Trusts & Estates


Our Clients come to us with trusts and estates cases in ever more diverse contexts and with an increasing focus on international private wealth. They rely on us to be experienced, responsive and expert in chancery law and practice and in the application of English law in many other jurisdictions.

We are well known for our work both at home and abroad, which has seen us instructed in some of the highest profile cases of recent times, including Marley v Rawlings in the Supreme Court, the Alhamrani litigation in Jersey and BVI, the Tchenguiz litigation in Guernsey and the Berezovsky estate case in England.

Our approach to the problems our clients bring to us is pragmatic and flexible, whether or not they involve litigation. We recognise the importance of working as part of a team, whether with our clients and other professionals, or within chambers.

Trusts and estates cases are often only part of a wider picture, involving commercial disputes, company law claims or civil fraud. Our expertise in these areas allows us to respond effectively and comprehensively to our clients’ needs.

We are the home of the leading practitioners’ works Lewin on Trusts, Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks on Executors, Administrators and Probate, Theobald on Wills and Protectors of Trusts. Our team regularly contribute articles to leading journals, including TQR and Trusts & Trustees and speak at conferences worldwide.

 

Probate and Administration of  Estates

Our wills litigation experience includes cases of incapacity, forgery, undue influence, want of knowledge and approval and rectification.

Our most recent wills cases include:

  • Marley v Rawlings, establishing new law on rectification in the Supreme Court,
  • Schomberg v Taylor a rare successful undue influence claim,
  • Ashkettle v Gwinnett, in which the testator was found to lack capacity despite the involvement of solicitor and
  • Re Pittaway where rectification was refused.
  • Re Berezovsky saw us instructed in litigation involving the estate of the former Russian oligarch.

 

We are well versed in the challenges that the administration of an estate often presents: will construction, challenges under foreign law, disputed ownership of assets and countless others, and we are also used to assisting beneficiaries where there is delay or breach of duty. Interim remedies, including injunctions and the appointment of interim administrators form part of our work. Family Provision claims, such as Lilleyman v Lilleyman, often bring us before judges of the Family and Chancery Divisions.

 

Contentious and Non-contentious Trusts

We have remained at the vanguard of modern trust litigation, as it has evolved in England and offshore. Our recent contentious trusts work has included the Alhamrani litigation in Jersey and BVI, Investec v Glenalla, Guernsey litigation concerning the Tchenguiz family trusts and the collapse of Kaupthing Bank and Re A Trust, involving a Bermudian trust of $1bn and the effect of trust exclusive jurisdiction clauses. Many of our other cases, including some of our most significant, must however remain confidential.

In the post-Prest v Petrodel environment we are also used to acting in high-value matrimonial finance cases involving complex trusts, foundations and other opaque offshore structures.

We draft and advise on trusts of all kinds, including charitable, governmental, employment and commercial trusts governed by English law or the law of offshore jurisdictions. Our knowledge of UK tax includes the fiscal consequences of complex trust arrangements at home and offshore, inheritance tax and issues of residence and domicile. We are also used to working closely with our clients’ tax advisers and specialist revenue counsel.

 

Offshore and International

Much of our work is offshore or has a substantial offshore or international element. We have particular experience as advisors or as advocates in cases involving the laws of Anguilla, the Bahamas, Bermuda, BVI, Cayman, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Hong Kong and the Isle of Man. In these cases we work closely with our colleagues in international legal teams and have developed strong relationships with leading firms in many jurisdictions.

 

Enforcement and Asset Tracing

Both domestically and offshore our skills in trust and estate litigation are often deployed in cases involving civil fraud in commercial and family contexts and where there are claims to recover or trace assets from trustees or claims based on resulting or constructive trust and breaches of fiduciary duty.

 


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