Paul Wilmshurst

Call: 2007



+44 (0) 20 7419 8000

"Meticulous, thoughtful and with an open mind to new legal angles."

Legal 500 UK Bar 2021

"Provides clear advice and an exceptional knowledge of the law of commons. "

Legal 500 UK Bar 2020

He is able to articulate the complexities of the case with ease.” 

Legal 500 UK Bar 2019

Practice Overview

Paul Wilmshurst is ranked in the legal directories as a leading barrister in the fields of property litigation together with agricultural and rural affairs. Paul has been described as “meticulous, thoughtful and with an open mind to new legal angles” and able to “articulate the complexities of the case with ease.” (Legal 500) Paul is “a respected junior...” who “is persistent in his cross-examination while maintaining a polite and friendly approach.”(Chambers & Partners). Paul’s practice embraces all aspects of land law.


Firstly, Paul deals with the full range of property litigation between individuals and businesses. For example: easements of all kinds, boundary disputes, commercial & agricultural landlord and tenant, negligence relating to property (e.g. surveyors and architects), negligent or fraudulent misstatements / misrepresentations about property, nuisance and environmental claims (e.g. smoke, noise, gases, dust, light, water, flooding and insects), disputes over the ownership of property (including trusts of land), unjust enrichment, proprietary estoppel, profits à prendre, manorial rights and covenants. 


Secondly, Paul is particularly well-known for acting in cases concerning public rights over land, sometimes with administrative law aspects. For example: town/village greens (applications to register and de-register), common land, public rights of way (e.g. modification orders, footpaths, bridleways, RUPPS and vehicular roads), highway law (including related criminal offences), public open space, statutory nuisance, decisions on the sale or use of publicly owned land, foreshore rights, environmental cases. Sometimes these also concern criminal matters relating, for example, to prosecutions for breach of Tree Preservation Orders, the use of premises under the Health Act 2006 or statutory nuisance. Paul is the author of the Village Green and Commons chapters of the Encyclopaedia of Forms & Precedents. He is regularly as an Inspector at public inquiries. 


Paul is an experienced trial advocate and has also appeared at over 27 public inquiries. Notable cases include: Lara Tate v L & Q [a novel case establishing liability against a housing association for negligent misstatement - reported in national newspapers]; Gibson & Anor v New & Anor [2021] EWHC 1811 (QB) (01 July 2021) [boundary agreements]; Stanning v Baldwin [2019] EWHC 1350 (Ch) [rights of way, drainage rights and boundaries over a registered common]; The Whitstable Beach Public inquiry (18 days) into village green application concerning the beach. R (St. John’s College, Cambridge) v Cambridgeshire County Council [2017] WLR 469 [procedural issues relating to village greens] and London Borough of Newham v Iqbal [2016] EWHC 720 (Admin) [Health Act 2006 offences].

  • Property

    Boundaries and Easements

    Recent representative work includes:

    • Property Chamber (First tier-tribunal) Land Registration Division contested trial concerning adverse possession and the “hot tubbing” of experts (2021) 
    • Gibson & Anor v New & Anor [2021] EWHC 1811 (QB) (01 July 2021 [appeal concerning boundary agreements]
    • 3-day boundary dispute at the Court at Central London concerning adverse possession. 
    • Stanning v Baldwin [2019] EWHC 1350 (Ch); [2019] 5 WLUK 544 (5 day High Court trial concerning private rights of way, drainage rights and a boundary dispute over a common). Reported in the  Evening Standard and The Daily Mail. 
    • 5 day boundary dispute at the County Court at Birmingham.
    • 4-day boundary dispute at the County Court at Bristol.
    • 3 day boundary dispute (combined with a claim under the Party Wall etc Act 1996) at the Mayors & City County Court.
    • 7-day boundary dispute trial at Mayors & City County Court (combined with a harassment claim) where submissions were successfully made that the court should not follow the view of either expert surveyor, both of whom had advised there was a trespass. Reported in: The SunThe TimesThe Express The Daily Mail
    • 4-day boundary dispute in the County Court at Brighton.
    • 4-day boundary dispute in the High Court sitting at Oxford.
    • A 3-day rights dispute about an easement in the Property Chamber (1st Tier Tribunal)


    Other rights over land

    Paul deal with shooting rights and other profits.

    Public Rights Of Way, Town / Village Greens and Commons 

    Public rights of way

    Paul is experienced in appearing before at public inquiries held by the Planning Inspectorate into matters relating to public rights of way (including footpaths and bridleways). Paul has regularly advised local action groups, landowners, developers and public authorities on the existence of public rights of way together with issues relating to them. He is an Associate Member of the Institute of Public Rights of Way also contributes to “Waymark” magazine. Paul is frequently instructed about modification orders, applications to extinguish or divert; usually in the context of development. 

    Representative works includes his successful defence of a farmer at a 5-day public inquiry against  the compulsory creation of a bridleway under s.53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981: see (Public Bridleway No. 47, Parish of Wooburn) Public Path Creation Order 2014 FPS/P0430/6/1. Paul has also appeared in court proceedings seeking to remove obstructions from the minor highways pursuant to s.130A-D of the Highway Act 1980. He is instructed in complex and interesting cases and enjoys finding solutions to long running problems.  


    Town/Village Greens

    Paul has a wealth of experience representing objecting landowners and applicants at public inquiries concerning new town / village green applications. He is also regularly appointed to sit as an Inspector by numerous registration authorities. Altogether he has acted in some 27 public inquiries (of which 12 have involved leading counsel)

    Paul has been involved in many court cases concerning village greens

    • Stanning v Baldwin [2019] EWHC 1350 (Ch); [2019] 5 WLUK 544 (5 day High Court trial concerning private rights of way, drainage rights and a boundary dispute over a common). Reported in the Evening Standard and The Daily Mail. 
    • St John’s College, Cambridge v Cambridge County Council [2017] EWHC 1753 (Admin) (known as “Meadow Triangle”) Paul successfully represented Cambridge County Council, against leading counsel, in this High Court challenge. The judgment of Sir Ross Cranston concerns issues among other things, of when an application can be adjudged to be duly made and establishes that a registration authority is entitled to give an applicant more than one opportunity to correct a defective application.  
    • R (Fellowes) v Powys County Council (2014) – refusal to appoint Inspector to preside over non-statutory village green inquiry.  
    • R (Burrows) v The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead & Anor [2014] EWHC 389 (Admin) (21 February 2014) – challenge on legal test for contentious user after 9-day village green inquiry.  
    • R (Newhaven Port & Properties) v The Secretary State for the Environment– submission in support of permission to appeal made to Supreme Court on behalf of Intervenor on “retrospective” application of s.15(7)(b) of the Commons Act 2006.


    Examples of previous and ongoing work includes:

    “The Downs at Herne Bay” (2018); “The Community Green” at the Vandyke Gardens Estate, Leighton Buzzard (3 days) (2018); “Rokeby Playing Fields” (4 days) 2017); “Land in Somerset (as Inspector) (7 days) (2017); “Whitstable Beach”, Kent (18 days) Westward Ho!, Devon (as Inspector) (4 days) (2017); “Fletton Field”, Northamptonshire (5 days) (2016-17); “Top Field”, Hampshire (6 days) (2016); “Withy Bed”, Bath and North East Somerset (2016); Land south of Oxford Meadow, Essex (2015) (3 days); Maes Glas, Cardigan, Wales (2014) (1 day); “Woodcray”, Wokingham (2014) (7 days); The Knowle, Devon (as Inspector) (2014); Land at Cae Prior, Wales (2014); The Green, Tytherington, South Gloucestershire (2014); Land at Frenchay, South Gloucestershire (as Inspector) (2014); Land to the West of Friern Barnet Library (1 day) (2014); Falmouth Avenue, Gloucestershire; Shephall View Rec, Stevenage (2014); The Glades and Italianate Gardens, Bromley (as Inspector – 3 days) (2013); Land at Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough (2013); Brewery Field, Somerset (as Inspector – 1 days) (2013); Herts & Essex School Playing Field (7 days) (2013); Catshill, Worcestershire (1 day) (2012); Land at Oaktree Avenue, South Gloucestershire (2012); Ash Hill Woods, Devon (as Inspector – 3 days) (2012); Thamesfield, Wraysbury (9 days) (2012); Port Solent, Portsmouth (3 days) (2012); St. George’s Field, Headstone, Harrow (4 days) (2012); The Kayles, Old Ferry Drive, Windsor, Wraysbury (4 days) (2011); The Triangle, Tichbourne Way, Gosport, Hampshire (5 days) (2010)



    Paul is the author of the Village Green and Commons chapters of the Encyclopaedia of Forms & Precedents. Commons issues covered include de-registration & exchange, landowner rights, commoner’s rights, permitted works and enforcement. This work includes dealing with Metropolitan Commons or those covered by applicable schemes). Representative work incudes sitting as an Inspector in the North-East of England to consider an application to de-register part of a well-known common based on a mistake made during its original registration.  


    Landlord & Tenant (Business and Agricultural)

    Paul regularly advises and appears in court proceedings concerning all aspects of business tenancies, including contested forfeiture and renewal. Representative work includes:

    • A 2 day trial in the County Court at Central London seeking forfeiture of a business tenancy and defending a Counterclaim brought by the tenant.
    • A 5-day trial in the County Court at Central London in which a claim of unjust enrichment was successfully pursued in connection to a void business lease in circumstances where substantial amounts of work had been carried out on an Curry House in Brick Lane before the landlord forcibly took back possession relying on a supposed breach of agreement.
    • A complex case  concerning a business tenancy, listed for a 12-day trial, which was settled after mediation and further negotiation.


    Nuisance & the Environment

    Paul regularly deals with cases involving nuisance and is presently involved in several matters coming on for trial involving for example, nuisance concerning water damage occasioned by major alterations to topography of neighbouring land and building works. 

    Paul also represented Bournemouth Borough Council in proceedings concerning an alleged statutory nuisance relating to flies emanating from a water purification plant.

    Paul successfully defended the owners of premises in criminal proceedings under the anti-smoking provisions of the Health Act 2006. The prosecution was thrown out at “half time.” This was a decision that was upheld, on appeal, by the High Court: London Borough of Newham v Iqbal [2016] EWHC 720 (Admin). 

    Paul has experience of both prosecuting and defending in matters relating to Tree Preservation Orders.

  • Trusts, Wills & Estates

    Disputes over ownership

    Paul regularly advises and appears in proceedings concerning the ownership of property in which concern for example common intention constructive trusts or proprietary estoppel including:

    • Claims under TLATA
    • Co-habitation disputes arising after the breakdown of a relationship
    • Those arising in a business context

    Representative work in this field is a 5-day trial in the Central London County Court concerning an alleged constructive trust and proprietary estoppel.


    Paul has advised and appeared in proceedings concerning charities, including those where interim relief is sought or where there are serious allegations of impropriety. 

  • Additional Information


    A Middle Temple Benefactor’s Scholar, upon being called to the Bar Paul was awarded the Harold G Fox Scholarship and spent a year working at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto, Canada. He then spent a further year as a Parliamentary Assistant in the European Parliament, Brussels before commencing his pupillage on the Western Circuit.

    Professional Appointments

    Paul is regularly appointed as Inspector by commons registration authorities to hold public inquiries into village green applications under the Commons Act 2006.

    Qualifications / Education

    •  History BA(hons), Durham University
    •  Nottingham Law School GDL
    •  BPP Law School BVC



    • Chancery Bar Association,
    • Property Bar Association,
    • Associate Member of The Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management.
    • Middle Temple
    • Lincoln’s Inn (“ad eundem”)  Associate Member of The Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management.

    Public Access