Hall Of Fame

Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Contentious trusts and probate

Liam Brooke joined Rothley Law (formerly Shoosmiths LLP) in March 2022 from Clarion – he has a strong reputation in the market and is building up the firm’s offering in Leeds with support from the wider national team.

Contentious trusts and probate in Yorkshire And The Humber


Lynsey Harrison, ‘a national figure who is respected by all’, leads the contentious private client team at Clarion in Leeds. The team is made up entirely of ACTAPS members, and works on complex, high value disputes. Alongside dealing with disputes around the administration of estates, the team also regularly deals with contentious Court of Protection matters including financial abuse of the elderly. Clients benefit from access to Clarion’s wider private client services, including private wealth and family teams. Legal director Louise Dodds is recommended for her ‘impeccable’ judgement, alongside ‘outstanding’ senior associate Nicholas Choiniere.

Practice head(s):

Lynsey Harrison

Other key lawyers:

Louise Dodds; Nicholas Choiniere; Samantha Richardson


‘Clarion have an unparalleled team in terms of depth and breadth of expertise in this area. As well as probate disputes they deal with complex trust disputes to a greater extent than any other firm in this area (in my experience). They can compete with any firm in London.’

‘Lynsey Harrison leads the team. She is a national figure who is respected by all. Louise Dodds is highly experienced and she can deal with trust disputes of the utmost complexity. Her judgment and understanding of complex disputes is impeccable. Nicholas Choiniere is an up and coming lawyer who shows great understanding and client handling skills.’ 

‘Clarion combine legal expertise with practical solutions to get the best possible outcome for clients.’

‘I have been very impressed with Nicholas Choiniere’s grasp of the more technical aspects of the cases we have worked on together. He is also very good with putting nervous clients at ease and explaining difficult concepts in layman terms.’

‘Taking the right amount of time at the outset to understand both the legal issues and the relationship issues, helping me to find the correct balance and teaching me to understand how to take back control in a challenging situation. They are thoughtful and thorough.’

‘Lynsey Harrison is a figurehead for contentious probate litigation in Yorkshire. She is committed to her clients and empathetic to the problems they face. Nicholas Choiniere is a talented associate and very responsive to communications.’

‘They are light on their feet and nimble in their approach. They offer good value for money. They are very keen to ensure client satisfaction.’

‘Lynsey Harrison is a genuine expert in a highly specialised area. Lynsey has built a strong team which communicates well and shows real commitment to client care.’

Irwin Mitchell

Paula Myers, national head and director of private client services, co-leads the team at Irwin Mitchell alongside head of the firm’s Leeds and Sheffield contentious trust and probate teams James Laycock. Both are highly recommended, Myers as ‘a national player of premier-league standard’ and Laycock an ‘estates and trusts litigation heavyweight’. The team deals with a variety of contested matters, from validity of wills and lifetime gifts to professional negligence claims arising from defective trust instruments and wills, in addition to Court of Protection work regarding financial abuse. Laura Pang joined the team February 2023 from Freeths LLP, bringing expertise regarding cross-border disputes and high value estates. Former Sheffield team head Carla Rist  has left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Paula Myers; James Laycock

Other key lawyers:

Laura Pang; Richard Smaller


‘Irwin Mitchell are one of the country’s most impressive estates and trusts litigation teams. They have the resources to tackle the full gamut from small Inheritance Act claims to large multinational trusts disputes.’

‘James Laycock is a estates and trusts litigation heavyweight. He has excellent judgment, client handling skills and academic knowledge. Richard Smaller is highly intelligent and has a natural and unfussy style which endears him to those with him and against him.’ 

‘The team has a national reputation: the team consists of an excellent mix of partners, senior associates, and associates, all of whom are real specialists in the practice area with a wide range of experience. The partners offer excellent leadership and strategic direction, whereas the senior associates and associates provide excellent value for money service to the clients. Because they all know the law and practice so well, they can offer concise, targeted advice at every stage of a dispute. They also all have excellent local knowledge of the north.’

‘Paula Myers is excellent at teasing out the facts from her clients and making them into something worth fighting for. Her knowledge of proprietary estoppel means she is the go-to litigator in this area. She is a fighter for her clients, but knows exactly when to settle.’

‘Paula Myers is very experienced in probate disputes and also manages nationally. Definitely somebody you want on your side.’

‘They have a truly national presence which guarantees a depth of experience and excellent training and career prospects for their solicitors.’

‘Laura Pang in Leeds has recently joined and will be an asset to the firm. Laura is tenacious and tough and gets excellent results for her clients.’

‘Paula Myers dominates the contentious trust and probate sector in Yorkshire, and is a national player of Premier League standard. She heads up the strong team and has been largely instrumental in gathering together the team, while still involving herself in the cut and thrust of litigation, taking no prisoners.’ 

Work highlights

  • Represented clients in a proprietary estoppel claim which went to trial and produced a successful judgement in their favour. The Yorkshire and wider National teams advise frequently in cases involving proprietary estoppel and constructive issues.
  • Continue to represent Kirsty Cadogan in litigation against her brother Kevin Cadogan relating to the estate of Veronica Cadogan.
  • Continue to represent client who successfully obtained judgment in the First Tier Tribunal which was subsequently upheld on appeal in the Upper Tribunal in respect of a fraudulent transfer by one of her sons of her property.

Taylor Emmet

Taylor Emmet's Sheffield-based contentious trusts and probate team is led by the ‘experienced and knowledgeableAlexander Watkinson, a particular expert regarding multi-jurisdictional work. The team frequently deploys mediation and alternative dispute resolution to assist clients in settling disputes wherever possible. It has significant experience acting in high-value matters, as well as those involving vulnerable clients and complex inter-party claims.

Practice head(s):

Alex Watkinson

Other key lawyers:

John Tunnard


‘Best team in South Yorkshire!’

‘Alex Watkinson is fantastic. Straight talking and refreshing’

‘If you have a contentious estate issue and want a cost-effective, well executed plan, you will be well served by this firm and their team.’

Work highlights

  • Advised and represented the successful claimant in the case of Sharpe-v-Dyson, which resulted in Judgement in the client’s favour following a four day trial in the High Court.
  • Acted for the defendant beneficiary and executor of the estate of her late father. The estate comprised a property worth £1.24m.


The team at IDR Law in Harrogate is led by the ‘inspirationalMartin Holdsworth. As a specialist contentious probate firm, the team has ‘unrivalled focus and expertise’ in this area. The team deals with a range of probate work including Inheritance Act claims and disputes regarding validity of wills. Experienced in dealing with complex work and vulnerable clients, the team also aims to use technology and mediation to more effectively resolve disputes.

Practice head(s):

Martin Holdsworth

Other key lawyers:

Richard Thomas


‘Depth of knowledge in relevant legal matters’

‘Martin Holdsworth and Richard Thomas are very much immersed within their fields and always ready to explore innovative solutions for tricky matters.’

‘Martin Holdsworth is excellent in his field but they have built up into a firm with lawyers clearly passionate about their area of work and who truly specialise in a tricky area of law. Martin has always been a trail blazer in his use of technology and collaborates with other specialists where required.’


The contentious trusts & probate team at LCF Law works across Bradford, Leeds and Harrogate, and is led by ‘first rateRagan Montgomery, who is an accredited mediator. The contentious team also has property litigation expertise, and place notable significance on quickly and effectively dealing with cases before escalation. Its workload includes complex multi-jurisdictional cases, Inheritance Act work, and claims regarding challenges to lifetime gifts and will validity.

Practice head(s):

Ragan Montgomery


‘Ragan Montgomery is a first rate professional in her field. A thorough knowledge of the area, plus considerable practical experience. Always available to discuss as necessary, and comes up with solutions. Very positive and a pleasure to work with.’

‘Ragan Montgomery is commercial and forthright and a pleasure to work with.’

‘The team is well renowned for its private client expertise. Whilst a small team and practice it has good clients and good work and punches above its weight.’

Wake Smith Solicitors Limited

John Breeze leads the Sheffield will, trust and inheritance disputes team at Wake Smith Solicitors Limited, after his move from Bell & Buxton in January 2023. Breeze is recommended as ‘an excellent contentious probate lawyer’, and ‘an expert in his field’. The team has experience regarding complex Inheritance Act claims, disputes over will validity, and trustee / executor disagreements.

Practice head(s):

John Breeze


‘John Breeze always tries to do the best for his clients and ensures that they receive the correct advice. His experience in the field means that he comes across as knowledgeable and approachable.’

‘Tenacious and knowledgeable – they pull out every stop to ensure their client gets the best result and advice.’

‘John Breeze is pragmatic and an expert in his field who is able to gain the maximum benefit for his clients.’

Weightmans LLP

Matthew Morton, head of Weightmans LLP‘s disputed wills, trusts and estates offering nationally, heads up the team in Leeds. The team frequently handles Inheritance Act claims, will validity disputes and work regarding estate administration. Additionally, it has experience with high value, cross-jurisdictional work, and promotes mediation where possible. Clients also benefit from access to the firm’s well-regarded specialist Court of Protection team.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Morton

Other key lawyers:

Tracey Leathley


‘What makes this team really work is that the national head is Matthew Morton. He is compassionate but firm, always able to see the bigger picture and delivers really good value for his clients.’

‘Matthew Morton is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of contentious probate litigation, excellent at dealing with distressed clients.’

‘They are very ‘people friendly’ with a real focus on putting the client first. Clients feel reassured that their needs and interests are at the heart of everything they do.’

‘Matthew Morton has extensive knowledge and experience in this area and can be relied on to provide excellent advice. Tracey Leathley is brilliant with clients and excels at client relations as well as being an excellent lawyer.’

Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP

Hugh Smith  leads the contentious trusts team at Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP - he divides his time between Hull and York. The team has experience regarding wills and probate disputes, including Inheritance Act claims, estoppel arguments and trustee / beneficiary disputes.

Practice head(s):

Hugh Smith

Other key lawyers:

Nicola White


‘Very helpful team with vast experience – they always make you feel welcome and are able to point you in the right direction.’

‘I have dealt with Nicola White regarding a contested will. I found her to be very experienced and friendly.’

‘I was very impressed with the service provided. The communication between myself and Nicola White was fluid, informative and gave hope in a situation which I knew I was out of my depth. I am very grateful that I chose this firm.’

‘The Contentious Trusts and Probate team combine a thorough understanding of the law with a fresh and approachable manner. Their first-class reputation is well deserved.’

‘Nicola White is a diligent and professional lawyer, with a deep understanding of this complex area of the law.’

‘My colleagues and I have contact with Nicola White who is personable, knowledgeable and confident in dealing with contentious probate matters. We tend to refer contentious matters to Nicola.’

Harrowells Solicitors

Harrowells Solicitors litigation and dispute resolution team in York is headed by Simon Black. It advises on range of probate and trusts issues, with experience regarding undue influence, will disputes including intestacy issues, and Inheritance Act claims.

Practice head(s):

Simon Black


‘The qualities that I feel make this practice unique are as follows; initial customer contact conveys knowledge, professional competence, confidence and capability. The client is immediately at ease knowing they are working with a vastly experienced team. Their attention to detail and prompt, efficient action is indeed an outstanding feature I have experienced whilst using this company. Financial costs / billing fully and carefully documented throughout my involvement.’

‘Simon Black is very straightforward and down to earth. Prompt, direct action on the client’s behalf at all times. They are obviously very experienced, knowledgeable and willing to listen and communicate extremely well at all times with their clients.’

‘Expert knowledge and reassurance, transparency and efficiency.’


McCormicks‘ Harrogate private client team is led by Elaine Lightfoot. Its contentious trusts and probate workload includes Inheritance Act claims; issues of will validity involving issues of capacity and duress; and disputes between executors and trustees. The team also has experience regarding contentious family trusts and Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act claims.

Practice head(s):

Elaine Lightfoot

Other key lawyers:

David Birks; Stephen Hopwood

Ramsdens Solicitors LLP

Ramsdens Solicitors LLP‘s inheritance, trust and will disputes department in Huddersfield has particular expertise regarding agricultural succession disputes, including proprietary estoppel claims. It is noted for its ‘local presence with national expertise’, dealing with a range of will and trust issues from will validity disputes to Inheritance Act work. Former practice head Nazia Nawaz left the firm in September 2023.

Other key lawyers:

Katie Whitehead


‘My experience of the team has been excellent. I feel all information requested has been forthcoming, in a prompt and professional manner. I have felt satisfied and looked after by the lawyer, and her team.’

‘Very professional, knowledgeable yet friendly and approachable.’

‘Ramsdens have always been thorough, timely, and very professional. They have always followed through where needed.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the claimant, a long term partner of the deceased, in a claim for financial provision from his estate under the Inheritance Act 1975.