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Alexander Learmonth  

"Never falters as a man you can have total confidence in." "Up there with the best, he is someone you need if you're faced with a very tricky matter."

Trusts - Chambers UK Bar 2019

Practice Overview


Alexander Learmonth has become a major presence at the chancery bar, combining "fine drafting skills" (Chambers UK) with "smooth and persuasive" advocacy” (Legal 500), and is described by clients as “absolutely wonderful” and “as good as any silk” (Who’s Who Legal). In conference, clients find him "charming" and "affable" (Chambers UK Bar), and able to provide reassurance at an emotionally difficult time.

 

Alexander's principal area of practice is in succession. Described as "intellectually and technically remarkable" (Legal 500), he has appeared in some of the leading cases in his fields, at every level of court, including the first probate case to reach the Supreme Court, Marley v Rawlings.  He is editor of leading textbooks, Theobald on Wills and Williams, Mortimer & Sunnucks on Executors, Administrators and Probate,

 

He also has a growing reputation in Court of Protection work and handles professional negligence claims in related fields and the chancery aspects of family proceedings.

 

He also has recognised expertise in property law, being ranked in the Legal 500 and with several Court of Appeal decisions to his name.

 

Alexander won the ACTAPS ‘Contentious Barrister of the Year’  2015.

 

"He has a very good client manner coupled with real intellect, strategic awareness and a desire to win."

Private Client: trusts and probate - Legal 500 2017

"Fantastically clever; He is a very good advocate and exceptional on his feet."
Chancery: Traditional - Chambers UK Bar 2018

 

  • Trusts and Estates
    • Winner of ACTAPS award for ‘Contentious Barrister of the Year 2015’.

      Who's Who Legal publication (UK Bar 2016) state Alexander Learmonth specalises in wills, succession and trusts and is "stellar on paper and on his feet"

       

      Succession and Trusts

      Alexander is recommended in both Chambers UK Bar (Chancery: Traditional) and the Legal 500 (Private Client: Trusts and Probate), as a"leading exponent of every aspect of the law of succession and trusts".

      He is described in Legal 500, 2016 edition as "A proactive and constructive barrister, who is not afraid to stick up for his guns"

      It is noted in Chambers UK Bar 2016  that he is "A very, very knowledgeable practitioner, who identifies things others might not. He is very measured and careful in cases and handles clients sensitively." 

       

      He regularly advises and acts on:

      • Contentious probate, including testamentary capacity, knowledge and approval, undue influence and forgery
      • Construction, rectification  and variation of wills and trusts
      • Claims for financial provision under the Inheritance(Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
      • Complex trust/estate administration, including claims by, against, or to remove trustees or personal representatives, Beddoe orders, Public Trustee v Cooper applications etc.
      • Inheritance tax, including estate planning and deeds of variation
      • Mutual wills, secret trusts, donatio mortis causa, proprietary estoppel and constructive trusts
      • Charities

      His reported cases include several leading cases, most notably Marley v Rawlings, the first probate case ever in the Supreme Court, Re Ashkettle and Re Pittaway.

       

       

      He edits two of the leading textbooks in the area;

      • Theobald on Wills 
      • Williams, Mortimer & Sunnucks on Executors, Administrators and Probate
      • A contributor to the Probate Practitioner’s Handbook

       

      He is a full member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP), the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and a member of the Chancery Bar Association committee. 

       

      Court of Protection

      Alexander enjoys a growing reputation in the Court of Protection.

       

      He regularly deals with powers of attorney, deputyship, statutory wills, personal injury trusts, conflicts of laws and best interests decisions. 

       

      Alexander has advised and appeared in cases involving all forms of mental impairment, including dementia, learning difficulties, and catastrophic brain injury (not reported due to the confidential nature of the work). He has recently been asked to supply expert evidence in a criminal trial on the law relating to powers of attorney.

       

      His work not only includes property and affairs matters, but also extends to personal welfare decisions, including choice of residence and alleged ‘granny-napping’. 

       

      Cases in the Court of Protection often raise highly emotive issues; Alexander’s sensitive manner with clients and sympathetic style advocacy in court is ideally suited to this work.

       

      Professional Negligence

      Wills, trusts and property work are high-risk areas for lawyers and their clients, and professional negligence claims in these fields are a growth area.  

       

      Much of Alexander’s succession work arises from badly drafted wills, poorly implemented tax planning schemes and the like, and he is often called upon to advise both disappointed clients and their former advisers.  Such claims often involve particularly difficult questions of scope of duty and limitation periods.  Alexander has top-level experience in this area, having represented the Respondents in the ground-breaking decision of Marley v Rawlings (costs) in the Supreme Court, successfully obtaining a non-party order against the negligent solicitor’s insurers for his clients’ costs of the whole proceedings.  In the hard-fought litigation in Swain-Mason v Mills & Reeve, Alexander appeared twice in the Court of Appeal and no fewer than four times in the High Court. 

       

      Alexander has also advised on several claims in the field of property law, such as unclear declarations of trust and negligent advice on the merits of an adverse possession claim.

       

  • Property
    • The Legal 500 2016 edition recommends Alexander in property litigation, as "Incredibly bright, very accessible and charming"  previous editions describe him as “a knowledgeable and well-organised advocate, who is persuasive in court" and “proactive, insightful and intellectually outstanding".

       

      With practical experience in all venues from the First-Tier Tribunal to the Court of Appeal, his practice includes:

      • Trusts of land and co-ownership (French v Barcham)
      • Proprietary estoppel (Bradbury v Taylor, CA)
      • Adverse possession
      • Land registration and rectification (Re Park Associated Developments Ltd)
      • Boundary disputes
      • Rights of way and other easements (Green v Lord Somerleyton, CA)
      • Freehold covenants
      • Mortgages (Gotham v Doodes, CA)
      • Residential and business tenancies, including leasehold enfranchisement, renewals, dilapidations and forfeiture

       

      Alexander is particularly suited to cases involving the effects of insolvency and death on property rights as his reported cases show, He has also appeared in the family court, dealing with third party claims to matrimonial property.

       

  • Offshore
    • Alexander has accumulated considerable experience of dealing with cross-border trusts and estates, having advised on disputed estates of those domiciled abroad, estates with assets in multiple jurisdictions, and on wills executed abroad or in accordance with foreign law, as well as offshore trusts.

       

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