Firms To Watch: Contentious trusts and probate

With a growing reputation in high-value litigation, IDR Law has recently expanded into the South West with the arrival of partner of Cara Hough from Porter Dodson LLP in January 2022.
Capable in both contentious and non-contentious mandates, Barcan+Kirby LLP have extensive knowledge of wills and trusts, grant applications and estate administration, as well as powers of attorney matters.

Contentious trusts and probate in South West

RWK Goodman

‘Professional, prompt, and thorough’, the team at RWK Goodman routinely advises clients on an array of disputes involving wills, estates and trusts. The practice boasts a dedicated Court of Protection team which deals with both contentious and non-contentious work. The ‘extremely knowledgeable and pragmatic’ Amanda Noyce – who heads up the team – handles a range of matters concerning proprietary estoppel claims, inheritance disputed and tax disputes. Calum Campbell is noted for his expertise in handling Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA) matters. Mike Muston is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Noyce

Other key lawyers:

Calum Campbell; Mike Muston


‘Their contentious trust and probate team are simply very good at what they do.  They also work in tandem with their private client team, which makes for effective case management.’

‘Amanda Noyce is extremely knowledgeable and pragmatic and focused on finding a solution.  She is reliable in her advice.’

‘Mike Muston is a talented lawyer who really fights his client’s corner.’

Ashfords LLP

Drawing on expertise from various departments within the firm, the team at Ashfords LLP handles a broad array of contentious trusts and probate mandates, including will validity disputes, mutual claims, proprietary estoppel disputes, and related personal negligence claims. The team is jointly chaired by Robert Horsey, a highly experienced partner; Michael Alden, who also heads up the private wealth division; and Kerry Morgan Gould, noted for her expertise in contentious Court of Protection work. Other key figures include Barny Croft, who is praised as a ‘real star who attracts great work and is unflappable under pressure’, and Jess Flanagan, who joined from Clarke Willmott LLP in April 2022.

Practice head(s):

Robert Horsey; Michael Alden; Kerry Morgan-Gould

Other key lawyers:

Barny Croft; Katie Webber; Rebecca Milton; Sasha Wicks


‘This team has a national presence and are really well regarded as being first-rate in this area of practice. They are very capable litigators with excellent and high-profile work, which exceeds expectations for their regional status.’

‘Kerry listens well, assimilates the situation promptly, in what was a very complicated case with numerous strands, she was clear and concise in her advice, drawn from her immense wealth of knowledge and experience.’

‘Barny Croft is one to watch. He is emerging as a powerful opponent, but one who takes a measured approach, balancing his clients’ best interests with a pragmatic eye on proportionality.’

‘Rebecca Milton is clever, capable and a pleasure to work with. She is totally on top of her cases, regardless of how factually complicated they are. She is first-rate.’

‘Robert Horsey and Kerry Morgan-Gould are twin giants of the contentious sector, combining to lead one of the finest teams in the country. There is nothing that these two have not seen and done. They are the full package.’

‘Robert Horsey is a towering figure in the world of contentious probate, who combines a razor intellect and strategic nous with charm and charisma.’

‘Barny Croft is a real star who attracts great work and is unflappable under pressure.’

Work highlights

  • Advised an adult child in a claim for reasonable financial provision in the estate of his non-biological parent. The estate is understood to be worth in excess of £250m.
  • Defended a challenge against the validity of the will on the grounds of undue influence and lack of knowledge and approval.
  • Seeking the removal of an executor under s116 Senior Courts Act 1981 and/or s.50 Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Burges Salmon LLP

Noted for its expertise in large and complex mandates, the team at Burges Salmon LLP has an excellent reputation in the South West, representing a range of high-profile clients at both the national and international scale. The team is jointly chaired by Justin Briggs and Kevin Kennedy; Briggs is noted for his capabilities in high-stakes private trust matters, while Kennedy is well placed to advise on matters involving landed estates and wealthy individuals. Caroline Emslie, who handles international disputes concerning trusts, wills, tax planning and the administration of estates, is praised for her ‘superb judgement.’


Practice head(s):

Justin Briggs; Kevin Kennedy

Other key lawyers:

Michael Ward; Suzanne Padmore; Caroline Emslie; Maddie Dunn


‘Kevin Kennedy is excellent and approaches difficult litigation calmly. He has years of experience and fights very hard for his clients.’

‘Caroline Emslie and Sarah Charteris-Black are very thorough, hard-working, and very effective at day-to-day running of litigation.’

‘A very experienced team when it comes to hard-hitting trust litigation. They have both the technical skills and the resources to deal with complex, multi-jurisdictional trust disputes.’

‘Kevin Kennedy is an extremely effective and commercially-savvy operator. He is excellent at dealing with difficult clients.’

‘The Burges Salmon contentious trusts and probate practice are absolutely top-tier – I would (and do) recommend them as able to match the very top London firms. They are particularly skilled at acting in complicated, high-value trusts disputes and bringing them to a successful resolution. They deserve a much higher profile in the market than they currently have.’

‘Caroline Emslie is a star – brilliant on the law, great commercial awareness and excellent with clients. She combines these skills with superb judgment and often makes me feel redundant. One of the best I’ve worked with.’

‘Sara Charteris-Black is exceptional. She has the abilities and instincts of someone very much more senior. Always on top of every detail, she has great strategic insight and is a star in the making.’

‘Kevin Kennedy is head of the team, and has a fantastic reputation as a top-notch lawyer.’

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 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 Mr Sofer was successful in the Court of Appeal following an adverse interlocutory decision.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey advises a strong mix of national charities, trust corporations, and wealthy individuals on complex disputes. The team is noted for its expertise in inheritance and trusts disputes, with a particular focus on resolving property disputes and administering estates and legacies for their charity client base. Lucy Gill - who heads the team - has over 15 years of experience handling contentious probate matters for national charities. Alexandra Rogers regularly handles disputes involving wills, trusts and estates.



Practice head(s):

Lucy Gill

Other key lawyers:

Emma Facey; Alexandra Rogers; Elizabeth Ware; Oliver Black; Chloe Phare


‘Alexander Rogers was very dedicated to our case and always made herself available to speak to us directly on the phone or in person in a very difficult and upsetting case. She also added a personal perspective to the case and felt at ease with her. Always gave the impression she was trying her best for us and always explained things from both perspectives.’

‘Elizabeth Ware is excellent.’

‘The team goes above and beyond in understanding clients’ needs and trying to propose practical solutions.  Lucy Gill is very approachable and always strives to achieve the best for her clients. She is very forward-looking and is always thinking of ways to bring positive change in the sector.’

‘Lucy Gill has an in-depth understanding of the sector and gets what is required to keep her clients on board. I value that she is innovative and has the desire to develop technologies that help us in our day-to-day job. Highly valued and stands out from some competitors.’

‘The teams work closely and are able to provide a seamless approach if a probate case becomes contentious.’

‘Lucy Gill is a pragmatic and solutions-based individual. She fully understands the charity sector and leads the team by example. She is very approachable and happy to be involved both in cases and wider discussions about the charity sector. This is so valuable, and ensures we have confidence in the expertise provided.’

Work highlights

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP houses a strong team capable of advising a range of renowned clients – including high-net-worth individuals and national charities – on the full gamut of wills, trusts, probate, and legacies matters. The practice maintains a strong presence in the South West, drawing high praise from clients – some of whom regard it as, ‘the best in its geographical area.’ The team is led by Tony Cockayne, who has over 20 years of litigation experience acting for wealthy individuals and national charities. Jasmine Ivory acts for high-net-worth individuals and charities on complex litigation matters. Georgia Wookey joined from Wards Solicitors LLP in January 2023.

Practice head(s):

Tony Cockayne

Other key lawyers:

Sara Chisolm-Batten; Jasmine Ivory; Holly Mievelle-Hawkins; Georgia Wookey


‘This team is the best in its geographical area. Tony Cockayne has very significant experience, and is able to handle very complex disputes.’

‘Tony Cockayne is measured and diligent, and astute in his strategy.’

‘Michelmores is a really strong presence in this area. Tony Cockayne is an excellent team leader; he is unflappable, full of energy and has a real sense of when a point is worth pushing and when to pull back.’

‘The team is extremely friendly and approachable.’

‘Every member of their team is happy to take time to explain any complexities of a case and to assist with all matters, large or small.’

‘Tony Cockayne heads up the team with great energy, enthusiasm and positivity.’

Georgia Wookey possesses excellent contentious probate knowledge.’

Work highlights


VWV is a key port of call for a deep roster of clients, who turn to the firm for its ‘exceptionally strong contentious trusts and probate team, with vast experience in a wide variety of issues’. The practice is particularly noted for its legacy protection and Court of Protection work, which significantly bolsters its offering to a number of higher education institutions and national charities. Michelle Rose heads the team; she regularly deals with matters involving household names and acts as an independent court appointed administrator. Fiona Lawrence, who has extensive experience in complex cross-border disputes, is also recommended.


Practice head(s):

Michelle Rose

Other key lawyers:

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


‘One of the largest teams of contentious trusts and estates specialists in the South West. They have the resources to manage substantial disputes.’

‘Julia Hardy is an exceptional senior associate producing partner level work. Julia tactical judgment and negotiating abilities are a real asset in litigation.’

‘VWV have an exceptionally strong contentious trusts and probate team, with vast experience in the wide variety of issues that arise in this field.’ 

‘Michelle Rose is a hugely experienced team leader, who brings sound judgment and a pragmatic approach to all her cases. She is ably supported by her team, including the excellent Julia Hardy; Julia is intelligent and meticulous and has such a reassuring manner with clients.’

‘Michelle Rose is a regional heavyweight in the practice area.’

‘Fiona Lawrence is a calm individual who has guided us through a complex case with expertise and resilience. Her advice has always been commercial and pragmatic, and she explains complex matters in clear terms.’

Work highlights

  • Administered the £10m McDonald estate, which was the subject of a Court of Appeal decision on an out of time application in a proprietary estoppel dispute.
  • Acted for the son and eldest daughter of Terry Jones, settling a complex challenge to the validity of Terry’s will and a property transfer. The estate is worth in excess of £5m.
  • Acted for the Administrators of a £48 million landed estate in a High Court blessing application.


Praised for fielding a team ‘with all the expertise and experience of a London firm’, Wilsons regularly advises household name charities and professional and corporate trustees on a host of disputes concerning estates, trusts, wills and legacies. The practice is jointly chaired by Gillian Fletcher and 'tough litigator' Charlotte Watts; Watts in particular is noted for advising clients on matters before the Court of Protection. Other key individuals include the 'very effective' James Aspden, Peter Jeffreys, and Fiona Campbell-White - praised for her 'forceful but measured approach to cases that require it.'

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Watts; Gillian Fletcher

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Campbell-White; Peter Jeffreys; James Aspden; Debbie Ashenhurst


‘This is a team with all the expertise and experience of a London firm. The lawyers are experienced and clever and have real expertise in the area.’

‘James Aspden is an excellent lawyer and a very tough litigator. Charlotte Watts is also excellent – a very good lawyer and someone who fights hard for her clients.’

‘Excellent guidance and advice in respect of contentious matters and the needs of the charities and its trustees.’

Key clients




Macmillan Cancer Support


Blue Cross

Guide Dogs

Marie Curie

British Heart Foundation

Save the Children

Work highlights

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP fields ‘a first-rate team of contentious probate lawyers’. The practice benefits from close relationships with the agriculture litigation team and private wealth team to offer clients a fully comprehensive legal service. The team is led by Bonita Walters and Esther Woolford; Walters has over 20 years of experience, with specific expertise in complex succession disputes, while Woolford is an expert in contentious probate matters concerning agricultural estates.



Practice head(s):

Bonita Walters; Esther Woolford

Other key lawyers:

Polly Ridgway; Emma Ironside; Emily Jenkins; Robert Mullen


‘Sarah O’Grady and Esther Woolford are both outstanding in skill and manner with client.’

‘Polly Ridgeway is excellent and marshalled the case to the Supreme Court.’

‘A first-rate team of contentious probate lawyers.’

‘Bonita Walters and Esther Woolford are very experienced and provide an excellent service in contentious probate disputes and Court of Protection work. They have a team of excellent and experienced lawyers, including Emma Ironside, who stands out as a top performer in this sector along with Robert Mullen.’

‘A team which is going from strength to strength as a result of its genuine expertise and strong leadership.’

‘Bonita Walters is a leader in her field. She knows the law inside out and is one of the toughest negotiators I have seen. Highly recommended.’

‘Rob Mullen is fantastically hardworking and all over the detail. Gets to grips with the knotty legal issues. Fights his clients’ corner and good in a mediation.’

‘Esther Woolford is superb: technically excellent, sound commercial judgment and lovely client handling skills. Bonita Walters is a highly experienced contentious trust and probate specialist, and she is a very safe pair of hands. Emily Jenkins is making a name for herself in her efficient handling of complex trust dispute matters.’

Key clients

Andrew Guest

The National Farmers’ Union

The Countryside Alliance

Work highlights

  • Advised on a proprietary estoppel claim brought by our client, Andrew Guest, against his parents for an equitable interest in the family farm (Tump Farm) and the farming business carried on there.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP

Drawing on its offices in Bournemouth and London, the team at Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP is well regarded by clients for its ‘extremely knowledgeable and proficient' approach in contentious probate claims. In particular, the practice specialises in disputes concerning the validity of wills, trusts, and proprietary estoppel claims. Lauren Day, who leads the team, regularly works on complex trusts and wills disputes. Other key figures within the practice include Victoria Riddleston, who is noted for her ability to advise clients on a wide range of disputes, including claims under the Inheritance Act 1975. Daniel Flynn joined the team from Moore Barlow in February 2023, while Luke Foot joined from Lester Aldridge LLP the following month.

Practice head(s):

Lauren Day

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Riddleston


‘Victoria Riddleston is a true professional in her area of business. Her calm, professional and reassuring manner is second to none. The advice she gives is precise and fills me with gratitude that she is assisting me. I am kept up-to-date when relevant, and she always delivers what she says she will.’

‘Extremely knowledgeable and proficient in dealing with complex, contentious probate claims.’

‘Lauren Day has been absolutely exceptional throughout a long and challenging case.’

‘Victoria Riddleston has been an immense support. She is someone who truly believes in and has a passion for what she does.’

‘The team undertakes complex and multi-faceted matters which cover more than one practice area, such as contentious probate with a Court of Protection element.’

‘Victoria Riddleston is thorough, attends to detail, and has a real grasp of the complexities of contentious probate and Court of Protection matters. Her advice is pragmatic and sensible, taking into account the particularities of the individual case. She is a pleasure to work with and does her utmost to achieve excellent results for her clients.’

Work highlights

Stephens Scown LLP

Stephens Scown LLP advises clients on a range of matters, including claims of negligence against professional trustees, estate planning, proprietary estoppel, validity claims concerning incapacity and undue influence, and claims concerning abuse of the elderly. With more than 15 years of experience in litigation, practice head James Burrows is noted for his extensive experience advising on matters concerning multi-million pound estates. Davina Haydon‘s capabilities include the defence and persuit of claims under the Inheritance Act 1975.


Practice head(s):

James Burrows

Other key lawyers:

Davina Haydon; Tamara Hasson; Eve Hebron; Anna Garde Evans


‘A very experienced and knowledgeable team.’

Work highlights

Thrings LLP

Well regarded by clients for their 'great technical knowledge', the team at Thrings LLP regularly handles disputes concerning will construction, validity of wills, and removal of executors, acting for a mix of high-net-worth individuals, charities, professional executors, and trustees. The team is led by Emily Prout, variously praised for her 'supportive and genuine' approach, as well as her 'excellent' knowledge of contentious probate. Robert James is noted for his expertise in inheritance claims.

Practice head(s):

Emily Prout

Other key lawyers:

Robert James


‘I found Thrings to be very efficient and easy to deal with. Responses to questions happened swiftly. I felt very understood as a client and felt my best interests were always at the heart of discussions. I would highly recommend the team.’

‘I would highly recommend Emily Prout. I felt valued and understood. They worked very efficiently to answer my questions and act upon my instruction on behalf of my family regarding a wills matter. Really supportive and genuine. Rapport and trust is key, and they really did go above and beyond. I would highly recommend their knowledge and skills.’

‘The team has great technical knowledge, backed up by a strong non-contentious private client department, and are robust without being abrasive.’

‘Emily Prout is excellent. She is responsive. She is a good trust lawyer with a real eye to what will work from a practical point of view. She is also robust in defending her client’s position, but never abrasive or rude.’

Key clients

David and Josephine Guest

Michael Westbrook, as court appointed Administrator of the estate of the Countess of Cardigan

Work highlights

  • Represented the Appellants in the Supreme Court appeal (Guest v Guest) in December 2021 on the issue of relief in proprietary estoppel cases and the tension between expectation-based relief and detriment-based relief.
  • Advised private clients about a post-death challenge to significant lifetime gifts made by a deceased, in conjunction with a claim being concurrently brought for ‘reasonable financial provision’ from the estate.
  • Acted for a professional executor to obtain a Re Yorke Order in the course of estate administration, to provide protection to the executor against any future claims or litigation that may arise out of the deceased’s past dealing as a Lloyds member.

Wards Solicitors LLP

Wards Solicitors LLP fields a team of experts that are regularly instructed on complex and high-value disputes. The practice enjoys a strong presence in the South West, with the team working across 12 offices in Bristol, Bath, Somerset, and Gloucestershire. Bristol-based Elizabeth Fry - who leads the team - has specialised in contentious probate for more than two decades. Also based in Bristol, Ian Williamson is noted for his expertise in trust work involving ownership of land held trusts.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Fry

Other key lawyers:

Ian Williamson; Emma Kerry


‘The team are responsive, in a fast, concise manner. Billing is always preceded by estimates of future costs, which is always helpful, and invoices are settled by their online payment system.’

‘Ian Williamson is friendly, professional, and hardworking. Very quick to communicate and reply to any emails with a same-day response. Works hard to get things done. Very knowledgeable.’

‘Emma Kerry has been, and still is, acting for me in a very complex case incorporating probate and family court. I trust her implicitly with all decisions made. Emma has been at my side and I can contact her anytime for advice and guidance. Emma is absolutely amazing.’

‘Wards has a strong brand around the Bristol region, and is highly accessible and visible to individuals and smaller business clients due to its extensive high-street presence.’

‘Emma Kerry is an experienced and sensible litigator with a good client manner.’

‘A first-rate contentious probate litigation team; very skilled.’

‘Elizabeth Fry, Ian Williamson, and Georgina Wookey provide an excellent service to clients.’

Work highlights

Willans LLP

A 'down to earth' team which 'commands a knowledgeable presence', Willans LLP's regular workload includes the validity of wills, trust disputes, applications to rectify wills, and claims under the Inheritance Act 1975. The team is headed up by the 'excellent' Paul Gordon, a key contact for clients on account of his litigation experience, who regularly deals with complex and high-value matters. Other key names to note include the 'exceptionally dedicated' Jessica Whooley and Laura Stone, whose experience ranges from wills preparation to Court of Protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Paul Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Katie Duthie; Jessica Whooley; Laura Stone; Tom O’Riordan; Janine Guthrie


‘They are thorough and approachable. Paul Gordon is an excellent solicitor.’

‘They are very experienced and easy to work with. They take good care of their clients. They are down to earth but command a knowledgeable presence.’

‘The team at Willans are very approachable and personable. They are well versed in the legal issues and manage cases very well procedurally, which perfectly supplements their client and fact-focused approach.

Key clients

Andree Jones & Angelique Dowlin

Kelly-Anne Smith – the estate of Kevin Frank Mansfield

Richard Burns, Robert Mansel, Alun Llewellyn and Sir Philip Mansel

Daisy Lee, a child by her litigation friend Rachel Astor – The estate of Adrian Clifford Stapleton Lee

Kevin Evans – The estate of Barbara June Evans

Veronica Anne Pritchett – The estate of David Pritchett

Jeremy Heald – The estate of Richard John Sadler

Claudia Brooks – The estate of Margret Willinger

Work highlights

  • Acted for the beneficiaries of a substantial estate, with a significant amount of property covering a large proportion of Swansea, Wales, who are in dispute with one of the executors.
  • Acted in a High Court matter for the deceased’s daughter to bring a claim pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Acted in a High Court matter for the deceased’s wife in a multi-million pound farming estate to bring a claim pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Blanchards Bailey LLP

Particularly noted for its capabilities in Court of Protection work, Blanchards Bailey LLP draws praise from clients for fielding a contentious trusts and probates team with 'genuine expertise and strength in depth.’ The team is jointly headed by Paul Dunlop, a highly experienced civil litigator; commercial litigator Ben Jones; and Lucy Mignot - a 'fantastic lawyer' who deals exclusively with contentious trust and probate and Court of Protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Paul Dunlop; Ben Jones; Lucy Mignot


‘This practice has simply worked well with me providing efficient service, prompt responses to questions, and excellent overall communication about ongoing matters.’

‘Pleasant and helpful at all times.’

‘I am very grateful for the help I receive from the team. The service always exceeds my expectations.’

‘Any time I need them, they are always available to help quickly and with a high level of professionalism.’

‘Lucy Mignot is always very professional and explains legal matters in terms that a layman can understand.’

‘I have worked on cases in which Lucy Mignot represented other parties. Lucy was positive and practical in negotiating and robust and strategic in putting her clients’ position. I have recommended her subsequently to clients where I cannot act because of a conflict of interest.’

‘A team of contentious trusts and probate lawyers who have genuine expertise and strength in depth.’

‘Lucy Mignot is a fantastic lawyer who is great with clients and attracts superb work.’

Key clients

Diana Bennett

Judith Sargeant

Francesca Giradelli

Christina Hammond

Helen Haigh

Martin and Sarah Granados

Robin Hansford

Chris Kekwick

Jane Glover

Work highlights

  • Advised Chris Kekwick in a trust dispute.
  • Acted for Diana Bennett under a CFA in a 1975 Act and proprietary estoppel claim.
  • Advised Robin Hansford in an undue influence and fraudulent calumny claim with an agricultural element.

Coodes Solicitors

Coodes Solicitors handles a range of matters concerning complex trust and estate claims, proprietary estoppel, will rectification claims and will validity challenges. The team also handle contentious Court of Protection applications and disputed lifetime gifts. Practice head Melanie Grose - 'effective, knowledgeable, and personable' - has particular expertise in running and overseeing all disputes involving contentious trusts and probate issues.

Practice head(s):

Melanie Grose

Other key lawyers:

Colin Hunter; Hayley Gaffney


‘This team is knowledgeable, reassuring and friendly; and given the emotive nature of the work, this makes all the difference in dealing with our extremely complex and stressful case.’

‘Very efficient and extremely knowledgeable in their sector. They are always extremely patient and willing to explain everything so that it is clear and understandable. They work tirelessly in order to achieve the very best outcome for their clients. I can not rate them highly enough for the help they have given me.’

‘I worked with Hayley Gaffney, who has exceptional knowledge within her sector. Provided exceptional advice immediately and helped me achieve the very best outcome possible. Without doubt one of the best solicitors within her sector.’

‘I have had the benefit of Colin Hunter and Hayley Gaffney advising me during the sorting out of both my mother and father’s wills/estates. Both have gone beyond to help and support me through the various problems I have had to contend with, while at the same time being most professional.’

‘The premier contentious probate outfit in the South West and a match for any other team across the country.’

‘Melanie Grose is effective, knowledgeable, and personable: the complete package.’

Key clients

Patrick Neil Fennessy

Work highlights

Frettens LLP

The team at Frettens LLP assists clients with specialist advice on powers of attorney, will writing and Court of Protection cases. Practice head Michelle Hayter – who works on numerous high-value and high-profile cases – is the key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Hayter


‘Communicated and responded to queries promptly.’

Key clients

Emma Cross

Sharon Stocker

Kate Edwards

Angela Benford

Lynn Arnold

Ann Gregory

Virginia James

Aimi Nicastro

Giles & Simon Humby

Nicholas Jeffery

Martin Simms

Eric Sansom

Work highlights

  • Acted for Angela Benford for a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Acted for the defendant, Eric Sansom, in two alleged claims, one against his late grandfather’s estate for alleged misappropriation by his late mother to pay to her sister (the client’s aunt) inheritance under the intestacy rules.
  • Acted for two beneficiaries in defending an action bought by the deceased’s step-grandson for reasonable financial provision from the estate of the deceased pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Slee Blackwell

The 'thoroughly knowledgeable' team at Slee Blackwell is well placed to advise clients on a range of disputes, including a number of Court of Protection cases. Practice co-chair Naomi Ireson is noted for her extensive experience handling TOLATA cases. Other key figures include the 'excellent' Hayley Bundley, a prolific adviser on contentious probate work.


Practice head(s):

Naomi Ireson; Lee Dawkins

Other key lawyers:

Hayley Bundey


‘My experience of the firm as a whole was very positive. Hayley Bundey particularly stood out.’

‘Hayley Bundey has been excellent in all my dealings with her.’

‘The strengths of the team is their ability to be thoroughly knowledgeable, stand for no nonsense, and do their absolute best for a client.’

‘Hayley is, simply, an undoubted professional, showing compassion during what is a very upsetting time.’

‘Naomi Ireson stood out as efficient and helpful.’

‘Naomi Ireson was quite simply perfect!’

Work highlights

  • Acted for claimant in trust dispute and equitable accounting claim. Determined at trial and won – Central London County Court.
  • Acted for claimant in estoppel claim. Determined at trial and won.
  • Acted for claimant in trust disputes. Determined at trial and won.

Steele Raymond LLP

Lauded as an ‘excellent regional firm’, Steele Raymond LLP is well placed to advise clients on a range of disputes. The team is led by the 'commercially minded and pragmatic' John Andrews, who specialises in disputes relating to validity and interpretation of wills, proprietary estoppel, and Court of Protection proceedings. Andrews regularly works in conjunction with Louise Maidment, who is also well regarded for her 'knowledgable, commercially minded and pragmatic' approach.

Practice head(s):

John Andrews

Other key lawyers:

Louise Maidment


‘Excellent regional firm. Would happily recommend (and have done so) for contentious estates and trust work. Well able to deal with high value complex estates and trusts. Big enough to have all relevant expertise to hand but still friendly and approachable.’

‘I have worked with Steele Raymond LLP on multiple occasions over the years, frequently on complex contentious trusts and probate cases which they are very experienced in handling. I would highly recommend all the teams as very knowledgable, commercially minded and pragmatic in their advice and dealings with the client and other parties. They have a very impressive reputation as a result.’

‘I have worked recently with John Andrews, Louise Maidment and Holly Peck. I would recommend all of them as very experienced, knowledgable, commercially minded and pragmatic in their advice and dealings with the client and other parties. They are always a delight to work with.’

Work highlights

Stone King LLP

Capable of working on international disputes - drawing on the firm’s dedicated cross-border trusts and estates team - the practice at Stone King LLP covers a wide array of contentious probate and trust claims, with particular expertise in the third sector. The team is jointly chaired by Daniel Harris and Luke Watson; Harris heads up the firm's specialist international and cross-border unit, while Watson has over 20 years of experience in dispute resolution, with extensive experience of working and advising both charities and trustees.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Harris; Luke Watson


‘Stone King have an excellent reputation in estates and trusts litigation generally and particularly for international estates and trusts and charities including education providers.’

‘Luke Watson has years of experience as an estates and trusts specialist. He has first-rate knowledge and tactical awareness. A safe pair of hands.’

‘Dan’s specialist knowledge is quite exceptional, and his authentic charm and charisma inspire confidence.’

‘The go-to firm in the charity sector when it comes to international estates and dealing with anything cross-border. Get to grips with complicated matters quickly and efficiently.’

‘A clear understanding of a charity’s needs, not only with legal advice, but the implications for both trustees and managing potential PR issues. Fees are competitive and the depth of knowledge ensures that all elements of an issue and considered.’

‘Dan Harris is a remarkable solicitor whose expertise on multi jurisdictional probate matters is invaluable in ensuring that a charity will receive its full entitlement from countries throughout the world.’

‘Stone King has a fantastic reputation for contentious trust and probate, and attract first-rate work. A leader in their field, they combine genuine expertise with strength in depth.’

‘Luke Watson is a top-rate lawyer and I cannot speak highly enough of him. A delight to work with and superb with clients.’

Work highlights

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP‘s Exeter-based team is noted for its focus on high-value private wealth disputes, often with a strong cross-border dimension. Practice head Charisse Crawford is a highly experienced partner who handles a host of contentious trust and estate matters. Maria Dunn‘s expertise includes Court of Protection proceedings, while commercial litigator Holly Bryan regularly advises clients in respect of claims under the Inheritance Act.

Practice head(s):

Charisse Crawford

Other key lawyers:

Maria Dunn; Holly Bryan