficiary of a BVI trust in which the former protector has committed fraud and conspired with the trustee to divert assets away from the trust for the benefit of non-beneficiaries.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Practice head at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is Michael Cash who ‘is possibly the shrewdest contentious trust and probate specialist of them all. He has the extraordinary ability to get to the perfect result for his client’. The department advises numerous HNW individuals, families, trusts and estates and focuses on domestic and international trust and estate litigation (including disputed wills). It has also been busy advising on breach of trust claims and administration of estates disputes. Sarah Lee advises on a broad range of trust and estate litigation covering international and domestic claims over disputed wills, trust and estate administration, and Inheritance Act 1975 claims.

Practice head(s):

Michael Cash

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Lee; Sian Hodgson; Sarah Arnold

Testimonials

‘The best team outside London for contentious trusts work. I do not think they ever take a bad case and they will always fight hard for their clients. They have a really strong team at the top and bring on bright and enthusiastic younger members‘.

‘Michael Cash is at the top of his game. Incredibly capable. Associate Sian Hodgson is a delight to work with, always has the trust of her clients’.

‘Good strength and depth. Some good individuals. Sarah Arnold always goes out of her way – and well beyond the call of duty – to look after her clients. She is also hugely focused on resolving difficult situations, without dwelling on them’.

‘Very responsive and professional. Sarah Lee is a stand out partner! Very easy to work with, very professional’.

‘Great strength and depth, but managing to retain the feeling of a boutique team. Sarah Arnold – efficient, knowledgeable but with an ever-present enthusiasm that makes her a pleasure to work with’.

‘They are a reliable and well-rounded contentious practice. They can cover off most domestic based disputes (estate disputes, trusts disputes and court of protection disputes). Other firms will have the international outlook, but PMC really nails the domestic outlook’.

‘Sarah Lee. She absolutely outstanding. Straight talking, gets to the heart of the issue and is commercially astute. She really fights her clients’ corner and can achieve great settlements through well deployed strategy even when the facts are less than favourable’.

‘Sarah Arnold is a star of the future. She is practical and innovative with her ideas, pragmatic and always give the clients the best advice’.

Key clients

Patrik Schumacher

Administrator for the estate of His Exalted Highness the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad

The administrator of Darrel Evans Dec’d

Savernake Estate

Administrator of Prince Abbasi Estate

Quinn Emauel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP (now moved to Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP ) on behalf of Walter Merricks CBE

Work highlights

  • Advised Patrik Schumacher on his application to remove his co-executors (Lord Palumbo, Brian Clarke and Rana Hadid) from acting as executors of the estate of Zaha Hadid.
  • Advised Walter Merricks CBE (via Quinn Emauel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP) on Estate law in the £14bn class action Merricks v Mastercard. Successful in securing the right to claim on behalf of 3 million deceased consumers in front of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
  • Acting for the administrator of the 7th Nizam’s estate in the long running dispute over £35m held by National Westminster Bank that was deposited in 1948.

Russell-Cooke LLP

Russell-Cooke LLP is ‘absolutely first-class providing a city firm level of service and expertise’. It acts in all areas of trust and estate litigation and is increasingly known for its cross-border and international work involving issues of foreign assets, domicile and residence. Head of department Alison Regan is ‘a superb lawyer who has a great ability to explain complex situations and legal concepts in an accurate but approachable fashion’. She has ‘built up a great’ team, which is ‘exceptional from top to bottom', including Gareth Ledsham, who is ‘an astute analyst of cases who is fearlessly committed to his clients’ interests’.

Practice head(s):

Alison Regan

Other key lawyers:

Gareth Ledsham; Tom Deely; Andrew Morgan

Testimonials

‘This is the London firm I recommend to friends and family for estates and trusts disputes. Everyone in the team is capable and reliable. The support from the partners guides matters beautifully while keeping costs proportionate to the issues and sums at stake’.

‘Alison Regan – a real name who is very well respected. Really experienced and deeply effective as a result. Also a super-nice person. Tom Deely – a rising star who manages his own caseload, it can’t be long before he’s made partner. Strategically very astute’.

‘Alison Regan is a leading light in contentious estates and trusts work. Her leadership has been recognised by her elevation to be joint managing partner of what is a large and diverse multi-services firm. Tom Deely is calm, compassionate and reassuring with clients and steely and dignified with opponents’.

‘I have worked regularly for almost 4 years with Tom Deely, a senior associate whose courtesy and competence are simply stellar. His style provides an unusual balance between advisory and collaborative, making him strategically effective yet pleasant and easy to work with’.

‘I have been very impressed by Russell-Cooke in terms of overall client experience. Firstly my matter has been dealt with expertly, but also I have been billed transparently and in my view fairly for the work executed. Communication from Russell-Cooke has been clear, complete and timely throughout the three years I have been dealing with this team.’

‘I have had a very positive experience dealing with Andrew Morgan in all matters relating to my case. He has always approached matters extremely conscientiously and the result achieved recently in negotiating a settlement exceeded what I had thought possible at points during the proceedings’.

‘A very experienced and capable team, going from strength to strength. Alison Regan – At the top of the field.  Gareth Ledsham – A leader in this area of law, would highly recommend. Tom Deely – Perfect client manner and technical knowledge. Andrew Morgan – Incredible attention to detail and tenacity. A go-to person for tricky matters’.

‘Russell Cooke has a particular reputation for estates disputes with a cross border element, but actually its expertise is excellent across the range of this type of work. Alison Regan is now managing partner but continues to practise. Gareth Ledsham is a superstar, with excellent judgment and good client manner’.

Stephenson Harwood

Jenny McKeown leads the department at Stephenson Harwood which is part of a strong boutique private wealth team. It predominantly advises ultra-high-net-worth entrepreneurs and business owners as well as their families from around the globe on a variety of the most complex and high-value trust and family disputes, with a particular focus on international disputes. It also excels at advising domestic dynastic families. Helena Berman is a known name for her work on a variety of high-value contentious trusts disputes. The group is also well-regarded for its handling of disputes involving cross-border tax issues.

Practice head(s):

Jenny McKeown

Other key lawyers:

Helena Berman; Peter Gillis

Testimonials

‘They are completely committed to their work and are available at all hours. There are a series of very bright associates coming through the ranks. As a team they are totally cohesive. The leadership is strong’.

‘Jenny McKeown has enormous energy and drive and is evidently able to attract and keep the very best associates in her team’.

‘The team really understood our requirements and provided what we needed in a clear and sensible manner’.

‘Peter Gillis has been particularly helpful and is very accessible. Peter stands out as someone who understands his field very well alongside clearly understanding what clients need’.

‘A fantastic all round team who is able to handle challenging and sensitive cases very well’.

‘Jenny McKeown – a leader in the field with superb judgement and the ability to navigate a client through the most difficult of situations. A great overall lawyer. Peter Gillis – a real star in the making. Great judgement and super with clients’.

‘Peter Gillis and Jenny McKeown are very responsive and creative so far as the needs of the case and the client are concerned. The work I have been involved with has been heavy trust litigation in Hong Kong and the Bahamas’.

‘Jenny McKeown is a well-known star of the private client world and gives clients great confidence that their case is being dealt with in the best possible way. Peter Gillis is an incredibly hardworking, creative and client-friendly person to have on the team’.

Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP

The ‘very capable and well-known private client lawyerDavid Wedgwood heads the team at Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP that is regularly instructed on a range of complex and varied matters. It is increasingly advising on a variety of contentious applications to remove trustees and other matters such as property ownership disputes and professional negligence claims. The team is also well-placed to assist vulnerable clients who have mental health issues. Grainne Feeney was a welcome addition to the team from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and Beth Holden is also well-regarded for her work in this area.

Practice head(s):

David Wedgwood

Other key lawyers:

Beth Holden; Grainne Feeney; Tom Dickinson

Testimonials

‘This team often handles complex and sensitive cases and is known for being very forthright in getting the best for their clients. Beth Holden – tenacious and dedicated’.

‘The team at Anthony Gold has an excellent understanding of the law, and an ability to relate very well to a variety of clients. It has particular expertise acting for Claimants in 1975 Act claims and to remove trustees. They have good strength in depth – all of the associates are very capable, especially Tom Dickinson’.

‘David Wedgwood is extremely well respected in the field, and for very good reason. He is a pragmatic and determined litigator, and has an excellent understanding of the law and the best ways to achieve excellent results for his clients’.

Tom Dickinson is an excellent communicator with a superb grasp of the law. He gives practical, focused and sensible advice, and his clients appreciate the fact that he can act with tact and sensitivity whilst firmly fighting their cause. I have recommended him to clients on a couple of cases‘.

‘Great people to work with – Very impressive professionally, a strong reputation, combined with a friendly and approachable manner’.

‘The entire team is very approachable and impressive but standout mention should be made of Tom Dickinson who is superb – He has a thorough grasp of finer details of the case whilst being pragmatic and commercial in his approach to finding a solution which is in the client’s interests’.

‘David Wedgwood is an old hand. Well regarded in the industry for his contentious estates trusts and complimentary court of protection work.’

Key clients

Mrs J Thakare, Mrs U Parmar, Dr Ravindra Bhusate and Dr Lekha Herbert

Work highlights

  • Thakare v Bhusate [2020] EWHC 52 (Ch) – a leading authority on the application of section 4 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Concluded the costs aspect of this case recently for Dr Bhusate.
  • Advised Mr TY a HNW Non Dom subject to Hong Kong restrictions as to concluding 2 estate administrations that had been unresolved for 15 years – advise as to tax consequences of various options and taking proceedings there.
  • Advised as to validity of Gibraltarian Trusts for Court of Protection client.

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP is a ‘very impressive outfit’ that is co-led by Justin Briggs and Kevin Kennedy. It continues to act in some of the biggest and most complex contentious trust and probate matters in the country, attracting a broad client base of high-net-worth individuals including aristocratic families and wealthy international figures. Sian Edmunds is also well-regarded for her work across a broad spread of trusts and estate litigation work as well for her agricultural law disputes expertise.

Practice head(s):

Justin Briggs; Kevin Kennedy

Other key lawyers:

Sian Edmunds; Caroline Emslie

Testimonials

‘Kevin Kennedy is very approachable and easy to work with. Burges Salmon stands out in the South West‘.

‘Justin Briggs, Caroline Emslie -both very experienced practitioners with a strong grasp of the realities’.

‘Justin Briggs is an excellent partner who is at once both on top of the detail and adept at stepping back and keeping in mind the big picture. He is supported by a superb team’.

‘Caroline Emslie is an excellent senior associate and partner in waiting. Very bright and hardworking, with a good strategic head. A pleasure to work with‘.

Caroline Emslie is an exceptional associate, who has fantastic judgment and can be trusted to make the difficult calls, while Justin Briggs provides invaluable strategic oversight and guidance’.

Key clients

The Earl of Plymouth and Trustees

Robert Sofer

Work highlights

  • Advising the Earl of Plymouth and trustees of a landed estate in their extensive litigation linked to the development of a part of their estate outside Cardiff.
  • Advising Robert Sofer in a high-value international dispute. The client is the beneficiary of a trust established in Australia and administered by a Swiss trustee company.

Hunters Law LLP

Richard Kershaw heads the department at Hunters Law LLP. Kershaw specialises in family law and contentious work arising from relationship generated trust and Inheritance Act disputes. The group’s work spans onshore and offshore work for trustees and beneficiaries as well as landed clients and City professionals. David Draisey specialises in a wide range of contentious issues and regularly acts for claimants and defendants on matters as diverse as claims under the Inheritance Act to application to remove executors/trustees as well as challenging/defending the validity of a will.

Practice head(s):

Richard Kershaw

Other key lawyers:

David Draisey; Polly Atkins

Testimonials

‘Personal and knowledgeable service, especially for HNW individuals. David Draisey is a total delight, a wonderful instructing solicitor’.

‘Deep experience in traditional private client work and an excellent client base’.

‘A cutting-edge dynamism hidden in the sleepy Georgian enclave of Lincoln’s Inn. A sparkling synergy of energy and strategy’.

‘Partner Richard Kershaw carries the heaviest case lightly, with an unerring ability to find the opponent’s soft underbelly. Associate Polly Atkins is fast establishing a reputation as sure-footed and cool under fire’.

‘Excellent client care, exceptional attention to detail‘.

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell has an ‘extremely attentive’ team under the leadership of Claire-Marie Cornford. It is adept at handling a broad range of contentious trust and probate matters including high-value, complex and multi-jurisdictional disputes as well as other issues relating to contentious Court of Protection matters. Nicola Bushby is also well-regarded for her work on high-value private wealth litigation with a particular emphasis on claims involving breaches of trust and estate disputes for domestic and international clients. It is a ‘strong team’.

Practice head(s):

Claire-Marie Cornford

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Bushby; Katherine Reed

Testimonials

‘The team has a very strong presence nationwide in contentious trusts and probate. It is led by the very experienced and talented Claire-Marie Cornford. Nicola Bushby is excellent. They understand completely the pressures and stresses of this sort of litigation and are wholly committed to guiding their clients through to a successful resolution. They are ably supported by a strong group of associates, such as Katherine Reed’.

‘This team has really built up its reputation in recent years particularly in London where it is seen in many of the big cases. It has recruited some highly experienced and excellent lawyers’.

‘Claire Marie Cornford is highly experienced in these disputes and in many of the big cases. She knows this area of law backwards and fights very hard for her client. Nicola Bushby is an excellent litigator-very clever and calm’.

‘Very knowledgeable team, who are experts in their field –  they also have a wealth of resources and contacts which allow you to get the best possible result’.

‘Nicola Bushby is excellent. Lovely to deal with and very capable. Katherine Reed is a rising star’.

‘Nicola Bushby is simply excellent. She is technically very able and has a wonderful manner with clients and is incredibly hardworking. It is a strong team’.

‘Claire-Marie Cornford is a strong litigator and someone you would like to have on your side’.

‘The London team, headed by Claire-Marie Cornford, seems to be growing apace both in numbers and profile. They have the advantage of being able to act for clients at both ends of the wealth spectrum, making use of their regional offering where London rates might be prohibitive’.

Key clients

John Clitheroe

Stevens & Bolton LLP

James Lister leads the team at Stevens & Bolton LLP that ‘provides a down to earth, practical, cost efficient service to clients whilst having excellent lawyers who can easily hold their own against the major London private client firms’. The practice is well-placed to advise high-profile clients on significant UK and international matters. Jack Bailey is now a managing associate and also has a particular specialism in contentious Court of Protection cases. It is a team that ‘is strong across the board’.

Practice head(s):

James Lister

Other key lawyers:

Jack Bailey; Hayley Robinson

Testimonials

‘They are part of the Guildford golden circle. I have recommended Stevens & Bolton to friends for contentious trusts and estates work. The team is small, but has two standout stars’.

‘The best regional offering in the Contentious Trusts arena. Sharp, switched-on and good to work with’.

‘James Lister is a superstar in the making. Jack Bailey and Hayley Robinson add huge strength in depth’.

‘This team is made up of top class solicitors across the board, all experts in their field. James Lister is highly respected in this area, and manages an impressive team. They’re a force to be reckoned with’.

‘Hayley Robinson is a bright, proactive and efficient litigator. She has an excellent manner with clients and is committed to achieving the best outcome possible for them.  Jack Bailey is clever and highly experienced in his field. He can be trusted to give clear and practical advice to clients‘.

‘Jack Bailey is an ambitious private client litigator with a sound legal knowledge. The team is gradually building up its strength both organically and through lateral hires. James Lister puts in a big effort and has a high profile in the industry’.

‘James Lister and Jack Bailey are the lynchpins of the team. They have a can-do attitude and are not afraid to have the difficult conversations with the clients’.

‘James Lister is an all round exceptional partner at the the firm, highly experienced, thoroughly decent and a razor sharp lawyer’.

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Court-appointed administrator in the highly publicised Reeves v Drew case, involving a very large estate dispute between multiple parties.
  • Acting for a beneficiary client in securing significant sums from his offshore trust following a prolonged dispute.
  • Successfully acting for a disappointed beneficiary in his claim to be reinstated into his family trusts.

VWV

With Michelle Rose at the helm VWV deals with complex trust and probate disputes on a national basis and receives regular referrals from London and regional law firms as well as leading members of the Chancery Bar in London. Rose also acts as an independent court appointed administrator and deputy in a number of complex contested estates. Fiona Lawrence has considerable experience in cross-border disputes as well.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Rose

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Lawrence; Julia Hardy

Testimonials

‘The team is very knowledgeable, and stays up to date with developments. Explains what courses of action are available and the possible outcomes, providing sound advice to resolve the issues that are contentious. One of the team is always available and they are prompt to answer any communications’.

‘Julia Hardy was knowledgeable, able to anticipate potential problems in advance, and able to manage the case well. The advice I was given was sensible, consistent, and effective. Everything was also always explained to me in very clear terms‘.

‘VWV has a deservedly strong reputation in the field for all manner of contentious trusts and estates disputes. At the head, Michelle Rose has a track record of dealing with difficult estates and trusts and frequently acts as a court appointed PR or trustee’.

‘The team has invaluable experience of navigating to a solution through seemingly intractable problems. Julia Hardy is a standout member of the team, for her superb attention to detail, wise counsel and calm approach to every situation’.

‘The firm has a good following amongst charities and its partners are often recommended as litigation friends or replacement personal representatives in difficult cases’.

‘Michelle Rose is a well established national leader in contentious estates and trusts work. Julia Hardy is clever, calm, understated and reassuring. She is a first class estates and trusts litigator who inspires confidence in clients and respect from opponents’.

‘The team exudes professionalism and has been consistently supportive of our position. They have very quickly understood the emotions and issues at stake. The advice has been first-class’.

‘Fiona Lawrence, who heads our work has been constantly available to us – even at short notice – and has been extremely empathetic to our needs as a client. She has worked tirelessly on our behalf’.

Work highlights

  • Acting for Riding for the Disabled Association in respect of a £19.5m estate with a contested statutory will application involving 12 other charities.
  • Continue to be appointed on complex high value deadlocked estate administration and contested Court of Protection matters.

Wedlake Bell LLP

Wedlake Bell is flourishing under the direction of Caroline Miller and advises across a wide range of high-value and complex domestic and international contentious trusts and probate disputes. Clients include high-net-worth individuals and families, executors, trustees and beneficiaries. Andrew O’Keeffe has particular expertise in disputes concerning the Inheritance Act where he has acted for spouses, adult and minor children, dependants and executors.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Miller

Other key lawyers:

Andrew O’Keeffe; Oliver Embley; Katie Turney; Thomas Klemme

Testimonials

‘This firm handles some very large trusts and this feeds into a strong and successful contentious team. Andrew O’Keefe and Caroline Miller are both great to work with’.

‘Katie Turney stands out to me. She does a mixture of both private client non-contentious and contentious work. This means she has experience that many other solicitors (perhaps the majority) lack and can provide really good insight. Not only is she very clever and switched on about the law, she is also very good with clients, putting them at ease’.

‘Wedlake Bell is a world-class team of contentious trusts lawyers, often leading the way in key areas such as confidentiality, disclosure and cross-border enforcement. They have outstanding talent at all levels and have developed innovative and well-resourced ways of keeping them. Caroline Miller gets the very best out of her team’.

‘Caroline Miller may possibly be the best contentious trusts partner in the world. She creates an instant bond of trust with clients, keeps the commercial realities in mind and is unceasingly creative and courageous in pursuing their goals’.

‘Andrew O’Keeffe is experienced and dependable, and has deadly dangerous negotiation skills. Tom Klemme is his reliable and switched-on right-hand man’.

‘This team has good experience and provides a consistently good service. Andrew O’Keefe works diligently for his clients, and is a formidable litigator’.

‘The contentious partner with whom I have worked recently is Andrew O’Keefe, who is extremely steady and whose low key approach belies the effectiveness of the way in which he runs matters. I have also been impressed recently with his associate Thomas Klemme’.

BDB Pitmans

Lucinda Brown leads the wills and trusts disputes practice at BDB Pitmans. It advises on the full spectrum of claims from trusts disputes often with an offshore element to professional negligence claims involving trusts, claims under the Inheritance Act and probate litigation. Clients include charities of all sizes, HNW individuals, executors and trustees. The group also works closely with the firm’s charities, agricultural and private wealth teams and is frequently advising on cases involving agricultural estates.

Practice head(s):

Lucinda Brown

Testimonials

‘Lucinda Brown now heads the Contentious Trust and Probate Team – experienced and committed solicitor’.

‘Lucinda Brown leads a talented team’.

‘Lucinda Brown gives firm clear advice and is very able and committed’.

‘Lucinda Brown is the recognised head of a small team. She is friendly and approachable and has a good knowledge of the practice area. We have no hesitation in referring work to her knowing that she will do the best for her clients’.

‘Lucinda Brown – a safe pair of hands and with a good eye for how to get a result’.

Druces LLP

Under the joint leadership of Matthew Duncan and Helen Freely the able team at Druces LLP is well-placed to advise wealthy individuals, beneficiaries, executors, trustees and charities on a wide range of disputes. It has increasingly been acting in a number of disputes over the mental capacity of the testator at the time of making their last will or lifetime gifts. Newly promoted partner Paul Levy is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Duncan; Helen Freely

Other key lawyers:

Paul Levy

Testimonials

‘Druces allocates a small team to the case so that someone is always available to deal with day-to-day problems. They inspire confidence. Not cheap. But worth it’.

‘Helen Freely has unravelled a complicated trust set up in a will. She handled it quickly, efficiently and successfully. She is extremely impressive with an eye for detail and an impressive grasp of trust and tax law’.

‘The team has real expertise and the capability to deal with large cross border estate and trust issues’.

‘Helen Freely is an excellent lawyer who really goes the extra mile for her clients in order to secure a good outcome for them’.

‘A small but effective team that really looks after their clients and has excellent contacts throughout the sector’.

‘Helen Freely – very experienced and with good judgment. Keeps focused on client’s best interests even when they struggle to themselves’.

‘Paul Levy – recently made partner and not before time, as he has been operating at that level for some time. A combative litigator with a good strategic mind’.

‘From a barrister’s perspective, considered one of the very best contentious private client firms. Sterling reputation. Helen Freely and Paul Levy are both superb. Very hardworking, thorough, pragmatic, the complete package. Congratulations to Paul on his recent and well-deserved promotion to Partner’.

Work highlights

  • Acted for a widow in the reported case of Eade v Hogg [2021] EWHC 1057 – a claim for construction / rectification of her husband’s Will.

Gowling WLG

Catherine Naylor heads the department at Gowling WLG that is based primarily in London but also draws on the firm’s other private wealth practitioners in Singapore and Canada. It focuses on all aspects of trust litigation for its predominantly internationally based clients. It is adept at handling cross-border disputes as well as other matters such as claims by and against professional trustees.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Naylor

Key clients

Aquila Topco Limited (the holding company of Equiom)

TMF Group (Equity Trust (Jersey) Limited)

Chris and Nick Candy (the Candy brothers)

Joanna Lemos

Edward Cartwright, Robert Sloss and Tim Barlow

Kevin Hellard and Matthew Richardson in their capacity as Joint Liquidators for Durant International Corp (in liquidation), Kildare Finance Ltd (in liquidation) and MacDoel Investment Ltd (in liquidation)

Dan Finch

Adam Smith

Work highlights

  • Acting for Joanna Lemos and the trustees in bankruptcy on a dispute concerning valuable property held on the trusts of a Bermudian trust.
  • Successfully defending Chris and Nick Candy (The Candy Brothers) against a £132m claim by Mark Holyoake relating to residential property at Grosvenor Gardens House.

Michelmores LLP

Jennifer Ridgway and Sarah Chisholm-Batten co-lead the busy cross-departmental practice at Michelmores LLP that advises on an array of high-value and complex domestic and international trust and estate disputes. It also frequently takes on independent trustee and administrator roles as well advising a number of large UK landed estates. Lorraine Jeffery leads the contentious probate team in London and is also part of the International Trust Advisory team and the Mental Capacity Group at the firm.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Ridgway; Sara Chisholm-Batten

Other key lawyers:

Lorraine Jeffery

Testimonials

‘This is a very talented team for clients who wish to instruct a firm based out of London, but who have a presence in London. Jennifer Ridgway is an exceptionally capable partner’.

‘Michelmores punches above its weight in the market, easily outstripping some of the larger firms in expertise. The highly knowledgeable and skilled team lead by Jennifer Ridgway should always be in a client’s list of go-to firms when litigation is on the horizon’.

‘Jennifer Ridgway is both professionally exceptional in terms of her knowledge of trusts and tax and in her engagement with clients. She is a great communicator and a charming person’.

‘Very experienced in contentious trusts matters. Reliable, responsive, very clever’.

‘Michelmores has broad strength across its practice areas and has not got overly ambitious, after a brief dalliance with offshore work a few years ago’.

‘Lorraine Jefferey was an excellent addition to kickstart the London team. She’s really fallen on her feet and has got stuck in to a great cross-section of contentious trusts and estate business’.

‘Small but perfectly formed litigation team’.

‘Recruiting Lorraine Jeffery as a partner was a real coup. She is efficient and clever’.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a ‘strong team, experienced partner group and excellent associates’. This national firm has a first-rate private client offering with a specialist estate, trusts and wills disputes team. It handles the full range of claims over the validity of wills and related claims concerning lifetime transactions and also acts for a number of charities involved in contested legal matters. Heads of department David Catchpole, Simon Pedley and Lucy Howard are all well-regarded.

Practice head(s):

David Catchpole; Simon Pedley; Lucy Howard

Other key lawyers:

Kieran Leahy

Testimonials

‘They have highly specialised solicitors –  each experts in their field. Highly professional and courteous, a thorough understanding of the issue at hand and confident approach’.

‘The firm is renowned for the legal work in the private client/contentious probate/trusts area nationally and has developed a profile which is hard to match. In practice, the reputation is well deserved’.

‘Simon Pedley is absolutely top of the tree for this kind of work. He is outstanding. He is astonishingly bright and tactically astute with exceptional judgment. He is calm and has an open personality which makes his client manner unbeatable’. 

‘An exceptional team with great strength and depth in core private client areas. Compares extremely favourably to other HNW firms. Certainly respected as being a team with credibility’.

‘Is a provincial powerhouse that offers real value for money. They regularly and happily go toe-to-toe with the really big London firms. Partner engagement is excellent and it gives the clients real faith. Also very good at selecting associates so the whole team has real strength in depth’.

‘David Catchpole is very experienced and really personable. Manages the litigation process to great effect. Lucy Howard is an absolute star. Really brainy and keeps you on your toes as counsel. Has a great feel for the law and fights ferociously for her clients, who adore her. Kieran Leahy is barely qualified but you’d never believe it. He has a natural ability and has been taught extremely well. Works tirelessly too’.

‘Mills & Reeve has a nationwide presence with some exceptionally good lawyers who have real expertise in this field they are involved in some seriously high profile cases. They are excellent with clients’.

‘Mills & Reeve is a great firm to work with. It has a palpable team spirit and positive approach to litigation and attaining the best outcome for clients’.

Key clients

Peter Christian Velarde

Allan Firth Webster

Oxbridge College

Rohita Rajapakse and others

NH (in the case of Re H)

Administrator of the estate of the late Mrs Cadogan

Zedra Trust Company (UK) Limited

Brian Kennedy

Oxbridge college

Osbornes

The agile team at Osbornes acts for a wide range of high-net-worth individuals and families in complex estate and trust litigation, advising on a wide array of contentious trust and estate matters. The department handles complex and high-value litigation on behalf of individuals and trust companies and many of its cases have a cross-border dimension.  It is ‘always a delight’ to deal with the head of department Jan Atkinson. The practice is also frequently appointed by the court as an independent administrator and litigation friend to resolve long running disputes.

Practice head(s):

Jan Atkinson

Other key lawyers:

Katie de Swarte; Elspeth Neilson

 

Testimonials

‘This team perhaps does not have the reputation in this area it ought to have. It quietly handles some very big, high profile disputes. it has an expert team to do so and provides sensible pragmatic advice to its clients. Jan Atkinson has huge experience in this area. She knows the law thoroughly and is an excellent tactician always looking for a good outcome for her clients which she generally achieves’.

‘Most of the team conduct both contentious and non-contentious work, giving them a solid grounding in estate and trust managing principles including tax that is valuable in conducting litigation. Jan Atkinson is a well established and respected partner in the field. Knowledgeable and sensible. Katie de Swarte is extremely client focused and caring and supportive to her clients’.

‘They are completely committed to doing the absolute best they can for every single client. They are bright, knowledgeable and innovative. Commitment to the cause, willingness to go the extra mile and complete command of the area mean they always give the right advice and do the best job possible’.

‘Jan Atkinson handled a difficult situation with great aplomb and tact. A wealth of experience which means clients are very well advised in these circumstances’.

‘A capable contested probate team that seems to care. Katie de Swarte is an up and coming star’.

‘I’ve worked with Elspeth Neilson and Katie de Swarte on various pieces of private client litigation – two in the Court of Protection and one probate dispute. I’ve found them, and the firm, very efficient and capable and dealing successfully with some difficult clients’.

‘Elspeth Neilson and Katie de Swarte are very competent private client lawyers, with good instincts for the merits of the case and a good manner with sometimes difficult clients’.

Sinclair Gibson LLP

Henry Hickman leads the group at Sinclair Gibson LLP that deals with trust disputes for private client and professional trustees (both onshore and offshore) relating to closely held family/private companies. The team has also been busy advising on other matters such as professional negligence claims for private clients and acting in court of protection proceedings on behalf of incapacitated individuals. Alison Meek has left the firm and is now a consultant at Forsters LLP.

Practice head(s):

Henry Hickman

Other key lawyers:

Amy Williams

Testimonials

 ‘Sinclair Gibson is a lovely and extremely capable and nice boutique firm – I refer a lot of work to them where I have conflicts. Clients reports are always very positive. They are all at the top of their game and give really great client service and know their stuff – and yet are very fun and normal – the kind of people you can happily spend a lunch or evening with’.

‘Henry Hickman is a very capable trusts lawyer. He is also commercial and sensible which makes having him on the other side an absolute pleasure! Clients speak very highly of him. He is a thoroughly nice chap’.

‘Henry Hickman is a talented litigator and the associate Amy Williams is also very good’.

‘The firm combines real expertise in non-contentious work with litigation experience in the most complex and involved of matters’.

‘A top tier team who provide a Rolls Royce service.’

‘Henry Hickman is a superstar – providing the all round package of technical excellence, commercial acumen, strategic insight and hard work. Henry is also a pleasure to work with’.

‘Sinclair Gibson is a lovely and extremely capable and nice boutique firm.’

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans, which recently merged with RadcliffesLeBrasseur,  has a ‘particularly user-friendly’ team which is ably led by Jonathan Shankland, Dominic Green and Nigel West. The skilled team advises on all aspects of contentious trusts and probate and acts for executors, administrators, beneficiaries and dependants on a range of high-value and complex trusts and estate disputes in the UK and overseas. It is particularly skilled at handling cases such as claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act as well as challenging wills on various grounds.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Shankland; Dominic Green; Nigel West

Other key lawyers:

Arshoo Singh

Testimonials

‘A small but effective team that offers real value for money. Dominic Green is very experienced and effective’.

‘Confident, experienced professionals. Arshoo Singh is passionate about her clients’.

‘Dominic Green impressed me by quickly grasping the complications of my problem and suggesting alternate ways of proceeding. The ease of working together with Jon definitely gave me the feeling that I was being assisted by the team’.

‘It’s the attention to detail, plain speaking and efficiency that were apparent from the start. The contentious probate issue was brought speedily to a close, in my favour, and I could not be more delighted with the service Jon Shankland and his team provided’.

‘Jon Shankland was beyond helpful. He spoke clearly and plainly about the case, kept me up to date with what was happening and speedily brought the matter to satisfactory close. I wish I had used them earlier. It would have saved me a year of stress’.

Jon Shankland is both personable, wise, knowledgeable and confident. He is a great communicator and able to calm any situation down. Most of all, he is passionate about getting it right and fair for his clients. Nigel West, who has also been involved with the case is a great litigator and a pleasure to deal with’.

‘The team brings with it a huge amount of experience in relation to complex commercial and fraud cases which makes it very well placed to service particularly complex trust disputes including those involving fraud’.

‘Nigel West is an experienced litigator with excellent judgment. He is very effective at spotting, and exploiting, the weak spots on the other side’.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Neil Long is a key contact at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP which fields a dedicated and experienced team that works across its London, Newcastle, Leeds and Edinburgh offices. It acts for individuals, charities and trustees (both individual and corporate trustees in the UK and offshore) and insurance companies on a full range of contentious private client matters. Will Ford is another seasoned practitioner who advises on all aspects of tax, trusts, estate and succession planning matters.

Practice head(s):

Neil Long

Other key lawyers:

Richard Pike; Rosie Taylor; Will Ford

Testimonials

‘The team was forensically precise in collecting research, information on the particulars of our case. They were honest, clearly communicated and explained the process and practice and explained approaches so that we could assess and be guided on how to prepare and be equipped to manage a complicated, difficult situation’.

‘I found them to be honest yet understanding, thoughtful and empathetic in their dealings with us. They felt somehow kinder than others but also highly efficient. I found Rosie Taylor and Richard Pike to be laser-like in their efficiency but personable and thoughtful in their dealings with us’.

‘Plugged into a huge legal network with strong professional liability and corporate trustee capabilities. Neil Long is clear-sighted and trusted by clients’.

‘Richard Pike and Rosie Taylor provide a high class, but reasonably priced and cost conscious service to individuals in the area of private client disputes – 1975 Act cases and other will disputes’.

‘Richard and Roise are both talented lawyers and practical operators, securing sensible and pragmatic results. They divide work between themselves and with counsel efficiently’.

‘The firm is a heavyweight one, but where the focus really is client-centric, rather than firm-centric. They go the extra mile to respond to, and indeed and stay ahead of the client’s requirements’.

‘Neil Long builds an excellent relationship with his clients, who place immense value on his guidance. Rosie Taylor carries huge case responsibilities very lightly, and is a remarkably calm figure in the storm of litigation’.

‘I find the WBD team one of the most efficient I have worked with, and they have great initiative – you don’t have to spell everything out. I work with Rosie Taylor and Richard Pike. Excellent, very thorough and very efficient’.

Key clients

Louise Reeves

Work highlights

  • The client is the beneficiary and executor of her late father’s valued at between £50 – £100m (sums in dispute) under a Will which is subject to a challenge by disappointed beneficiaries (her brother and nephew) on the grounds of want of knowledge and approval, and undue influence.