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 experienced, meticulous in his detail and knows his stuff."

Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2022

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. 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].

Paul can be instructed in the following ways:

  •  By a referral from a solicitor
  • On a Direct Access basis by members of the public, businesses and other organisations (sometimes called “The Public Access Scheme”)
  • Licensed Access 

Paul is experienced in working with these different methods of instructions all the way through to trial or appeal. More information about instructing on a Direct Access basis can be found here. To discuss an instruction on any basis please e-mail or call Paul’s clerks on 020 7419 8000.

  • Property

    For more information on Paul’s experience in a particular area of property law, please see the drop-down menu’s below. You may also be interested in watching a series of webinars that Paul has put together covering some frequently encountered problems and issues:

    10 Top Tips for Winning Prescriptive Rights of Way Claims! 

    10 Top Tips for Winning Boundary Disputes

    Informal Dealings with Land and Property

    Negligent and fraudulent misrepresentation in relation to real property

    The Public Rights Over Land Conference 2021: Public Rights of Way, Commons and Village Greens

  • Boundaries and Easements

    Paul is very experienced in dealing with boundary disputes and easements. He very regularly appears at trial in courts around England & Wales. In respect of easements, he can deploy his extensive experience of village green and public rights of way cases where, for example, the issue of user “as of right” arises. Claims dealt with also include claims under the Party Wall Act etc 1996, or the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992. Paul is familiar with selecting and deploying appropriate expert evidence.

    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 ExpressThe 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)
    • Appearing in the High Court to oppose an interim injunction sought in connection with a private right of way that had been compulsorily acquired.

    Other rights over land

    Paul deal’s 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.  

  • Nuisance and 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.

  • Landlord and 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.

    Paul is very willing to take on cases (often on a CFA or similar basis) concerning residential and/or social tenancies in which there is an important point of law at stake or which are particularly deserving.

  • Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

    Paul regularly represents clients at mediations and has co-written ‘Preparing to “Win” the Mediation’, Sharpening the Sword II: Tactics and Strategies for Lock n’ Load Litigation (OBA 2008), with Thomas Heintzman QC. Paul is willing to sit or act as an Arbitrator in appropriate disputes in much the same way that he has regularly acted as an Inspector at non-statutory public inquiries. Paul is also willing to give early neutral evaluations to assist parties to resolve disputes.

  • Directory Recommendations

    "Paul is very hard-working, thorough and clearly interested in the field." Chambers and Partners (2021)

    ‘Meticulous, thoughtful and with an open mind to new legal angles.” Legal 500 (2020)

    “He is able to articulate the complexities of the case with ease.” Legal 500 (2019)

    “A respected junior…” “He is persistent in his cross-examination while maintaining a polite and friendly approach.” Chambers and Partners (2018)

    “He regularly handles rights of way disputes, including village green applications and common land designations.” Chambers and Partners (2018)

    “He’s a rising star of that chambers, who is fully in command of all the legal issues and has a broad grasp of the subject.” Chambers and Partners (2017)

    “He is particularly adept at cases relating to land development issues. He is articulate and able to convey legal points in a very clear way. Added to this, he has a warm personality that definitely helps in our cases” Chambers and Partners (2016)

  • 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

    Paul studied History at Durham University before being awarded the Middle Temple Benefactor’s Scholarship, studying at Nottingham Law School and BPP Law School, and being called to the Bar in October 2007. 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.

    Paul is a member of the Chancery Bar Association, the Property Bar Association, the Institute of Art and Law, Middle Temple, ad Lincoln’s Inn (“ad eundem”) and an Associate Member of The Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management.

    Paul is also Public Access qualified, accepting instructions from individuals and businesses where appropriate.



    • 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


    The vast majority of Paul’s work is by referral from a solicitor. However, in suitable cases, he accepts instructions directly from members of the public, businesses and other organisations. 

    Initial specialist advice and analysis can usually be given. In some cases Paul will be able to continue deal with matters by himself, but in others, and where in the best interests of the client, he can advise on bringing in suitable solicitors, paralegals, experts and other professionals to build a team to progress the case.

    For example, recent successful Direct Access proceedings that Paul has been involved in have involved property issues such as boundary disputes and rights of way.