Firm Profile > Wilsons > Salisbury, England


Contentious trusts and probate Tier 1

Wilsons advises on contentious trust, probate and legacy administration problems as well as on proceedings in the Court of Protection including statutory will applications. The firm is also experienced in assisting with actions by or against trustees of landed estates and cross-border trust disputes. Practice head James Aspden covers claims concerning the validity and effect of wills, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and undue influence claims.

Practice head(s):

James Aspden

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Campbell-White; Peter Jeffrey; Charlotte Watts

Key clients


Blue Cross

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association



Macmillan Cancer Support

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 1

Wilsons advises high-net-worth individuals and families on the transfer and inheritance of business, land and real estate assets. The practice also handles the establishment and structuring of offshore trusts for farms and landed estates, which involves tax advice to individuals, farming communities and trustees. Trust litigation, private wealth disputes and settlements equally represent a major aspect of the practice’s work.

Practice head(s):

Frances Mayne

Other key lawyers:

Belinda Watson; Adam Herbert; Rupert Wilkinson


Wilsons provided excellent service to my family company and handled our case very well, which involved complex tax and corporate issues

Wilsons is an exceptional group of lawyers with a unique blend of being at the top of its game but very down to earth


Agriculture and estates Tier 2

The ‘experienced, agile and very brightPeter Bourke heads the practice at Wilsons and advises farmers and landowners on the sale and purchase of agricultural land, assists with the division of assets on divorce, and represents landowning clients in boundary disputes. The firm also provides tax and trust advice. Other specialisms involve the structuring of farms and landed estates, agricultural succession planning, as well as rent reviews, dilapidations and the leasing of renewable energy sites.

Practice head(s):

Peter Bourke; Robert Swift; Alison Bailey; Jonathan Stephens


A practical and quick firm that possesses real knowledge of the dynamics of farms and estates

Wilsons has a helpful approach, seeking clients’ objectives and delivers objectives in the most straightforward manner and in plain English

Wilsons has a strong reputation among rural clients

Alison Bailey is exceptionally helpful, diligent and accommodating. Her breadth of expertise is remarkable and her attention to detail is superb

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 2

Wilsons advises on disputes involving legacies and disputes arising from the administration of trusts and estates. The practice also advises on charity regulations and assists with the restructuring of charities. Practice head Gillian Fletcher is experienced in advising on breaches of trust and compliance issues. Charity mergers constitute another significant area of expertise, alongside the protection of data and intellectual property rights.

Practice head(s):

Gillian Fletcher


Professionally competent and fully on top of their brief

The Depth of knowledge and the quality of advice are the firm’s most valued qualities

Gillian Fletcher stands out as the consummate professional. Her team mirrors her approach and it always delivers

The practice is characterised by an immediacy of response, personal touch, and a range of skill sets brought immediately to bear

The practice members are always polite and helpful and offer sound and impartial advice

Key clients


Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

British Cardiovascular Society


Forces in Mind Trust

Blue Cross

BMA Charities Trust Fund

Save the Children

Christopher’s Hospice

Commercial litigation: Dorset and South Wiltshire Tier 2

Traditionally renowned for private client work, Wilsons acts for a number of high net worth individuals in commercial disputes. Also notable is that its practice is seeing a growing amount of work from local charities. Practice head Ben Thornton leads both the commercial and property litigation departments. Debbie Ashenhurst is skilled in contractual, commercial and corporate disputes; claims often involve allegations of unfair prejudice, breaches of contract, defective goods and breaches of restrictive covenants, among others.

Practice head(s):

Ben Thornton

Other key lawyers:

Debbie Ashenhurst; Jennifer Martindale


Excellent team covering a wide range of legal areas. They have considerable expertise in company law and their general commercial litigation capability is excellent

They are professional and determined

Jayna Patel was absolutely excellent, completely on the ball with a clear understanding of the legal issues and fantastic organisational skills. I was really impressed by her client-handling

In the company law sphere, I have worked with Debbie Ashenhurst who impressed me with a calm, logical approach and general common sense. She clearly knows the law as well

Jenifer has been a great support over the case in hand. her ability to adapt to the issues we have regarding the case is commendable


Key clients

Holland Park School

Optaglio A.S.

Gurr Johns Limited

Luxury Clothing Limited

Pure Pastures Limited

Pudsey Diamond Limited

Chartered Institute of Taxation

Commercial property: Dorset and South Wiltshire Tier 2

Wilsons has successfully built up a base of longstanding clients, such as landed estates, landowners, trusts, charities, and private investors. Its team has extensive expertise in property transactions, commercial landlord and tenant work, and residential and commercial development, among other matters. The ‘amazingJane Lonergan handles complex property issues for charities, including military charities. Alison Bailey specialises in rural property matters and assists landowners with developments of predominantly green field sites. Consultant Robert SwiftTimothy Clayden and associate Sarah Secker are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Jane Lonergan; Alison Bailey; Tim Clayden

Other key lawyers:

Robert Swift; Sarah Secker

Key clients

Sense, The National Deafblind and Rubella Association

Alabaré Christian Care Centres

Greensleeves Care

Corporate and commercial: Dorset and South Wiltshire Tier 2

Salisbury-based Wilsons specialises in tax and general transactional structuring for businesses and personal assets of owner-managers. Led by practice head James Johnson, the team has notable experience of the technology, healthcare and charity sectors; Johnson is particularly active in the latter area, having recently advised on mergers and sponsorship agreements. Senior associate Mark Cook, who is a new arrival from Burges Salmon LLP, is particularly experienced in mid-market M&A.

Practice head(s):

James Johnson

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Stephens; Stephen Whitmore; Mark Cook


Helpful, clear, efficient and always listen to our feedback

Very strong group of commercial and business lawyers based in the South West with an office in London; this means they are able to compete with City firms whilst charging reasonable rates

James Johnson is always prompt in dealing with business, accessible when we need him and is responsive to our company needs

Jonathan Stephens is an extremely experienced, first-class corporate and commercial lawyer whom any client would want by their side

Stephen Whitmore and Mark Cook are very able who dealt with the matters with great efficiency and expertise‘.

Worked well together as a team and we received a first-class service

Key clients

Shareholders of Great Fosters (1931) Limited

Shareholders of Copyrite Business Solutions (Holdings) Limited

Greensleeves Homes Trust

Shareholders of Us-creates Limited

Shareholders of ip-Xchange Limited

ITE Group plc

Robert Brett & Sons Limited

Kingston Smith LLP

Picker Institute Europe

Lucas Alexander Whitley Limited

Employment: Dorset and South Wiltshire Tier 2

Wilsons provides the full range of services on contentious and non-contentious matters for employers and employees. Its clients are active across a broad cross-section of sectors, including commercial, charities, education and agriculture. Experienced litigator Anthony Edwards regularly represents clients at the Employment Tribunal, County and High Courts. Edwards jointly heads up the practice with Stephen Oxley. Associate Sophia Zand is a recent arrival from asb law LLP.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Edwards; Stephen Oxley

Other key lawyers:


Wilsons understood our needs more so than other firms, and we didn’t hesitate to go back to them when more legal issues arose

This team is well led by Stephen Oxley, who is a lawyer who understands commerce

Anthony Edwards has been outstanding during our current legal issues, and has been able to thoroughly explain and guide us through the process. He is always available to answer even the smallest of questions we may have

Stephen Oxley and associate Sophia Zand are quickly responsive and attentive. They are advising us in a tricky process and are navigating us skillfully through it

Key clients

Williams Shipping Holdings Limited

Sutcliffe Family

Shareholders of Copyrite Business Solutions (Holdings) Limited

Greensleeves Homes Trust

Education Tier 3

Wilsons' wide-ranging client base includes academies, independent schools, grammar schools, preparatory schools and nurseries. Recent work highlights involved issues such as staffing, reputation management, governance, charity law, intellectual property and data protection. Practice head Stephen Oxley assists senior management teams and governing bodies with governance and leadership issues, among other matters.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Oxley


Everyone is very friendly and responsive

The team is very committed and makes sure to address each client’s issues personally while it also maintains a high quality of efficient legal services

Key clients

Farleigh School

Talbot Heath School

The Sheiling Special Education Trust

Prince’s Mead School

A number of independent schools

Wilsons is ranked as one of the top private client law firms in the country.  Its 300 year heritage, combined with lawyers who are recognised leaders in their fields, enables Wilsons to provide a unique combination of skills and experience to their client base, which includes international and UK based ultra-high net worth individuals and their families as well as the trustees of their wealth and business owning structures, significant landed and historic estates, charities and entrepreneurs.

Wilsons has built its national reputation on the strength of its private client practice, a strategy which it has pursued consistently for over 30 years.

The firm prides itself on the quality of its bespoke service delivery.  Its lawyers are dedicated to ensuring a detailed understanding of the clients’ interest and a seamless working relationship across the different specialities of the practice.

Private Client: The firm has notable experience in representing clients with business interests, landed and inherited wealth, foreign domiciliaries, UK and offshore trustees and individuals with international interests. It has developed a high profile client base, providing services including wills, tax and estate planning, UK and offshore trust formation and probate and estate administration. The firm regularly deals with probates and intestacies valued at up to £50m and sometimes more. Wilsons’ Disputes Team works closely with the Private Client Team to advise clients on a wide range of matters, particularly contentious trust, probate and property disputes. The Family Team’s legal expertise ranges from pre-nuptial agreements and civil partnerships to divorce and children’s arrangements. Wilsons works closely with numerous tax and trust service companies in the UK and internationally to ensure they provide the best and most efficient service to their clients.

Property: Many of Wilsons’ clients have substantial commercial, agricultural and residential property interests and the firm advises on purchasing, letting and sales, and has a reputation for gaining excellent results for landowners in the options over and sales of development land. Wilsons’ clients include religious, charitable and renowned educational organisations, overseas clients and landowners.

Disputes: Wilsons have one of the largest teams outside London. The firm advises clients on a wide range of contentious matters to provide an efficient and effective means of dispute resolution. In addition to its expertise in agricultural and probate disputes, the firm has specialists who can advise on all aspects of commercial dispute claims.

Commercial: The team has specialist lawyers in employment, commercial property, insolvency and corporate work. The team specialises in helping businesses by providing cost-effective and valuable advice on banking and insolvency, buying and selling while also advising on investment and private equity work. The corporate work focuses on the three main areas of private equity: commercial tax and asset planning, transactions and refinancing. Wilsons’ private equity clients are mainly wealthy individuals and groups investing in businesses, start-up companies and those requiring capital injections. The team deals with an unusual breadth of work much of which comes from referrals from private clients’ business interests and charity clients requiring high-quality, bespoke commercial advice.

Agriculture: During the last 20 years, Wilsons’ Rural Team has developed a practice centered on the legal needs of rural business and landowners. These include complex sales and purchases, development options for landowners, grants and diversification advice, property litigation including landlord and tenant legislation, partnership matters, boundaries and rights of way disputes.

Charity: Wilsons has one of the most highly ranked teams in the UK. Unlike many of its competitors, the firm advises on the complete range of a charity’s legal needs and has a particular specialism in contentious and non-contentious legacy work, acting for charities. The constitutional and governance team has considerable expertise in advising military charities and the charitable care sector.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing Partner Mike Parker 01722 427 742
Senior Partner; Probate & Estate Administration Frances Mayne 01722 427 714
Tax & Trusts Adam Herbert 01722 427 543
Tax & Trusts; Landed & Historic Estates Belinda Watson 01722 427 661
Wills & Trusts Disputes James Aspden 01722 427 677
Personal Disputes; Commercial Disputes Ben Thornton 01722 427 732
Family Jacqueline Fitzgerald 020 7998 0421
Property Tim Clayden 01722 427 713
Employment Anthony Edwards 01722 427 714
Corporate & Commercial James Johnson 01722 427 658
Company Commercial Jane Lonergan 01722 427 733
Charities Gillian Fletcher 020 7998 0422
Landowner Development & Planning Alison Bailey 01722 427 560
Farms & Estates Disputes Peter Bourke 01722 427 715
Partnerships & Farming Structures Jonathan Stephens 01722 427 744
Landowner Development & Planning Robert Swift 01722 427 601
Education; Employment Stephen Oxley 01722 427 743
Photo Name Position Profile
 Kathryn Anderson  photo Kathryn Anderson Kathryn is a partner in our Probate & Estate Administration team. Kathryn deals with…
 James Aspden  photo James Aspden James is a partner and head of the Wills & Trusts Disputes…
 Alison Bailey  photo Alison Bailey Partner and head of the landowner development team. Alison specialises in rural property…
 Judith Beddow  photo Judith Beddow Judith is a consultant in our Commercial Property team and has worked on commercial…
 Peter Bourke MRICS  photo Peter Bourke MRICS Peter is a partner in our Property & Commercial Litigation team. Peter deals with…
 Imogen Buchan-Smith  photo Imogen Buchan-Smith Imogen is a partner in the Tax & Trusts team. She specialises in tax, trusts,…
 Tim Clayden  photo Tim Clayden Tim is a partner and head of the Residential Property team. Tim specialises in…
 Anthony Edwards  photo Anthony Edwards Anthony is a partner in our Employment Team and has a wealth of experience…
 Tim Fullerlove  photo Tim Fullerlove Tim is a partner in our Tax & Trusts team and works in both…
 Adam Herbert  photo Adam Herbert Adam is a partner and the head of our Tax & Trusts team. Adam’s…
 Peter Jeffreys  photo Peter Jeffreys Peter Jeffreys is a partner in our charity legacy team. Peter specialises in charity legacy…
 James Johnson  photo James Johnson James is a partner in our Corporate & Commercial team advising on commercial matters…
 Jane Lonergan  photo Jane Lonergan Jane is a partner and head of our Commercial Team. She specialises in commercial property with a…
 Frances Mayne  photo Frances Mayne Frances is our senior partner and head of our Probate & Estate Administration team.…
 Alison Morris  photo Alison Morris Alison is a partner in the Probate & Estate Administration team. She specialises in…
 Dominic Ogden  photo Dominic Ogden Dominic is a partner in our Commercial Property team. Dominic handles a broad range…
Ms Stephen Oxley photo Ms Stephen Oxley Stephen is a partner in the employment team and is the firm’s Business Development…
 Mike Parker  photo Mike Parker Mike has been the firm’s Managing Partner since November 2014 and has…
 Sue Russell  photo Sue Russell Sue is a partner in the Farms & Estates team working for the owners…
 Jonathan Stephens  photo Jonathan Stephens Jonathan is a partner in our Tax & Trusts team, and has an unusual…
 Robert Swift  photo Robert Swift Robert Swift is a consultant in our Farms & Estates team, and for twenty…
 Ben Thornton  photo Ben Thornton Ben is a partner in our Property & Commercial Litigation team. He deals with both property and commercial disputes,…
 Belinda Watson  photo Belinda Watson Belinda Watson is a partner in the Farms & Estates team of our private…
 Charlotte Watts  photo Charlotte Watts Charlotte is a partner in our Wills & Trusts Disputes team. Charlotte advises on contentious…
 Torsten White  photo Torsten White Torsten is a partner in our Tax & Trusts team. He advises on all…
 Stephen Whitmore  photo Stephen Whitmore Stephen is a partner in our Corporate & Commercial team. Stephen specialises in acquisitions and…
 Rupert Wilkinson  photo Rupert Wilkinson Rupert is a partner in our Tax & Trusts team. His work is primarily planning…
Total staff : 166
Partners : 28
Fee-earners : 69

The Lex 100 Verdict

Wilsons 'has an excellent reputation in Salisbury and a London presence'. The former office is described as 'a good working environment' which provides 'niche, high quality work'. The firm 'attracts impressive matters' and was chosen by trainees due to its 'good work/life balance' and 'personal feel'. Recruits reveal that they have been given 'really interesting and challenging work' and say that, unlike some other firms, 'they never receive isolated tasks but rather deal with matters from start to finish'. One trainee enjoyed being the main point of contact with clients and 'the opportunity to progress matters' themselves. Respondents commended the partners at Wilsons, who 'seem more accessible' than those at comparable firms. However, whilst some applicants enjoyed 'a greater level of responsibility and exposure to different types of work' some were unhappy with 'the old-fashioned culture' and the 'lack of social events'. It was generally acknowledged though that 'the social side had improved' recently. The best thing about the firm is 'the work/life balance', which rewarded Wilsons with a Lex 100 Winner medal. The 'friendly atmosphere', 'people' and 'approachability of senior partners/supervisors' were also rated highly by respondents. Trainee stand-out moments include 'great client exposure', 'attending client meetings', and 'going to the High Court in a highly-publicised inheritance dispute'. That said, there were complaints of 'having to complete work in too short a time' and 'being thrown in the deep end'. But, generally, Wilsons is praised for 'the interesting work' and a 'good work/life balance'. If you want to work in a 'friendly atmosphere' with 'stimulating and varied work for prestigious clients' then consider applying to Wilsons.