Firms To Watch: Contentious trusts and probate

The Burnside Partnership kickstarted its contentious wills and estates practice in 2021, bringing onboard Tara McInnes from Shoosmiths LLP, who has a strong reputation for representing high-net-worth clients in Inheritance Act claims and will disputes.
Herrington Carmichael LLP benefitted from the arrival of practice head Charlotte Woods from Anderson Rowntree Solicitors in January 2021. The team has a growing workflow that includes contentious probate cases for elderly and vulnerable clients.

Contentious trusts and probate in South East

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP complements its highly regarded London practice with a Guildford base,  which is home to what is known as 'one of the go-to teams for contentious trusts and probate work outside of London'. The Guildford practice is led by office head Duncan Elson , who 'has extraordinary knowledge in this area'. Senior associate Rebecca Piper covers a range of matters, and  has 'exceptional attention to detail and client handling skills', while complex trust disputes specialist Edward Birrell, also a senior associate, is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Elson

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Piper; Edward Birrell; Katelyn Silver


‘Duncan Elson – unflappable partner, completely at home dealing with contentious and complex matters.

‘Rebecca Piper – exceptional associate, runs complex cases with ease.’

‘This is a big, London firm with top-notch work but operating out of London. The firm seems in recent years to have attracted all the talent in its area – it is in so many of the best cases.’

‘Duncan Elson has extraordinary knowledge in this area. He fights really hard for his clients but is always sensible and looking for the best negotiated settlement for them. Rebecca Piper is also excellent with a keen instinct for the merits of a case, real expertise and good client handling skills.’

‘CRS would be my first choice if I had a medium to high value trust and estate claim.’

‘Duncan Elson is incredibly knowledgeable and had a strong presence in his area of expertise. Rebecca Piper is a star of the future. She knows her stuff and is great with clients.’

‘Duncan Elson – head of the litigation team for many years and for good reason. excellent to deal with and a very capable negotiator.’

‘This team are one of the ‘go to’ teams for contentious trusts and probate work outside of London have real strength in depth led by Duncan Elson. The team are truly specialist and have the resource to take on the most complex and time pressured matters.’

‘Duncan Elson is well regarded as a leading expert in this field because of his knowledge and tactical expertise. Rebecca Piper is another standout Senior Associate who fights for her clients and have exceptional attention to detail and client handling skills.’

Key clients

The Public Trustee of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Bernard Carl

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Public Trustee of the Bailiwick of Guernsey in relation to losses to five Guernsey pension schemes in a number of proceedings dealing with multi- jurisdictional asset base.
  • Acting for the children of the deceased in relation to a complex estate involving the insolvency of a number of companies, construction proceedings on the terms of a homemade will and claims from different members of the family including former divorce proceedings.
  • Acting in a landed estate dispute involving an aristocratic family and in particular executor removal proceedings and a claim for an account in relation to the administration of the mother’s estate.


The practice at Crippsone of the strongest teams in the area of practice outside of London’ – handles high value trust disputes involving significant assets across different jurisdictions. The team of ‘hugely capable partners‘ who are ‘very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with‘, is led by Philip Youdan, who specialises in trust and will disputes, supported by Myles McIntosh. Russell Simpson deals with high value probate and inheritance and trust disputes. Senior associate Dino Sikkel is another key name.

Practice head(s):

Phil Youdan

Other key lawyers:

Myles McIntosh; Russell Simpson; Dino Sikkel


‘Cripps have a specialist trusts and estates team that regularly acts with and against larger London firms at a reduced price. They also regularly act on conditional fee agreements where appropriate.’

‘Phil Youdan has a great feel for cases and is commercial in his approach. Dino Sikkel is a calming presence who is really good at explaining cases in simple terms.’

‘This is one of the strongest teams in the area of practice outside of London. I highly recommend them and often refer cases to them.’

‘Myles McIntosh, Phil Youdan and Russell Simpson are all hugely capable partners, very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with.’

‘They were very approachable and efficient. All work was done in a very timely manner and goals were clear. Advice was well prepared and limitations were clearly presented. Businesslike but personal approach’

‘Experienced team, straightforward and sensible. Will always listen and help clients navigate through sometimes highly emotionally charged family situations, achieving resolutions and good results for their clients.

Work highlights

  • Acting for widow in successfully defending at trial a high profile claim by 2 adult children for financial provision from their father’s multi million pound estate under the Inheritance Act.
  • Acting for professional executors in relation to various claims concerning the administration of a high value estate and advising them, as trustees, upon to responding to substantial claims under the Inheritance Act.
  • Representing the defense in a claim under section 50 Administration of Justice Act 1985 for the removal of our client as executor of his late brother’s estate and resolving a connected dispute concerning valuable partnership assets.

Freeths LLP

The team at Freeths LLP, which ‘often gets brought in for the most contentious and difficult estate disputes’, works with clients including beneficiaries, executors and trustees, handling disputes concerning will validity challenges, family trusts, and shared estate claims. The Oxford-based practice is led by Sarah Foster, a ‘wise and calm leader‘ who is supported by director Sally Goodger, who is described as ‘unfailingly calm, retaining a sense of perspective and humour under pressure‘.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Foster

Other key lawyers:

Sally Goodger


‘Freeths has a very strong contentious trusts and estates team, led by Sarah Foster and hugely well supported by an excellent team of associates and senior associates.’

‘Sarah Foster is a wise and calm leader. I have worked recently with Sally Goodger who is unfailingly calm and retains a sense of perspective and humour under pressure.’

‘They offer an excellent service across the whole range of contentious trusts and estates and Court of Protection work. Always focused on the client’s commercial objectives. Pleasant to deal with.’

‘The contentious trusts and probate team at Freeths have very strong individuals at all levels to call upon as needed for a given case. Sally Goodger is very knowledgeable with a good commercial sense.’

‘Freeths have a well-established and well-regarded private client team. The strength of the team transcends the regional offices. They are often involved in large private client disputes also involving the elite London private client firms.’

‘Sally Goodger in the Oxford office is an astute and very able practitioner, who handles her disputes with skill and empathy.’

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell ‘s Chichester-based team – ‘a regional powerhouse when it comes to private client litigation’ – is led by Paula James, a ‘canny and tenacious’ partner ‘who represents a serious alternative to a specialist from a London firm’. The national practice is led from Leeds by Paula Myers – other key names in Chichester include highly regarded senior associates Stephen Ireland, Margaret Windram and Samantha Ewing, who joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP in May 2022. The team was also recently strengthened by the arrival of former TWM Solicitors practice head Candy Stockton.

Practice head(s):

Paula James

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Ireland; Margaret Windram; Samantha Ewing; Hannah Worricker; Candy Stockton



‘Stephen Ireland – The best of the best. A straight talker and extremely supportive throughout. Having dealt with many solicitors, I found Stephen was the most dynamic and determined to defend his client and the deceased.’

‘Irwin Mitchell is a regional powerhouse when it comes to private client litigation. The team have experience of litigating literally hundreds of claims under the 1975 Act which provides members of the team with the ability to provide highly credible and robust advice. The team consist of many robust litigators who achieve good outcomes in representing Claimants under the Inheritance Act 1975.

‘Hannah Worricker is an excellent solicitor with a genuine flair for litigating claims under the 1975 Act. Great depth and breadth of subject knowledge, and a robust advocate for her clients’ interests.’

‘Well regarded team in the region.’

‘Paula James is quietly effective.’

‘This firm has a good reputation in this field, which is growing. They have an impressive case load, and are often against the well-established, traditional firms in this area. Their size, and with it many locations, lawyers and resources they are able to deploy on cases, is impressive to behold.’

‘Samantha Ewing – delightful to work with and always on top of the detail.’

‘Stephen Ireland brings a very experienced, balanced and commercially focused approach to cases. He is particularly proactive when it comes to gathering evidence at an early stage, and always has the client’s wider interests to heart.’

‘Paula James is an experienced and talented private client litigation partner whose canny and tenacious approach is apt to secure the best result for clients. She represents a serious alternative to a specialist from a London firm.’

Moore Barlow

Moore Barlow‘s team advises clients including high-net-worth individuals on a wide range of matters – the practice is known for its expertise in ‘complex contentious probate litigation, offering a first class service’. The Guildford-based team is led by Scott Taylor, ‘a shrewd litigator with a strategic mindset’. Thomas Middlehurst has particular knowledge of property-related trust disputes, including high-value and cross-border work. Experienced senior associate Lisa Green is described as 'intelligent, caring, and highly focussed on her clients' best interests.'

Practice head(s):

Scott Taylor

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Middlehurst; Lisa Green; Emily Travell; Graham McLean


‘This is a very good southeastern firm for clients who do not want to spend London firm money but want to get the same quality.’

‘Scott Taylor is a practical and effective litigator, who champions his clients’ cause very strongly.’

‘Tom Middlehurst – proactive, enthusiastic and focused.’

‘They have a strong group of solicitors who practise predominantly in this area – their expertise and experience makes them stand out.’

‘Thomas Middlehurst is excellent. I feel like I am working as part of a team with him, rather than just having one brain on the job. He is very astute and comes up with good legal arguments. I know he is also very quick to respond to his clients.’

‘Moore Barlow are a go-to firm for contentious trusts and probate. Headed up by Scott Taylor, the team is experienced in complex contentious probate litigation and offers a first class service. Clients can feel confident in this legal team.’

‘Scott Taylor is a shrewd litigator. He is intelligent and approaches his cases with a strategic mindset. He also has a wonderful demeanour with clients and provides excellent client service. Emily Travell is very smart. She is also practical and dynamic in her approach. Definitely one to watch.’

‘Graham McLean has impressive attention to detail and is client-orientated.’

Key clients

Sheila Hirachand

J Hatchard & E Truell, PRs for estate of Daniel Truell (Deceased)

Scott Taylor as representative for beneficiaries in the estate of Mr G.

Trustees of the M & M SSAS

Layzell (Deceased)

Work highlights

  • Advised client in an Inheritance Act claim for reasonable financial provision from her father’s estate on a Conditional Fee Agreement and partially recovered a percentage of the ‘success fee’ as part of the award.
  • Advising the PRs in a claim for the recovery of £4m allegedly gifted to the deceased’s girlfriend, including successfully freezing £4m of the defendant’s assets.

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP handles trust and estate disputes for private high-net-worth clients involving landed estates, with matters which are frequently cross-border and highly complex. Charities head Angela Bowman leads the national firm’s contentious trusts and probate team from the Thames Valley office – she is known as ‘incredibly knowledgeable and a great asset when dealing with contentious matters‘, and is supported by ‘highly intelligent and practical‘ principal associate Mandeep Chima.

Practice head(s):

Angela Bowman

Other key lawyers:

Mandeep Chima


‘I have mainly worked with Angela Bowman, whose knowledge of contentious probate is outstanding.’

‘Angela Bowman stands out because she has a calm, very measured approach about her. She is well-reasoned and persuasive. She has a great reputation in this field.’

‘Very able, approachable and easy to work with. Great client focus.’

‘Mandeep Chima: highly intelligent, practical, strongly focused on client objectives.’

Key clients

Jane Rochford (Rochford v Rochford [2021] WTLR 951)

Work highlights

  • Acted for a claimant in a claim for reasonable financial provision from her father’s estate. The claimant was successful at trial and awarded £85,000 together with 10% of the award, costs on the indemnity basis and interest on those costs as the defendant failed to beat the claimant’s Part 36 offer of settlement.

Stevens & Bolton LLP

Stevens & Bolton LLP’s ‘incredibly strong’ private wealth disputes team is led by James Lister, ‘an extremely good lawyer with an naturally reassuring and client-friendly demeanour’. It is described as an ‘ambitious practice which is becoming increasingly heavyweight’, with recent arrivals including managing associate Jack Bailey, who joined from Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP in mid-2020. The team draws on support from the wider firm’s private client and disputes experts, and has of late been involved in large, multi-party will disputes and Inheritance Act disputes, and is expected to grow further, with more recruitment on the horizon.

Practice head(s):

James Lister

Other key lawyers:

Jack Bailey; Hayley Robinson; Kirsty Manley


‘James Lister is a fantastic head of the team, building a real powerhouse department.’

‘James Lister has long been described as a star of the future but it is clear that the future has arrived. Always available, tactically brilliant, and charming. He has the full package.’

‘James Lister has a fantastic reputation in the field of contentious trusts and probate. A very experienced litigator that any client would want on their team.’

‘Hayley Robinson is a star. She works hard to get the best outcome for her clients and has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. She has great instinct and her client service is second to none.’

‘Jack Bailey – an extremely good lawyer with an naturally reassuring and client-friendly demeanour. Very good in challenging inheritance disputes, especially in helping clients through difficult family situations.’

‘James Lister, Jack Bailey and Hayley Robinson combine very well as a team. They are highly responsive and incorporate counsel into the team at an early stage.’

‘Stevens & Bolton’s team have rapidly become my go to firm for contentious trust work. It has great strength in depth with high-quality practitioners to rival any magic circle firm. They are always at the top my list of firms to recommend to clients in this area and provide responsive advice, quickly and within budget.’

‘James Lister is the best combination of being very knowledgeable and also highly personable. Hayley Robinson is responsive and a great team player.’

Work highlights

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

Adams & Remers

Adams & Remers handles high-value estate and trust work, including sensitive and contentious matters. The Lewes-based team is led by Lloyd Junor, who works with high-net-worth clients, trustees, beneficiaries and fiduciaries. He is particularly experienced in mediation. Ashton Davies advises on the validity of wills, 1975 Inheritance Act Claims, and financial abuse of the elderly and vulnerable.

Practice head(s):

Lloyd Junor

Other key lawyers:

Ashton Davies

B P Collins LLP

B P Collins LLP handles a broad range of disputes relating to contentious probate, administration of estates, validity of documents, breach of trust claims, and the Inheritance Act, representing an array of high-net-worth individuals. The Thames Valley practice is led by Craig Williams, ‘a formidable negotiator equally at ease with lay clients, mediators and opponents‘. He works alongside dispute resolution head Matthew Brandis, who is ‘always calm whatever arises in his cases and has a real ability to put his clients at ease.’

Practice head(s):

Craig Williams

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Brandis


‘B P Collins is the standout firms in the area for this work. They have real strength in depth across the team and are instructed both for both claimants and defendants in both contested probate, trusts and Inheritance Act matters. The contentious team is supported by the strength in depth in the non-contentious team.’

‘Craig Williams is the star of the show. A formidable negotiator equally at ease with lay clients, mediators and opponents. If a matter cannot settle he is an equally formidable litigator always seeking the best outcome for his clients without ever losing sight of what is proportionate and realistic in the litigation. I must also mention Matthew Brandis – always calm whatever arises in his cases and with a real ability to put his clients at ease – however emotive the litigation becomes.’

‘The team deal with a broad range of disputes including contentious probate, administration of estates, validity of documents, breach of trust claims, and the Inheritance Act. Most of their clients are generally high-net-worth individuals.’

‘Craig Williams is simply brilliant, transparent and very responsive. Matthew Brandis is very experienced and knowledgeable.’

‘Superb attention to detail, practical advice to the clients, and utterly caring support for them.’

‘Craig Williams is an exceptional solicitor. Incredibly thoughtful and perceptive, and always thinking two steps ahead of the current point in any litigation or potential claim.’

‘The team have exceptional contentious trust and estate knowledge. They are also commercial and pragmatic in their advice and solutions.’

‘The people within the practice have always been well informed and pleasant to deal with. Billing is straight forward and easy to understand.’

Birkett Long LLP

Essex firm Birkett Long LLP is known as ‘a very experienced and strong regional team, taking on central London firms and doing some exceptional and headline-grabbing cases’. The team is led by Colchester-based Amanda Smallcombe, who has a ‘good sensitivity towards clients, a calm head and is exceptionally clear in her advice.’ She is supported by solicitor Lisa Cox.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Smallcombe


‘The team is flexible and approachable. It has breadth and depth of knowledge at all levels and puts its clients first.’

‘I work closely with Amanda Smallcombe. She has enormous integrity and always goes the extra mile for her clients. She is calm, unflappable and full of good sense. I respect her hugely.’

‘The contentious probate team at Birkett Long has strength in depth. There are lawyers available at every level, led ably by Amanda Smallcombe who has long experience in this area of work’

‘Amanda Smallcombe has in-depth knowledge of her subject and has an empathetic manner with colleagues and clients alike. When on the other side of a dispute, Amanda is always constructive in her approach and willing to discuss matters sensibly in order to find a solution, whilst tenaciously representing her client’s best interests’

‘Management of my affairs has been seamless, when one of the partners is away they inform me and someone else steps in to cover. They always ensure I am made aware of new members of the team who may be acting for me.’

‘Professional and organised but with a human approach.’

Work highlights

  • Advised the successful defendant in Clitheroe v Bond [2020] in overturning two wills on the basis that the deceased lacked testamentary capacity as a result of insane delusions and a poisoning of the mind against our client.
  • Advised Marlene Brunt and Dale Brunt in the matter of Wrangle v Brunt [2020] in which the clients obtained an order that, despite being unsuccessful with their claim, they did not have to pay the other sides costs but, instead, all parties costs would come from the estate.

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP‘s contentious trusts and probate team, which ‘benefits from a wealth of experience across the board‘, works in tandem with its private wealth dispute team to provide expert guidance on complex matters related to trust disputes, Inheritance Act issues and will validity challenges. The Chelmsford-based team is led by Daden Hunt, who handles all types of commercial dispute resolution. Associate Rachel Leech joined in October 2021 from Birkett Long LLP – she is ‘wise beyond her years and is certainly one to watch.’

Practice head(s):

Daden Hunt

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Leech; Jenny Howe


‘They cover all fields of law with an expert knowledgeable and professional team who are always on hand. I have regularly recommended them to friends and family without hesitation’

‘The team is one of, if not the, leading contentious probate team in the region. It has real depth and each one of the team is knowledgeable.’

‘The team are a delight. They adopt a sensible approach to each dispute and whilst fighting hard for their client, they do so sensibly and do not take silly points for the sake of it.’

‘Strong all round’

‘Rachel Leech: talented, meticulous, very bright, caring.’

‘This team benefits from a wealth of experience across the board. In particular, Rachel Leech and Kate Harris make brilliant recent additions to the team.’

‘Rachel Leech is a most impressive solicitor. She is wise beyond her years and is certainly one to watch. I have worked with Rachel on complex contentious probate litigation and have always been impressed by the control she displays over her cases and her insight.’


The ‘very innovative and progressive‘ team at Brachers handles a wide range of disputes, including complex cases concerning will validity and financial provisions for estates. Its Canterbury office has a focus on the farming community. The team is led by Maidstone-based Deborah Cain, ‘an excellent lawyer and great guide through the litigation process’. She is supported by solicitor Jennifer Alderman.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Cain

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Alderman


‘Patient and very understanding – Jennifer Alderman put me at ease, making me feel positive about the future.’

‘Great team. Very innovative and progressive. Never standing still and always forming new alliances within the sector and arranging first class training events.’

‘Deborah Cain is absolutely first-class. Approachable and practical in her approach, but an excellent lawyer and great guide through the litigation process for bereaved clients.’

‘Deborah Cain was dynamic, clear and precise. We were satisfied that we received the most authoritative advise possible.’

Field Seymour Parkes LLP

Field Seymour Parkes LLP provides advice to charities, insurers and high-net-worth individuals, handling very high-value work including cross-border cases. The practice ,which has a ‘strong reputation for good and efficient service to clients‘, is led by Reading-based Katharine Riley, an expert on matters concerning mutual wills and executor-trustee disputes, including professional negligence claims concerning wills, trusts and probate. She ‘fights really hard for her clients, combining tenacity and soft skills to good effect‘. In 2021, Sarah Sharpin joined the team as solicitor from Gardner Leader LLP.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Riley

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Sharpin


‘Very strong private client team that is well integrated with the contentious probate team. This makes for a deep reservoir of expertise, offering good value specialist service outside London’

‘They are a regional firm with a strong reputation for good and efficient service to clients. Their staff are always helpful and friendly.’

‘Katharine Riley is approachable and very capable and finds practical solutions for clients’ issues.’

‘Excellent team with an outstanding leader.’

‘Katharine Riley has a vast array of experience which allows her to think creatively to find ADR solutions.’

‘Katharine Riley is a talented lawyer – a real asset to her firm, and going from strength to strength.’

Gardner Leader LLP

The ‘commercially savvy‘ contentious trusts and probate team at Gardner Leader LLP is led from Newbury by Alastair Goggins, who also heads up the wider dispute resolution practice. He is praised for his ‘calm, reassuring manner, backed up with good analysis‘. The team is is praised for ‘serving not only its local community, but also offering a great option at the national level.’

Practice head(s):

Alastair Goggins


‘Alastair Goggins is experienced, helpful and friendly. He communicates clearly and is excellent at explaining options and likely chances of success. Outcomes have all been good.’

‘There is strength and depth of numbers in the team and lots of experience and expertise’

‘Alastair Goggins has a good grasp of inheritance dispute cases and is very approachable – he speaks a language his clients understand’

‘With the exemplary legal representation I received from Alastair Goggins and the litigation team at Gardner Leader, I achieved a successful outcome.’

‘Alastair Goggins provided me with accurate and clear legal support whilst handling a very difficult and stressful situation for me and my family with the utmost compassion and professionalism. Alastair was at all times extremely helpful and supportive and would always explain in great detail if I was unsure of anything.’

‘The professionalism of Alastair Goggins and his team has been exemplary throughout my experience of working with them. Their response to my questions and their communication has been swift, providing very clear advice. Alastair Goggins exceeded my expectations and I felt in safe hands being represented by him and the litigation team.’

‘A thriving contentious probate practice in Newbury with great litigation nous.’

‘Alastair Goggins has seen it all and has a great strategic instinct, knowing when to push the other side and when to spool them enough rope to hang themselves.’

Thomson Snell & Passmore

Thomson Snell & Passmore has been taking on increasing volumes of work in recent years, advising on probate disputes, professional negligence claims relating to estate and trust administration, and Inheritance Act Claims. The team is led by ‘good-humoured and far-sighted’ Nick Horton in Tunbridge Wells.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Horton

Other key lawyers:

Amy Wilford


‘I have always found the team at TSP to be excellent. Extremely responsive, helpful and forward-thinking in finding a course of action that works for you. Fairly priced and yet a level of service and knowledge far beyond that – TSP in my opinion is beyond compare.’

‘Nicholas Horton has been handling my case. I have found Mr Horton to be exceptional. Calm, constructive and undefeated in his approach in an extremely difficult, complicated case, which has caused me great concern. Prior to engaging Mr Horton, I felt the situation was impossible. Instantly, with Mr Horton, I felt my case was in safe hands and so it has proved.’

‘They are a well balanced, top notch, collaborative team. Their skills complement each other and reflect their specialist areas.

‘Nick Horton – incredibly meticulous, careful with our money, good-humoured and far-sighted. A delight to work with and extraordinarily diligent. He will not rest until the current issues he is dealing with for us are answered.’

‘The team head, Nicholas Horton, is a very experienced litigator. He has a good profile in this area and is a robust and pragmatic opponent.’

‘They are a team with a very good reputation and engage in high value and complex matters.’

‘I have come up against and worked with Amy Wilford and consider her a highly experienced trust and estate dispute lawyer. She is quick to turn around emails and firmly stands in her clients’ corner.’

‘A wonderful team made up of clever, proactive lawyers’

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans wills and trust disputes practice includes a number of key practitioner across the South East, including Reading-based commercial litigator Tim Clark, and legal director Claire Collings and contentious insolvency specialist Rick Munro in Southampton.

Practice head(s):

Lucinda Brown

Other key lawyers:

Tim Clark; Claire Collings; Rick Munro


‘They take the time to listen to your problem and the concerns that surround it. Responses were clear, bills itemised which made the process seamless.’

‘Very good, realistic advisors. Very pleasant to work with.’

‘Approachability and efficiency’

‘Claire Collings – thoughtfulness, attention to detail, thorough and careful preparation’

‘Tim Clark puts clients at their ease and is very commercially savvy.’

Blake Morgan LLP

Key names at Blake Morgan LLP include the Thames Valley-based Stephanie Walls, who specialises in complex Inheritance Act claims and disputes related to discretionary trusts. She is described as ‘a great tactician who listens to her clients’ needs to achieve a pragmatic result without engaging an aggressive approach‘, and works alongside Susannah Treherne in Oxford, who has a background as a litigator.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie Walls

Other key lawyers:

Susannah Treherne; Olivia Shenton-Taylor


‘A very impressive team led by Stephanie Walls.’

‘Stephanie Walls prepares her cases well and clearly enjoys a very good relationship with her clients.’

‘Good, high quality work. Very good value. Very deep expertise in the area.’

‘The first thing that must be said about this team is that it is efficient, professional and honest. I have never had a better communication than the one I had with this team. It was really a pleasure working with them and communication was exceptional. They are diligent, understanding and above all supportive.’

‘Blake Morgan have a great mid-tier practice. They are pro-active and pragmatic in their handling of cases with sufficient resources and breadth of experience to handle most issues.’

‘The team is very responsive to clients needs and the strength also lies in the fact that often their work overlaps with other areas of law which the firm can cover also and provide a seamless client service.’

‘Olivia Shenton-Taylor – excellent to work with, very good lawyer.’

‘Stephanie Walls stands out, as well as Olivia Shenton-Taylor who is a rising star in this area. Stephanie is a great tactician who listens to her clients’ needs to achieve a pragmatic result without engaging an aggressive approach. She is a great listener and a pleasure to work with. Always respectful but gets her points across in a confident and persuasive manner.’


IBB Law‘s team is led by Paul Grimwood in Uxbridge and Amanda Melton in Chesham; Melton has specific expertise with regards to farming families and is ‘experienced and knowledgeable and with a good client manner’. Other key names include solicitor Catherine O’Reilly and Rekha Toor.

Practice head(s):

Paul Grimwood; Amanda Melton

Other key lawyers:

Catherine O’Reilly; Rekha Toor


‘The team at IBB Law had both the depth of knowledge and the right moral compass in place to nurse us through what we knew was going to be a tricky patch.’

‘We were very impressed with the thoroughness of the initial meeting and IBB’s immediate grasp of what we had perceived to be a difficult family situation.

‘Amanda Melton was marvellous. She had an immediate grasp of a difficult family predicament, and explained a clear and logical means of rectifying it. She communicated the legal situation very clearly, and always replied promptly to any questions or concerns we had.’

‘Catherine O’Reilly engaging and helpful and, in a case that was not resolved for more than a year, neither Amanda Melton nor Catherine was in any way pushy, maintaining contact where necessary and acting promptly and effectively whenever required. We cannot recommend them highly enough.’

‘Work passed to members of the team is carried out to Amanda Melton’s high standards. Communication up and down the team is excellent.’

‘They are able to handle a wide range of complex succession and probate disputes and offer their clients a first-class service.’

‘Amanda Melton is excellent – experienced and knowledgeable and with a good client manner.’

Key clients

Donald Eade – client of Paul Grimwood’s at his previous firm

Work highlights

  • At his previous firm Paul Grimwood acted for Donald Eade in the reported case of Eade-v-Hogg and Others which centred around two separate wills, one of which was disputed. Amongst other things, this case is notable for pushing the boundaries of the law on rectification of wills.

Neale Turk LLP

Neale Turk LLP assists a range of clients with disputes concerning lifetime trust arrangements and Court of Protection matters, as well as issues relating to powers of attorney on behalf of incapacitated individuals. The team is led by Charlotte Searle, who splits her time between Fleet  and Baskingstoke; she is a member of ACTAPS, STEP and Solicitors for the Elderly, and has a track record of work on with cases concerning challenging the validity of wills and succession planning.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Searle


‘I trusted their advice. They were always there to help and certainly all communication was prompt.’

‘Charlotte Searle was always very realistic and I never felt pushed to respond by her. I was always given time to reflect and as it was a trusting relationship, I felt I could be honest in my response. Despite the matter in question being of an emotive nature.’

‘Our solicitor, Charlotte Searle, was just amazing. Nothing was too much trouble. Constantly kept us informed either by e mail or by phone. She was always available to answer any questions we had. Kept up to date with estate accounts and services provided. We had zoom meetings for outside contacts.’

‘Neale Turk have provided excellent service, keeping us informed at all time on progress. The team have been very supportive at a difficult time.’

‘Charlotte Searle is an excellent solicitor who really knows her job. Very good at explaining the process we were going through. The team that have dealt with our case have been brilliant. They have all been very friendly and nothing too much trouble. Brilliantly with our elderly mum who Charlotte put at ease at this stressful time especially during Covid.’

‘Charlotte Searle is without doubt a brilliant solicitor. She is helping us with a complex trust issue and whilst I originally thought we wouldn’t need professional services, I am so glad that we engaged Charlotte. She cuts through the white noise – we clearly feel that she is in our corner and trust her completely.’

Nockolds Solicitors

Nockolds Solicitors‘s ‘very modern and intelligent’ practice is led by Bishop’s Stortford-based Daniel Winter, ‘an enterprising lawyer who is responsible for the growth of this team and an excellent litigator too‘. He is assisted by senior associate Gemma Dudmish, who ‘has an amazing mastery of the details of all cases‘.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Winter

Other key lawyers:

Gemma Dudmish; Peter King; Sarah Lockyer


‘First-class service on a highly sensitive case’

‘Dan Winter was very impressive and on top of the detail in a highly sensitive case’

‘Our main dealing has been with Daniel Winter and we’ve always appreciated not only his knowledge but his whole manner and straight forward advice.’

‘We have been dealing with Daniel Winter and have been very happy with his service. He is a very personable chap and has a wealth of knowledge that he imparts very clearly.’

‘Nockolds is a very modern and intelligent team. They are up to date in several areas of law and are very proactive in resolving cases.’

‘They are professional but with the ability to make sure they personally handle the job.’

‘Daniel Winter is an excellent lawyer. He has amassed great experience in his practice area and handles his cases with skill. He is cool-headed and shows great judgement. Gemma Dudmish is brilliant. She is clever and gives sage advice. She is wise beyond her years.’

Key clients

The Estate of Michael John De Clare Studdert

Work highlights

  • Advised the executors in the reported case of Re Studdert in respect of the administration of a £5m estate where there may be ascertained creditors with claims arising out of the deceased’s past misconduct.

Spratt Endicott

Spratt Endicotthave strength in depth and are able to cross-refer to others with different specialisms in the firm when the need arises‘. The practice advises clients on complex estates, wills, and trusts disputes, including Inheritance Act claims. The team is led by senior associate Tom McInerney, ‘an excellent solicitor with deep knowledge of contentious trusts and probate‘.

Practice head(s):

Tom McInerney


‘I work with Thomas McInerney. Tom is an excellent solicitor with deep knowledge of contentious trusts and probate. His judgement is sound and his client care is excellent.’

‘An excellent service for clients, with very proactive collaboration between clients, the solicitors and counsel.

‘Tom McInerney interacts very well with clients and has an excellent grasp of the law and litigation strategy.’

‘The firm proved themselves competent and resourceful in dealing with the slightly unusual circumstances of our case. Despite seemingly narrow odds of success which were certainly not hidden from us, the matter was pursued to a successful conclusion against our expectations.’

‘Professionalism is the only word I can think of that encapsulates the integrity of the firm. They give the advice that is needed, not the advice that might earn them increased fees, or what you want to hear as a client. This is so refreshing and unusual these days.’

‘Incredibly professional, courteous and helpful in all matters’

‘Tom McInerney explains things in an easy-to-understand manner. Very knowledgeable, professional and approachable’

‘I have always struggled to find a responsive, professional and knowledgable lawyer to work with, whom I am happy to refer my clients. Finally, I seem to have found that in Tom McInerney, whom I cannot fault.’

Taylor Rose MW

Taylor Rose MW has been growing in recent years on the back of the merger of Taylor Rose TTKW and MW Solicitors. The estate and trust dispute department is led by Sevenoaks-based Sharon Bell, who is ‘great in negotiation and strategically brilliant‘. She works with the ‘very experienced and wiseWendy Rixon in Hove.

Practice head(s):

Sharon Bell

Other key lawyers:

Wendy Rixon; Georgia Langston


‘The firm have recently developed a consultancy method of working which is appearing to attract good quality solicitors.’

‘Wendy Rixon is very experienced and gives wise, well considered advice. She gives great support to the clients.’

‘The team know the area really well also get to know client really well and their needs. Go the extra mile to ensure the client gets the best possible result. Take a pragmatic approach where necessary again to ensure best result for client.’

‘Sharon Bell takes that extra time to get to know the client, what makes them tick and what they want to achieve. More often than not she is able to get them what they want or better. Great in negotiation and strategically brilliant. Georgia Langston is very knowledgable. Quickly gets to grips with new cases and able to formulate a clear strategy focused on the client’s needs.’

‘A great team providing reasonable access to high quality services. Breadth of knowledge across probate and private client areas is very impressive’

‘Sharon Bell – Deeply committed to her area of law. Very impressive in all contentious probate matters.’

‘Sharon Bell stands out as being an exceptional practitioner in her field. Very knowledgeable. Able to communicate with clients in a down to earth manner and builds good working relationships with her clients and other professionals with whom she works.’

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended a case brought by client’s father where beneficial ownership trumped legal ownership in relation to a Property and successfully argued that a deposit contribution was an advance of inheritance.
  • Successfully rectified the Will of the Deceased that was negligently drafted where the will writer missed off an accrue clause.

Tees Law

Tees Law's contentious trusts and probate offering in Bishop’s Stortford is led by Caroline Metcalf, who specialises in highly complex trusts and probate cases.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Metcalf


‘They responded promptly, knowledgeably and compassionately to the situation that we required help with. Assistance was always available.’

‘The main criteria that applied in selecting Tees were the knowledge, thoroughness and personality of the team.’

‘Caroline Metcalf was always willing to deal with my enquiries and any concerns I had. The advice I received was clear and unambiguous, even if I didn’t want to hear it. The final decision was always left to me but was directed by her experience.’

‘Caroline Metcalf has been my main source of contact. I have found her to be extremely consciensous and very thorough. She responds very quickly to emails and phone calls. She never sugar coats anything so I always have realist expectations of outcomes.’

‘Tees are a well respected solicitors with several offices in the area. I have used them personally for probate and litigation issues and they have always found the right person to deal with my problems.’

‘Caroline Metcalf has been very helpful in sorting litigation issues following the death of a family member. She has shown extensive knowledge in unraveling several problems which arose following probate and has dealt with family disputes with fairness and impartiality.’

‘Tees were very helpful to my case. I was going through a difficult time and they were very friendly, and understanding and did exactly what was promised.’

Work highlights

  • Advised the beneficiary (niece of deceased) in relation to a claim by deceased’s husband against his wife’s estate (aunt of client) for a beneficial interest in the deceased’s property and a claim for reasonable financial provision from the deceased’s estate.
  • Advised in relation to an application for a succession tenancy under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 following the death of client’s father.
  • Advising on a dispute relating to the distribution of a trust fund claimed by a beneficiary of the trust fund against the Trustees.

Blandy & Blandy LLP

Blandy & Blandy LLP‘s dispute resolution team also covers disputes arising from estate issues, including where long-term unmarried partners find themselves unsupported by the provisions of widowed spouses or non-nuclear families debate the terms of wills. The key names are consultant solicitor Philip D’Arcy and senior associate Frances Kyle.

Practice head(s):

Frances Kyle

Other key lawyers:

Philip D’Arcy


‘Very well established and extremely impressive team led by Philip D’Arcy. Well appointed and convenient offices and very accessible team.’

‘Philip D’Arcy is perfect for this role. He is calm and reassuring but a first class lawyer and an excellent communicator. As a barrister he is a delight to work with, clients have invariably been given first class advice, realistic and comprehensive and the whole team are great to work with.’

‘In my experience this firm can handle complex trust disputes at reasonable rates, and are approachable and friendly.’

‘Philip D’Arcy is very experienced and knowledgeable.’

‘Good regional firm, with a long history and good reputation in the Reading area.’

‘Philip D’Arcy is a very experienced and capable lawyer and a pleasure to work with.’

Blaser Mills Law

Blaser Mills Law has an active practice focusing on challenging wills, Inheritance Act claims, disputes relating to co-ownership of property included in an estate, executor disputes, as well as professional negligence claims against solicitors and will writers. Taking the lead is High Wycombe-based Alka Kharbanda , an experienced disputes lawyer who is ably assisted by Sangita Manek.

Practice head(s):

Alka Kharbanda

Other key lawyers:

Sangita Manek


‘The partner that dealt with my case was focussed and direct. She gave massive attention to the details and facts. Removed all emotions, trivia and distractions. Providing factual guidance and strength of purpose helped me to make the right decisions and resolve a dispute that had been going on fora long time. Billing and payment method on line was quick and easy. This practice is professional through and through.’

‘Sangita Manek was professional and focussed on the task in hand. She paid direct attention to the details and facts. She kept me concentrated on the facts and not getting caught up in emotion and distractions. she explained the law and processes in detail so that I understood exactly what I needed to do and where I stood. It took the stress and emotion out of the situation. At the same time, she was empathetic and worked to make sure the advice and work was kept within my financial boundaries. Sangita gave me proper professional advice which brought the sad situation to a close.’

‘Alka Kharbanda gave insightful and very experienced guidance from the very start of our contentious trust case. She was also clear as to what was reasonable and what outcomes might be a stretch, clearly managing expectations. That said, she was absolutely the person to lead our case in terms of fighting and asserting as required with our opponents. Very no nonsense.’

‘Alka Kharbanda- empathetic, patient, highly professional and her equally empathetic and helpful assistant,’

Debenhams Ottaway

Debenhams Ottaway’ s contested trust and probate practice is led from St Albans by senior lawyer Michael Henry, who ‘combines vast knowledge with an an excellent bedside manner with clients.’

Practice head(s):

Michael Henry


‘It offers a Central London service but at a better rate. The experience and depth of knowledge of the team is tiptop!’

‘Michael Henry’s knowledge base is vast. He combines that knowledge with an an excellent bedside manner with lay clients.’

‘The most important strength from everyone I have dealt with is a calm reassurance that everything will be fine, that, whatever the mess, there will be a solution. Excellent subject knowledge and an ability to answer questions that the client didn’t even know they needed an answer to makes the client feel secure and cared for. Excellent interpersonal skills from all at the company.’

‘The advice received was absolutely on point, no time was wasted waffling around the subject. The solicitor observed the time set for appointment and used it efficiently. The support staff were efficient and also on point.’

‘Debenhams Ottaway were excellent in my particular matter on which I consulted them, certainly in comparison with the department of the solicitors dealing with the other side of the dispute.’

‘I dealt with Michael Henry whose handling of a difficult situation, as far as my fellow executors were concerned, was exemplary. He was honest and straightforward in his advice which was delivered in layman’s language.’

‘Michael Henry has great attention to detail.’

Duncan Lewis Solicitors

The practice at Duncan Lewis Solicitors is led by Harrow-based Caroline Roche, who handles contentious probate matters and specialises in handling Powers of Attorney and proprietary estoppel claims. Solicitor Rourke Rupert Bulbring joined from Wellers Law Group LLP.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Roche

Other key lawyers:

Rourke Rupert Bulbring


‘An excellent all-round team of practitioners who bring an impressive range of deep and disparate experience to trusts and estates disputes.’

‘Caroline Roche is an adept, intellectually rigorous, thorough and incredibly hard-working practitioner; able and willing to fight or compromise a case when necessary, very user-friendly; clients love her.’

‘Caroline Roche is superb in all matters concerning wills, probate and trusts. She combines excellent legal knowledge with a practical and down-to-earth attitude, allowing clients to make tough decisions from an safe and informed position.’

‘The firm is diverse and keeps up with the competitive market by offering remote meetings where an appointment cannot be arranged in person.’

‘Caroline Roche has been sensitive dealing with any matters that have arisen in my case and has been understanding. When I had any concerns or needed advice, Caroline Roche’s response has been prompt which gives me reassurance with the handling of my case.’

‘I think that the personal touch given by this practice is second to none.’

‘Caroline Roche has been very supportive and engaging. Explaining and informing us every action made on our behalf.’

Giles Wilson LLP

Giles Wilson LLP‘s Leigh-on-Sea-based team is led by Philip Giles, who is a member of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists and sits as a part-time deputy district judge- he ‘brings unfailingly sound judgement to every sort of dispute’. Melinda Giles leads on the non-contentious side.

Practice head(s):

Philip Giles

Other key lawyers:

Melinda Giles


‘This is a boutique practice in the south-east, which is dynamically led by Philip and Melinda Giles. Philip has great depth of knowledge of contentious trusts and estates and brings unfailingly sound judgement to every sort of dispute. He always gives wise and reassuring counsel in some very emotionally fraught disputes.’

‘Philip Giles is a real star.’

‘I worked exclusively with the partner, Philip Giles. He’s an honest and open individual who tells it like it is. I felt total confidence in him from the outset. If I had any concerns, Philip was always willing to spend time discussing the issues.’

Machins Solicitors LLP

Machins Solicitors LLP's Luton-based dispute resolution team has a worthy contentious probate practice, working closely with the firm's family and private client offering. Lawyers have experience before the high court, court of appeal and county courts, as well as handling disputes before the family courts. Neil O’Callaghan is the practice head and brings to bear expertise in commercial litigation. Benedict Smith has a specialism in contentious probate, with commercial law and property knowledge.

Practice head(s):

Neil O’Callaghan

Other key lawyers:

Benedict Smith


‘I have worked with Benedict Smith for a number of years now and he never fails to impress. He s a talented solicitor with a growing reputation in the industry in contentious probate matters. He is adept at dealing with tricky matters and he has a forensic eye for detail backed up by a commercial mind which is always seeking the most beneficial result for his clients.’

‘In my view Machins Solicitors LLP’s contentious trust and probate practice is particularly client-focussed. Its members treat lay clients with the degree of empathy which is necessary in the often emotional arena of probate proceedings. Equally, however, they are not afraid to make difficult judgment calls and always provide pragmatic, clear and effective legal advice.’

‘I have worked with Benedict Smith of Machins Solicitors LLP on a number of cases. I would describe him as a stand-out instructing associate solicitor who is very much motivated a desire to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients. He has an excellent grasp of the complex law associated with contentious trust and probate work and draws from a deep pool of experience – to the benefit of his clients. Benedict is collegiate in his approach to working with counsel but is also willing to confront challenging aspects of a case where appropriate.’

‘My experience is that their communication with client (myself) is extremely good, not only are they able to clearly in lay mans term explain complicated matters in law promptly when needed, they are also always available to take calls and routinely return calls too. This is extremely important to me as I am someone who suffers anxiety and waiting for clarity and direction is very stressful for me and in this regard Machins LLP have been very good to me.’

‘Over the last two years Benedict Smith impressed us greatly with his knowledge and willingness to help. He is also good at explaining legal points and weighing up alternatives. He has a very friendly manner which makes him very approachable, and understands when informality help build client relations and more importantly gets the points across.’

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Pinney Talfourd LLP's contentious probate lawyers act for executors, trustees, beneficiaries, attorneys and deputies in a wide variety of cases, including Inheritance Act claims, trust disputes, issues related to wills and asset recovery. Catherine Loadman is the key contact, with extensive knowledge in family law.  Senior associate Kerry Hull is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Loadman

Other key lawyers:

Kerry Hull


‘My wife and I were very impressed with the way Pinney Talfourd dealt with our case. We never had any problems contacting them and the team kept us updated with any news they had received. When we asked for an update on costs we were informed immediately.’

‘We had an initial meeting with Kerry Hull whom we felt was outstanding in the way she dealt with us, our case and Kerry’s knowledge in her field I would not hesitate in recommending Kerry to anyone.’

‘Senior Associate Kerry Hull is excellent. She quickly gets a firm grip on what is needed to win a case and will not back down in correspondence. Kerry’s down to earth approach, straight talking and no-nonsense approach makes her very popular with clients.’

‘I have worked a lot with Catherine Loadman on difficult 1975 Act cases. She is very good at grappling with difficult family dynamics and enabling cases which seemed destined for trial toward to settle.’

‘Catherine Loadman is reliable and hard-working. She is excellent with clients and knows the good points from the bad points in a case.’

Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP

The key name at Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP  in Brighton is Alistair Rustemeyer, who recently stepped up to take leadership of the high-net-worth private wealth disputes practice. He has decades of experience and is a full member of the Association of Contentious Trust & Probate Specialists, as well as a certified Contentious Trusts and Probate specialist.

Practice head(s):

Alistair Rustemeyer


‘A very good regional firm which is very capable in private client litigation.’

‘This is an extremely united and mutually supportive team of solicitors. This feature gives them a significant advantage in servicing all aspects of their clients’ needs.’

‘Alistair Rustemeyer has expertise in succession disputes.’

Whitehead Monckton

Whitehead Monckton demonstrates 'flexibility, understanding and openness', combining property, tax, estate planning and family law capabilities to represent clients in a wide variety of contentious probate, trusts and estates work. Managing director Christopher Longden is the practice head, with a background in commercial litigation. Associate director David Riordan is an expert in trusts of land and Appointment of Trustees Act claims. Emma Salmon is appreciated by clients for providing 'professional advice' in 'an empathetic manner'.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Longden

Other key lawyers:

David Riordan; Emma Salmon; Sam Corse


‘The staff have a very good understanding of the subject matter they are very professional and this in turn fills me as a client with confidence and I am very happy for them to represent me.’

‘I have dealt with Sam Corse who is working on my case since July 2021, from my first meeting with Sam to date I found him to be very knowledgeable, very understanding and very honest and as a result I am very satisfied that Sam is acting on my behalf’

‘I am highly impressed by their field knowledge and their ability to cooperate between different departments when the litigations cross over. They show flexibility, understanding and openness and they appreciate my specific circumstances, which reflect in the way the constantly adapt to my needs and requirements. I am very grateful for their transparency and honesty, for providing me always with enough information to enable me to take clear and sensible decisions. I feel in very safe, capable and trustworthy hands and I guess this is all you want when your life has suddenly turned upside-down.’

‘Sam Corse, the legal executive representing me in a very challenging probate procedure, is a highly knowledgeable, thorough, respectful, compassionate and honest professional. I am most grateful for his hard work and extensive dedication, he shows a level of empathy and emotional understanding that I have never encountered before, when liaising with legal representatives. I feel utterly confident with his operandum and his understanding of the complexity of the case.’

‘The solicitor directly involved in my case from the start was Emma Salmon. All communication was expressed in a way that I could understand, and if there was any language used I was uncertain of, she always made time to explain this to me without any judgement. I found this to be a stark contrast to the firm I had previously engaged, who rarely responded to my communications and I regularly had to chase. As part of this, it is worth noting that Emma would normally respond to my correspondence in no later than 48 hours. Her legal advice was always given in a friendly manner, and always came across as professional advice, not instruction. It was clear that the decisions were mine to make. Emma additionally understood the complexity of my case, had an empathetic manner and was always approachable.’

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Winckworth Sherwood LLP has a well-developed contentious trusts and estates offering in its Oxford office, which works closely with the firm's team in London and other departments including corporate and employment. The group has a solid clientbase of high-net-worth individuals and their advisors. Practice head Philip Collins and is adept at bringing and defending claims against estates under the Inheritance Act. Alison Talbot brings expertise in charity law.

Practice head(s):

Philip Collins

Other key lawyers:

Alison Talbot; Samantha Warner


‘Winkworth Sherwood has a specialist and growing contentious probate team which works closely alongside a strong private client team.’

‘I deal predominantly with Phillip Collins who heads up the team. Phil is very thorough, pragmatic, calm and straightforward – a pleasure to deal with. He advocates strongly and effectively for his clients and quickly identifies the central issues. I am happy to refer conflict work to him knowing that my clients will be in very capable and empathetic hands.’

‘Philip Collins provided exceptional advice and support to achieve an extremely positive outcome in a long running matter.’