Call: 2011    
Francesca Perselli  

Practice Overview

Francesca specialises in commercial chancery litigation. Her practice includes onshore, offshore and cross-border commercial disputes, civil fraud, contentious trusts, claims against fiduciaries, contentious probate, intellectual property, insolvency and company matters.


Having spent extended periods of time on secondment to Guernsey, Francesca has particular experience of cross-border commercial litigation. She has worked with two leading offshore law firms: Mourant Ozannes and Carey Olsen. She was involved in a broad range of high-profile commercial matters including questions of jurisdiction, choice of law, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, asset tracing and financial regulation. She worked both as part of a team of associates and as sole associate together with a Guernsey advocate/partner (akin to led work). Francesca enjoyed the opportunities afforded by Guernsey's fused legal profession to interact with the lay client and ensure that she placed their true interests at the centre of every stage of the case.


Francesca appears regularly as sole counsel in the High Court and County Courts. She is a confident and accomplished advocate and acts in trials and interlocutory matters such as injunctions. Francesca gained a scholarship to attend the Florida Bar Association 2016 Advanced Civil Advocacy Course for established trial lawyers, at which she received excellent feedback from members of the local judiciary for her measured cross examination skills.


Francesca’s scientific training provides her with a logical and rigorous approach and she particularly enjoys matters with complex fact patterns and technical issues.


Francesca has been a contributor to Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks on Executors, Administrators and Probate for the past three years and contributed to the December 2017 supplement to Lewin on Trusts. She regularly writes articles for LexisNexis PSL. She is a member of the Bar Council and sits on the International and Young Bar Committees.


  • Commercial Litigation
    • Francesca has been instructed as part of a team in complex, cross-border matters and in her own right in domestic commercial disputes.


      Her work includes the following:


      In a team:

      • Blue Power Group v ENI Norge – currently acting for the claimants in a €1bn claim against the Italian multinational oil company Eni relating to agreements for marine transportation of compressed natural gas. Claims for breaches of contract, exclusivity and confidence, and infringement of database rights. Currently managing 6-month disclosure exercise of Italian language documents.
      • Freedom Travel Group v Quartz Travel (led by James Bailey, Wilberforce Chambers) – preparing urgent without notice freezing injunctions against the defendant company and its director, alleging fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty.
      • Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund Limited (in liquidation) v Ernst & Young – part of a junior team acting for the liquidators of a Cayman Fund following a major fraud by its founder, Magnus Peterson.
      • Nielsen v Baldorino – part of a team working on a claim brought by shareholders alleging fraudulent misrepresentation by the directors of a company who were involved in a management buy-out.
      • Extensive experience of cross-border commercial litigation whilst on secondment to Guernsey (further details are listed under “Offshore and cross-border” below).
      • Working closely as a sole associate with a Guernsey advocate/partner, drafting documents and preparing the case as in a silk/junior relationship.


      Sole counsel:

      • Torr v Connor – sole counsel for the claimant at trial (Central London CC), claiming fraudulent misrepresentation in the sale of a high-end sports car. Substantial cross-examination of the defendant vendor.
      • Acting in all aspects of contract claims, such as advising, drafting documents and appearing at trial.
      • Claims have included issues as to the identity and capacity of contracting parties, misrepresentation, breach of contract, travel law claims, construction of terms, mistake, rectification, estoppel, assignments, guarantees, deposits, agency fees, jurisdiction and conflict of laws.


      Interim applications and injunctions:

      • Discovery Yachts Limited v Sunchalk Limited – successfully obtaining an injunction in the Applications Court restraining passing off. Advising on trade mark infringement and enforcement of a sale agreement following purchase by the claimant of the defendant’s yacht building business.
      • Joseph v Joseph – successfully resisted an application to restrain sale of a property in the Applications Court. Obtained an extended civil restraint order against the applicants following protracted unnecessary litigation.
      • Regular appearances in the Applications Court, including on very short notice instructions. Appeared in injunctions relating to fraudulent/wrongful overcharging by a letting agent; wrongful possession of a business property; and wrongful termination of a lease.
      • Obtained sanctions preventing defendants from presenting evidence, followed by successful trials.
      • Resisted an application by a defendant to set aside judgment and for relief from sanctions, alleging that the claim had no real prospects of success. Currently advising on resisting the appeal to the High Court.
      • Volunteers with CLIPS, providing on-the-day pro bono representation to litigants in person in the Applications Court.


  • Offshore
    • Francesca has significant offshore experience, having undertaken secondments to two leading firms in Guernsey and was instructed as part of a junior team in the Grand Cayman Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund Limited (in liquidation) v Ernst & Young litigation. She is familiar with conflicts of law issues and in particular forum conveniens and choice of law disputes.


      Francesca contributed to the 2017 supplement to Lewin on Trusts and to the Chancery Bar's response to a consultation by the States of Jersey on the reform of the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984.


      Recent work:

      • M v St Anne’s Trustees Limited – assisted the trustees of a discretionary trust participating in an application to the Guernsey Royal Court seeking Hastings Bass relief. The question of whether Guernsey would follow the English authority of Pitt v Holt was undecided and gave rise to interesting policy considerations, in circumstances where Jersey and other offshore jurisdictions have legislated so as not to follow English law.



      In 2015 Francesca spent 7 months at Mourant Ozannes where she worked as an associate, gaining valuable insight into the fused legal profession:

      • Credit Suisse Trustees Limited v Haggiag et al and related proceedings – sole associate with a partner/Guernsey advocate on a cross-border contentious trusts dispute. Issues included a stay on the grounds of forum non conveniens, recognition of the trust under the Hague Convention, sham trusts and successfully defending an application for an injunction alleging conflict of interest.
      • Investec Trust (Guernsey) v Glenalla Properties (Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust) – part of a team of associates in litigation concerning the Tchenguiz family trusts before the Guernsey Court of Appeal.
      • Re Arasbridge Unit Trust – part of a team in litigation arising from losses suffered by a fund. Drafted the defence of the fund administrator. Issues included construction of the fund documents and prescription (limitation) of the claims.
      • Broadhead & Spread Trustee Company Limited et al – drafted the appeal skeleton in a breach of trust claim involving issues of gross negligence and date knowledge of the claim for prescription (limitation) purposes.
      • Bordeaux Services (Guernsey) Limited / Arch Cru – assisted former directors of a fund administrator in regulatory proceedings against them by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission for their role in the collapse of an investment scheme.
      • Drafted pleadings in a contentious trusts dispute alleging breach of investment mandate by the trustees and investment managers.
      • Advised on and drafted documents in a contentious probate matter alleging invalidity of a will, raising issues of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval, undue influence and validity of lifetime transactions by the deceased.


      In 2017 Francesca spent 4 months at Carey Olsen:

      • Deutsche Bank v Sebastian Holdings and Vik – enforcement of the English High Court judgment in Guernsey following the alleged fraudulent/wrongful transfer of assets away from the judgment debtor company. Drafted a successful application for the appointment of an equitable receiver and an application for collateral use of documents obtained in a previous search order and freezing injunction.
      • First Tower Trustees Ltd v CDS (Superstores International) – advised English solicitors in High Court proceedings on the common law conflict of laws position where a trustee of a foreign law trust enters into an English law contract “as trustee” (the Guernsey Court of Appeal decision in Tchenguiz being the leading case).
      • Re St John’s Ambulance & Rescue Service – advised the employer in proceedings brought by employees following the closure of its defined benefit pension scheme, alleging breach of the Imperial Tobacco duty.
      • Advised the protectors of a family discretionary trust and attending a meeting with the trustee and beneficiaries to discuss future strategy.
      • Drafted an application for service out of the jurisdiction on forum conveniens grounds.
      • A negligence claim against a firm of solicitors relating to the drafting of a document and conduct of litigation.
      • Drafting pleadings alleging non-compliance with the trust service providers’ code of conduct.
      • Advised on limitation issues against constructive trustees and related choice of law questions.
      • Assisted a former director with an interview by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission investigating alleged breaches of anti-money laundering checks and reporting requirements.
      • Defended a claim for legal fees by a law firm against a client who had not provided direct instructions.
      • Advised as to the ambit of the (EU) Second Payment Services Directive.


  • Trusts and Estates
    • Offshore:

      • Francesca gained extensive experience of contentious trusts whilst in Guernsey. She worked on a disputes arising in a wide variety of contexts, reflecting Guernsey’s status as a leading jurisdiction for the establishment and management of trusts. This included large funds, complex family trusts of high-net-worth individuals, will trusts, pension schemes, cross-border estates and constructive trusts arising from fraud or wrongdoing. She advised beneficiaries, trustees, executors, protectors, fund administrators, trust creditors and employers. Further details are listed under “Offshore and cross-border” above.
      • M v St Anne’s Trustees Limited – assisted the trustees of a discretionary trust participating in a novel application for Hastings Bass/Pitt v Holt relief before the Guernsey Royal Court.


      As sole counsel:

      Francesca is instructed in matters involving contentious and non-contentious trusts and probate. She has contributed to two of the major textbooks: Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks on Executors, Administrators and Probate (2015 – present) and Lewin on Trusts (2017 supplement).


      Notable experience:

      • 1975 Act claims involving applications to bring claims out of time, claims by adult children, minor children, partners and spouses in fossil marriages.
      • Claims against estates involving testamentary capacity, validity proprietary estoppel, constructive and resulting trusts, and undue influence.
      • Attended mediations in probate and 1975 Act claims.
      • Acted for the successful claimant at trial seeking a declaration of beneficial co-ownership of a property following a finding of forgery of transfer documents by the Upper (Lands) Tribunal.
      • Acted in a Beddoe application in the High Court on behalf of an administrator of an estate to pursue claims against the former executors.
      • Instructed in a Benjamin application for distribution of an estate on the footing that a beneficiary cannot be traced.
      • Provided an expert opinion in criminal confiscation proceedings as to the nature of a defendant’s interest in a trust of land.
      • Acted in claims relating to construction of wills, rectification or rescission due to mistake, the cy-près doctrine, substitutionary gifts.
      • Advised on administration issues such as appointment of administrators ad litem, breaches of duty, claims for accounts, refusal of foreign domiciled executors to obtain a grant of probate, transfer of company shares to executors.
      • Claims against trustees, including breach of duty of care in making payments for the benefit of child beneficiaries, permissive waste, exercise of discretion to appoint trust funds.


  • Civil Fraud
    • Many of Francesca’s cases involve allegations of fraud and dishonesty together with breach of fiduciary duty and asset tracing. Her experience has included claims regarding fraudulent misrepresentation, undue influence, transactions avoiding creditors, dishonest assistance, knowing receipt and forgery. Francesca appears in injunctions at short notice.


      Much of her work in Guernsey arose where international fraud had given rise to cross-border satellite litigation and enforcement proceedings.


      Notable experience:

      • Torr v Connor (sole counsel) – trial for fraudulent misrepresentation.
      • Freedom Travel Group v Quartz Travel (led by James Bailey) – freezing injunction alleging fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty.
      • Appeared for the defendant/respondent in an application for the continuation of a freezing order, alleging fraudulent/wrongful overcharging by a letting agent.
      • Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund Limited (in liquidation) v Ernst & Young – part of a junior team acting for the liquidators of a Cayman Fund following a major fraud by its founder, Magnus Peterson.
      • Nielsen v Baldorino – part of a team working on a claim brought by shareholders alleging fraudulent misrepresentation by the directors of a company who were involved in a management buy-out.
      • Drafted pleadings alleging breach of confidentiality by a director-employee, inducement of breach of his employment contract, conspiracy to injure by unlawful means and dishonest assistance in breach of fiduciary duty.
      • Advised as to whether a proposed agreement between connected parties complied with criminal bribery and fraud legislation and civil fiduciary obligations.


      On secondment:

      • Deutsche Bank v Sebastian Holdings and Vik – enforcement proceedings alleging fraudulent/wrongful transfer of assets away from the judgment debtor company by Mr Vik.


  • Insolvency
    • Francesca has a strong insolvency practice and acts for insolvency practitioners, debtor companies and individuals in contested applications under the insolvency legislation and claims against office holders. Francesca also undertakes related company law claims involving winding up on the just and equitable basis, unfair prejudice, breaches of duty and asset tracing.


      Notable experience:

      • Obtained an order for sale of a bankrupt's residential property on behalf of her trustee in bankruptcy. Disputed the validity of a trust deed purporting to have transferred the beneficial interest prior to bankruptcy, prepared by a former solicitor who had been struck off the roll for dishonesty.
      • Appeared in annulments on the basis that debts and expenses have been paid in full, and that the bankruptcy ought not to have been made as the petition debt is disputed. Dealt with challenges to office holders fees and wrongly claimed secretary of states fees.
      • Advised a director-shareholder of a small company following a breakdown in management, and insolvency proceedings brought to obtain repayment of investments into it.
      • Advised the liquidator of a construction company as to the effect of the anti-deprivation rule in a contract purportedly preventing recovery of fees for work done prior to liquidation.
      • Obtained an administration order for an insolvent company presented with a winding up petition to enable it to pursue litigation.
      • Advised on and drafted a deed of assignment from a trustee in bankruptcy to the bankrupt of claims in to the estate of his deceased mother.
      • Regular attendance in the winding up court and Applications Court for winding up and administration orders and restraint of petitions.


  • Intellectual Property
    • Francesca advises on both hard and soft IP matters and has appeared in trade mark appeals to the Appointed Person. She is confident handling complex scientific issues, having obtained a chemistry degree which included a master's project researching phase transitions of perovskite structures (more broadly, materials chemistry and computational crystallography). Francesca gained an in-depth knowledge of IP law during her LLM at Cambridge.


      Notable experience:

      • Blue Power Group v ENI Norge – part of team currently acting for the claimants in a €1bn claim relating to agreements for the development of compressed natural gas technology. Claims include breach of confidence and infringement of database rights.
      • Pegas Touristik UK Limited – Appeared before the Appointed Person in an appeal against refusal of registration of a trade mark.
      • Drafted submissions in support of an on-paper contested trade mark application.
      • Drafted a non-disclosure/non-circumvention agreement collateral to a contract for the supply for goods to a business customer.
      • Amended an employee internet and email policy to protect employer confidentiality.
      • Drafted pleadings alleging breach of confidentiality by a director-employee.


  • Property
    • Francesca is regularly instructed in all areas of chambers' property practice, including commercial and residential lease disputes, injunctions involving land, TLATA 1996 claims, the construction and rectification of lease documents, breaches of covenant, trespass, dilapidations, enforcement of charges, collective enfranchisement, long lease extensions and business tenancy renewals. She has developed a niche practice in village greens, common land, highways and rights of way disputes.


      Notable experience:

      • Acted for East Lindsey District Council (led by George Laurence QC) in a local inquiry successfully opposing the registration of an area of land in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire as a village green.
      • Advising the Trail Riders Fellowship in a number of disputes with local authorities over rights of access to rural lanes by off road motor vehicles. Drafting applications for quashing orders and statutory appeals (quasi-judicial review) to the High Court of decisions by local authorities.
      • Acted for a local council disputing the existence of historic vehicular rights over (ostensibly) a narrow footpath.
      • Trials seeking declarations as to co-ownership and sale under TLATA 1996 based on constructive or resulting trusts.
      • Appeared at injunctions involving commercial property.


  • Additional Information

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