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Firms To Watch: Contentious trusts and probate

Hugh James is regarded as a major player in this area, delivering City-level service and experience. Practice head Roman Kubiak is known for his calm, commercial and charming approach.

Contentious trusts and probate in London

Baker McKenzie

Anthony Poulton leads a stellar team of 'first-class trust litigators with an excellent international reach and profile' at Baker McKenzie . The 'superb team' regularly acts in major international trust disputes which are predominantly high value, multi party and cross border. Poulton ( 'a titan in trust litigation and a sage, calm leader') is adept at advising on corporate governance and family governance matters. Gemma Willingham is another key member of the team who continues to be busy advising trustees and beneficiaries in many substantial disputes. Newly promoted partner Yindi Gesinde is another well-regarded practitioner who has a wealth of experience in complex trusts disputes. It is 'one of the premier firms for contentious private client work in the country, and probably the world'.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Poulton

Other key lawyers:

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

Testimonials

‘The people here are simply great! One of the best if not the best contentious trust practice in the market. The lawyers have a unique depth of experience which translates very well to working collaboratively in jurisdictions with solicitors, attorney and counsel.  Response time is excellent and the advice is always extremely well considered with every angle covered. They take the appropriate amount of time to consider relationships and the dynamics of complex disputes where lines are blurred between family/commercial interests and private client. Standouts in the stellar team led by the legendary Anthony Poulton are Gemma Willingham, Yindi Gesinde and Jack Secunda. Qualities as above but a big mention for Mr Poulton, Gemma and Jack inspiring team to work with‘.

Luke Richardson – a walking encyclopaedia; Gemma Willingham fiercely bright and a delight to work with; Jack Secunda – surely destined for stardom; Gareth Roberts – a sure hand on the tiller’.

The team is second to none in London. Its international reach and experience of the biggest cases mean that there are very few firms globally (still less in London) that can match it. Also it gets full marks for diversity and gender balance. Anthony Poulton – running the biggest contentious trusts case in history and largest litigation in Bermuda ever means he has unrivalled experience in managing global multi-billion litigation of the most complex variety. He does so with style and aplomb, excellent judgment and a complete understanding of the issues. Luke Richardson – a very talented lawyer destined for the partnership. Gemma Willingham – has shown her abilities as a new partner in taking over major cases’.

The Baker McKenzie team is always a pleasure to work and deal with.  It has  a first-rate senior bench and is consistently bringing on very talented junior members. Its international reach and ability to call upon expertise globally is a significant advantage it holds. Its awareness of issues that go beyond the London practice is second to none and invaluable to working on matters involving cross-border issues. The lawyers provide seamless advice and are always joined up, whether it be with colleagues in non-contentious practice areas or more specialist dispute resolution practitioners in the broader team‘.

Stand out partners are Anthony Poulton who rightly has the highest of reputations for contentious trust work. His experience, knowledge and delivery of advice and overall service are exceptional. Newer partners Yindi Gesinde and Gemma Willingham are prime examples of Baker McKenzie’s strength in depth‘.

‘Baker McKenzie has high-quality individuals from top to bottom.  It is no exaggeration to say that if there is a substantial matter involving trusts or estates then it is very likely that this team will be involved. Anthony Poulton is one of the leading individuals in this area. He is involved in the largest cases and has more experience in this area than practically anyone else in the country. He is an unquestionable star. Gemma Willingham is a relatively new partner but you would not know it because she is so assured and astute. She is also an absolute pleasure to work with. Luke Richardson is one of the rising stars in the private client world. It is obvious that he will take partner soon and he deserves it‘.

The team is at the forefront of big ticket trusts and estates litigation, where its experience and the resources it can bring to bear really tell. Gemma Wilkinson is an exceptional young partner with judgment that belies her years‘.

Simply the best in this field, Anthony Poulton – calm, measured and brilliant; Jack Secunda – incredibly bright with superb analytical skills and judgment. He will fly. Luke Richardson – bright and all over the detail; Gareth Roberts – a force to be reckoned with. Gemma Willingham – just wonderful‘.

Key clients

Dr Winston Wong

Work highlights

  • Acting for an ultra high-net worth individual in complex and long-running proceedings in Bermuda, seeking to recover assets worth at least $15bn currently held in trusts. The claims are believed to be the highest-value ever brought in the jurisdiction. The team has recently obtained a $500m summary judgment for its client, which has been appealed to the Privy Council. The team also manages the client’s global litigation, which is also ongoing in Hong Kong and the USA, leveraging its extensive expertise in litigating claims in multiple jurisdictions at the same time.

Boodle Hatfield LLP

Boodle Hatfield LLP excels in high-value, complex and international work. The team is regularly involved in disputes and issues arising from non-traditional family structures stemming from same-sex marriages and other issues including surrogacy. In addition, the team is working on an increasing number of high-value trust ‘partition’ cases whereby a second or third generation of beneficiaries is seeking to exit from the existing structure. The 'exceptional strategist' Andrea Zavos  heads the department. Other notable practitioners are Simon Rylatt and Mark Lindley  - they have both been working on some of the most complex cases for the firm’s largest clients. The group is highly regarded for its considerable expertise in advising on multi-jurisdictional tax, asset protection trusts, family businesses and governance issues, as well as on succession matters. The practice also acts for a number of significant trust companies. It is a 'high-quality team that is doing high-quality work'.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Zavos

Other key lawyers:

Simon Rylatt; Mark Lindley; James Woods-Davison

Testimonials

This is at the top of the tree handling all the big, high-profile cases. It has real expertise and it is a leader in the market with a fantastic reputation. Andrea Zavos is extremely talented. She is a very good lawyer but intensely practical, knowing when to stand her ground and when to fight. Mark Lindley is one of the best lawyers I know, as well as being extremely calm and good with clients.’

Boodle Hatfield has some of the leading and most respected practitioners in this area. The lawyers look after their clients very well. Andrea Zavos stands out for the emotional intelligence she brings to disputes as much as for her legal expertise. She knows when to settle and how to make the process work, focusing on the issues that really matter. She is all round a class act.’

‘Andrea Zavos and Simon Rylatt are both well known in the field and well able to stand their ground on behalf of their clients.’

A team with an excellent reputation that often has matters belying the size of the team. Mark Lindley is technically excellent, commercial and approachable. James Woods-Davison is a definitely a junior to watch.’

Very commercial litigators who are able to collaborate to find solutions. The lawyers do not take stupid points or take intractable positions. This is a firm you can do business with; the lawyers are interested in finding solutions.’

The Boodle Hatfield team has strength and depth, with a range of different lawyers with great experience and skills. Andrea Zavos particularly stands out, both for her depth of experience and her no-nonsense, insightful approach. She combines considerable empathy and charm with knowledge and pragmatism, and adopts a robust style without aggression. Simon Rylatt is quick, clever and easy to deal with.’

Very adept and personable, yet resolute and robust when required, always keeping cool heads when others around them are losing theirs. A really engaging and talented group of people to be around. Andrea Zavos – quite brilliant, approachable, unflappable and engaging. Andrea exudes calm even when matters escalate and she has been a highly valued adviser and confidante. Her real value is not just the tactical side of litigation but managing the “home team” and keeping everyone on track and on side in what can be very fraught circumstances. Andrea has become a “go to” for us. James Woods-Davidson – definitely one to watch for the future, he is wise beyond his years and his cool, calm, collected demeanour and friendly responsive service mean he is as excellent and unflappable in a crisis as he is around the boardroom table. Neither shaken or stirred James also has steel when required.’

‘It has extensive experience in handling very complex cross-border trusts and estates disputes; the lawyers  are extremely responsive, smart and to the point and just a great pleasure to work with. Mark Lindley stands out for his great mind and the way he manages very complex matters in a calm and very efficient way.’

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP continues to lead on some of the largest and most high-profile cases domestically and offshore and routinely handles a myriad of high-value and complex disputes that often span multiple jurisdictions. Recent highlights have included successfully advising on an application (and subsequent appeal) to the High Court on novel points of law. It also frequently works on some of the largest international divorce cases where trusts are involved and on asset tracing and fraud matters. Graeme Kleiner  ('a real star') advises trustees, executors and beneficiaries on a broad range of disputes. In addition Kleiner has a growing practice in IFA disputes and handles fraud and professional negligence cases relating to trust, tax and succession matters. Duncan Elson concentrates on large and complex trusts and estate disputes. Tamasin Perkins is experienced in advising on multi-jurisdictional injunctions and claims for the recovery of assets. This is a  'team that has excellent depth and breadth from the top down'.

Practice head(s):

Graeme Kleiner

Other key lawyers:

Duncan Elson; Tamasin Perkins; Robert Avis; Oliver Auld

Testimonials

‘Top team involved in all the big cases in this area. Incredible expertise and experience both on and offshore. Its client handling skills are excellent and the lawyers always look for a sensible solution. Graeme Kleiner is outstanding with huge experience and expertise. He has a superb team with the very bright Robert Avis. Tamasin Perkins is extremely clever and excellent with clients. Duncan Elson has enormous experience and is a really tough litigator.’

CRS features in more than its fair share of the high-profile trusts and estates cases. It has an impressive line up of highly experienced partners and well trained associates who serve their clients very well. Graeme Kleiner appears in a large number of high-profile trusts cases and for good reason. His technical knowledge is excellent and he takes both a forceful and imaginative approach on behalf of his clients.’

‘Everyone you come across is practical, commercial, astute and very nice to deal with. Graeme Kleiner – a very hands on partner, who works hard for his clients and is tenacious. He also sees the bigger picture and gets good deals done for his clients. Rob Avis – intelligent and astute. He is quick to grapple with difficult problems and find a practical and commercial solution.’

‘The breadth of its practice is unusual and notable – from large-scale offshore trust litigation, UK probate disputes, Court of Protection work, and divorce litigation. It is a quality outfit with a great private client team behind it and a strong regional presence – unusual for a City firm of this profile and strength. Graeme Kleiner – at the top of his game at the moment. Knowledgeable, pragmatic and cunning when he needs to be. Duncan Elson – an understated but highly effective and experienced litigator. Rob Avis is a standout associate based in the Geneva office.’

This is a classy firm which gives consistent and well-measured advice against a background culture which always seeks to identify the clients’ best interests. An unflappable team which operates well regardless of the pressures which frequently arise in this area. Tamasin Perkins and Graeme Kleiner are names that spring to mind. They are great representatives of the firm giving cool-headed, balanced advice as part of a well co-ordinated team effort.’

Very impressive team with expertise to handle traditional domestic disputes and complex international cases. Graeme Kleiner continues to be one of the most popular figures in this sphere and runs a very impressive and efficient ship. Tamasin Perkins is an excellent partner and a joy to work with.’

Clear thinking and focus on the important elements of cases. Sound practical advice. Graeme Kleiner – absolute standout. One of the very few “go to” solicitors in the contentious trust and probate field. A wide knowledge of the principles of law and an excellent application of them to facts of particular cases. Superb at identifying the key issues and advising accordingly.’

‘A team with superior strength and depth, led by the brilliant Graeme Kleiner. Graeme Kleiner – a dynamic, analytical and strategic operator. Duncan Elson – fantastically knowledgeable – calmly guides clients through the process. Rob Avis – based in Geneva – totally brilliant – will fly.’

Key clients

Alan Shearer CBE

Trustees of the Bathurst Estate: the Earl’s Fund

Trustee of the Michael Cowan Foundation

Nicola Mackay

Work highlights

  • Successfully acted for the trustees of the Michael Cowan Foundation, a registered charity which is the ultimate beneficiary of the late Michael Cowan’s Will Trusts, after Michael’s wife, Mary.
  • Successfully acted pro bono for the claimant (Nicola Mackay) 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, including undue influence, capacity, mistake and non est factum.
  • Advising four private trust companies in a complex family dispute and restructuring process in relation to numerous trusts valued at several billion dollars.

Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance LLP has a wealth of experience of advising clients on the most high-value and complex disputes, frequently involving multiple jurisdictions both onshore and offshore. It acts for a variety of institutional and individual clients and regularly works with leading offshore firms. Head of department Jeremy Kosky has significant experience in the big-ticket trust litigation. Maxine Mossman has extensive trust disputes experience in England, Jersey, Guernsey , Cayman and the BVI. Nicole Buncher has particular expertise in onshore and offshore trust litigation, as well as trust restructuring and court-approved variations. The team is well regarded for its work on claims relating to family trusts, inheritance and divorce, in addition to shareholder disputes in family companies. Its 'offering exudes quality, strength in depth and exceptional resourcing power. Matters are handled seamlessly at any time of day or night'.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Kosky

Other key lawyers:

Maxime Mossman; Nicole Buncher; Laura Hasson; Charles Joseph

Testimonials

It is obviously a massive firm, but its contentious trusts team remains refreshingly “un-corporate” and highly personable. Jeremy Kosky: the standout contentious trusts lawyer in London for big disputes with large amounts at stake. He is calm and un-phased when a new challenge or crisis descends on a case without warning. Nicole Buncher: very hardworking and bright, really impressive. Laura Hasson: super bright and has definitely made her mark in this area.’

Jeremy Kosky has been a stalwart at the firm for many years and has great depth of experience. Nicole Buncher is a great contributor to the team’s performance.’

It has a lot of experience particularly in cross-border/international cases and is very good at co-ordinating a large number of jurisdictions working together on one matter. Aside from the knowledge, the lawyers are also really personable and are always fully committed to getting a result for their client, they won’t give up. Jeremy Kosky – wealth of knowledge and experience, very much a trusted adviser. Nicole Buncher – very experienced and will absolutely fight her client’s cause, a pleasure to work with.’

Jeremy Kosky is a thoughtful litigator in big ticket litigation who always has an eye on the bigger picture and what is best for his client. Max Mossman is fantastic – approachable yet meticulous.’

Jeremy Kosky is a brilliant lawyer and litigator, with a capacity to understand different approaches to the same problem under different systems of law such as eg the civil law countries.’

‘In my rather long experience of trusts litigation, I have not come across a better or more effective team. Jeremy Kosky, the partner in charge of the team I know, has exceptional experience in this field, both nationally and internationally. One result of this is his exceptional knowledge of the lawyers to use in other offshore jurisdictions. On top of this, he is very “hands-on”: he immerses himself in the detail of the matter and his judgements are, as a result, of exceptional value. This attitude is reflected in those who work with and for him – Nicole Buncher and Laura Hasson. Each has, in my experience, exceptional attention to detail and exceptional legal knowledge. I expect that each will be appointed partners in the not very distant future. A younger member of the team whom I know is Charles Joseph: again, an excellent lawyer and an excellent and tireless detail person.’

‘The team has excellent resources and is willing and able to be available to clients whenever they need them and work hard at ensuring its clients are satisfied. Jeremy Kosky is particularly good with clients and is always keen to ensure that their expectations are met.’

‘Working with the firm as offshore counsel, the lawyers have been hugely supportive but equally respecting the local view and by no means seeking to take over. They truly know how to operate as a team for the benefit of clients. Their handling of cross-border issues, not only from a typical trust jurisdiction perspective but also the US angles stands them out from the crowd in my view. Jeremy brings a calm, knowledgeable air to matters and is clearly on top of not only the bigger picture issues but also takes the time to get into the detail. He has a wealth of experience on multi-jurisdictional matters and as an instructing onshore lawyer has been a pleasure to work with. Laura is also extremely efficient, switched on and keeps matters moving forward.’

Farrer & Co

Farrer & Co 'has a market-leading contentious trusts team, with real quality from top to bottom'. It is frequently involved in many of the largest trust/estates disputes each year which often have an offshore dimension and involve values of several billion pounds. It has a number of eminent practitioners. Jeremy Gordon advises private and corporate clients on a range of trusts and estates disputes. Toby Graham specialises in high-value and international trusts and estates disputes. Joanna Poole advises trustees and beneficiaries on the full range of onshore and offshore contentious matters including some big-ticket litigation. Charlotte Fraser is adept at handling international trust, probate and succession disputes. The first-rate team was pleased to add Henrietta Mason  to its ranks as a consultant from Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP. 'The team as a whole remains deservedly prestigious, with real strength in depth. Despite having a formidable reputation, the lawyers are extremely personable across the board'.

Practice head(s):

Toby Graham; Jeremy Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Joanna Poole; Charlotte Fraser; Henrietta Mason; Elizabeth Sainsbury; Tom McPhail

Testimonials

The team’s reputation for handling big trusts disputes is second to none. The lawyers are involved in all the big cases and provide an excellent service to their clients. Toby Graham has a formidable reputation and fights hard for his clients. Jeremy Gordon is excellent at client handling. Jo Poole has an eminently sensible approach to litigation and real expertise. There are some outstanding associates such as Elizabeth Sainsbury.’

‘At the top of their game. Brilliant team players, collaborative and constructive whilst remaining worthy opponents. Jeremy Gordon is great to work alongside or against. He is so experienced, able and affable but not afraid to be tough when necessary. Clients, rightly feel safe in his hands.’

‘Toby Graham remains at the top of his game and combines natural charm with a steely edge. Charlotte Fraser is an outstanding next generation partner who has an excellent way with clients.’

Invaluable experience and agile mindset which is a particular asset in cross-border matters involving complex interactions of laws and procedures. The quality of the team, combined with its availability and listening skills make it a go to firm. Toby Graham is at the top of his game and is able to comprehend and assist with absolute precision the challenges of each matter with a mix of absolute competence and reactivity and are a delight to work with.

‘The team at Farrers has a depth of experience and provides high-quality service for high-quality clients. Jeremy Gordon is level headed and fights his clients’ corner. Toby Graham is an able and technical lawyer who knows a lot of law and enjoys looking at all angles of a dispute.’

‘I have worked with the team on numerous cases and have always found it to deliver a top-notch service, at a cost which is distinctly economical relative to peers. Toby Graham has a top-notch understanding of the field and an unparalleled breadth of experience. He also has a relentless focus on the interests and wishes of his clients. Jo Poole is also excellent. At associate level, Tom McPhail is absolutely outstanding.

A brilliant team, led by partners who are at the top of their game and stocked with high-quality associates. They are an absolute pleasure to work with. Reliable, hardworking, and high-quality work product. All done by people who have the ‘human touch’ and are capable of having a laugh with. Jeremy Gordon – possibly the most charming man in the legal world. A brilliant partner who commands respect from his team and the Bar, and has excellent judgment through years of experience.  Toby Graham – incredible work ethic and ability to run the biggest and most complicated litigation and keep momentum going. Great fun and an absolute battler for his clients.’

Charlotte Fraser – a rising star who will be one of the stand out partners of the trusts disputes world in the future. Very clear about what the issues are and has excellent commercial judgment. She is also absolutely delightful to work with. Lizzy Sainsbury – another rising star who will surely be a partner before long: she is effectively operating in that role already. A brilliant manager of litigation, great team player, with excellent analytical skills. Tom McPhail – one of the best associates I’ve come across in terms of being on top of the detail and knowing a case inside out. His work is consistently excellent.’

 

Key clients

Sir Owen Glenn KNZM ONZM

Kea Investments Limited

Summit Trust Company

The Executors of Mrs Staveley

RBC (CI) Ltd

Coutts

The Trustees of the Hampden Settlement

Age UK

Martin Foreman and Bryony Cove (as executors of the estate of Michael Cowan)

The Administrators of the Estate of Vladimir Scherbakov

Work highlights

  • Acting for Sir Owen Glenn KNZM ONZM and Kea Investments Limited (PM1) 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. The claims for equitable compensation were pursued through vehicles held within a trust structure.
  • Acting for the attorneys of an UHNW individual worth $17-25bn in Court of Protection Proceedings seeking the revocation of the Lasting Power of Attorney. The dispute has been featured in the national and worldwide press.
  • 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. Assets are held in complex structures across a number of jurisdictions.

Forsters LLP

Forsters LLP has a strong track record in this area and advises fiduciaries, protectors and beneficiaries on the full remit of disputes involving trusts, trust structures, wills and estates both in  an onshore and offshore context. Other key clients include high-net-worth/high-profile individuals, charities and other professionals and intermediaries. The international side of its practice continues to thrive under the direction of Roberta Harvey. Other key figures include Emily Exton, who is praised for her handling of disputes in the private wealth arena. Catharine Bell is an international private client lawyer with specialist expertise in contentious trusts and estates, as well as wealth structuring, family governance and advice to family offices. The team is skilled at advising high-net-worth individuals, family offices, trustees and protectors on trust vehicles and other succession planning structures.

Practice head(s):

Roberta Harvey

Other key lawyers:

Emily Exton; Catharine Bell; Charlotte Evans-Tipping

Testimonials

‘A great combination of experience, commerciality and very, very bright people who are excellent to work with. They adopt a genuinely collegiate approach for the benefit of clients. Roberta Harvey is a stand out force to be reckoned with. She brings passion, intellect and unswerving dedication to her clients’ matters. One who keeps her cool and humour intact whilst deep “in the trenches” in the early hours during mediations!.’

‘Dependable, commercial and very approachable. Experienced both in onshore and offshore (Jersey) trust law matters. Catharine Bell is my immediate go-to person when needing advice on contentious trust law matters. Highly responsive and dependable who will consistently provide clear and commercially minded advice. Catharine’s experience of working in Jersey and her familiarity with Jersey trust law and doing business in Jersey has proved invaluable.’

‘The Forsters’ team is a pretty youthful, diverse and dynamic one of excellent lawyers who really know their way around trusts and estates litigation of all sorts. Roberta Harvey is undoubtedly one of the best contentious private client partners in London, incredibly down to earth and hardworking, she has real care both for her client and for the law, with excellent judgment and total integrity in all she does.’

‘Forsters is one of the best contentious trusts and estates teams. Roberta heads up a busy and expanding team, with disputes ranging from English probate disputes to large-scale international matters. Roberta Harvey is the best contentious trusts and estate practitioner out there, great with clients, constantly searching for the edge in any case and always available.’

‘Forsters has one of the strongest private client teams, both contentious and non-contentious in London. Roberta Harvey is superb. She has a depth of experience and insight that is unrivalled.’

Catharine Bell – always constructive in her approach to resolving disputes.’

The lawyers quietly, smoothly and efficiently secure their clients results, in some of the most complex multi-billion multi-jurisdiction litigation the planet has to offer. Despite all the many difficulties, stresses and strains this inevitably involves, as they used to say of the Rolls-Royce, the loudest noise is the ticking of the clock. Catharine Bell: astute and unflappable. Charlotte Evans-Tipping: always goes the extra mile needed to secure the right result.’

Macfarlanes LLP

Macfarlanes LLP is recognised for its vast experience in high-value and complex disputes for high-net-worth families and individuals, trustees and family offices. It continues to be busy advising on disputes over some of the largest trusts and estates that often hold prominent businesses, other substantial property holdings and large cash and investment portfolios. Head of the 'talented, experienced and personable' team is Charles Lloyd  who is a leading contentious trusts practitioner with extensive English and international experience. Jonathan Arr has a particular focus on Bermuda, Mauritius, the Bahamas, Jersey and Guernsey. Elizabeth Doherty is well-regarded for her work on all aspects of contentious trusts and is well versed in claims of breach of trustee and/or removal of trustees and protectors as well as Public Trustee v Cooper applications. It 'has experienced, unflappable partners who devise sound strategies in complex, cross-border trust litigation in a manner which instils confidence and delivers client objectives'.

Practice head(s):

Charles Lloyd

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Arr; Elizabeth Doherty; Jacob Ward

Testimonials

Simply the best – the lawyers have the support of an outstanding non-contentious but highly commercial and litigation-savvy private client, trusts and probate team.  Led by Charles Lloyd, who is exceptionally experienced and cool-headed, charming and reassuring, they provide an extremely good service, handling smoothly the largest cases, but turning their hands enthusiastically and with the same client commitment, to cases whatever their size. Charles Lloyd and Jonathan Arr are the standout partners.

‘Overall, the Macfarlanes team is a complete class act.  The lawyers have the total package – technical skill, commitment to the client’s cause, great judgement and strategic calls and superb client handling skills. Jonathan Arr – developing into one of the very top trust litigation solicitors.  His instincts are spot on and he delivers fantastic results for his clients. Always on top of everything and a pleasure to work with.’

Macfarlanes’ trusts lawyers are exceptional, and the standard against which I measure other firms. The team is technically brilliant, commercially reasonable, and a pleasure to work with. Advice is timely, solutions focused, and always excellent value for money. In terms of key capabilities, the firm is a powerhouse for private client and tax. Private client matters often touch on corporate, securities, insolvency, and financing matters and what sets Macfarlanes apart is the ability to deliver fully integrated advice and assistance across all of the key private client touch points. Jonathan Arr is an utter pleasure to work with.’

Macfarlanes is undoubtedly one of the premier firms – arguably “the” premier firm – specialising in high-end private client litigation. It is outstanding for heavy-duty international disputes, with a great team and superlative back-up. Charles Lloyd is outstanding. One of the most impressive and respected figures in the international litigation field, he is supported by an exceptional team of partners and senior and junior assistants. Jonathan Arr and Elizabeth Doherty deserve special mention among the litigation partners, and Jacob Ward is an exceptional senior assistant. The litigation team is further strengthened by an equally impressive non-contentious group.’

Charles Lloyd: one of the big beasts in this area. Superb with clients and seen it all before. Elizabeth Doherty: at the head of a new generation of contentious trusts and probate lawyers who already has a stellar reputation. Very detail-focused and very good at handling clients.’

Charles Lloyd is a highly experienced and smooth operator. Elizabeth Doherty is thorough in preparation and determined in execution.’

‘It has an exceptionally strong and well-regarded team, from partners through to associates.  They are genuine leaders in the field. Jonathan Arr is brilliant.  Incredibly bright, and charming and commercial with it.  I would have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone looking for advice in this area. Charles Lloyd is an extremely well-known, well-liked and well-respected figure in the contentious trust world and for very good reason.  He’s great.

‘Genuinely personable people with great personalities. Really know their stuff. Practical and commercial not just based on theory of law, great team working both internally and with their clients and related parties. Very responsive. Charles Lloyd – really knows his stuff and is a jovial chap whilst being firm with the other side when needed. Elizabeth Doherty – excellent technician, very personable, understands the detail and can communicate well to the non-technical parties.’

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP is a boutique firm that is highly respected in the market for its private client work for wealthy families. The agile team specialises in high-value and complex trust and estates disputes in addition to contentious tax matters. Head of department, Rupert Ticehurst, is a known name for his work in this area. His cases include advising on the removal of trustees, protectors and executors as well as advising trustees on divorce, freezing orders and advising on claims for breach of fiduciary duty. Simon Goldring focuses on onshore and offshore trust and estate disputes. Ticehurst and Goldring have a 'great track record ' and have 'excellent judgement in deciding which battles to fight, and when to look for a reasonable compromise'. At associate level Rosalind Hetherington has a particular focus on trust litigation. The 'commercial, can-do attitude of the team is exceptional'.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Ticehurst

Other key lawyers:

Simon Goldring; Rosalind Hetherington

Testimonials

‘MTG’s team manages some of the most technical, high-profile and valuable private client disputes. I would not hesitate to recommend them. Rupert Ticehurst and Simon Goldring have an extremely able team. They work very well together and clients trust them completely.’

‘MTG has some of the best, highest profile and hardest-working minds in the sector. Rupert Ticehurst is one of the most well-known lawyers in the field. He is an extremely effective litigator without being unnecessarily aggressive and has great insight. Simon Goldring is one of the hardest working lawyers out there.’

Rupert Ticehurst and Simon Goldring are a formidable longstanding duo who have worked together for over a decade. They are true experts, leading on the highest value global cases. These heavyweight credentials make the personalised approach of the team a refreshing change. The personal approach is underpinned by a longstanding philosophy of the team to develop and expose their star junior lawyers to all aspects of a matter. Simon is the brains and founder behind the ConTra network of junior lawyers, which has revolutionised and breathed life into this practice area for hundreds of lawyers across the UK.’

It is a forward thinking team, who are at the leading edge of the contentious trusts and probate market, using innovative methods to get the best possible returns for clients. The personal and collaborative approach combined with the excellent technical knowledgeable means they are a pleasure to work with, and for. Simon Goldring – incredibly knowledgeable, with an innovative and dynamic way of working, whilst being approachable and personable. A great partner to work with! Rosalind Hetherington – intelligent, knowledgeable, diligent and a joy to work with!’

Simon Goldring is exceptional – very bright and commercially turned on. Rupert Ticehurst is one of the best in the business – a true leader in the industry.

‘I think the MTG team is exceptionally talented at every level from the senior partners all the way through. They work with me and my firm in a very inclusive and collaborative manner. Our experiences over many matters of Rupert Ticehurst, Simon Goldring and Ros Heatherington in particular have always been excellent. They have displayed great judgement and have created novel and innovative solutions for our mutual clients in very challenging circumstances.’

The contentious team at MTG has delivered excellent profile and great results for the firm since the move of Rupert & Simon from BCLP. They are regularly pitted against the leading firms in this area, going toe-to-toe with them very ably indeed, and acting on some of the largest disputes between the London firms at the minute. With able support from Rosalind Hetherington, Rupert and Simon are building a leading contentious trusts practice. Simon Goldring stands out for his energy, dynamism and practical approach. He is responsive, engaged and without doubt one of the hardest-working partners in this area. Rupert Ticehurst is an elder statesman of this practice area, respected by clients and solicitors alike. He is always measured in his advice and approach, and gets great results.’

A relatively new team but made up of seasoned lawyers. Couldn’t have better support on the private client side than at MTG. Rupert engenders fierce loyalty from his clients. Simon is building a name for himself.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the First Defendant in a claim for breach of fiduciary duty in respect of the sale of a large family owned and operated pharmaceutical company to the Claimants.   A settlement was reached during the first week of trial.
  • Advised on a highly unusual case for which any judgment will be ground-breaking with regards to setting out the boundaries of the role and responsibilities of volunteer trustees.  It is advising a former trustee of the Kids Company, a charitable trust, which went into liquidation a number of months after his resignation, in connection with proceedings brought against him by the Official Receiver for disqualification as a director.

Mishcon de Reya LLP

Head of department is 'superstar' Mark Keenan who leads a 'well-resourced' department at Mishcon de Reya LLP. It 'has excellent experience across the board, and knows exactly how to handle both the largest-scale litigation in this field and the most sensitive'. Keenan is highly regarded for his work on complex international and domestic trust and succession disputes often acting for ultra-high-net-worth individuals in cases in offshore jurisdictions. The 'really excellent' Peter Steen is a key member of the private wealth disputes team and is well-regarded for his work on onshore and offshore contentious trusts - he has a 'keen eye for detail'. Jessica Medus has been promoted to legal director and specialises in trust and succession disputes acting for individuals, corporate trustees, charities and private and family offices. 'It has the heft of a big firm, with the personality and expertise of a boutique firm'.

Practice head(s):

Mark Keenan

Other key lawyers:

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

Testimonials

‘The team is at the forefront of client care and innovation. The lawyers act as trusted advisers to HNWIs globally, and rightfully sit in Tier 1 given the complexity and size of the cross-border disputes which it leads. The team is big and very capable compared to some of its competitors. The lawyers are well set up to resource things at the right level. They fight hard for their clients with the technical expertise to back it up. They also have a great network globally, which allows them to co-ordinate the service of all UHNWI needs out of London.’

‘Mark Keenan is a statesman at the heart of global contentious trusts and probate practice. Peter Steen is at the top of his game, and offers the full package – a robust litigator with an intricate understanding of trusts. Jessica Medus has recently been promoted to legal director, in rightful recognition of her importance in the team. You want Jessica in your corner – she is robust, and attention to detail is exceptional. Emilia Piskorz is also destined for great things, and does a great job in keeping the wheels turning in difficult situations.’

The team is one of the best in the private client world, very bespoke and knowledgeable and unbelievably committed. The lawyers are great to work with, as a client and a foreign lawyer that requires guidance in English law. Further, the lawyers master the co-ordination of difficult and complex international cases. The case management is flawless. You get more than you pay for. Simply, they are marvellous. Peter Steen very quick mind, high IQ and EQ, very committed, smart and witty. Emilia Piskorz – rising star and hard worker, lovely to deal with. Mark Keenan – trust and estates litigator, a gift for any international case you require an excellent lawyer, very impressive and responsive.’

Mishcon has, in my view, hands down the best contentious trust team in London. It has a very experienced team, well versed in all legal matters in this area. At the same time the lawyers are young, innovative and “hungry” to achieve the best possible outcome for the client. They think outside of the box and are well prepared to consider all options, not just those which present themselves at first glance. In addition, they are friendly and easy to work with. I can’t praise them enough.

‘Peter Steen is an outstanding partner. He is prompt, available, involved and a great strategist. It is very enjoyable working with him and his experience and breadth of practice is fantastic, especially considering his age. Emilia Piskorz is probably the best associate I have ever worked with. Besides the usual strengths, such as being responsive, available and a sound legal mind, she is completely on top of her game when it comes to leading a mandate, managing clients and keeping in mind all aspects of the case in order to develop the ideal strategy. Truly a great lawyer with a bright future ahead. I have also worked with Victoria Sara-Kennedy. Very bright and efficient as well. She has a quick grasp on legal matters and the arising issues, spotting immediately where the important points are and how to best take care of them. As the whole team at Mishcon, she is responsive, friendly and easy to work with.’

‘A superb team: commercially minded, prompt and offering excellent service. Work very well together as a team and are excellent problem solvers. Most importantly though they know how to handle client expectations. The lawyers are always available to discuss matters. Not afraid to seek other opinions. Our dealings were with Jessica Medus, now on maternity leave. She and her partner were terrific in obtaining the result we wanted.’

‘Emilia Piskorz is a delight to work with – she is hardworking, fiercely intelligent and knows her stuff. She is definitely a rising star and one to watch. Peter Steen is impressive. He leads the team well and is a pleasure to work with.’

The private client team has breadth and depth in its expertise in contentious trusts, both domestic and international. Mark Keenan is tenacious and tactical in fighting his clients’ corner and inspires his team as committed litigators. Jessica Medus is excellent, always completely on top of her client’s case and a star in her own right. Victoria Sara-Kennedy is efficient and committed to client care.’

 

Key clients

Rothschild Guernsey

The Executors of Lady Bathurst

Re: Z

International businessman

Ceawlin Thynn, 8th Marquess of Bath

Chasehill Investments SA

Payne Hicks Beach LLP

Payne Hicks Beach LLP has its roots in traditional chancery work advising on disputes affecting some of the oldest landed estates and trusts in the country. Its reputation continues to grow too in the international sphere. ‘Great private client team – for high-net-worth and confidential matters – I always recommend PHB‘. Richard Manyon leads a team that is well equipped to handle challenging multi-jurisdictional and domestic trust and estate disputes. It advises on the full range of matters from trustee/executor removals through to trusts in the context of divorce and high-value estate litigation concerning the validity of wills, mental capacity, lifetime gifts and the Inheritance Act. Jessica Henson advises on the full gamut of private wealth disputes. Ane Vernon is an experienced litigator with a solid caseload of contentious trust and probate matters. ‘The team has grown significantly in recent years and is now firmly established as a “go to” firm for all private client work.’

Practice head(s):

Richard Manyon

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Henson; Ane Vernon; Dominic Crossley; Rosamond McDowell; Robert Brodrick; Charlotte Henshall; Rebecca Moseley; Emily Stoneham

Testimonials

‘A very experienced contentious trusts and probate team, able to offer a complete range of services to both domestic and international clients. Ane Vernon is very knowledgeable, willing to chase down every point to get the best outcome possible and exceptional with clients. Jessica Henson and Richard Manyon have a stellar reputation.’

‘The firm has an outstanding reputation in this field and appears in many of the big high-profile cases. Its private client team are real experts in trusts and tax and the contentious team deals with the most heavyweight cases with real experience and expertise, dovetailing brilliantly with its family department which is of course very high profile. Richard Manyon is a force of nature -extremely clever, very good with clients and excellent at tactics. The addition of the hugely experienced and expert Jessica Henson to the team has been a great boost. Both are pragmatic as far as their clients are concerned but more than capable of putting up a good fight when they need to.’

Very young team with a market leading business development approach; quickly becoming a market leader. Jess Henson is a brilliant lawyer whose BD skills mean that she is being instructed on the biggest litigation. Richard Manyon is hugely successful and has fantastic judgment. Charlotte Henshall is a very capable associate.’

‘The contentious trust and probate team is at the core of the firm’s unparalleled one-stop shop for UHNWIs. It is well known for its personalised and discreet approach. The lawyers are understated but outperform. They are not only seasoned litigators, but they really “get” the trust and private client angle. They are becoming well known for their appetite to push to modernise their offering, and move beyond the firm’s traditional roots.’

Jessica Henson has added a huge boost to the team since joining. Nobody is better known internationally in contentious trusts and probate. She is a true thought leader, and is always heavily in demand. For her clients she is meticulous, unflappable and robust in fighting their corner. Richard Manyon is able to very quickly earn the unwavering confidence of his clients. He is at the top of his game. Charlotte Henshall gets on top of cases quickly, adds value, and is ready to move up the ranks.’

‘Jessica Henson – Jessica is a super talented lawyer with incredible attention to detail and the ability to work well under pressure. Our paths have crossed through work and through conferences attended and in both Jessica is a true professional. Rebecca Moseley – a rising talent, calm under pressure. Richard Manyon – razor sharp and extremely bright.’

Richard Manyon, Jessica Henson and Rebecca Moseley. We have worked both with and in opposition to PHB. PHB’s lawyers all have excellent industry relevant experience/expertise. This means that, in each case, they deploy carefully thought through positions or strategies in a measured way, whilst being tough when they need to be. By adopting such an approach, they gain not just the trust of their clients but also the respect of their opposition and the ear of the Court. It is an effective approach which leads to excellent client outcomes.’

‘We have done a lot of work with Jessica Henson. She is always a pleasure to work with and brings a great energy to each case. She is hardworking, has excellent technical ability and interpersonal skills and rapidly identifies what the important issues are. As a consequence, she quickly gains the trust of her clients, they realise that she is committed to their cause. We have also worked with Richard Manyon. He is an excellent professional. He is a good communicator, who is kind to clients but tough with the opposition. Rebecca Mosely is one to watch for the future.’

Work highlights

  • Advised BVI Trustee as to a trust dispute and the potential division of the fund including complex tax issues, potential removal applications by beneficiaries, and a court blessing application.
  • Advising a UK resident beneficiary regarding their rights as to a very substantial Guernsey trust structure in the context of a family dispute- including difficult issues as to the underlying UK operating companies.
  • Successful at trial in the High Court to establish clients co-ownership of various valuable property assets. First time the English Court has found for a constructive trust over a portfolio of assets and first time the English Court has found that refraining from taking steps to assert rights could constitute detrimental reliance in the constructive trust and estoppel context.

Taylor Wessing LLP

Taylor Wessing LLP has Emma Jordan at the helm who holds a dual qualification as both an English barrister and a Jersey advocate. Kirstie McGuigan has significant experience with Bahamian clients and consultant Andrew Hine is another important member of the group. Caroline Tayler has recently been promoted to the partnership. It has a truly international client base. The practice acts for over 70 families/individuals with net wealth of more than $1bn, seven royal families and over several hundred families/individuals worth over $100m. Jordan has extensive litigation experience in contentious trusts for corporate trustees and beneficiaries both in England, the Channel Islands and other offshore jurisdictions including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. McGuigan has vast experience of advising on disputes relating to the administration of high-net-worth and multi-jurisdictional estates and advising trustees and beneficiaries of onshore and offshore trusts.

Practice head(s):

Emma Jordan

Other key lawyers:

Kirstie McGuigan; Andrew Hine; Caroline Tayler; Robert Gibson; Kate Silberman

Testimonials

Emma Jordan: very experienced. Effective in dealing with complex disputes.’

Emma Jordan is a doyenne of trust litigation worldwide. Andrew Hine had an unparalleled reputation. Rob Gibson, Caroline Tayler and Kate Silbermann are all outstanding solicitors in this field.’

‘I found TW to be extremely capable and able to deal with a high volume of complex work in a timely fashion. Its expertise in the trust industry is well-known and its ability to find practical solutions was impressive.’

The team I have worked with includes a leading Jersey lawyer, and that is unusual in this sector. Emma Jordan is an excellent solicitor and Jersey advocate, with excellent judgment and a good commercial sense. I have recommended clients to her.’

‘TW has a large and strong team covering UK and international work, with a wealth of experience and ability at all levels from junior assistance through to partner and consultant. The TW team members who do litigation work have good background knowledge in the transactional aspects of private client work, which is valuable. TW’s private client department has an attractive team ethos, and nice people with whom to work.’

In the last few years I have worked principally with Kirstie McGuigan and Caroline Tayler, formerly I worked more with Andrew Hine who is now a consultant and who I rated highly for the depth of his experience and good judgment when we used to work together . Kirstie McGuigan is a dedicated, intelligent, hardworking team leader. She has a broad range of skills, both in non-contentious and contentious work. She is excellent with people, both reading them and getting the best out of those in her team. Caroline Tayler, who has recently been made partner, now specialises in contentious work. Caroline has outstanding organisational skills in litigation, with good judgment and common sense, and she is a real pleasure to work with on long cases requiring commitment.’

‘Excellent lawyers who are practical, organised and take the initiative. They are very conscientious and sensitive to clients’ needs and expectations. They plan meticulously and think ahead, enabling them to take the upper hand in litigation.’

‘Kirstie McGuigan and Caroline Tayler both stand out for their ability (in both cases) to plan and think strategically in litigation. They are conscientious and capable and work together as a highly effective team. From a barrister’s point of view they are supportive and reassuring presence as instructing solicitors. As litigators, they are tenacious and determined but always able to make a realistic assessment of the merits of a case. They have excellent judgment and are delightful to work with.’

Key clients

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

Dawson-Damer v Taylor Wessing

Iryna Udovenko

The Settlor and a number of beneficiaries of a Jersey discretionary trust

The Trustees of the Jacobs Charitable Trust

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

Beneficiary of two Guernsey discretionary trusts

Withers LLP

Withers LLP continues to act on high-value, multi-jurisdictional trust and succession disputes. It is well-equipped to handle major disputes that span multiple jurisdictions through its offices in London, the US, Hong Kong and Singapore. Clients range from blue-chip financial institutions, wealthy international families and leading charities. It has been involved in some major reported cases recently too. Suzanne Todd leads a team of experienced practitioners. Paul Hewitt  (a 'titan in this area') specialises in representing families with connections to the sub-continent. Steven Kempster advises a mix of UK and international clients worldwide. Stephen Richards is skilled at advising on disputes concerning inheritance and trusts. Senior counsel Dawn Goodman is adept at stress testing proposed or existing trust structures to maximise their ability to withstand attack. 'This team is a powerhouse of ability and drive to get the best possible results for its clients. It has the advantage of being able to draw on the strengths of the firm as a whole and its international reach.'

Practice head(s):

Suzanne Todd

Other key lawyers:

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

Testimonials

‘Paul Hewitt is everything you want in your solicitor. Hugely experienced, with a deep knowledge and understanding of the law, he brings determination to get a result and excellent strategic thinking to a case. Stephen Richards is just like Paul, and comments above apply. He has particular expertise in contentious CoP cases where he has a very good feel for the different approach required there.’

This team is outstanding and rightly gets the most high-profile cases. It has handled this year one of the biggest court of protection cases but is involved in all the high-profile probate and family provision work. The depth of expertise and experience is notable and this is a large team which can offer its clients excellent client service. Paul Hewitt is a superb tactician. He always fights his client’s corner hard but knows when a compromise would be the best outcome. He knows the area of law backwards. Dawn Goodman has almost legendary status. Stephen Richards is an excellent lawyer and very good with clients. Natasha Stourton is one of the most unflappable lawyers I have met and there is a whole array of talented associates: Sarah Aughwane.

‘In the very first rank of teams in this practice area. It is frequently instructed in the largest and most high-profile cases, and has particular expertise in acting for charities. The depth of knowledge and experience, as well the judgement, across the team is extraordinary, as is its capacity for plain hard work. Clients couldn’t be better served.’

Paul Hewitt: very hard to overemphasise the insight, experience, and rigour he brings to litigation – he has seen it all before and so is able to foresee all angles and developments. He just seems forever ahead of the game. Stephen Richards: indefatigable. Is absolutely committed to the client’s case and moves mountains to achieve the best possible position for them. Excellent client handling. Natasha Stourton: recently made partner and not before time – very tactically astute and calmness personified.’

Strategic skills are second to none. The lawyers really think through tactics to get the best outcome for you. I think it is better than most firms I can think of that practice in this field. It runs an indemnities project with access to a platform with advice notes and precedents. The costs charged for this are minimal but the benefit is huge to the sector. The team is strong across the board, from partners down to trainees/paralegals. Depth of knowledge; friendliness; speed of turnaround. Stand out associates would be Alice Tomlin; Sarah Aughwane; Richard Walker. Partners Paul Hewitt and Stephen Richards are superb.

The team at Withers is consistently reliable and trustworthy. The lawyers are the people we automatically turn to for our most complex and high-profile matters, in the knowledge that we will receive the highest quality service. When making contact you are guaranteed a speedy and detailed response from a team who understand its clients’ unique position and needs. They make themselves available, and provide support and guidance when needed, but also allow us to be involved in key decision making and determining strategy that fits with our ethos. They listen to us and take time to understand the outcomes we are looking for and how we can achieve this. It is absolutely the team you want by your side when you are facing an overwhelmingly difficult case that needs a successful outcome.’

‘The members of the Withers team individually go above and beyond. Each person takes time to get to know you, and will show humour and kindness which is so welcome when dealing with a complicated and frightening scenario. Despite being as efficient as a machine (in a good way!) you know the individuals are all real people and they don’t lose themselves behind a corporate identity. The quality of the partners and associates (such as Julia Schtulman and Paul Hewitt) stands out because you also know that they have exceptional support staff, who are equally dedicated and switched on.’

What I love about Withers is that there are no weak links. Every one of the lawyers is of a high standard and they have experts in all fields that I need. That depth of quality sets them apart. Whilst on the face of it expensive the efficiency of thought and quality of advice means you get great value for your fees. Stephen Richards is a joy to work with. He is extremely bright and driven to get great results but he does it with real charm and class.’

Key clients

The Trustees of the 1949 Settlement for the benefit of Lord Allendale and his family

The Trustees of The Greek Cathedral Trust Fund

Acting for defendant in constructive trust/ Quistclose trust case involving £20m disputed assets in England and a number of Asian countries)

Michael Smith and Simon Philpot

Deborah Barker (as litigation friend of Euan and Rowan Barker)

His Exalted Highness the VIII Nizam of Hyderabad

Representative of the former employees of Zaha Hadid Limited

Olivia Johnson

Work highlights

  • Advised His Exalted Highness the VIII Nizam in a dispute over funds frozen at Natwest Bank for over 70 years, involving the governments of India and Pakistan. The Judge upheld the Nizam’s claim to his grandfather’s funds. The case was one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2019.
  • Advised the Trustees of the 1949 Settlement for the benefit of Lord Allendale and his family on a ground-breaking court application to increase trustees’ powers using s57 of the Trustee Act 1925.
  • Advised the former employees of Zaha Hadid Limited in an application by the warring executors and trustees of Dame Zaha’s estate for blessing of a decision to enter into a settlement agreement governing the administration of the estate, including settlement of an Employee Benefit Trust.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Richard Norridge leads a first-rate team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP that regularly advises institutional clients (including banks and trust companies), trustees, their insurers, beneficiaries, family offices and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. It is experienced in pure advisory work in addition to complex cross-border actions pursuing or defending trustees in relation to claims for breach of trust and third party claims by or against trustees. It has also acted in the arbitration of  several trust disputes.  Tom Leech QC is another leading member of the department. The team is 'very responsive and well informed'.

Practice head(s):

Richard Norridge

Other key lawyers:

Tom Leech QC

Testimonials

Richard Norridge is class act – shrewd and personable.’

I have been impressed by the team’s collaborative approach to cross-border matters and convening advice across jurisdictions. We worked on a complex matter with Swedish, Swiss, UK, Guernsey and Spanish connections. Richard Norridge – collaborative, commercial and pragmatic.  Very effective at working through complex issues.’

‘The team is super responsive and knowledgeable in this area. The lawyers give solid and practical advice that achieves client objectives.’

Richard Norridge is our go-to person for estates disputes and he provides an exceptional hands-on level of service. Very responsive and does not pass the work down to his junior, often doing it himself. This means we get a fast and high-quality product.’

‘I regard the service level at HSF generally to be more personal than at other firms and I appreciate that even if juniors are involved in a matter, the partners still take the lead and manage the interface with clients. This has been especially the case in my dealings with Richard Norridge for trust work.’

‘Richard’s technical expertise in the area of trusts is, in my view, stronger than most of the other lawyers in the area whom I’ve worked with in Asia and UK. The fact that Richard handles both contentious and non-contentious trust work is a key advantage as he understands first hand the challenges which can be made to trust structures. He is meticulous in his analysis and thought process and offers solutions based on sound law.’

The private client – contentious trust team is a good fit for anyone who genuinely wants to find a reasonable solution. In the contentious trust sphere, it’s not a “go in all guns blazing” approach. I have been impressed with Richard Norridge’s ability to adapt styles and explanations to his audience and be thorough in ensure that things are comprehensible for his interlocutors, but not the slightest bit patronising.’

Kingsley Napley LLP

Kingsley Napley LLP combines expertise in high-net-worth private client litigation with experience in criminal, fraud and media-related disputes and as a result is regularly instructed in high-value and sensitive private wealth disputes. Under the leadership of Ryan Mowat the team has an established name for its work on a range of contentious estate disputes especially complex 1975 Act claims, will validity and proprietary estoppel claims as well as professional negligence claims relating to trusts and estates. A sizeable proportion of its work involves trust disputes across multiple jurisdictions and where there are serious allegations of breach of trust or fraud. Kate Salter and Katherine Pymont are among the other notable members of the group.

Practice head(s):

Ryan Mowat

Other key lawyers:

Kate Salter; Katherine Pymont; Anna Metadjer; Sophie Mass

Testimonials

Experts at patiently listening to clients and advising on how best to proceed, but with sufficient tenacity and in-depth knowledge to ensure the right result. Also providing very frank advice on the prospect of succeeding in court, etc.’

‘A very hardworking team who more than hold its own against the biggest firms and names. The lawyers are extremely well-versed in the area and garner the respect of opponents. Ryan Mowat: a very well-known and respected figure who is a steely but calm litigator. Anna Metadjer: very hardworking and efficient; excellent with clients. Katherine Pymont: very bright and perceptive, an up and coming star. Kate Salter: clever and effective, works very hard for the client.’

‘One of the better private client teams in London. Ryan Mowat has a firm reputation and sits amongst the best private client litigators in London. Kate Salter is committed to her clients, knowledgeable and hardworking.

‘A good team who take a flexible approach to helping resolve disputes. Ryan Mowat – very capable, clear thinking and great at handling difficult clients.’

The private client team at Kingsley Napley is excellent and benefits from the cross-over that the firm offers in fraud and commercial litigation. Ryan Mowat is a highly experienced litigator who has seen it all and is ready for every eventuality. Katherine Pymont is delightful to work with and extremely sensible. Kate Salter is hugely popular with clients and will go far.’

‘A firm with some really incredible cases and always a pleasure to work with. Ryan Mowat is one of the best litigators around, very strong tactical awareness.’

Ryan Mowat – the thinking man’s terrier! He has a brilliant strategic mind, and is hugely client friendly, which he allies with being supremely tenacious and tough.’

The team is second to none. Despite its small size, it is involved in many of the best pieces of domestic and international litigation in the area. They’re just really good. I have been instructed by and been on the other side of them in cases, and have been impressed in both regards. They are thorough, well informed, and experienced. Just what good private client litigators should be. Ryan Mowat is excellent. He is hardworking, knowledgeable, and has excellent instincts. He combines detailed knowledge of his cases with a broad strategic overlook. Kate Salter likewise is really good. She is very practical, and knows a lot about her cases. She works hard.’

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP has particular expertise in cross-jurisdictional work, offshore trusts and the laws of the Cayman and British Virgin Islands. It also boasts considerable experience in traditional contentious trusts matters. Ziva Robertson previously practised in the Cayman Islands and BVI. Her practice covers the Caribbean, Bermuda, Israel, Switzerland and the Channel Islands. Nicholas Holland is also qualified in a number of jurisdictions and is well-equipped to handle all types of international trusts and estate disputes. Lynsey McIntyre is in demand for her cross-border offshore trusts experience and is skilled at advising on the interplay between trust and commercial disputes. Clients include multibillion dollar net-worth clients, structures and fiduciaries both nationally and globally. ‘It’s a truly international firm with a transatlantic perspective.’

Practice head(s):

Ziva Robertson (Private Wealth Disputes); Simon Goldring (Private Wealth Law)

Other key lawyers:

Lynsey McIntrye; Anita Shah

Testimonials

This is one of the best private client teams in London and is involved in the highest profile cases. Ziva Robertson combines a wealth of private client experience with a very tough approach and is a real hit with clients. Anita Shah is one of the best private client associates I’ve worked with.’

Powerful force in trust litigation. Ziva Robertson – lands the big cases. Nicholas Holland – brings a North American take to a case.’

Unlike most top-tier firms, the private client team is very small, with a strong emphasis on quality rather than quantity. The result is that clients can expect far more partner contact than they might find at other firms.’

‘Unlike any top-tier firm with which I am familiar, MWE integrates its contentious and non-contentious private client offices. The result is that the advisory work benefits from fully holistic analysis. Nick Holland is clever, energetic and a real pleasure to work with.’

‘Ziva Robertson – she has worked absolutely everywhere (Public Trustee’s office, offshore law firms, international law firms) and it shows in the depth of her experience and knowledge. She is also very good at managing egos and building effective teams which is a particular challenge in international litigation where there might be eight silks instructed across multiple jurisdictions.’

‘Its status as being the biggest private client firm in the USA means that it brings something to the London market which is rarely found elsewhere. Nick Holland – a seriously big name in the London market. He is co-chairman of the industry’s favourite contentious trusts event, the Trusts & Estates Litigation Forum, which has thrived under his tenure. You find Nick in the biggest cases – a very creative lawyer who often brings a new perspective to the analysis of a case.’

MWE has a strong contentious trust team doing some very high-profile work. Ziva Robertson in the London office has a breadth of knowledge, particularly on cross-border disputes, and is a tenacious advocate for her client’s cause.’

‘Very accomplished internationally focused offering with good reach (in terms of contacts) to all relevant jurisdictions. Nick Holland is at the top of his game and embraces a matter from start to finish. He is very methodical in his approach and clients benefit from his time offshore and onshore in the way he is able to develop strategy.’

‘Excellent multinational firm with superb US and South African client base, and a team of top-class partners. Nick Holland – an engaging, highly knowledgeable, vastly experienced litigator who can solve problems but fight hard when needed.’

Big hitting presence in trusts and probate disputes. Ziva Robertson – sought after hands on litigator. Nicholas Holland – brings the depth of north American experience to a team.’

Key clients

Dawson-Damer family

Hill Street Trustees

Royal Bank of Canada

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP acts for an array of HNW individuals, families, trusts and estates on a broad variety of claims. The majority of its cases have a cross-border component. Head of team Michael Cash specialises in breach of trust claims as well as other areas such as contentious applications in the Court of Protection and claims under the Inheritance Act 1975. Sarah Lee is recommended for her work on international and domestic claims over disputed wills, trust and estate administration as well as Inheritance Act claims. Lee’s practice also covers the interaction between estate law and Human Rights claims in the context of estate litigation. Henrietta Mason is now at Farrer & Co.

Practice head(s):

Michael Cash

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Lee; Sian Hodgson; Sarah Arnold

Testimonials

PMC’s private client team has an impressive roster of matters. The team is of very high quality, from the partners at the top, to the newest associates. Michael Cash is a partner with a deservedly high profile. He commands respect and fights tenaciously for his clients. Sian Hodgson is a very able associate.’

Sarah Arnold is wonderfully empathetic with her clients and very sensible with her opponents.’

‘Sarah Lee is excellent. An absolute pleasure to work with and very knowledgeable in this area of practice. She is supported by some first-rate colleagues too.’

‘Sarah Arnold – supremely knowledgeable, accessible, flexible and friendly. Incredibly client focused and savvy.’

We really appreciate the practical advice that Penningtons Manches Cooper provides our clients, either when we have a conflict so cannot act ourselves or where the team has more experience or expertise on a particular area. We work with Michael Cash, who is very sound, sensible and helpful.’

‘A heavyweight private client team to which former members have returned. Sarah Lee is a young partner who has always impressed me; she is extremely efficient and has very good judgement. Sarah Arnold is similarly impressive and is a future partner. Michael Cash runs the ship and remains as influential in the field as ever.’

‘Michael Cash is the leading partner, and now something of an elder, experienced statesman in the field. Handles sensitive clients and disputes very well. Sarah Lee has a real ability to drive litigation forward and get to the crux of matters sooner rather than later.’

‘An esteemed name for trust litigation, the lawyers have experience of acting in many high-profile, high-stakes, and highly-sensitive or complex cases. Mike Cash – one of the statesmen of trust litigation, he has excellent experience and an exceptional stomach for the fight. Sarah Lee – savvy and the right blend of personable and assertive in her approach to litigation. A very safe pair of hands.’

Key clients

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

Patrik Schumacher

Savernake estate

The Receiver and Manager of Darrel Evans dec’d

Administrator of Prince Abbasi Estate

Tim and Marina Cowan

Work highlights

  • 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. This is a particularly high profile case in India.
  • Acting for 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, the internationally distinguished architect. The case has been the source of a great deal of press interest.
  • Acting as a Trustee for the Savernake estate and dealing with the well-publicised ongoing issues arising out of the trust.

Russell-Cooke LLP

Russell-Cooke LLP excels in all areas of trust and estate litigation. It is well-placed to handle complex cross-border succession disputes involving issues of foreign assets, domicile and residence and where there are conflicting issues of civil and common laws. The team’s French team is well-regarded and the firm has developed considerable niche expertise in dealing with applications on behalf of minors to obtain orders for the sale of property that is held in their names abroad. Alison Regan is skilled at advising on complex estate and trust disputes. Gareth Ledsham advises on a wide array of private wealth disputes. Tom Deely receives a lot of plaudits. It is a  ‘first-rate firm. Providing the skill set and professionalism of a City firm in South West London‘.

Practice head(s):

Alison Regan

Other key lawyers:

Gareth Ledsham; Tom Deely; Andrew Morgan

Testimonials

One of the premier private client litigation practices in London. A private client gem. Because the firm is based in Putney its overheads and therefore fees are lower than firms of the same quality in the Temple or City. Alison Regan is a star partner. Great judgment and commercial awareness, terrific with clients, has an easy and disarming charm and is firm when needed. Tom Deely is clever, tactically astute, charming and persuasive. He is a rising star of C&P litigation. Gareth Ledsham is an experienced, clever and understated partner.’

Russell-Cooke has been a very professional firm from day one and has done a very good job making sure it has all the information needed. The lawyers completed the job successfully. Gareth Ledsham who has been helping us with the probate and settlement, he is very detailed in his work and keeps us updated on regular basis.’

A very high-quality team for the whole range of contentious private client matters. Alison Regan and Gareth Ledsham are part of  a very able team. Tom Deely and Andrew Morgan are both associates of the highest calibre.’

‘A very well co-ordinated team that is a well-oiled machine. From the most newly qualified associate to the partners, the whole team understands the area intimately and quickly gets to the nub of a client’s problem and maps out a path to the most effective solution. Alison Regan: a steely litigator who is very well-known and respected by her peers. Gareth Ledsham: a very steady hand who approaches all matters rigorously but with good humour. Tom Deely: a real rising star – extremely calm and competent who gives the clear and sensible advice of someone beyond his years.’

‘I have found the practice to be very professional in its dealings and I am reassured that the lawyers have my best interests and will do their best to get the best result. I have found our solicitor Tom Deely, extremely helpful, professional in his manner and providing us reassuringly with the best outcome for our case. He has been understanding and has provided sound advice to the questions we have asked.’

I have been constantly impressed by the attention to detail, forward thinking consideration of potential issues at litigation, quality of written communication and the excellent personal manner of all the team I have dealt with. The lawyers managed the transition to remote working during the pandemic smoothly, and have always taken steps to plan the potential litigation with a keen eye on managing my own legal costs. I wish to call out Andrew Morgan (associate) who has dealt with every aspect of my case. His thought process has been calm and considered, but his approach to litigation has been exhaustive – in my view, coaching other law firms on the issues under dispute. He is always personable, always willing to explain complex concepts, and has guided me though a difficult decision making process in approaching potential litigation with my opponents.’

A really great team – it manages to pull off the difficult trick of being friendly and approachable and yet fiercely standing up for its own clients. Alison Reagan – friendly, approachable and very capable. Gareth Ledsham – a very good tactician and an asset for any client to have on their side. Andrew Morgan/Tom Deely – very capable associates, both are rising stars and have a great future ahead of them.’

Extremely client focused practice; essential for private client work. Very user friendly and easy to work with. A top quality firm, but not stuffy. Highly collaborative team who appeared to be unaffected by working changes during Covid restrictions. Alison Regan is an exceptional lawyer and very easy to work with. Always on top of every detail in a case and is never unavailable. Gareth Ledsham is a razor sharp lawyer, but also has the human touch. He understands what motivates people and is incredibly practical. Andrew Morgan is an incredibly hardworking associate with an eye for detail. He is ahead of his years and has a great ability to get to grips with a case. Highly recommended.’

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has a strong reputation for advising on complex and high-value trust and family disputes with particular skill in international cross-border disputes. It has been active in the Asian market too. Clients include international ultra-high-net-worth individuals in addition to domestic dynastic families. It is also skilled at handling disputes involving cross-border taxation matters and advises on contented probate disputes. The group has considerable experience of advising trustees in high-value matrimonial disputes. Jenny McKeown leads the team that includes recommended partner Helena Berman and associate Peter Gillis.

Practice head(s):

Jenny McKeown

Other key lawyers:

Helena Berman; Peter Gillis

Testimonials

‘Relatively recent, very strong, lateral hires at partner level have transformed this team into a real powerhouse. This has inevitably enabled it to attract and retain strong juniors. Standout partners are Jenny McKeown: razor sharp, personable and a natural leader, runs a very good team. Helena Berman: very bright and utterly committed to her clients, the feeling is mutual. Peter Gillis: definitely a future star.’

Simply brilliant at what it does. The lawyers cut through the usual nonsense and really see the practical point of any litigation issue. Helena Berman and Jenny McKeown who run this team together are very similar in their strengths – tirelessly dedicated to their clients’ interests, demanding a very high standard of the people they work with and of themselves, always seeing the right way to do things and never wasting effort on the peripheral. Peter Gillis is a future star.’

‘The contentious trusts and probate practice at Stephenson Harwood, particularly Jenny Mckeown, has provided timely, efficient and practical advice to my team.’

This team is very responsive and knowledgeable. Helena Berman is a standout performer in this sector.’

‘This team has a great reputation, and real experience at dealing with complex international private client cases. Jenny McKeown is an excellent partner, providing invaluable strategic insight and always keeping an eye on the big picture to ensure that the client achieves the best possible outcome.’

‘In my view, the team’s strengths are particularly impressive in terms of how it collaborates with colleagues in multi-jurisdictional disputes despite time zone differences; the lawyers are very responsive.’

Key clients

Michael Garlick (the Chairman and owner of Burnley FC) and his wife Alison Garlick

The UK and Hong Kong beneficiaries of a high value family Trust settled by their father

Stewarts Law LLP

Stewarts Law LLP exclusively advises on complex, large-scale and often high-profile trust disputes in England and other major jurisdictions. It acts for high-net-worth individuals, families, family offices, trustees and trust companies and for a number of well-known UK charities. The 'world-class and impressive' James Price heads the 'dynamic' team that is currently involved in some of the largest (in terms of value) and most complex matters in global trust litigation. Geoffrey Kertesz ’s addition to the department from BDB Pitmans has ‘strengthened the team’. Emma Holland  has been promoted to partnership. 'This team is going from strength to strength with some clever hires and excellent promotions.'

Practice head(s):

James Price

Other key lawyers:

Geoffrey Kertesz; Emma Holland; Jemma Goddard; Luca del Panta ; Lavinia Randall; Catriona Abraham

Testimonials

‘James Price – flying; Geoff Kertesz – just gets it done; Luca del Panta – all over the detail and bright as a button; Emma Holland – super.’

‘The team has incredible quality and the partners complement one another very well – James Price, Emma Holland, and Geoff Kertesz. James Price is a key player in so much of the major trusts litigation. He is charismatic and has exceptional judgment. Emma Holland’s promotion to partner is very well deserved. She is very shrewd, strategically and tactically savvy, and works extremely hard for her clients.’

‘Geoff Kertesz is highly competent, intelligent – both in terms of legal knowledge and in terms of social art. In other words he is empathetic and has a level of insight which has given me great confidence in his analysis of the situation. I feel that has made him highly dependable. Alongside all this is Geoff’s humour, which for me personally is really essential during family conflicts. He’s able to add some light to what has been a heavy situation but he does it with respect and it doesn’t impede his ability to then turn to serious matters. The other person who’s been working on the case is the amazing brain that is Catriona Abraham. Sharp, clear, concise, and again with humour and empathy. She and Geoff are really a dream team. I almost want to have legal problems in future just so I can instruct them again and watch how they work a case.’

A growing powerhouse of expertise punching well above its weight.’

Stewarts’ contentious trusts practice has grown exponentially in a few years by picking up some of the most talented associates and partners in the industry.  Stewarts provides a fantastic platform for these litigators to take on a wider and more interesting range of work than many firms. James Price is a dynamic and experienced litigator who inspires confidence in clients. Geoff Kertesz is incredibly talented and a dream to work with. New partner Emma Holland will really enable the team to move to the next level.  Jemma Goddard is also a great addition at associate level.’

‘James Price is a great leader with a strong team behind him. The lawyers can stand toe-to-toe with any firm intellectually, but they still have the feel and personal touch of a smaller, more niche firm. James Price is brilliant with clients and a very experienced trusts litigator with strong links to resources in many different offshore  jurisdictions.’

This is a very dynamic and competitive new entrant to the world of contentious trusts, led by the very popular James Price. Its rapidly expanding team is testament to how its adaptability and conflict free approach (since it only does litigation) plus quality has meant that it now has experience of some of the biggest trust litigation in the world. James Price – a very good lawyer with great judgement who its a pleasure to work with. James is plainly excellent. Geoff Kertesz – highly respected new partner who is making waves and will be a big hit. Emma Holland – very talented new partner whose elevation was much deserved.  She will go far.’

Geoff Kertesz is a big name in this area and is a relatively recent addition to the team. Jemma Goddard has just joined from Wedlake Bell, where she will be sorely missed – she is a very strong associate, efficient and extremely bright. Lavinia Randall is likewise a good hire.

Key clients

Lands Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Lands Company Limited, a Cayman company, in the latest set of proceedings issued by the Libyan Investment Authority (“LIA”) in relation to investments with US and European banks made before the civil war.

Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP

Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP has a strong reputation for its work in contentious trusts and estates. Recently, the group has been busy dealing with cross-jurisdictional cases, high-value eight figure estates, appeals, novel points of law and cases involving procedural complexity. It has also been assisting vulnerable clients with mental health problems through the Court of Protection. David Wedgwood heads the team and is vastly experienced in breach of trust claims, removal of trustees and executors, and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Beth Holden  is another name to note. Oliver Jackson  is now at DMH Stallard LLP .

Practice head(s):

David Wedgwood

Other key lawyers:

Beth Holden; Tom Dickinson; Ryan Taylor

Testimonials

The team at Anthony Gold is excellent across the board. The lawyers are very knowledgeable about the law, and combine this with outstanding client handling. They have strong links with the Official Solicitor, and many of their cases involve vulnerable individuals and sensitive matters, which they handle with professionalism and tact. Unlike some other firms, it has no weak links – the whole team is very strong, and the associates gain meaningful and valuable support from the partners, especially David Wedgwood.’

David Wedgwood is an extremely well-known and well-respected figure in the contentious trusts and probate world. He is particularly good at giving clear and solution-focused advice to clients, and his knowledge and understanding of non-contentious trusts and Court of Protection work allows him to find creative solutions to thorny legal problems. Tom Dickinson is intelligent, pragmatic, and absolutely dedicated to getting the best possible outcome for his clients. I have worked with Tom on a number of matters and am always impressed by his knowledge and understanding of the law, as well as his tactical acumen and ability to find creative solutions to further the client’s best interests. Ryan Taylor – clients value his calm and reassuring presence in difficult moments. He is an excellent lawyer with strong tactical acumen and excels when faced with challenging family dynamics.’

The lawyers are very knowledgeable and cerebral whilst maintaining a very pragmatic and commercial approach to cases. They are prepared to take on litigation and financial risk for the right case and right client. Beth Holden is hugely capable, has excellent client handling skills and is always prepared to go the extra mile on behalf of deserving clients.’

‘Long-established firm serving a diverse client base and providing funding structures to less advantaged clients. David Wedgwood is well established and meticulous. Ryan Taylor is enthusiastic and good with clients.’

Beth Holden, partner in the dispute resolution department is a formidable solicitor in this area, definitely one to have on your side!’

‘Anthony Gold has a particularly good reputation for Court of Protection work, but it is strong across the board in contentious trusts and probate. David Wedgwood is a vastly experienced private client lawyer and Court of Protection professional deputy.’

Key clients

Mrs Jeeja Thakare, Mrs Ulka Parmar, Dr Ravindra Bhusate and Dr Lekha

Her Highness SAA

Mr R Rathor

The Estate of KM

Estate of AH

The H Trust

Estate of RB

Estate of Mrs H

Estate of JS

Mrs Battistella

Work highlights

  • Advised beneficiaries on a complex dispute concerning a raft of issues affecting estate of deceased including beneficial interest in property, validity of marriage, statutory legacy, and statutory limitation for claim under Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Advised individual in defending complex high value claims concerning trust interests.
  • Acted for individual claimant in application for declaration of trust determined successfully for client at trial.

BDB Pitmans

Lucinda Brown leads the team at BDB Pitmans that has a strong focus on international and domestic private wealth and the charities sector. The department looks after disputes for some of the most well-known high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth families and family trusts in the country. Key work types are Variation of Trusts Act applications, professional negligence claims in a trusts context, 1975 Act claims as well as rectification claims and will disputes. Brown has particular experience of working across the rural and landed estates sector.  Legacy disputes is a sector focus for the team.

Practice head(s):

Lucinda Brown

Testimonials

‘Luci Brown is a fantastic lawyer who is both knowledgeable about the law and very good with clients.’

The individual I have worked with is Lucinda Brown (a recent hire from Cambridge) who combines excellent technical knowledge with pragmatic advice as to achieve the best result for clients.’

Key clients

Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity

Barts Health National Health Service Trust

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP receives a steady flow of instructions in a variety of large and complex contentious trusts and probate matters and attracts a broad client base of high-net-worth individuals including some aristocratic families and wealthy international figures. Kevin Kennedy is adept at handling cases with an international component. Justin Briggs routinely handles the most challenging of cases where considerable sums of money are at stake. Recently it has been handling multiple disputes where there are novel legal issues and trust assets worth hundreds of millions.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Kennedy; Justin Briggs

Other key lawyers:

Sian Edmunds; Caroline Emslie

Testimonials

The team is highly knowledgeable and leaves no stone unturned. Sian Edmunds is practical and determined in pursuing the right result.’

A team whose core focus and experience is in this area. The team can call on colleagues from other departments and make it all seamless. It is the recognised leader in this field, and quite rightly so. Kevin Kennedy – simply excellent and one of the best. I have worked with Kevin for over six years and he has been consistently top rate. Focuses on the key issues, and does not get bogged down in minutia. Commercially minded and appreciates what the client wants to achieve.’

Excellent reputation in the field, coupled with superb partner engagement. Sian Edmunds is a star individual – she has a real tactical awareness which means she understands how to get her clients the outcome they need without necessarily fighting all the way to trial.’

Very capable team at all levels, and a pleasure to work with. Very strong on probate disputes and complex administrations. Justin Briggs – a very capable partner with excellent legal knowledge and good judgment. Caroline Emslie – a standout associate who is going to be a star. Performs well beyond her experience, manages day-to-day complex litigation superbly, and is a joy to work with.’

‘This team is exceptional, and provides a service which rivals that provided by the leading firms in this area. It combines excellent technical knowledge with the ability to give accessible, practical advice to its clients, while working tirelessly on their behalf. Provides an absolutely first-rate service. Justin Briggs provides invaluable strategic insight to his cases, combined with excellent technical knowledge. Caroline Emslie is a truly exceptional associate, one of the best I have ever worked with. Her judgment is excellent. The entire team is dedicated and works incredibly hard on behalf of clients.’

‘Fantastic strength in depth, leaders in their field. Kevin Kennedy is great with clients, and tactically astute.’

‘This is a very capable team able to deal with complex and high-value disputes. Justin Briggs is both very client-friendly and a very talented lawyer with a strong grip of the legal technicalities.’

Kevin Kennedy is an excellent all round practitioner with wide experience.’

Key clients

Robert Sofer

Earl of Plymouth

Work highlights

  • Instructed in a high-value international dispute on behalf of an Australian beneficiary who is in dispute with a Swiss trust company. The matter is being litigated in England and even in its early stages has so far produced widely-considered High Court and Court of Appeal judgments. The case is continuing and is likely to produce further high profile judgments.
  • Advised the successful trustees of a landed estate in the Court of Appeal, one of a number of cases between these parties (Rees v Earl of Plymouth) relating to the trustees’ development of part of their trust assets.

Howard Kennedy LLP

Howard Kennedy LLP has built up a strong reputation for its work with high-net-worth clients advising them on complex, high-value and high-profile disputes and is receiving an increasing number of significant Court of Protection instructions. Many aspects of its work relate to cross-border disputes with a large proportion of its work including elements of international succession and offshore assets and trusts. Emily Mailer and Naomi O’Higgins  lead the team that has a wealth of experience in litigating in all the major offshore jurisdictions.

Practice head(s):

Naomi O’Higgins; Emily Mailer

Other key lawyers:

Lizzie Barclay

Testimonials

Excellent service levels and experience in the private client field. Emily Mailer and Naomi O’Higgins bring a wealth of experience, technical knowledge and client handling skills.’

‘Exceptional skillset of one particular individual at a competitive price for clients. I go to Howard Kennedy solely for referrals to Naomi O’Higgins. Naomi O’Higgins – tough litigator but also sensible in attempting to achieve an outcome.’

‘The team regularly appears opposite the biggest players in the market. The firm as a whole has significant strength and depth that complements and supports the contentious trusts and probate practice in a way that other firms do not have. Naomi O’Higgins is reliable, knows her stuff, and great fun to work with. Lizzie Barclay is a star and a formidable partner in the making.’

A major London player with a strong contentious team but providing a personable approach. Emily Mailer – very impressive. Naomi O’Higgins – clear and decisive.’

Two things stand out about the HK team: its international reach, and its personal skills with clients. HK has a fantastic grasp of multi-jurisdictional litigation and manages to integrate seamlessly with other legal teams around the globe. Face to face, the lawyers are personable and understanding and take the time to understand their clients’ needs and resources. Emily Mailer is world-class. Perfectly at home handling proceedings in three jurisdictions at once, she always keeps the birds-eye view and has a great tactical brain. Naomi O’Higgins is a tiger, and simply a force to behold at the negotiating table. She has Magic Circle partners cowering behind their desks! Lizzie Barclay is headed for partnership. Very efficient, warm and personable with clients and ruthless in getting the job done. She puts in the hours and is simply better prepared than her opponents.’

The team is not just technically able but, importantly, dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcome for its clients. Where it differs, in my view, is the ownership the lawyers take of cases from a strategic perspective (they don’t just rely on counsel) and the pride they have in their work.

‘This is a long-standing trusts and probate practice which has the benefit of a full-service firm supporting it. Emily Mailer is eminently sensible and just the sort of empathetic but firm fighter you want in your corner. Naomi O’Higgins is very experienced in this area and very popular with her clients as a result of the first-rate service she provides.’

‘Outstanding strength across the team in delivering to its clients the very best results possible. Emily Mailer is tough, determined and resourceful. Naomi O’Higgins is remarkably thorough and persistent, perhaps the most important quality in contentious private client work. Associate Lizzie Barclay is a rising star, with an incredibly sure touch and steeped in the robust approach of the firm‘.

Hunters Law LLP

The contentious trusts and probate team at Hunters Law LLP straddles two of the firm’s key departments. Practice head Richard Kershaw specialises in family law and contentious work arising from relationship generated trust and Inheritance Act disputes. It has an impressive range of instructions including onshore and offshore work for trustee and beneficiary clients.  In addition it works with landed estates and for City professionals in the Court of Protection and Chancery Division. David Draisey has a particular emphasis on trust and probate claims.

Practice head(s):

Richard Kershaw

Other key lawyers:

David Draisey; Polly Atkins

Testimonials

‘Focus on finding practical solutions for the clients. I have worked with Richard Kershaw – I have found him to be a very effective lawyer and very good to work with.

‘It has a first-class “private client” client base established over many decades, and excellent technical proficiency in the field of trusts and taxation.’

‘A high-quality smaller firm in the heart of Chancery London with excellent practitioners and good work. David Draisey: personable, capable, calm and reassuring to clients. Richard Kershaw: strategically astute and experienced litigator in family and private wealth disputes.’

The team handles a broad range of disputes, making it absolute masters of litigation, capable of bringing skills from different fields of litigation together. That allows the lawyers not just to concentrate on the essential feature or features of their cases, but gives them a richer arsenal to call upon than many of its competitors. They do not just fight, they deliver. At partner level, Richard Kershaw is as adept with the sabre as with the stiletto, while David Draisey is a remarkably effective litigator who does not miss a trick. New associate Polly Atkins has been well-trained in the team, is completely unflappable when the heat is on, and hugely sympathetic to her clients. A star for the future.’

‘Strong private client (contentious and non-contentious) team. Richard Kershaw – hands on, great engagement with clients.’

‘A well-established and consistently excellent private client team. David Draisey is a young partner who is a pleasure to work with. He is organised, calm and diligent – the case will always be in good order when counsel is updated or brought back in.’

Key clients

The Trustees of the Caldicott Will Trust

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Trustees of a Will Trust and defending claim for breach of the self-dealing rule and removal of the trustees. Successfully opposing the trustees’ removal. Reported case – 2020 EWHC 767 (Ch).

Sinclair Gibson LLP

Sinclair Gibson LLP ’s work primarily consists of advising on trust and probate disputes as well as claims under the Inheritance Act 1975. It frequently advises on Court of Protection proceedings on behalf of minors and others who lack capacity to conduct their affairs where partners also take on appointments as deputies and act as litigation friends. The team is well-placed to advise on appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Alison Meek and Henry Hickman both head the department.

Practice head(s):

Alison Meek; Henry Hickman

Testimonials

‘Alison Meek is really easy going and looks to act in her clients’ best interests. The story about the creation of the firm appeals to clients – the lawyers are business people as well as lawyers. Alison Meek – one of my favourite litigators – she is really clever, hardworking and passionate about her clients’ rights.

A team that punches well above its weight given the size of the firm. Alison Meek is a really tenacious litigator but with so much experience she knows how and when to go about settling cases in a constructive and effective manner.’

Very competent advisers for legal contentious cases. Alison Meek: Probably the best adviser that I have encountered for advice in a contentious case. She is not afraid of giving advice to stop a pursuit of another party if she feels that it will in the end prejudice her client.’

This is a niche private client firm offering really excellent service. The contentious team is really great. Alison Meek has an incredible grasp of how people work and sees straight through disputes to what really matters. She is a really fearsome adversary with a strong sense of what is right and how a matter will work out. One of my favourite firms!

‘The firm is a small firm with the capacity to handle complex international trust and estates structuring and related disputes with aplomb. Its members have a profoundly knowledgeable, sympathetic and intelligent approach to solving complex problems to obtain the best outcomes for their clients. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Henry Hickman is a tenacious and subtle litigation strategist with the ability to adapt quickly to new situations in order to exploit them to full advantage for the benefit of his clients.’

Stevens & Bolton LLP

Stevens & Bolton LLP fields an excellent team that focuses on high-value trust and estate work dealing with trustees, beneficiaries, executors and claimants under the 1975 Act. It has extensive experience of advising on claims in different jurisdictions, including offshore jurisdictions,  as well as disputes about deputies or attorneys within the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection. The 'simply brilliantJames Lister leads the team that was pleased to add senior associate Jack Bailey to its ranks from Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP. 'The team offers City quality advice at regional prices.'

Practice head(s):

James Lister

Other key lawyers:

Jack Bailey; Hayley Robinson

Testimonials

‘James Lister is a fantastic solicitor and one of the leaders in his field.’

‘A small but very experienced team that offers a realistic alternative to the London and large national firms as it virtually matches them in legal knowledge and practical experience. James Lister: a hardened litigator who does not give an inch; very well-versed in effective litigation tactics. Jack Bailey: pragmatic and personable; very level-headed, which he deploys with excellent knowledge of the practice area to secure great results with a minimum of fuss.’

Jack Bailey is an excellent lawyer and will be an asset to the team. Jack Bailey – a good associate with positive attitude who really fights for his clients.’

This is a team that is going from strength to strength under James Lister’s ambitious leadership. James Lister is a first-rate junior partner in this area. He is building a burgeoning practice and he is a first choice for referrals.’

The members of the team I have worked with are very skilful, experienced and provide excellent client service. I have worked with Jack Bailey – he’s an impressive litigator. He’s astute and extremely knowledgeable I have also worked with Hayley Robinson – Hayley is clever and gives pragmatic advice. She has a wonderful manner and way with clients. She helps them navigate very difficult circumstances in a calm and reassuring way. Wonderful customer service.’

This firm seems to be gaining an ever-growing profile especially in the private client litigation area. I strongly recommend Jack Bailey who is a new member to the team, coming from a City firm. Very good in contentious trust and probate disputes and litigating claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Very personable and capable, and steers clients in an assured fashion through disputes that are often challenging.’

Stevens & Bolton is one of a handful of firms based outside London with the personnel and expertise to deal with UHNWI private clients at the top level. James Lister is a brilliant lawyer. He also possesses great business acumen, and is a pleasure to work with. I would recommend him to anyone looking for a top-flight private client litigator.’

‘A top quality but lean and efficient litigation offering. James Lister – a real pro, he is well-versed in both the law and practicalities, with a real nose for what is likely to make a difference in securing for a client what they want from litigation.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a representative beneficiary in a seven-party highly contested Public Trustee v Cooper trial, concerning the removal of the executors of the estate, and the proposed distribution of the estate between the beneficiaries.
  • Acting for a claimant beneficiary in his claim to receive increased provision from his offshore family trust.
  • Acting for the successful claimant spouse in her claim for proper financial provision from her husband’s multi-million pound estate.

VWV

VWV fields a team of ten contentious trusts and probate lawyers that has a national reputation for its work in this area. Michelle Rose leads the department that has been working on an array of complex trusts and probate disputes. Recently it has been dealing with a large number of substantial and complex estates as independent administrators and trustees throughout the country. Its specialist legacy protection team continues to thrive. Fiona Lawrence is another notable practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Rose

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Lawrence; Julia Hardy ; Vicky Ward ; Sally Rushton; Marianne Nankervis

Testimonials

‘A truly excellent team for probate disputes, with great experience, a great bedside manner, and a real determination to get the right results for its clients. Michelle Rose – very experienced, and very shrewd.’

Well regarded national team, capable of resolving difficult estates. Michelle Rose leads the team. She is a well established and rightly well respected C&P senior litigator. Julia Hardy is a classy C&P litigator, she is knowledgeable, calm under pressure and understated. Vicky Ward is an excellent senior associate.’

‘VWV is the market leader in the west of England for contentious probate and trusts, and has a nationwide reputation as the go-to firm for handling contentious, intricate probate disputes in a pragmatic and conciliatory manner. The level of referrals it receives from other firms is testament to its quality. Michelle Rose is my first choice for any independent administrator/deputy role in highly contentious proceedings. She is completely unflappable, always on top of her brief and can see the wood for the trees. Julia Hardy has a gift for client management and bringing them around to the best tactical course in the litigation.’

A large team with a strong offering, deservedly dominating the southwest market, as well as attracting clients across the midlands and southeast. Marianne Nankervis and Sally Rushton are strong litigators with a real understanding of private client nuance. Michelle Rose and Fiona Lawrence seemingly effortlessly keep on top of a huge workload.’

‘Its success is underwritten by patient hard work. The interpersonal skills and selfless diligence makes it especially well-equipped to withstand the heavy stresses of big team large-scale litigation. Michelle Rose: a very iron hand in a very velvet glove. Fiona Lawrence: the ideal combination of an astute large-scale strategist with a painstaking eye for detail. Vicky Ward: a lateral thinker with an eye for the best route to get her clients to their desired destination.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for an association in respect of a £17m estate with a contested statutory will application involving 12 other charities.
  • Settled a claim at mediation which resulted in a favourable outcome for its client, the claimant cohabitee, who brought a claim against the Executors of a well-known local family attraction park Estate worth over £30m. This matter also involved a complex claim in respect of partnership property.
  • Michelle Rose continues to be appointed on complex high value deadlocked estate administration and contested Court of Protection matters. This year has seen the culmination of a 2 year contested statutory Will matter reach the Court of Protection in a £15m estate and it continues to administer the £10m McDonald estate (now into its 6th year), which was the subject of a Court of Appeal decision on an out of time application in a proprietary estoppel dispute between six of the beneficiaries of the Estate. There are a number of other estates based in Devon, Cornwall, Kent, London, Hertfordshire, Worcestershire and Birmingham where Michelle and Fiona Lawrence have been or are about to be appointed by the court (having being nominated by solicitors local to the estate in deadlock).

Wedlake Bell LLP

Caroline Miller now heads the team at Wedlake Bell LLP that handles a comprehensive range of high-value and complex domestic and international contentious trusts and probate disputes. It routinely advises high-net-worth individuals and families, executors, trustees and beneficiaries. Andrew O’Keeffe is a key member of the team. Ann Stanyer is highly regarded for her work on elder law and elder financial abuse matters. The team has also been appointed by the independent administrator in a number of high-value matters. Oliver Embley has been promoted to the partnership.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Miller

Other key lawyers:

Andrew O’Keeffe; Ann Stanyer; Oliver Embley; Katie Turney

Testimonials

‘A strong private client firm with a number of high-value disputes. Andrew O’ Keeffe – very knowledgeable and solidly practicable. Caroline Miller – I have worked with Caroline for many years. She is really excellent and manages a great team.’

‘A strong cross-over between its contentious and non-contentious teams and an excellent international client base. Caroline Miller is a wonderful C&P litigation partner, charming, intelligent and commercial.’

Andrew O’Keeffe, Katie Turney, Caroline Miller and Oliver Embley are all outstanding lawyers.’

‘Wedlake Bell’s contentious trusts team combines a deep knowledge of the private client world with pragmatic and effective litigators. Caroline Miller is a very experienced private client lawyer who has turned her considerable skillset to resolving disputes. Andrew O’Keeffe has been involved in a number of important cases concerning farming families and estoppel. New partner Oliver Embley will be a great asset to the team and firm.’

This is a great team in a friendly City firm, handling high-value estate litigation with aplomb. Andrew O’Keeffe is great with clients, and knows exactly what to do in any given situation. Oliver Embley, recently promoted to partner, is a sound and strategic thinker on the tax and trust aspects of any dispute.’

‘A well-respected contentious trusts and probate team who are involved in many large matters this year. Andrew O’Keeffe is an experienced partner with a well-tuned sense of judgement on the merits of cases and how to handle clients and opponents; definitely one to have on your side. Caroline Miller is another experienced and well-respected partner; she is astute, diligent and practical‘.

This is a ‘can-do’ litigation team supported by an excellent private client department with capable and experienced litigators. Andrew O’Keeffe –  an excellent litigator and tactician. Very personable and a great communicator with clients, calm under pressure, persistent and achieves great results for clients. Katie Turney – associate who is hardworking and astute, very good with clients. Caroline Miller – partner in private client team with litigation experience, knowledgeable and a practical problem solver.’

‘The firm provides a very good service across the full breadth of private client litigation. Andrew O’Keefe is a highly experienced litigator and is not phased by anything.’

Druces LLP

Under the leadership of Helen Freely and Matthew Duncan the team at Druces LLP acts for (U)HNW individuals, beneficiaries, executors, trustees and charities in resolving their disputes by either defending or bringing the action. Freely does a broad range of private client work. Duncan has a strong reputation for his work on contentious probate, trusts and disputed wills.

Practice head(s):

Helen Freely; Matthew Duncan

Other key lawyers:

Paul Levy

Testimonials

‘An experienced and insightful team with an excellent eye on client care and management. Helen Freely is very experienced and clearly trusted by her clients, for whom she works very hard and keeps focused on their ultimate goals and best interests. Paul Levy is a steely litigator who fights the client’s corner hard. He is not afraid to stand up to the other side or, indeed, the client when necessary to further their position.’

‘I have used the services of Paul Levy. He has helped to sort out a complex Will. Paul Levy was excellent.’

Druces LLP is proactive and attentive and gives straightforward advice and guidance. The lawyers inspire and instil confidence in their ability which is paramount when you are in a crisis. Paul Levy is knowledgeable, reliable, proactive and genuine. I feel he went above and beyond for me to get the best outcome possible. I have, and will, recommend to any of my friends and colleagues who need an excellent solicitor.

‘Helen Freely and Matthew Duncan are both able and have good personal skills.

Gowling WLG

The team at Gowling WLG is primarily based in London but draws on the expertise of its private wealth practitioners in Singapore, Dubai and Canada. It focuses on all aspects of trusts litigation, primarily cross-border disputes. Andrew Witts advises on international and offshore cases. James Sidwell is another seasoned practitioner. Head of team Catherine Naylor focuses on complex multi-jurisdictional cases.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Naylor

Other key lawyers:

James Sidwell; Andrew Witts

Testimonials

‘Gowling brings a practical approach to complex transactions.’

‘It has been my go-to firm for anything of substance in this market. Practical, good, open and firm advice is what you can expect, without it being at the very top range of expense. James Sidwell – someone you definitely want on your side. Driven, bright, tenacious. Understands what clients want and goes and gets it for them. Very personable, knows how to deal with personalities in the slightly rarified world of contentious trusts.’

Cat Naylor – great promotion to partner a few years back. Understands contentious trusts extremely well, and just as importantly the egos behind those trusts. Clients like her and feel extremely secure in her ability.’

‘James Sidwell – James is an experienced litigator with a wealth of knowledge in contentious trusts matters. His attention to detail is second to none and he always has the best interest of the client at heart. Catherine Naylor is experienced, driven and always delivers.’

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

Work highlights

  • Acting for Joanna Lemos and the trustees in bankruptcy of Christos Lemos on a dispute concerning valuable property held on the trusts of a Bermudian trust.
  • Acted for the chairman of the Alokozay group in a claim brought in respect of a dispute against his son (and others).
  • Defended a £132m claim by Mark Holyoake relating to a residential property at Grosvenor Gardens House.

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell has particular expertise in bringing and defending high-value financial provision claims under the Inheritance Act in addition to advising on a whole host of contentious trusts and court of protection matters for a range of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. It is adept at advising on significant trust structures and estates in the UK and internationally. Head of department Claire-Marie Cornford regularly acts in complex private wealth disputes for a broad range of clients from successful entrepreneurs to landed gentry and charities. Nicola Bushby is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Claire-Marie Cornford

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Bushby

Testimonials

‘The team has begun to be a really big player since Claire-Marie Cornford was recruited to head the team in London and now it appears in many of the big cases. Claire-Marie Cornford combines real expertise with excellent client handling and achieves good results for her clients while standing her ground when she needs to.’

‘The team has great experience in complex, high-value, multi-jurisdictional disputes about trusts and estates. One great advantage which the firm has is its breadth of specialisms, which gives the team the ability to call on first-rate in-house advice where there is a cross-over into other areas of law. This can be particularly valuable where contentious trusts or probate disputes have a tax or Court of Protection or corporate angle. Claire-Marie Cornford is an absolutely first-rate litigator. She is absolutely focused on getting the best possible result for her clients and takes a lot of time and care to understand from them what their objectives are. She never loses sight of the end-game. She is a very tough opponent and a pleasure to work with. She is supported by a strong team.’

This team can provide effective representation to a vast range of clients, including large disputes. It can resource more effectively than most due to its geographical spread and size. Claire-Marie Cornford brings considerable experience and confidence to the team; she is a quality litigator.’

Nicola Bushby is a very able solicitor, whose experience of litigation in other areas, including the rights of the mentally vulnerable, means that she is well on top of complex issues such as testamentary capacity and proving the testator’s true intentions.’

This is a small but strong practice with individuals who have extensive experience in this area and the support of the full service firm that is Irwin Mitchell. Nicola Bushby is outstanding. She brings a breadth of experience to her work, is extremely intelligent and astute. What makes Nicola stand out is her determination and drive to protect the vulnerable clients that she works with as well as her empathy and compassion in her work. It is a genuine pleasure to work with her.’

‘It is a strong team willing to take on both large and small cases. Its London office in particular shows real strength under the leadership of Claire-Marie Cornford, with the addition last year of rising star Nicola Bushby. Nicola Bushby stands out as a fearless litigator willing to go the extra mile for her clients and not afraid to argue novel legal points.’

‘Nicola Bushby – personable, excellent with clients, goes above and beyond.’

‘Strong working knowledge of trusts and probate law. Claire Marie Cornford – fights her client’s corner hard.’

Key clients

John Clitheroe

Michelmores LLP

Sara Chisholm-Batten and Jennifer Ridgway co-head the team at Michelmores LLP. Particular areas of expertise are disputes which involve a UK tax element or which involve complex questions of domicile or cross-border capacity issues. Chisholm-Batten has significant experience in fraud and asset tracing. Ridgway frequently advises on complex and high-value international and domestic trust disputes.  Tony Cockayne is another experienced practitioner who has a national client base. Lorraine Jeffery recently joined the team from BDB Pitmans.    

Practice head(s):

Sara Chisholm-Batten; Jennifer Ridgway

Other key lawyers:

Tony Cockayne; Lorraine Jeffery; Alice Daniels

Testimonials

I have worked with Michelmores as co-counsel on a matter that involved issues on English, Alderney and BVI law.  Michelmores at all times provided a very professional service and it was a pleasure working with them as co-counsel. The lawyers adopted a commercial, pragmatic and sensible approach advising the client (and indeed, us) on important and relevant aspects of English law and ultimately assisted the client in negotiating a settlement. I would give particular mention to Jennifer Ridgway. She is a pleasure to work with and ticks all of the boxes one looks for; being responsive, engaged, commercial and on top of the law. She is also a team player, in the broader co-counsel sense, which certainly makes working on cross-jurisdictional matters much simpler and straightforward. Highly recommended.

‘The Michelmores contentious trusts team is a hands-on, high quality team, who are dedicated to achieving the best results for clients. The team is extremely efficient and very pleasant to deal with. You want the Michelmores team on your side. Sara Chisholm-Batten is an extremely thorough and methodical lawyer who can distil difficult concepts into practical advice. Jennifer Ridgway is technically excellent, extremely articulate and a pleasure to deal with.’

Jennifer is a highly knowledgeable and talented lawyer with great attention to detail, she is a pleasure to work with and always delivers what she says she will. Alice is efficient, responsive and always has the interest of her clients at heart.’

‘A strong and confident team. Sara Chisholm-Batten is a measured partner with very good instincts who knows how to handle clients involved in heavy litigation.’

This firm offers a team with Central London levels of experience and skill but charging out of London prices. Jennifer Ridgway is particularly good.’

‘Availability of the team, common sense approach and practical advice. Jennifer Ridgway – very practical and has a way of explaining technically complicated issues simply.’

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a national reach. The agile team deals with issues surrounding the validity of wills, actions involving trustees and executors and claims under the Inheritance Act in addition to related claims concerning lifetime transactions. It also advises a number of charities involved in contested legacy matters. David Catchpole, who divides his time between London and Norwich, concentrates exclusively on contentious trusts and probate matters. Simon Pedley, who is based in London and Manchester, acts for many high-net-worth individuals and trust companies.

Practice head(s):

David Catchpole; Simon Pedley

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Howard

Testimonials

‘It puts the client first, and uses its experience and great legal knowledge to satisfy the clients’ needs. Attention to detail. Thoroughness. Immediate response to requests.’

The lawyers deliver really outstanding customer service – it is no surprise that they build very long lasting client relationships. Clients regularly comment on how brilliantly members of the Mills & Reeve team have supported them, often through difficult times. David Catchpole – a very clever lawyer. He will always go the extra mile to help his clients and get the best possible outcome for his clients. Simon Pedley – excellent knowledge of the law, and a pragmatic and assertive litigator. You know that a party means business when they instruct Simon.’

‘A really tight and good-humoured team, who are a delight to work with. Really know their stuff and give clients such personal attention and really fight for them. David Catchpole: very experienced and very effective. Tells clients how it is but never stops searching for a solution for them. Lucy Howard: a real rising star. She’s very smart and works harder than anyone else I know. Has a real feel for the strategy and tactics of litigation in this area.’

Simon Pedley leads a strong, proactive, specialist team. Simon Pedley is very experienced in this specialist area and is adept at handling all manner of contentious trusts and probate work.’

Incredibly responsive – even at very short notice. The team really takes the time to focus on the key issues of concern, and provides very helpful and timely advice. The approach allows us to learn from the advice and apply it to similar problems in future. David Catchpole has provided clear and comprehensive advice on a complex gift matter. We have very much valued David’s prompt and helpful advice, getting to the heart of the matter quickly and providing reassurance in response to follow up questions.’

I am a great fan of Mills & Reeve as a private client firm and recommend the team. Really good experienced partners and senior associates across the board. Also seem to be good at recruiting very capable juniors who have turned into extremely good practitioners over the years with seemingly very good retention and continuity.’

They care! It is a specialist team with good experience. I have had consistency in personnel over a three-and-a-half year period. The lawyers listen and analyse what I convey to them and if they disagree with me, they explain why. They are logical and have built my case with diligence. I am particularly pleased with Lucy Howard for her intelligent and experienced approach.’

‘Lucy Howard representing the firm was my first point of contact. She was sent the brief and came back with a clear strategy on how to proceed. My impression was one of measured confidence in her own ability.’

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

Work highlights

  • Advised Rohita Rajapakse   and her sisters in relation to issue concerning their late father’s estate and the possible suppression of his last Will by their brother. The case raised interesting issues relating to the Hindu tradition of succession by the male heir.
  • Acting in a complicated dispute relating to entitlements to a substantial offshore trust, with some of the country’s leading trust QCs and best private client firms instructed

Osbornes

Jan Atkinson leads the department at Osbornes that acts for a wide range of high-net-worth individuals and families in complex estate and trust litigation. Other clients include charities, trustees and executors and the group frequently deals with cross-border estates. Its contentious court of protection offering is led by senior associate Katie de Swarte. The team provides specialist tax, trusts and wealth planning assistance to clients in connection with their financial settlements on divorce. Elspeth Neilson is also well-regarded.

Practice head(s):

Jan Atkinson

Other key lawyers:

Elspeth Neilson; Katie de Swarte

Testimonials

Well-established, busy practice. Jan Atkinson has a long-standing solid reputation in the field. Knowledgeable and formidable. Elspeth Neilson is a well-regarded junior partner. Katie de Swarte is hardworking and has great empathy for her clients.’

The team is known for its sympathetic and approachable solicitors. Jan Atkinson – great knowledge and understanding.’

Jan Atkinson has a wealth of knowledge and experience combined with a terrier-like ability to investigate the relevant facts, which make her an excellent choice in a contentious probate or trust dispute. She has outstanding commitment and always delivers for her clients.’

Jan Atkinson is fierce and dedicated to her clients. Elspeth Neilson is a clever and efficient solicitor, who gets great client feedback.’

‘Far better value for money than many firms with more expensive addresses. Serious knowledge of the law and committed engagement with their clients’ problems. Jan Atkinson – Rolls Royce advice. Elspeth Neilson – incredibly impressive and hardworking.’

Jan Atkinson is always a delight to work with.’

Katie de Swarte and Elspeth Neilson have both instructed me recently, and both seemed to me to be able to build excellent relationships with their clients and to run their practices very efficiently.’

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP has a well-resourced team that handles the full range of private client matters including some heavyweight commercial, trust and family disputes for ultra-wealthy families, individuals and their corporates. It has a large international client base with clients from the Middle East, Russia and US. Other clients include family offices and leading trust companies. Head of department is Michael Pulford who is recommended for his work on cross-border disputes. His main area of focus is onshore and offshore trust litigation, international family disputes and family proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Michael Pulford

Testimonials

Star performer is Michael Pulford – knows all the angles in relation to contentious trusts in the international arena.’

‘Michael Pulford – hands on partner who still has oversight of the big picture and overall strategy.’

 

RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP

RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP has particular expertise in acting for parties involved in probate and trust litigation. It acts for executors, administrators, beneficiaries and dependants. Its cases frequently are high-value and involve complex trusts and estates in the UK and overseas. It is adept at advising on issues such as claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act to actions against negligent trustees and applications to remove or substitute personal representatives. Jonathan Shankland, Dominic Green and Nigel West  head the team.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Shankland; Dominic Green; Nigel West

Other key lawyers:

Oliver Haddock

Testimonials

‘I have worked with a number of different lawyers in this team as a barrister. I am impressed by the scope of the work and the expertise in a number of areas of private client work. A brilliant firm – excellent clients.’

RadcliffesLeBrasseur is a proactive and engaging firm who consistently provides quality service to the highest of standards. Advice sought has always been delivered timeously with a broad knowledge of complex issues demonstrated at all times. Working with RLB has been nothing but positive. Jonathan Shankland’s proactive approach and engagement with clients has been fundamental in finding suitable tax solutions. Jonathan consistently demonstrates his vast knowledge and that he is a leader in his field. It has been a pleasure to work with Jonathan on all matters.’

‘Radcliffes has been excellent in helping me and my family through a very difficult time.  Jonathan is a very nice person but he also really does know his stuff. He is very technically able and seems always to come up with a solution to complex arguments. He has been very impressive when pitted against what I am told are other renowned lawyers in this field, he more than holds his own. I am always confident when going into a meeting with Jonathan and into the many rounds of mediation that we have been through; he is a powerful lawyer to have on your side. Nigel West is a ferocious operator when he needs to be and he has always had our backs when the gloves have needed to come off. People do not mess with Nigel I find and he always seems to be very well respected by all parties.

The firm has a reputation for being discreet and confidential and has years of experience of international trust matters. The cases are always partner led and the lawyers have a wealth of experienced partners who are able to combine advice on contentious and non-contentious aspects of a trust in a structured and effective way. A go to firm for difficult issues in need of a solution.

Nigel West is a very experienced litigator who takes a hands on approach to his work. One of the great tacticians who can work out how to achieve the result you want. Oliver Haddock is a litigator to watch out for in the future. He is well organised and efficient and can keep a case moving at speed on track.

I would consider this firm’s contentious trusts and probate offering to be one that is growing in the market place. I think the strength is in its ability to work closely with those in the team that are non-contentious lawyers who can add value to the contentious cases they handle. Jon Shankland is a good example of what I say above in that he has considerable technical and client skills that work well in harmony with his contentious colleagues.’

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP advises high-net-worth clients on the full range of private client matters both domestic and international with a particular focus on US/UK issues. It has a dedicated disputes team that works across its offices throughout the UK. It acts for individuals, charities and trustees (both individual and corporate trustees in the UK and offshore) and insurance companies on the full range of contentious private client matters. Neil Long leads the group that includes Will Ford.

Practice head(s):

Neil Long

Other key lawyers:

Will Ford; Rosie Taylor

Testimonials

A strong team, spread across the country and providing excellent service. Neil Long is a well-respected figure in the area, and draws in good clients with his sound advice and effective representation. He is supported by Rosie Taylor, who is fast developing into a seriously effective litigator.’

Excellence in its specialist field. Trust and mutual respect.’

‘WBD provides a high-quality service to clients in the area of contentious trusts and probate. The lawyers take a realistic view of costs, both how much it is proportionate to spend on a particular dispute and how the bill is to be paid.’

‘The lawyers are really good. They have gone very quickly from being a regional team to being at the heart of domestic and international private client disputes. They deal with everything from small domestic disputes to really big international disputes. They are a go-to recommendation for me. I love working with them, Rosie Taylor is wonderful. She is very much moving up into the position of lead associate, and deservedly so.’

‘Neil Long is idiosyncratic but absolutely assured. He can unlock the trickiest problem, and present the strongest case. He confounds the opposition, while ensuring his clients’ confidence. Associate Rosie Taylor provides excellent support on the heaviest cases, and can herself carry huge responsibility with ease and assurance. The complete package. Incisive, imaginative, kick-ass. Excellent combination of robust outward-facing, while still sensitive inward-facing.’

‘This is another regional team that is going from strength to strength.  Neil Long is a well-respected individual in the industry.’

The team at Womble Bond Dickinson has a growing reputation in this area, and benefits from being able to offer leading client service from its range of locations across the UK. This enables the team to keep costs at non-London levels, whilst offering London-level service and expertise. The team is undergoing a period of significant growth, and is one to watch for the future in the contentious trusts sphere, under Neil Long’s very able leadership.’

‘Neil Long stands out as a friendly and highly competent expert in this field. His down-to-earth manner makes him approachable and very popular with clients and solicitors alike. I would have no hesitation in recommending Neil, and indeed have done so on a number of occasions this year. Rosie Taylor also stands out as an able associate to watch, showing expertise beyond her years of experience.’