Firms To Watch: Contentious trusts and probate

At Edwin Coe LLP, Joanna Osborne spearheads a ‘flexible and focused team which is committed to the client and determined to succeed’. It is an agile group, which frequently handles high-value contentious trusts and probate litigation.
Jo Summers heads the practice at Jurit LLP, which is praised for its ‘excellence in international family and probate issues’.  Alex Peebles is another key member of the practice.

Contentious trusts and probate in London

Baker & McKenzie

The ‘excellent’ team at Baker McKenzie is a powerhouse for the most complex, high-value and multi-jurisdictional disputes. This global practice excels in the most major international trust disputes. Practice head, Anthony Poulton, receives many plaudits for his ability to handle substantial cross-border cases.  Poulton is a recognised figure in the offshore world too. The team frequently works with key lawyers, private banks and trust companies, both nationally and internationally. Gemma Willingham also garners considerable praise for her substantial expertise in handling contentious issues relating to private wealth, succession and trusts. Yindi Gesinde plays a pivotal role in the department and is recognised for her specialist expertise in trust disputes. Senior associate Luke Richardson focuses on private-client wealth disputes, and regularly handles a myriad of complicated trusts disputes. He is also adept at handling a variety of cases centring on wealth controversy.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Poulton

Other key lawyers:

Gemma Willingham; Yindi Gesinde; Luke Richardson


‘Astonishing insight and response time.’

‘Gemma Willingham is highly impressive and extremely adept at steering trustees through rocky waters in the most complex of cases.  Very bright, charming and -just as importantly – with deep reserves of the emotional intelligence necessary for this work.’

‘Anthony Poulton has a strong claim to be the finest contentious trusts solicitor in London.  He is a fabulous leader, strategist and tactician who enjoys and grasps the legal as well as strategic side of cases.’

Key clients

Dr Winston Wong

Work highlights

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

Boodle Hatfield LLP

Boodle Hatfield LLP has a ‘very busy’ team, which is doing top-quality work on predominantly high-value, complex and international cases. ‘This truly impressive outfit‘ has niche expertise in disputes concerning the modern family, and is working on an increasing number of major trust ‘partition’ cases. Clients note that this practice ‘should be on the shortlist of any prospective client seeking a top flight London firm’. Head of department, Andrea Zavos. is highly regarded for her work in advising individuals, trustees and trust companies on a variety of complicated and high-value national and international disputes. Simon Rylatt handles a broad spread of contentious trusts and estate disputes for both onshore and offshore clients. Also recommended is Mark Lindley, who is skilled at resolving disputes regarding trusts, estates, tax and gifts, as well as cases relating to mental capacity. Senior associate, James Woods-Davison has a following among the international UHNW community acting for individuals, trusts and corporate structures. It recently added Nicola Bushby to its ranks from Irwin Mitchell.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Zavos

Other key lawyers:

Simon Rylatt; Mark Lindley; James Woods-Davison; Nicola Bushby


‘An extremely talented team of very good lawyers who always look for the best solution for their clients, give expert sensible advice and are involved in all the big cases in this area.’

‘Andrea Zavos has enormous experience and expertise in this area. She is sensible and excellent with clients. She had a huge win in a proprietary estoppel case this year. Mark Lindley is passionate about the law and a real expert. He is always calm and unruffled, and clients love him.’

‘Andrea Zavos is an exceptional leader of this team with an open style, and huge experience over an extensive career. She has an inquiring approach and will consider a range of possibilities, not just the obvious ones.’

‘Simon Rylatt has remained at the top of his field for decades and is greatly valued by his clients, many of whom have been working with him for decades also. Senior associate James Woods-Davison looks like a star of the future with an easy going and approachable style combined with a deep technical knowledge.’

‘Andrea Zavos- world class and a worthy opponent. Mark Lindley- calm, intelligent, reasonable, can be collaborative or aggressive as the situation demands. Has the deep knowledge of a non-contentious practice also.’

‘Partners who stand out are in particular Mark Lindley and Simon Rylatt. Extremely responsive, sharp minds who take a holistic approach when analysing the right strategy for the client.’

‘The boutique nature of this central London private client firm sets it apart from its larger private client rivals. Andrea Zavos and Mark Lindley are exceptionally capable lawyers who could tackle any knotty private client issue in a technically competent but human way.’

‘Simon Rylatt is an outstanding figure in the field – experienced, exceptionally intelligent, with a strong sense of the importance of focussing on strategic goals in litigation.’

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is ‘involved in the big cases and is handling these big cases well’, under the able leadership of the ‘exceptionalGraeme Kleiner, who has ‘almost legendary status.' The practice enjoyed a number of recent highlights, including the arrival of the ‘real powerhouseZiva Robertson from McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP, and the promotion of Geneva-based Robert Avis to the partnership. The team has a stellar reputation both nationally and internationally. Its work spans the entire private wealth sector – it regularly works with its matrimonial team on some of the largest international divorce cases. Duncan Elson covers the full gamut of contentious trusts and estates work. Tamasin Perkins advises high-net-worth individuals, trustees and fiduciaries on many complex international trust and probate disputes. Areas of expertise include breach of trust claims, and claims involving protectors. Oliver Auld specialises in acting for private clients, and a wide range of people who are acting in a fiduciary capacity.

Practice head(s):

Graeme Kleiner

Other key lawyers:

Ziva Robertson; Duncan Elson; Oliver Auld; Tamasin Perkins; Robert Avis


‘Oliver Auld and Graeme Kleiner are both very able litigators. Graeme is highly experienced. Both are very able lawyers and tacticians. Superb client handling always with a view to getting the best outcome for the client. The team is big and strong across the board.’

‘Graeme Kleiner – clients love him and he has very good instincts as to where a case might go. Duncan Elson is equally excellent and really fights his client’s corner while knowing when to make a good deal.’

‘Tamasin Perkins is an excellent lawyer and very good with clients. Robert Avis, a new partner, is a phenomenal lawyer and very calm. There are some excellent associates.’

‘Very strong in contentious trusts and probate. Clear practical advice and litigation preparation. Availability of specialist advice in other areas of the law to complement the litigation team.’

‘Graeme Kleiner. Absolute standout. The solicitor you would want to act for you. Very knowledgeable, quick thinking and practical. Will ask the difficult questions early on, so that where there are risks and difficulties the client is fully aware of them before getting too far involved in litigation. Has his finger on the pulse of the latest developments in the law and practice.’

‘Graeme Kleiner is a first-rate litigator who relishes hard-fought litigation. Ziva Robertson is a great strategist who can come up with solutions to the most difficult problems.’

‘Simply one of the best in London – strength and depth in the team which is studded with stars of trust and probate litigation. Graeme Kleiner – one of the most experienced, bright and sensible trust litigators in London. Tamasin Perkins has a firm handle on trust litigation.’

‘Duncan Elson – combines experience, knowledge, intellect and robustness in litigation with sensitivity for the human element. A difficult combination to find. And a total delight to work with.’

Key clients

Mate v Mate

Dawson Damer v Grampian

Colicci and another v Grinberg and another (It acts for Robert, Rosanna and Josephine Colicci)

Work highlights

  • Successfully bringing a claim for members of a farming family in respect of claims for proprietary estoppel, unjust enrichment and professional negligence in relation to development of farming land and declarations of trust.
  • Acting for the defendant/counterclaimant in High Court proceedings concerning claims relating to a Grade I listed property in Buckinghamshire designed by Sir John Soane with Grade II listed Capability Brown grounds, worth approximately £15m.
  • Acting for the claimants in High Court proceedings relating to a promise to make wills and the subsequent succession of 40% of the shares in a family company, which operates a number of cafes, restaurants and kiosks across various locations in central London.

Clifford Chance LLP

With Jeremy Kosky at the helm, Clifford Chance LLP ‘has an unparalleled level of experience in high value, complex and multi-jurisdictional trust disputes ranging from private client to private equity trust structures. It also has exceptional quality at all levels of seniority’. Kosky is someone who ‘wears his considerable intellect lightly but applies it in great measure to complex matters’. The practice has a vast array of experience in high-value and complex disputes involving multiple jurisdictions both onshore and offshore. In addition, it is skilled at handling many high profile and heavyweight claims relating to family trusts, inheritance battles and shareholders’ disputes involving family-owned companies. Maxine Mossman has extensive trust disputes experience both domestically and offshore. Senior associate, Nicole Buncher is regularly involved in significant disputes with particular expertise in onshore and offshore trust litigation. Laura Hasson, also a senior associate, is lauded for her work with a variety of clients including financial institutions, sovereign wealth funds, protectors and beneficiaries.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Kosky

Other key lawyers:

Maxine Mossman; Nicole Buncher; Laura Hasson; Emily Elliot; Charles Joseph


‘Jeremy Kosky is a senior partner at the very top of his game in this field. He heads an exceptional team of highly talented more junior partners and senior associates.’

‘For large and complex matters they are my go-to firm and, having said that, even for smaller matters with significant sensitivities they are also at the top of the list. Having spent significant time working closely on a matter recently, the level of collaboration across a big team led by Jeremy Kosky, was exemplary.’

‘Jeremy Kosky is brilliant to work with, both individually and as an utterly professional leader of small and large teams. Clients feel comfortable in his hands and as a trustee that is of huge importance when making introductions when contentious issues arise. One of the very best.’

‘Laura Hasson is a true star of the future and is a delight to work with. She keeps long running matters moving through a combination of diligence and empathy. Maxine Mossman is an outstanding member of the team and very highly regarded across the trust industry.’

‘Unrivalled depth of experience. Jeremy Kosky is rightly market leading. Maxine Mossman is approachable, user friendly but strategically brilliant.’

‘Clifford Chance has a unique practice owing to the enormous expertise it can harness from its parallel skill in private equity and privately owned (large scale) multinational companies in the commercial and M&A sphere.’

‘Jeremy Kosky is a towering figure in private wealth litigation whose CV includes some of the most famous private cases ever fought. A dynamic team leader whose commitment to his client is fearless. Maxine Mossman is intelligent and personable. Great with clients. Emily Elliott is an impressive associate with a bright future ahead of her.’

‘Meticulous attention to detail at all levels. Tenacious litigators. Impressive judgment. Delightful to work with.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a large family of beneficiaries in Jersey court proceedings. There is significant cross border litigation and regulatory action which threatens the Trust.
  • Advising a leading global trustee client in relation to a multi-jurisdictional trust dispute involving a London based family. The assets of the trust are held in a variety of forms (e.g., liquid investments, properties, cars, offshore businesses) and in a variety of jurisdictions. The assets are worth circa $400m.
  • Advising an institutional trustee in respect of a complex structure in which the beneficiaries are in dispute. The family is split into two branches who are in conflict and cannot agree a way forward.

Farrer & Co

The ‘extremely experienced’ and ‘simply outstanding’ team at Farrer & Co is led by Toby Graham, Jeremy Gordon and Charlotte Fraser. It has many other ‘brilliant’ partners among them Joanna PooleElizabeth Sainsbury and Henrietta Mason. This first-class team, which has ‘real strength in depth’, is involved in many of the largest trust/estates disputes each year, often involving assets of several billion pounds. It regularly advises trustees and beneficiaries on the full range of onshore and offshore contentious matters. The practice continues to act in the big-ticket trust litigation, international succession disputes, and the restructuring of high-value trust structures. Increasingly, it is instructed to act as administrator of UHNW estates, which are the subject of litigation. It has also been busy acting in cases involving very high value capacity issues and court of protection work. Another highlight was Jennifer Ridgway joining the team from Michelmores LLP. Clients remark that ‘all of the associates, without exception, are excellent’. Tom McPhail and Joseph de Lacey receive particular praise for their work in this area.

Practice head(s):

Toby Graham; Jeremy Gordon; Charlotte Fraser

Other key lawyers:

Joanna Poole; Elizabeth Sainsbury; Henrietta Mason; Tom McPhail; Joseph de Lacey; Melody Munro; Isabelle Dean; Rowan Cope; Jennifer Ridgway


‘Farrers have a longstanding and well-deserved reputation in this field.  They have experienced partners, including Toby Graham and Jo Poole, who are not only great lawyers but great tacticians. Their assistants are very able too.’

‘Toby Graham is a very sound strategist and extremely experienced. Very nice to work with. Melody Munro, who is extremely clever, a very good lawyer, and extremely pleasant to work with. Joseph De Lacey is a very forceful and hardworking litigator.’

‘Toby Graham has a wealth of knowledge and experience and offers a highly effective client-focussed approach. Tom McPhail – simply the best solicitor below partner grade I have ever worked with. He’s an absolute star.’

‘It is one of the few contentious private client teams that feels and performs like a team.  Many of their competitors are made up of individuals, but the Farrers team works collectively, and the management really do support their juniors.’

Elizabeth Sainsbury is truly amazing for her qualification and there is no wonder they have made her up to partner, while on maternity leave.  She is serene in her style of work and leaves the client feeling that she is always on their side, even if the point raised is perhaps not relevant.’

Charlotte Fraser has a staggering grip on the law and applies it with laser like precision to the facts, so the client feels that they have the best on their side.’

‘The team has a very strong focus on client care and is considerate of the individual client’s position and alive to their sensitivities. They handle matters with a delicate force, are very clear and manage expectations exceptionally well.’

‘They are extremely personable and able to communicate and empathise with clients. Joanne Poole has been exceptional in all her work and is assisted by an extremely able team.’

Key clients

Sir Owen Glenn

The Administrators of the Estate of Vladimir Scherbakov

Trustees of family trusts of well-known English family

Executor for the Estate of the Duke of Edinburgh

Guardian of minor beneficiaries of UHNW family trusts

UHNW Middle Eastern individual

Work highlights

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

Forsters LLP

‘The main strength of the practice’ at Forsters LLP ‘is the quality of the individuals who work in it. Those individuals are intelligent and focussed, have good judgment and know how to look after their clients and keep them abreast of developments in their case’. Led by Roberta Harvey, it has a strong track record of acting in the most high-value, complex and multijurisdictional disputes. Harvey has an excellent reputation for her work with high-net-worth individuals, family offices, trustees, protectors, executors and beneficiaries on a wide spectrum of contentious trusts and estate matters. Consultant Alison Meek accepts instructions from professional trustees and trust companies (both onshore and offshore), executors and beneficiaries. The practice garners praise for ‘combining a great partner team with some brilliant associates'. Emily Exton is highly recommended along with senior associate, Maryam Oghanna. Hannah Mantle was also recently promoted to the partnership.

Practice head(s):

Roberta Harvey

Other key lawyers:

Alison Meek; Emily Exton; Hannah Mantle; Ashleigh Carr; Maryam Oghanna


‘Maryam Oghanna and Ashleigh Carr are superstars in the making. Forsters allows its juniors a lot of freedom to run cases, which gives them great strength in depth.’

‘Roberta Harvey is a very experienced litigator in this area. Hannah Mantle recently made partner and has excellent litigation management skills.’

‘It is always a pleasure to work with Forsters. They combine a great partner team with some brilliant associates.’

‘Alison Meek is a redoubtable litigator who is rarely beaten. Maryam Oghanna is an exceptional associate.’

‘They have a strong, personable team which operates at the top of the field. They are extremely capable, personable and responsive. Maryam Oghanna is a real star. Roberta Harvey is extremely friendly, competent and ‘involved’, with a heavy dose of common sense.’

‘Roberta Harvey is liked and respected by both her clients and her competitors. She is a very steady presence in litigation, and is sympathetic and calm, but firm when firmness is required.’

‘Alison Meek has decades of experience as a private client litigator and has developed very sharp instincts for assessing the merits and likely outcome of a case.’

‘Emily Exton. The most emotionally intelligent lawyer I have ever met, and intellectually brilliant. She is so incredibly easy to work with. Roberta Harvey is tenacious, smart and dedicated. A delight to work with when she’s on your side, but a ferocious opponent when she’s not!’

Macfarlanes LLP

Macfarlanes LLP is ‘incredibly strong from top to bottom. They have individuals at every level who are book smart and tactically switched on’. Led by the ‘brilliant and unflappableCharles Lloyd, it is a ‘go-to’ firm for high-value and complex disputes for high-net-worth families and individuals, trustees and family offices on all areas of contentious work. Its expertise covers disputes concerning some of the largest trusts and estates. These trusts and estates often have prominent businesses, other substantial property holdings, as well as large cash and investment portfolios. It also acts for individuals and institutions from around the world, and a number of its cases are resolved through multi-party Public Trustee v Cooper applications. Its ‘bench strength is superb' with 'a great pool of talent’. It has ‘individuals who are at the top of their game’ including the ‘superbJonathan Arr and Elizabeth Doherty. Senior associate Jacob Ward is a ‘star of the future.'

Practice head(s):

Charles Lloyd

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Arr; Elizabeth Doherty; Jacob Ward; Emma Cohen; Sarah-Louise Fernandez


‘Charles Lloyd has been very sharp on picking up on the nuances and has been able to develop alongside Jacob Ward a roadmap for what our strategy should be. Jacob has been very in-tune with the gamesmanship of the other side, and yet while staying professional has made sure we maintain our ground. He has been sharp, and responsive.’

‘Elizabeth Doherty is a standout trust litigator. Charming, brilliant and an asset to any team. Jonathan Arr is a leading light in the international trust litigation world. Goes the extra mile with his clients whilst retaining his passion for any case under the most challenging of circumstances.’

‘Macfarlanes’ private client team is second to none in London in my opinion. Their expertise is deep, and they are consummately skilled at assisting in solving very thorny issues of fiduciary and tax law.’

‘Macfarlanes is one of very few City law firms with a dedicated team of litigators who specialise in the contentious trusts and probate work. They also have several of the leading individuals in that type of work. For me they are unquestionably one of the leaders in this area.’

‘Charles Lloyd remains the doyen of contentious trusts and probate work. He is outstanding in every respect. He is someone you want to work with as a client or a barrister, and someone you worry about having as an opponent because he is tactically astute.’

‘Jonathan Arr has developed a very strong practice in this area which differs in also specialising in company and fraud elements affecting trusts and estates. He is on a par with an English silk in terms of legal knowledge, but he is also extremely personable.’

‘Elizabeth Doherty is particularly strong on estates matters, especially with elements in the Court of Protection. Her practice complements what Charles and Jonathan do, so they have every angle in this area covered. Emma Cohen has exceptional communication skills and is very well organised.’

‘Elizabeth Doherty – irrepressible intellect, totally committed and determined and a joy to work with. She will be a leader in the field before too long. Charles Lloyd – at the top of his game. A true gent, but also an excellent strategist and litigator.’

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP

With Rupert Ticehurst at the helm, Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP ‘s team has ‘incredibly intelligent strategists who work ferociously to serve their clients’ interests’. It has a global client base of UNHW families. The ‘nimble and commercial’ group of ‘stand-out lawyers who are real thought leaders in this space’, focuses on onshore and offshore trust and estate disputes. Ticehurst is recognised for his expertise across a wide range of cases from advising on freezing orders, to advising on the removal of trustees, protectors and executors.  Another core area of focus is handling claims relating to breaches of fiduciary duties. Simon Goldring is a skilled practitioner who has continued to act in a number of prominent trust cases recently. The practice is also praised for its ability to ‘leave no stone unturned’. Senior associate, Rosalind Hetherington, primarily concentrates on trust litigation.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Ticehurst

Other key lawyers:

Simon Golding; Rosalind Hetherington; Jerry Jamieson


‘Rupert Ticehurst who can litigate but is also a topflight private client lawyer who can see the whole picture and can draw on heavyweights in his team. So experienced and so wise.’

‘What is unique about the firm is the integration between their non-contentious private client and contentious private client teams. They have a strong overlap between individuals who are litigators and individuals who understand the tax aspects associated with trusts and estates work.’

‘Simon Goldring is fast becoming the leader of the team. It feels like he has moved effortlessly from being an associate to a partner. He has grown a reputation as someone who deals in high-value trusts matters. He is also very pleasant to deal with – a real team player.’

‘Rupert Ticehurst is a senior figure in the industry with an enormous reputation. One standout associate is Rosalind Hetherington (who is surely a partner in the making).’

‘Rupert Ticehurst is a master of this area. He is very quick, fantastic with clients and will knock down a wall to get what his clients want. Simon Goldring is a very shrewd and one of the best tacticians in this area. Ros Hetherington is sensational and definitely a rising star.’

‘The firm’s contentious trusts team is exceptional because of their dedication to achieving the very best results for their clients that they can. No stone is left unturned. They punch considerably above their weight.’

‘Simon Goldring has an incredible capacity and energy for hard and challenging work that is both impressive and exceptionally effective. The team is led by Rupert Ticehurst who is both exceptionally wise and practical in his approach to advising clients. Rosalind Heatherington is a key member of the contentious trusts team. Exceptionally hardworking and insightful. She is definitely one to watch for the future.’

‘It is a nimble, commercial private client firm with standout lawyers who are real thought leaders in the space. Rupert Ticehurst is simply outstanding. An all-round player who is technically gifted, commercial and a pleasure to deal with. He is always on my shortlist.’

Key clients

Members of the Al Thani Qatari Royal family

Work highlights

  • Acted for individual claimants representing three beneficiaries entitled to 20% of the estate (value ~$1bn comprising real estate in London and significant jewels and antiquities) of a deceased member of a Middle Eastern Royal Family.
  • Acting for three of 25 defendants in a dispute regarding the estate of a wealthy Nigerian businessman who was worth in excess of $1bn.

Mishcon de Reya LLP

Mishcon de Reya LLP has an excellent profile in the market – ‘news that they are on the other side of a case strikes fear. They have real expertise and experience and are very hardworking and capable of handling the biggest cases’. Under the joint leadership of Mark Keenan and Peter Steen, the team is flourishing. It specialises in complex intra-family and high-value domestic and international trust and succession disputes. These cases often involve elements of asset tracing and recovery in offshore jurisdictions. Other areas of expertise include handling breach of trust and proprietary estoppel claims. Jessica Medus is another key member of the department whose work often has an international element. Victoria Sara-Kennedy is now ‘of counsel’- she has a broad range of experience in advising on contentious trusts and estates. Emilia Piskorz has particular expertise in advising corporate and individual trustees, beneficiaries and those with an interest in an estate.

Practice head(s):

Mark Keenan; Peter Steen

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Medus; Emilia Piskorz; Natasha Holme; James Smith


‘Mishcon have built up an impressive team in this area. Mark Keenan, Jessica Medus and Peter Steen are all stand out lawyers in this field. They command immense loyalty from their clients because of their commitment to their cause. They have a raft of talented associates and are more than capable of taking on big cases in this area.’

‘Clear brand. Mishcon will fight for their clients. Mark Keenan is clever, dogged, detail oriented and tough. Clients know he has their back. Peter Steen is polished, effective, tough but collaborative when he can be.’

‘A good strong team of experienced trust litigators. Mark Keenan and Emilia Piskorz are aware of where they fit into the litigation but are capable of acting on their own initiative. It’s a well-oiled litigation machine.’

‘Mark Keenan is very experienced. Capable of handling very difficult clients and applying strategy to a complex, multijurisdictional high value litigation. Emilia Piskorz is simply an exceptional managing associate. She is the linchpin of the litigation team deftly knitting together UK counsel, offshore counsel, UK advisors and clients.’

‘Fully committed, high energy, and multidisciplinary team that draws resources from across the MdR network, and their expansive and diverse network of industry connections to provide the exact service the client needs on the most complex of international disputes.’

‘Mark Keenan is fantastic with clients. A calm but firm presence, really gets down and dirty, manages a large international team with aplomb. Jess Medus – Terribly nice, super smart and hugely industrious. Emilia Piskorz is one of the best managing associates in London. Works around the clock. She really is one to watch.’

‘Mark Keenan is legendary. Loved by his clients, he is always honest with them. He expects much of his team and gets it. He is a huge player in this field and at the moment handling one of the biggest and most complex pieces of trust litigation. He has some formidable people in his team-the incredibly bright Emilia PisKorz, Jessica Medus who is calm and sensible but fights for her clients.’

‘Peter Steen and Mark Keenan. Peter and Mark are the main partners with whom I work on contentious trust cases. Both are fantastic, have a firm grasp on the strategy and their advice is spot on. I couldn’t recommend them any higher.’

Key clients

Executors of the estate of a HNWI

Work highlights

  • Acted for the executors of the estate of a HNWI in a long running dispute (the deceased died in 2017).

Payne Hicks Beach LLP

Headed by Richard Manyon, who is described as a ‘doyen of private client litigation’, Payne Hicks Beach LLP has a ‘dynamic and clever team who deals with very high-profile litigation with real experience and expertise in this area.’ Its roots lie in traditional chancery work and advising on disputes affecting some of the oldest and largest landed estates and domestic trusts. It has expanded into the international sphere and is now also a global contentious practice. Another core area of focus is advising on trusts in the context of divorce proceedings. Jessica Henson has a ‘very good reputation in the market’ for her work running the gamut of private wealth disputes. Rosamond McDowell is currently advising on several substantial pieces of trusts and estates litigation. Ane Vernon is an experienced litigator, while Emma Harris is a newly promoted partner. It also boasts an excellent stable of ‘meticulous and hardworking associates.’ Charlotte Henshall is a talented senior associate.

Practice head(s):

Richard Manyon

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Henson; Ane Vernon; Emma Harris; Rosamond McDowell; Charlotte Henshall; Sean Knight; Rosie Sells; Emily Stoneham; Clementine Dowley


‘A dynamic clever team who deal with very high-profile litigation and have real experience and expertise in this area. Richard Manyon is extremely clever and really fights his client’s corner. Jessica Henson is similarly clever, a very good lawyer who is sensible.’

‘For its size, the firm is a powerhouse in contentious trusts and probate and more than holds its own with the other big names in the area. It also has a very strong and well-established expertise in areas such as private client/tax and family, upon which the team can draw where cases involve some element of cross-over in these fields.’

‘Payne Hicks Beach are a firm which punch above their weight in this area. By this I mean they are relatively small but get involved in many of the high profile and high value claims in contentious trust and probate. The team is hard-working and well-organised. Richard Manyon is a skilled litigator in this area.’

‘Jess Henson and Richard Manyon are two of the leading lights in our field. Their abilities and standing within the market are well beyond their years. The team also has the support of one of the best private client teams in the market’.

‘Jess Henson’s kindness and sharp wit make her a pleasure to work with. Jess is very clever, tactically astute and sensible. She’s one of the best litigators. Sean Knight was a good hire from Stone King. Richard Manyon is a very large presence in our market. The team are very busy.’

‘There is no firm that has made greater strides in developing their reputation in contentious trusts and probate work than this firm in my opinion. That is largely due to the strength of several core individuals who are total specialists in this work. They also benefit from a very strong non-contentious private client team, so they do provide an all-service offering to clients.’

‘Richard Manyon is now one of the foremost practitioners in this field, despite still being relatively young. He has had the biggest role in making PHB into a Tier 1 firm. He is incredibly smart but also very commercial in his outlook. He is a formidable opponent and an excellent person to work with’.

‘Jess Henson was a fantastic pick up from BCLP. She was already well-respected in the sector, and she has only become busier since joining PHB. Her biggest strength is her personality – she is just terribly pleasant to deal with. Standout associates are Emily Stoneham, Rosie Sells (a great recruit from Baker McKenzie) and Charlotte Henshall.’

Stewarts Law LLP

Spearheaded by James Price, Stewarts Law LLP has ‘a genuine personal touch and really tough fighters’ who are ‘unrelenting in the pursuit of the client’s cause’. It is known, both domestically and internationally, for its expertise in complex, large-scale and often high-profile trust, probate and capacity disputes both in England and other major jurisdictions. Geoff Kertesz is another leading member of the group who is frequently instructed in substantial trust and probate disputes in the UK, and in other countries such as Bermuda, BVI and the Cayman Islands. Emma Holland has a keen focus on probate disputes where there are conflicts of private international law, as well as disputes about capacity. Marcus Parker is another key figure. Senior associate, Jemma Goddard is adept at handling a broad range of trust related actions, as well as assisting in the resolution of estate related disputes. Luca Del Panta is also well-regarded.

Practice head(s):

James Price

Other key lawyers:

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


‘Geoff Kertesz and Catriona Abrahams are very good lawyers and very client focussed . This together with a wealth of experience give me great comfort and security.’

‘James Price has built an excellent team from scratch. James Price is a star. That is evident from the team he has built and the work he is attracting. Would not hesitate to send him a client and have done.’

‘James Price is a brilliant leader and has developed a cohesive, tight knit group of top-class lawyers. Geoff Kertesz is universally loved by clients. He combines personal skills with legal/technical acumen unlike anyone else.’

‘Stewarts are widely regarded as the best specialist litigation firm in London. Their partner bench is superb, and each of them brings something exceptional to the table. They are my go-to firm for all litigation in London.’

‘James Price – exceptionally talented, and the person I would want on my side in any piece of litigation Marcus Parker is one of the best lawyers I have worked with in terms of his commercial instincts and his ability to get the best result for his clients. Geoff Kertesz has a brilliant mind and inspires confidence in all his clients’.

‘James Price is personable, intelligent, good judgment and determination to win for his client. Emma Holland is very able, clever, on top of her brief. An excellent young partner. Geoff Kertesz is talented, bright and able to bring a North American perspective to transatlantic private client litigation. Luca del Panta is extremely bright and capable senior associate.’

‘James Price has a huge depth of knowledge and experience which he brings to any case. He is incredibly dedicated to his clients’ causes and seems to be able to keep many very significant plates spinning in many jurisdictions at the same time. Judith Swinhoe-Standen – a very bright and hard-working associate. Extremely responsive, a pleasure to deal with and takes on lots of responsibility.’

James Price is a bright experienced litigator with a can-do attitude. Geoff Kertesz is all over the detail with a thorough command of the law in this area. Luca del Panta is a superb associate. Emma Holland is a delight to work with. Marcus Parker has a wealth of offshore experience.’

Key clients

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

Lands Company Limited

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and other charities

Work highlights

  • Advised Tony Wang on the largest trust dispute in history, winning 5-0 in the Privy Council in a decision that has far-reaching consequences for the trust industry.

Taylor Wessing LLP

At Taylor Wessing LLP, head of department, Emma Jordan ‘blends excellent strategic instincts and big-picture thinking with an impressive grasp of forensic detail’.  The practice is ‘one of the giants in this area’ and ‘consists of individuals with market-leading expertise and experience’.  Jordan is both an English barrister and a Jersey Advocate. Kirstie McGuigan is sought after for her work that spans both contentious and advisory matters. Caroline Tayler has a strong reputation in the market for her trusts advice arising from divorce proceedings. The group is also recognised for its civil fraud work, its experience in asset tracing, and for its recovery advice in the context of offshore trusts and structures. In addition,  the team has carved out considerable expertise in advising on insolvent trusts, and has been building its specialism in trusts arbitrations. This team is highly recommended for its work on international private wealth disputes, and frequently deals with high-value issues of capacity.

Practice head(s):

Emma Jordan

Other key lawyers:

Kirstie McGuigan; Caroline Tayler; George Porter; Kate Silbermann; Rob Gibson


‘Emma Jordan is a standout partner.  Her skill set leaves her exceptionally well placed to understand both what a client really needs, and how best to get them there. She is top of my list for any contentious trusts disputes.

‘Rob Gibson is an excellent and hard-working lawyer, whose strong forensic skills and legal knowledge are paired with an excellent client manner. George Porter has superb analytical skills and a very good grasp of detail. He is highly effective and a pleasure to work with’.

‘A great team, with a real depth of knowledge and experience when it comes to cross border litigation. Emma Jordan’s Jersey practice is a particular asset to the department.’

‘Emma Jordan is a real expert in trust law, particularly with Channel Islands elements. Kate Silbermann, in my opinion, is one of the best at her level and a person you want on your team, rather than your opponent’s. She has exceptional attention to detail and is a pleasure to work with.’

‘Emma Jordan is highly regarded and experienced litigator in this area with the added bonus of her being a Jersey advocate Caroline Tayler – very experienced and effective litigator. Rob Gibson – extremely effective associate.’

‘One of the giants in this area, they have both offshore and onshore matters often of very high value. Caroline Taylor is very sensible and clear headed. Gives great advice.’

‘Kirsty McGuigan is a real powerhouse in trusts and estates disputes.’

‘Kirstie McGuigan is a formidable operator and a true leader. She is an excellent point-person in complex litigation, an intelligent and empathetic legal adviser and has a warm and reassuring manner with clients. She quickly earns the respect of everyone who works with her.’

Key clients

Equity Trusts (Jersey) Limited

Harbour Fund II, LP

Heir to father’s estate under forced heirship rules

The Administrator of the Estate of Lord Jacobs and The Trustees of the Jacobs Charitable Trust



Work highlights

  • Advising on the landmark insolvent trust case of Equity Trust (Jersey) Ltd, which set a precedent in determining the appropriate ranking of trustee’s liens but in clarifying the nature and character of the trustee’s equitable lien.
  • Acting for the daughter of a wealthy deceased in complex multi-jurisdictional litigation over her entitlement to her father’s estate and as beneficiary of a Jersey trust, where the division of assets is being challenged by her half-siblings.
  • Acting for Harbour Fund II, LP, appointed by the English High Court, as trustee of over £600m of newly created Jersey trusts, which are in the wrong hands as a result of a high-profile fraud.

Withers LLP

Withers LLPhas a great team across all levels. The partners that we work with are excellent and the associates/senior associates are top notch.' Led by Suzanne Todd, the ‘knowledgeable and hardworking’ team ‘gets brilliant results for clients’ in the context of international trust disputes, UK and international succession disputes, as well as elder law/court of protection issues. It also garners considerable praise for its expertise in charity legacy disputes, and for its international expertise. Paul Hewitt has an ‘exceptional reputation’ for his particular interest in representing families with connections to the sub-continent. Senior Counsel Dawn Goodman has a wealth of experience in trust and succession disputes. Steven Kempster has a substantial offshore trusts practice, and also handles cases relating to charities. Stephen Richards advises clients both in the UK and internationally on disputes concerning inheritance and trusts, and often directs litigation in multiple jurisdictions. Natasha Stourton, Sarah Aughwane and Alice Tomlin are among the other key names to note.

Practice head(s):

Suzanne Todd

Other key lawyers:

Dawn Goodman; Paul Hewitt; Steven Kempster; Stephen Richards; Natasha Stourton; Sarah Aughwane; Richard Walker; Alexandra Dix; Alice Tomlin; Rosalind Russell; Olivia Turner


‘Paul Hewitt is one of the big players in this practice area: he scrutinises a dispute from every angle and manoeuvres expertly to outflank his opponent. Stephen Richards is both thorough and strategic, allowing him to see through a problem early and work towards a practical, attainable solution.’

‘Natasha Stourton is calm, confident, and knowledgeable. She is able to rise above the fray to effectively promote her client’s case. Richard Walker is a deep thinker who has a real feel for the law in this area. He is creative in seeking solutions and is a canny tactician.’

‘When Alice is working on your matter you know it is being well looked after as she is always on top of the detail meaning you are always one step ahead of the opponent. She is super bright and great fun to work with. Surely a partner in the making.’

‘Paul Hewitt is fiendishly hard-working, knows his area of law inside out and is a supremely effective litigator. Stephen Richards is charming, knowledgeable, first-rate litigator. Natasha Stourton is a young partner who’s certainly going places – a dynamic and effective litigator. Sarah Aughwane is a superb associate – charming, efficient and always across the detail.’

‘Paul Hewitt has an exceptional reputation, which he deserves. He is particularly good on strategy – he is very good at thinking a case through and working out how to get to the end result, rather than just reacting to the latest decision from the other side. He is well-liked by clients, very clever and knows his stuff.’

‘Its people and international outlook and reach are excellent. The depth of the advice is what sets Withers apart. They also have a very collaborative approach. Dawn Goodman’s attention to detail is good and she has an ability to bring into her Withers’ team the relevant complementary skills across the Withers international network. She is also very determined and conscientious.’

‘Of particular note are Sarah Aughwane, Richard Walker, Alice Tomlin, Rosalind Russell – they are all super-bright and personable and deserve recognition as partners of the future/ones to watch. Great team and a pleasure to work with.’

‘Paul Hewitt is the ultimate warrior any charity client would want on their side. Paul is a key strategist, oozes expertise and has confidence that any opponent would crumble in battle.’

Key clients

Gopichand Parmanand Hinduja

Cooper, Myrna Sandra


Guha, Thomas Laszlo; Guha, Niko

Two BVI Private Trust Companies

Michael and Lindsay Bond

Samuel, Executors of Paul Richard Blelock deceased

Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (Sightsavers International)

Leon J Minvielle III and Anne Minvielle

Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie

Work highlights

  • Advised three of the Hinduja brothers, one of Britain’s wealthiest families, on Court of Protection proceedings involving over 20 hearings (at First Instance and the Court of Appeal) arising from the incapacity of the family’s patriarch.
  • Advising two of the children of a multimillionaire tyre magnate and racehorse breeder on the validity of his purported last will.
  • Advised the trustees of two high value BVI trusts holding assets in Hong King, Singapore, Japan and Australia on the successful court blessing of their decision to partition and distribute the trust assets against a highly acrimonious family background which included a dispute over parental rights arising out of international surrogacy arrangements.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Headed by Richard Norridge, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has a dedicated private wealth practice that comprises senior disputes, advisory and transactional lawyers. Clients include institutional clients, trustees, their insurers, beneficiaries, family offices and wealthy individuals. Norridge’s practice and client base is international and spans the leading onshore and offshore jurisdictions. Nick Clayton is another name to note from the specialist tax disputes and investigations unit. The group typically advises on complex actions pursuing or defending trustees, and on third-party claims by or against trustees. It has also acted in the arbitration of trust disputes. William Turner was recently promoted to ‘of counsel’ and is a solicitor advocate. He specialises in both contentious and non-contentious private client work.

Practice head(s):

Richard Norridge

Other key lawyers:

William Turner; John Mathew; Nick Clayton


‘Impressed with how collaborative the team was. We were working on an international trust matter. Understood the human emotions behind trust disputes.’

‘Richard Norridge is a standout partner who has a deft touch in difficult cases.  John Mathew is a rising associate’.

‘Partner led team. Excellent associates. Available 24/7.’

‘The team is professional and well equipped with the expertise needed for managing contentious trusts and probate matters.’

‘Richard is undoubtedly the expert in his area. In addition to technical knowledge, he is outstanding in providing tactical and strategic advice to make sure the case and the process is managed to the benefit of the client.’

‘Richard Norridge is excellent. He is knowledgeable, practical, friendly and helpful.’

Work highlights

  • Represented, and continues to represent, members of one of Asia’s richest families by net worth, in two sets of Hong Kong High Court proceedings and in an ongoing beneficiary dispute relating to a family trust, which holds well over $1bn of assets.

Howard Kennedy LLP

The team at Howard Kennedy LLPis at the very top of its game’. Led by Naomi O’Higgins, it has ‘decisive team players’ who focus exclusively on trusts and estates disputes, and court of protection work. O’Higgins’ ‘commitment to getting the very best for her clients is impressive‘. The group advises clients on numerous complex, high-value and often high-profile wealth disputes. Many of the group’s cases have significant cross-border elements. Monika Byrska is recognised for her considerable experience in international and offshore disputes. The ‘reassuring and calm’ Emily Mailer receives a steady flow of instructions on substantial cases, frequently with an international component. In addition, Mailer regularly acts as an independent administrator and court appointed trustee. Senior associate, Tom Deely, has extensive experience in multi-jurisdictional trusts and estates disputes for high-net-worth clients.

Practice head(s):

Naomi O’Higgins

Other key lawyers:

Monika Byrska; Emily Mailer; Tom Deely; Brendan Udokoro; Alexandra Giles


‘Peerless in quality and perfection including excellent judgment as to when to fight and when to negotiate. Naomi O’Higgins is the personification of what I say about the team as above. Aided ably by Brendan Udokuro.’

‘The team is great at all levels and can handle matters of any size. A particular strength with Howard Kennedy is the fact that where the issues in a case cross over into different areas – someone from the relevant Howard Kennedy team can be brought in to assist. The firm is very good at using its full range of expertise.’

‘Naomi O’Higgins is great to work with; she is experienced, brilliant at fighting the client’s corner, is sensitive to their needs, and makes wise decisions. Tom Deely is definitely a rising star; he is bright, engaged, and really gets to grips with the detail.’

‘Alex Giles is focused, organised, efficient, and has a calm manner that is effective with clients. Brendan Udokoro is extremely pleasant to work with. He has a sympathetic manner that clients appreciate and is very organised and capable.’

‘One of the best teams in the country. They have recruited some of the finest talent in the market to strengthen the mid-level and balance the team. Monika Byrska might be the most capable negotiator I’ve encountered. She is accomplished at all she does yet remains friendly and humble. Tom Deely’s star is firmly in the ascension.’

‘Naomi O’Higgins is a superb lawyer in the area. She has great client skills and creates an easy rapport. There is steel and a keen intellect beneath the charm. The team of associates (such as Brendan Udokoro) has also impressed me hugely for their energy and dedication to delivering a high-quality service to their clients.’

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

‘Emily Mailer and Naomi O’Higgins are no nonsense and an absolute pleasure to deal with.’

Kingsley Napley LLP

The team at Kingsley Napley LLP is extremely strong, full of focus and drive and committed to delivering a first-rate client service. They are led by the absolutely brilliant Ryan Mowat’. The group is recommended for its skill at handling high-net-worth private client litigation matters, combined with the firm’s expertise in fraud and media-related disputes. In addition, it is sought after for its experience in high value ‘trusts and divorce’ cases and works closely with its family team and its court of protection practice. Many of the trust disputes involve multiple jurisdictions, and allegations of breach of trust and fraud; its contentious estate disputes practice is thriving. It is ‘truly exceptional from top to bottom’ with some very able associates, including Katherine Pymont; Kate Salter and Anna Metadjer. Laura Phillips is now a legal director.

Practice head(s):

Ryan Mowat

Other key lawyers:

Katherine Pymont; Kate Salter; Anna Metadjer; Cally Brosnan; Sophie Mass; Laura Phillips


‘Ryan Mowat is absolutely brilliant. Such sound judgment. Dedicated, calm and a very shrewd litigator always thinking several steps ahead of where you are. His team are incredibly hard-working and bright. They include Katherine Pymont, who is an extremely able and dependable partner in the making. Anna Metadjer is meticulous, industrious and indefatigable.’

‘A really top-notch team from top-to-bottom who have great experience in acting for clients of all types up to the most HNW individuals and their families. Ryan Mowat is a very hands-on partner, but his associates are all outstanding too.’

‘Ryan Mowat is one of the big names in the practice area who has vast experience and is able to navigate through the most complex problems, offering expert, practical advice but also cutting through the legalities to reach a pragmatic solution’.

‘Anna Metadjer is wise far beyond her years: she really understands the law in this area and is incredibly forensic. A real rising star. Cally Brosnan is quite newly qualified but is extremely bright and has a great manner with clients.’

‘Ryan Mowat is an excellent strategist. Katherine Pymont is a very intuitive and clever lawyer. Sophie Mass and Anna Metadjer are also excellent’.

‘Partner Ryan Mowat is an experienced strategy maestro. His knowledge and canny insight make him the go-to man for private client, contentious trusts and probate matters. Ryan is ably assisted by Laura Phillips who brings her own impressive knowledge and skills set.’

‘Kate Salter has proven to be an absolute wealth of knowledge regarding our case. Going above and beyond to help me feel supported and looked after. I really can’t speak highly enough of this firm and Kate herself. Her help has saved our home and secured our son’s legal identity. It is life changing help.’

‘Ryan Mowat is quite simply one of the best in the business. He is commercial, knows the law and a delight to work with. Laura Phillips’ star continues to rise, rightly recognised by her recent promotion to Legal Director. She is a safe pair of hands and a reassuring presence for clients in emotional litigation.’

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP has an ‘abundance of wonderful people’, with Michael Cash at the helm. It acts for high-net-worth individuals, families, trusts and estates. Cash specialises in domestic and international trust and estate litigation, and breach of trust actions. Other core areas of expertise include advising on contentious applications to the Court of Protection and claims under the Inheritance Act. Sarah Lee is another known name in the market for her work on a variety of trust and estate claims. Lee also covers other areas such as advising on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in the context of trust and estate funds. In addition, the team is skilled at handling financial abuse and TOLATA claims.

Practice head(s):

Michael Cash

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Lee; Sarah Arnold; Andrew Bird


‘PMC are long-standing experts in this field and, although they have a London office, offer the option of regional charging rates with their Basingstoke office. Michael Cash is widely regarded as a leader in this field. Michael has an in-depth knowledge of this area of the law and a calm, considered temperament that is reassuring to any client’.

‘The best out of London team bar none. A delight to work with and highly efficient in delivering a product that few if any can match. Michael Cash – remains outstanding. Head and shoulders above most rivals. A keen strategic brain and always available’.

‘Sarah Arnold is the team’s standout performer and key to its future success.’

‘Very accessible and clearly on top of their subject area. Sarah Arnold – consummate professional with a perfect mix of legal acumen and commercial savvy’.

‘The star of the team is Sarah Lee. She is supremely technical and knows her stuff, but doesn’t lose sight of the commercial realities of a matter. She is unshakable in the face of tough and complex litigation and cares deeply for her clients going above and beyond’. 

‘Sarah Lee has been exceptional in every way in that she is clear decisive and yet willing to listen and take into consideration the needs and concerns of the clients. This willingness to serve and deliver runs throughout the company’.

‘A powerful team in their own right, but set in an extremely supportive and capable firm, with the ability to draw on the very highest capability in associated areas’.

‘Michael is probably the leading contentious trust and estate solicitor in the country, with a very strong record both in both onshore and offshore disputes. Sarah Lee is as sharp as she is energetic. She delights her clients while terrifying her opponents. Andrew Bird is one to watch for the future’.

Key clients

Patrik Schumacher

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

Administrator of Darrel Evans Dec’d

Savernake Estate

Administrator of Prince Abbasi Estate

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 case is fascinating as it is tied up with the political history of India and Pakistan and issues of sovereign immunity.
  • Acted for Patrik Schumacher on his application to remove his co-executors from acting as executors of the estate of Zaha Hadid (the internationally distinguished architect) and have been advising on the subsequent administration of the estate against this background.
  • Acting as a trustee for the Savernake estate, which is dealing with the well-publicised ongoing issues arising out of the trust.

Russell-Cooke LLP

The  ‘closely-knit team’ at Russell-Cooke LLP  ‘works very hard and draws on a significant wealth of experience to represent their clients in disputes of significant value and complexity’. The ‘very cannyAlison Regan heads the ‘refreshingly modern and diverse firm’, which has ‘exceptional trust and probate practitioners’. It advises in all areas of trust and estate litigation, and is increasingly known for its cross-border and international work involving issues of foreign assets, domicile and residence. Gareth Ledsham has significant experience of dealing with complex and high-value cross-jurisdictional estate disputes. Senior associate, Andrew Morgan is another important member of the practice.

Practice head(s):

Alison Regan

Other key lawyers:

Gareth Ledsham; Andrew Morgan; Georgia Haughney


‘Alison Regan is a pleasure to work with. She is very clever, hard-working, a master of client care, a brilliant tactician and so very calm. Gareth Ledsham is clever and a calm, safe pair of hands. Georgia Haughney was so committed to our client.’

‘I worked closely with Andrew Morgan, a senior associate on one matter. I found him to be knowledgeable and with a good eye for detail. He was very on top of the case and worked closely with Counsel to achieve the desired outcome for the client.’

‘Alison Reagan is a delight to work with. She is both incredibly hardworking but also a calming and rational influence in cases. Gareth Ledsham is a very clever practitioner. His strategies are cerebral but practical. He is also very client friendly.’

‘A small but closely-knit team that works very hard and draws on a significant wealth of experience to represent their clients in disputes of significant value and complexity.’

‘Dynamic team which can handle very large-scale litigation with a sureness which is unusual for a non-City firm. Alison Regan is surefooted and intelligent, an experienced litigator who will work tirelessly for her client. Gareth Ledsham is very astute, intelligent and determined litigator who is well known in the private wealth space.’

‘Alison Regan is a sharp and strategic litigator. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law and is a go-to person for succession disputes. Gareth Ledsham is a real expert in court of protection work and his language skills make him a real asset in cross-border litigation.’

‘Very strong team. Lots of experience in the area. Georgia Haughney is extremely clever and engaged. She is committed to her clients and to achieving the best possible result for them. She is sensible in her conclusions, experienced, and unflappable.’

‘I’d particularly recommend Gareth Ledsham who is very professional, clear and accurate in his legal and practical advice, and a great pleasure to work with. I would strongly recommend him to anyone in this line of work.’

Stephenson Harwood

This is a supremely impressive team’ at Stephenson Harwood, comments one client. ‘They are led from the top by very strong, hands-on leaders and the strength and depth amongst the juniors is superb’. Jenny McKeownhas become the Grande Dame of the contentious private client world.' It predominantly acts for ultra-high-net-worth entrepreneurs and business owners and their families, as well as trustees from around the globe. Its focus is on the most complex and high-value trust and family disputes, and the team has continued to expand its focus into the Asian market. The group also excels in advising domestic dynastic families. Helena Berman had another strong year advising on various substantial contentious trusts disputes. Peter Gillis is also a key figure.

Practice head(s):

Jenny McKeown

Other key lawyers:

Helena Berman; Peter Gillis; Maria Chami


‘Jenny McKeown is an absolute superstar, and a really big name in the industry. She has brilliant instincts and offers a brilliant service to clients. One of those individuals who, despite their formidable reputation, is also genuinely lovely to work with. A fantastic leader.’

‘Jenny McKeown works incredibly hard and evidently inspires great loyalty from her team, who are totally devoted to their clients and live and breathe their work. They are also immense fun to work with. Peter Gillis is a star of the future. Super bright but down to earth. Maria Chami is a notable junior. A team with real flair and total handful for any opposition.’

‘Helena Berman has from the very start demonstrated a sharp mind, a keen focus on strategies, and always remained mindful of costs whilst carefully dissecting information as it was received.’

‘This is a supremely impressive team. They are lead from the top by very strong, hands-on leaders and the strength and depth amongst the juniors is superb.’

‘Peter Gillis has really stepped up to the plate in this practice. He is respected by the senior partners in the practice and gives good solid advice. He is a partner in the making.’

‘Jenny McKeown is the driving force behind this team. Intelligent and hardworking, she is good with people.’

‘Jenny McKeown is a brilliant trusts litigator who immediately grasps the central issues in a case, identifies the route forward and delivers the best outcome for her clients.’

‘Helena Berman brings great legal expertise, significant disputes experience and tactical awareness. Fights all the way to obtain the best results for her clients. Peter Gillis is a superb all-round lawyer who combines legal intellect with great dedication.’

Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP

David Wedgwood heads the ‘extremely collaborative' department at Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP, which has a strong reputation for its work in private wealth disputes. It has been busy advising on an array of matters from property ownership disputes and professional negligence claims, to dealing with numerous cross-jurisdictional and high-value cases. It is consistently instructed by HNW individuals. The team is also skilled at assisting vulnerable clients who may have mental health issues. Wedgewood is respected for his Court of Protection expertise. Beth Holden is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

David Wedgwood

Other key lawyers:

Beth Holden;Tom Dickinson; Grainne Feeney; Kimberley McGhie


‘Really strong across the board – there are no weak links, and they work closely with colleagues in other departments to give clients a comprehensive service. They are remarkably good value for money – their costs are regularly much lower than competitors, despite providing an equal or better standard of service.’

‘Tom Dickinson – he is a superb solicitor whose skill and knowledge of the law far exceeds his years of PQE. Clients love his honest and sensitive handling of difficult cases, as well as his ability to cut through the noise and find sensible solutions to tricky problems. He is incredibly thorough.’

‘David Wedgwood – he is one of the godfathers of the contentious trust world. Very well respected by all who work in the field. He is utterly pragmatic and thinks tactically about how to ensure the best possible outcomes for his clients at all stages of cases.’

‘The team is very strong across the board and they’re cross-practice area expertise makes them a go to for clients. I would particularly recommend David Wedgwood, Tom Dickinson, and Grainne Feeney.’

‘Headed up by the experienced litigator David Wedgwood the team comprises a number of extremely competent and effective litigators who it is a pleasure to be instructed by. The team gives 100% to its clients and combines pragmatism with a willingness to leave no stone unturned in the search for the best result for the client.’

‘Beth Holden is an extremely able and tactically astute litigator. She never loses sight of obtaining the best result for the client with the least exposure to unnecessary complexity and cost. She has a laser like focus on the issues whilst being able to “hold the hand” of clients when needed.’

‘It is no surprise Tom Dickinson has been recently promoted to senior associate. He is able, meticulous and strategically savvy. Clearly a rising star within the firm.’

‘Tom Dickinson is a very approachable and keen senior associate. He is not afraid to act on difficult cases and delivers well for clients.’

Key clients

In the matter of The G Trusts and estate of Mr MG

In the matter of LC

In the matter of EH

In the matter of KJ

In the matter of CB

In the matter of KM

In the matter of IS

In the matter of KB

In the matter of CM

In the matter of NA

Work highlights

  • Acting for the executors in a partial intestacy caused by a negligently drawn up will.
  • Acting as replacement personal representative of a large estate, with many unresolved issues.
  • Acting in relation to recovery of large sums of money against an offshore company through marshalling and an equitable charge.

Burges Salmon LLP

Led by Justin Briggs and Kevin Kennedy, the team at Burges Salmon LLP, 'combines great technical knowledge of the law with commercial insight’. It is ‘able to go toe to toe with the top private client teams and often come out on top’. The group continues to act in some of the largest and most challenging contentious trusts and probate matters in the country. It has an enviable client base of wealthy individuals (including some aristocratic families), landed estates and high-net-worth international figures. Sian Edmunds has left the firm for an inhouse position.

Practice head(s):

Justin Briggs; Kevin Kennedy

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Emslie


‘Kevin Kennedy is one of the most outstanding qualities (besides his expertise and professionalism) that Kevin Kennedy brings to the table is his empathy.  We had the same connection when we were first introduced to his associate Caroline Emslie.’

‘Both Kevin and Caroline were engaged and as much as they were empathetic, they were also very transparent. They did a great job managing our expectations on both fronts (case and costs).’

‘Kevin Kennedy is a real expert with years of experience. He has good client handling skills and really fights his client’s corner.’

‘Probably the best resourced firm in the region with excellent levels of staffing and support and high-level expertise across a wide range of subjects. Kevin Kennedy not only has an excellent legal mind but is also extremely pragmatic.’ 

‘On top of the detail, responsive and a pleasure to work with. Caroline Emslie is down to earth, easy to approach and always committed to getting the right result.’

‘Caroline Emslie is an absolute star. Fantastic judgment, great tactical awareness and a pleasure to work with.’

‘Kevin Kennedy is all over the facts, great management of client expectations. Caroline Emslie is great to work with, understands the pressures on all members of the team.’

‘A superb team of contentious trust lawyers based primarily in Bristol but providing London-quality advice. Extremely adept at managing highly complex litigation. Kevin Kennedy is the standout individual at the firm. One of the best trust litigators in England who has excellent technical skills and is also very good at managing complex litigation.’

Key clients

Trustees of the St Fagans No 1 and No 2 trusts

Lady Catherine Brudenell-Bruce

Robert Sofer

Work highlights

  • Acted for the trustees of a landed estate (led by the Earl of Plymouth) in their successful defence of a proprietary estoppel claim brought in an attempt to frustrate the trust’s multi-million pound development of a new garden city outside Cardiff.
  • Acted for Lady Catherine Brudenell-Bruce in a highly charged application to replace her brother, Tom, Viscount Savernake, as executor of their late mother’s will.
  • Advised Robert Sofer, an Australian resident, on a significant breach of trust claim made against a Swiss trust company, relating to a trust established by Mr Sofer’s father. A High Court claim was issued, and at an early stage Mr Sofer was successful in the Court of Appeal following an adverse interlocutory decision.

Irwin Mitchell

Claire-Marie Cornford and Paula Myers co-lead the practice at Irwin Mitchell, which advises on a broad range of private wealth disputes for high-net-worth clients. It frequently advises on contentious trust claims, disputed wills and on specialised Court of Protection applications and disputes. Clients include successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople, landed gentry, farmers, charities, trustees and individuals. There have been some recent changes to the team at a senior level. Sangita Manek joined the team from Blaser Mills Law while Nicola Bushby is now at Boodle Hatfield LLP.

Practice head(s):

Claire-Marie Cornford; Paula Myers

Other key lawyers:

Laura Gabrel; Sangita Manek


‘Irwin Mitchell are an enormous firm and have huge resources in this area. I know their London team well. They are very good.’

‘The team has strength in depth and a well-deserved reputation for expertise in the field. It is able to draw on cross-over expertise from other departments (such as tax, court of protection, corporate) where required.’

‘Claire-Marie Cornford is a very driven litigator, who is committed to delivering results for her clients. She is focussed, bright and tenacious, whilst all the time sensitive to her client’s needs and priorities.’

‘The team operate across various centres but very much operate as one team. They deal with large estates with confidence and specialist expertise. Sangita Manek has an exceptional hands-on approach which is second to none.’

‘Sangita Manek is a real fighter for her clients who leaves no stone unturned. Good knowledge of subject areas, and self-reliant in running litigation.’

‘Strong female-led team. The return of Claire-Marie Cornford from maternity leave will be a great boost for the team. Claire-Marie Cornford is a very strong litigator and someone you want on your side.’

‘The team is very competent, having hired in particular Laura Gabrel.’

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP

Nicholas Holland  and Simon Gibb now co-head the practice at McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP, which focuses primarily on clients with estates in excess of £500m as well as ultra-high-net-worth billionaires. Its clientele features some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, families, trustees and privately held businesses. It works on many complex cases across various jurisdictions involving disputes and court proceedings, as well as estate administrations and trust structuring matters. It also boasts significant transatlantic private client capabilities. Ziva Robertson has left the firm and is now at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP. Andrew Vergunst has also left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Nick Holland; Simon Gibb


‘Given their enormous presence of the firm in the North American market the London team are brilliantly placed to address some of the most complex issues arising for transatlantic families’.

‘Nick Holland – personable, clever and full of ideas; a pleasure to work with’.


Key clients

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

Royal Bank of Canada

Wealthy French sibling/UHNWI (1 of 3 siblings)

Royal Trust of Canada

Estate of Patrick Kelly

Work highlights

  • Continuing to advise Royal Trust of Canada and negotiate with HMRC and the French tax authorities an agreement as to whether a large number of trusts, related to historic mistreatment of the First Nations peoples and their lands, would need to report under the TRS in either the UK or France.
  • Advised an UHNWI (a very wealthy French sibling of three) in connection with a number of trusts of which its client is a beneficiary and in connection with proposed Public Trustee v Cooper proceedings in Guernsey.
  • Continued to act for three corporate trustees and two individual trustees involved in an invalid deed of retirement and appointment of new trustees.


Osbornes has a ‘strong private client department’ and ‘the firm seems to be going from strength to strength’. Practice head, Jan Atkinson , is best known for her court appointments as the independent administrator of disputed estates. The nimble team acts for a broad range of high-net-worth individuals and families on a variety of complex estate and trust litigation. Other key clients include trustees, personal representatives and charities. Elspeth Neilson is adept at handling complex estate administrations where there are assets in other jurisdictions. Senior associate, Katie De Swarte, also acts in contentious Court of Protection cases.

Practice head(s):

Jan Atkinson

Other key lawyers:

Katie de Swarte; Elspeth Neilson


‘The contested estates team is strong with talented young women doing good quality work. Katie de Swarte and Elspeth Neilson are two individuals I work with and both are a pleasure to work with’.

‘Jan Atkinson is calm, sensible and a very talented lawyer. She is honest with clients and gets very good results for them’.

‘The right blend of experience from a leading partner who’s spent a career in this field to enthusiastic specialist nqs. I work most often with Katie de Swarte. Katie develops a good rapport with clients and is a good specialist estates litigator’.

‘Jan Atkinson is an excellent contentious probate solicitor, as well as an experienced private client lawyer. The combination of both skills is relatively rare but results in a formidable lawyer who is well able to take on the most complex of cases’.

‘Real client focus and commitment to the cause allied to superb analytical skills and great attention to detail. Katie de Swarte has a real passion to do her best for her clients and her best is very good indeed.’

‘I think this firm has excellent strength and depth in this area, for both contentious and non-contentious work, and they can hold their own against any other firm. Elspeth Nielson and Katie de Swarte especially as very capable solicitors that I enjoy working with’.

‘Katie De Swarte – she is very client-focused and attuned to their needs without being fearful of setting out where she perceives there may be weaknesses in their position’.

‘I have found them to be incredibly knowledgeable and pragmatic in settling claims for their clients’.

Stevens & Bolton LLP

Stevens & Bolton LLP fields ‘probably the best team outside of London.’ Practice head, James Lister ‘has been effective in growing the team and the reputation.’ The practice is seeing an increasing number of appointments to act as independent trustee, executor and administrator. These appointments are routinely for complex multi-million-pound estates that are facing several disputes and are frequently as a result of an executor removal application. Managing associate Jack Bailey specialises in private wealth disputes across the UK, which often involve international and offshore elements.

Practice head(s):

James Lister

Other key lawyers:

Jack Bailey


‘A talented young team with good client care skills. Jack Bailey has been doing partner level work for some time. He has good judgment, technical knowledge and a calm measured approach. James Lister is very well respected in the market.’

‘A strong personable team who are all excellent lawyers and get results for their clients. Jack Bailey is able to empathise but still stand back and provide solid advice to his clients. James Lister likewise is charming but determined to fight his clients’ corner. They are both proactive and a pleasure to deal with.’

‘Excellent team headed up by James Lister, with strength in depth. James Lister is savvy and sharp – the go to out of London solicitor in this area. Jack Bailey is an up-and-coming superstar.’

‘James Lister always offers his clients a fantastic service. He inspires confidence with his profound understanding of trust and estates law and his vast experience of complex family disputes.’

‘James Lister is a very hands-on partner which has allowed him to build a big and accomplished team from basically nothing.’

‘The team at Steven & Bolton is very strong and competes with the very best firms in this sector. James Lister, despite being a relatively junior partner, is now established as one of the leading partners in this field.’

‘Jack Bailey is one to watch. He is well-liked by clients and is a calming presence in hard-fought litigation.’

‘James Lister is an outstandingly good lawyer, with great client skills and rock-solid judgment. A pleasure to work with.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Court appointed administrator in the highly publicised Reeves v Drew case, involving a very large estate dispute between multiple parties.
  • Advising several family members on a worldwide freezing injunction over assets in several different jurisdictions.
  • Advising the trustee of a substantial disputed estate containing real property and private company shareholdings.


Led by the ‘extremely experienced' Michelle Rose, the team at VWV is a ‘stable team’, which has ‘been together for a long time.’ It has an established national reputation for its work on various complex trusts and probate disputes, and its specialist legacy protection team continues to flourish along with its court of protection offering. Rose and Fiona Lawrence receive regular referrals to be appointed as independent administrators and trustees in various complex, high-value and deadlocked estates and trusts.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Rose

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Lawrence; Julia Hardy; Marianne Nankervis


‘The way they worked as both individuals and as a team. Their communication must be excellent. They are personable and robust, always looking for the best interests and solutions for their clients and usually achieving results through ADR.’

‘Julia Hardy is calm, firm and knowledgeable litigator with excellent judgment. You’d feel reassured if your mum was in litigation and had Julia on her side. Michelle Rose has led the team for many years. She is respected in the market and often invited to act as a litigation friend.’

‘The team has a really well-deserved reputation in the area of contentious trusts and probate. They really know this field inside out and their judgment and advice are incisive and reliable.’

‘Michelle Rose is frequently appointed as an independent administrator or trustee where war has broken out and as a result she has seen almost every permutation of tricky situation. Valuable experience which makes her and her team’s judgment unfailingly sound.’

‘Julia Hardy is great to work with. Thorough, dedicated, practical and bright. She really drills down into the detail and gives wise and practical client advice.’

‘Our principle contact is Michelle Rose, but we also have had dealings with Fiona Lawrence. They have been both extremely professional and responsive.’

‘They are easily the market leaders in the West of England in contentious probate and trusts work. The team has an exceptional reputation for handling high-value difficult cases well and particularly for acting as administrators/trustees on contentious cases.’

‘Michelle Rose is still one of the most sought-after independent trustees/administrators/litigation friends in the business. Cool-headed, efficient and very intelligent. She brings authority to every room she enters. Marianne Nankervis deals with sensitive and difficult family disputes with compassion and competence in equal measure. She always goes the extra mile for her clients.’

Work highlights

  • Michelle Rose continues to be appointed on complex high value deadlocked estate administration and contested Court of Protection matters.
  • Acted for the son and eldest daughter of Terry Jones of Monty Python fame in a complex challenge to the validity of Terry’s Will and a property transfer.
  • Acting for the Administrators of a £48m landed estate in a High Court blessing application.

Wedlake Bell LLP

The private client disputes team at Wedlake Bell LLP, advises on the full range of contentious issues facing HNW individuals in the UK and abroad. Under the leadership of Caroline Miller (who has a ‘very good reputation in the market’). It has handled matters over the past year with a collective value of over £506.8m. Clients include wealthy individuals, families, executors, trustees and beneficiaries. Andrew O’Keeffe has particular expertise in disputes concerning the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Oliver Embley and Ann Stanyer are both recommended.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Miller

Other key lawyers:

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


‘Wedlake Bell are leaders in their field and provide their client with a personal and empathetic service.’

‘Caroline Miller is excellent and thoroughly knowledgeable. Her client care skills and technical knowledge are stand out.’

‘Caroline Miller has rightfully been promoted to head the contentious team, which has an interesting mix of old-money and new-money matters and good connections with the Channel Islands. Katie Turney is a superstar of the future. A calm and self-assured presence.’

‘The team is very good. They are up there in the market’.

‘Andrew O’Keefe is an excellent litigator with a very good private client knowledge also, which makes him an excellent trusts and estate litigator. Andrew is technically very strong and leads his team from the front. Pragmatic and good to work on a matter with.’

BDB Pitmans

Lucinda Brown heads the practice at BDB Pitmans, which is adept at handling national and international work, and cases with an offshore element. It has considerable strength in the third sector (charities and not-for-profit), as well as owner-managed businesses and the landed estate sector. The group frequently advises on Variation of Trusts Act applications, cross-border contentious court of protection matters, as well as will validity disputes. John Darnton is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Lucinda Brown

Other key lawyers:

John Darnton


‘Lucinda Brown is the solicitor who heads the private client department. She is a gifted succession lawyer combining deep legal knowledge with excellent judgement as to securing the best outcome in difficult circumstances.’

‘BDB Pitmans has an experienced team of practitioners with an in-depth knowledge of contentious trust and probate matters, both from the point of view of understanding the technical aspects of the law on trusts and estates, but also with significant skills in litigating these matters and the court process’.

‘John Darnton gives clear and concise advice. He has a unique understanding of all the angles at play in a litigation and is able to guide clients to an outcome in a calm and considered manner’.

Druces LLP

Paul Levy now heads the department at Druces LLP, which has seen a significant increase in disputes over the mental capacity of testators when making wills or lifetime gifts. Both Helen Freely and Matthew Duncan act as professional deputies. This multi-disciplinary team draws on the strength of its private wealth and dispute resolution colleagues to help clients such as entrepreneurial families/individuals and City professionals. Various team members have also been appointed to act as independent executors/administrators for a number of contested estates.

Practice head(s):

Paul Levy

Other key lawyers:

Helen Freely; Matthew Duncan


‘Druces is a long-established firm with real expertise in private client work. It has extremely good client handling skills.’

‘Helen Freely is excellent with clients and a very good lawyer. She dealt with a monstrously difficult case with calm and compassion but also fought hard for her clients.’

‘A small team with a real personal touch but still with the heft to go up against the bigger firms.’

‘Paul Levy is very thoughtful, combining a great eye for detail with a firm gaze on the bigger picture. He is very good strategically.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a widow in a claim for the construction/rectification of her husband’s Will.
  • Appeared in the Court of Protection regarding whether the will of an incapacitated person can be varied to change an outright gift into a gift in trust.

Gowling WLG

Catherine Naylor heads the offering at Gowling WLG in London. The team also draws on the firm’s other private wealth practitioners in Singapore and Canada, primarily. It focuses on all aspects of trust litigation which often necessitates managing and coordinating complex cross-border disputes. The practice remains busy advising on claims by and against professional trustees and fiduciaries. James Sidwell and Jason Freedman are other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Naylor

Other key lawyers:

James Sidwell; Jason Freedman; Emily Till


‘A very tight ship – no weak links. Very capable of dealing with all different sizes and shapes of litigation.’

‘James Sidwell: a great team leader and strategist. Catherine Naylor: Very smart and able to make the big calls clearly and calmly – a real pleasure to work with. Emily Till: a star in the making – very committed and able.’

‘With their superb knowledge of commercial litigation, the overlap into this team is excellent. Very well regarded in the contentious trusts world.’

‘Catherine Naylor is loved by clients who trust her judgment totally.’

‘A strong team with many years’ experience. Always readily available and willing to go that extra mile for their clients.’

‘James Sidwell is a shrewd litigator who is tenacious and determined, someone you want to have on your side when the going gets tough. Catherine Naylor is an excellent communicator and litigator. The quality of her written work is outstanding.’

Key clients

TMF Group (Equity Trust (Jersey) Limited)

Joanna Lemos

Dan Finch

Adam Smith

Work highlights

  • Acting for Joanna Lemos and the trustees in bankruptcy on a dispute concerning valuable property held on the trusts of a Bermudian trust.
  • Acting for Equity Trust (Jersey) Limited, a subsidiary of TMF Group, and one of its former employees, who was a director of English asset-holding companies that formed part of one of the Z Trusts, in proceedings brought by the asset-holding companies (acting by their liquidators).

Hunters Law LLP

The specialist team at Hunters Law LLP, covers the full range of contentious trusts and probate issues, as well as intra-family and property disputes. It also regularly provides cross-border advice to its wealthy clients on the implications of multijurisdictional disputes. Clients include trustees, beneficiaries, landed estate clients and City professionals. Practice head Richard Kershaw specialises in family law, and the contentious issues that can arise from generational trust and Inheritance Act disputes. David Draisey regularly represents claimants and defendants in high stakes trusts and probate cases.

Practice head(s):

Richard Kershaw

Other key lawyers:

David Draisey


‘Great back-up on the non-contentious side of trusts and probate (e.g. tax) which is essential for contentious trusts work but often overlooked.’

‘Hunters is a solid practice who are easily able to move from safeguarding cases to contentious trusts and probate. The depth of their partners is a real advantage, and their size gives a unique family feel.’

‘David Draisey is excellent in respect of contentious matters for HNW clients.’

‘A long-established firm with an excellent portfolio of high-net-worth clients, and a long tradition of maintaining good client relationships.’

‘Superb team across contentious and non-contentious private client work, the teams are very well-integrated with one another, which is often not the case.’


Michelmores LLP

Sara Chisholm-Batten leads a busy, cross-departmental team at Michelmores LLP, which is particularly known for its involvement in high-value and complex domestic and international trust estate disputes. Its client base includes professional trustees and high-net-worth individuals. In addition, it is well-regarded for its work on matters involving conflict of laws, and has an interesting caseload of high-value and complex offshore trusts work. Jennifer Ridgway is now at Farrer & Co.

Practice head(s):

Sara Chisholm-Batten

Other key lawyers:

Alice Daniels


‘They are a well known firm that punches above its weight.’

‘This is a very good South West based firm with huge knowledge in the area, and which punches well above its weight’.

‘Alice Daniels and Sara Chisholm-Batten are both brilliant young partners’.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has an ‘experienced specialist team that forms part of a high quality full service firm with a national reach’. It is ably led by Norwich-based David Catchpole , Manchester/Leeds-based Simon Pedley, and Lucy Howard who is at the Birmingham office. It is skilled at handling a diverse range of complex and high-value disputes spanning actions involving trustees and executors, and issues over the validity of wills. It also acts for a number of charities in a range of contested legacy disputes.

Practice head(s):

David Catchpole; Simon Pedley; Lucy Howard

Other key lawyers:

Kieran Leahy


‘Lucy Howard has a very high level of technical knowledge, combining great strength and depth in core chancery practice areas such as trusts litigation and 1975 Act claims. She is excellent with vulnerable clients and provides a robust approach to litigation’.

‘David Catchpole is widely considered to be at the forefront of the field – he has extensive knowledge of private client areas and can draw upon a wealth of experience in litigating higher profile and more complex private client disputes‘.

‘The team offers a more personal service than many of the bigger firms: being a regional firm they can combine local knowledge and understanding with real expertise in the practice area’.

‘David Catchpole is very experienced and a very reassuring presence to his clients: he really fights their corner’.

‘Lucy Howard works incredibly hard and achieves excellent outcomes for her clients as a result – she is absolutely dedicated to their cases and uses her thorough understanding of the law to explore every angle and manoeuvre into the strongest possible position’.

‘Kieran Leahy is a real upcoming young associate in this area: he is absolutely committed, working incredibly hard, and has excellent instincts’.

‘Simon Pedley – very experienced and skilled lawyer in this area, with considerable commercial acumen and excellent communication skills’.

‘Mills & Reeve are an excellent firm in all aspects of private client work including contentious trusts and probate. Highly recommended. Have worked with a large number of people across the various offices and consistently impressed at all levels by the depth of knowledge and practical approach for clients’.

Key clients

Peter Christian Velarde

Administrator of the Estate of Mrs Cadogan

Widow of deceased businessman

Sinclair Gibson LLP

Under the leadership of Henry Hickman, Sinclair Gibson LLP acts for many clients ranging from successful professionals to landed families, entrepreneurs and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. It is recommended for its work on onshore and offshore trust and probate disputes. The group has been busy in other areas such as acting in professional negligence claims for private clients, as well as acting in court of protection proceedings on behalf of the incapacitated. Lucy Gibson is another key member of the department.

Practice head(s):

Henry Hickman

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Gibson; Hannah Southon; Amy Williams


‘Hannah Southon was extremely thorough and always ready to respond to my questions succinctly.’

‘They have a real dedication to the client’s requirements and do not miss anything. Very sound and diligent and always ready to go the extra mile. Technically excellent and very thoughtful. I have always found their analysis very penetrating. In short, they provide the service that every client wants.’

‘Lucy Gibson is razor sharp, very knowledgeable and absolutely on it.’

Henry Hickman is a very experienced litigator and always very sound.’

‘Sinclair Gibson combine great expertise in trust and probate litigation with top-notch client management and tactical and strategic thinking. They are a small firm but punch far above their weight.’

‘Amy Williams is a brilliant litigator. She has an instinctive grasp of what the client needs and how to get it for them. She is highly empathetic but also fights hard for her clients . The ideal combination for a solicitor in this area.’

Weightmans LLP

Jonathan Shankland and Nigel West co-lead the department at Weightmans LLP, which acts for executors, administrators, beneficiaries and dependants on various high-value trusts and probate disputes, both in the UK and overseas. Other core areas of expertise include advising on claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Arshoo Singh departed for Warners Solicitors in September 2023.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Shankland; Nigel West

Other key lawyers:

Oliver Haddock


‘The team at Weightmans is very strong and benefits from its strength in related areas of commercial litigation and fraud. Nigel West is an astute tactician and always has an eye on the client’s commercial objective.’

‘The team are my go-to tax and estates team. I send most of my clients their way. They have the size, gravitas and reputation to deal with my broad HNW client base.’

‘The team is very pragmatic, and they have very high level of skills and technical know-how across such a broad range of specialisms.’

‘The team has the mix of size, expertise and reputation without losing the personal touch. Clients feel that they are important, and I feel that the relationship is important. This is so critical from a private wealth advisor perspective when I look to build a relationship.’

‘Jon Shankland is the lawyer that I have used on a number of occasions to refer high and ultra-high net worth clients. He is a top-level operator, dealing with the most difficult matters himself and passing other matters through his team.’

‘Jon Shankland runs his team like a family office, he is dedicated and works extremely hard. The level of service is second to none and there is always somebody on hand to support me and my client.’

‘Nigel West is simply the best and has a speciality for professional negligence. He is supremely primed for contentious trust matters. Oliver Haddock is an associate in the practice and has huge promise. One to watch.’

Key clients

Sofer -v- Swiss Independent Trustees SA


Work highlights

  • Advising Swiss Independent Trustees SA on the successful defence of a £50m breach of trust and fiduciary duties claim in the Court of Appeal.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The ‘client focussed’ team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLPputs client care at the forefront of all that it does.’ Neil Long is a key member of the department. The agile group works across its various offices throughout the country. It advises individuals, charities and trustees, (both individual and corporate trustees in the UK and offshore), as well as insurance companies on the full range of contentious private client matters. Will Ford is another name to note at the London office.

Practice head(s):

Neil Long

Other key lawyers:

Will Ford; Rosie Taylor


‘Richard and his team are hugely personable as to make the complex simple. They have a unique ability to cut through the matter at hand providing solutions in quick order.’

‘Richard is a pleasure to work with and leads his team superbly. He is extremely hard working and provides straight understandable advice on the most complex of matters.’

‘Neil Long understands contentious issues from all perspectives and aims to carry everyone along together towards a common goal. Patient but persistent. First class negotiator. Manages his team well.’

Key clients

Louise Reeves

Work highlights

  • Acted in one of the most high-profile and complex will disputes of 2022 which was reported to be the highest value contested will case ever heard by the English Courts.