"In court, he is able to readily get to the crux of the issue and his well-reasoned and sensible litigation style is well received by the judge and opposition alike.  He is exceptionally talented at offering pragmatic and cost-effective advice“

Legal 500 2022

He is exceptionally skilled at identifying the crux of an issue, finding a sensible and pragmatic resolution to cases.

Legal 500 2021  

"His advice is first rate, commercially minded, and pragmatic."

Legal 500 2020

Practice Overview

William Hopkin is an expert in the business of companies, charities and public bodies.

He is 'exceptionally skilled at identifying the crux of an issue, finding a sensible and pragmatic resolution to cases'.  In contentious matters, William is 'able to disarm the most aggressive opponents' and has been described as a 'great orator', whose 'litigation style is well-received by the Judge'. (Legal 500)

Recently, William has appeared in the leading authority on fiduciary relations in commercial transactions tainted by bribes (Wood & Pengelly v Commercial First [2021] EWCA Civ 471), acted as independent investigator for a national charity and advised in a range of notable matters combining charity, trust and company law.

He is commended for the clarity and focus that he brings to difficult matters, with solicitors describing him 'extremely able at assimilating complex information quickly' and 'very astute'. (Legal 500).

William acts for a spectrum of organisations including private enterprise, schools and universities, national charities, public bodies and foundations.  Over the last 20 years, he has served on the board of a number of organisations.

William strives to combine practicality and innovation, with legal accuracy, in his advisory work.  'He is exceptionally talented at offering pragmatic and cost-effective advice' and it has been noted that 'his advice is first rate, commercially minded, and pragmatic'. (Legal 500)

His service is enriched by his breadth of experience across a spectrum of commercial, humanitarian and international activity.

  • Charities

    William Hopkin is a leading charity specialist at the Bar. His clients include national charities, philanthropists, schools and universities, public bodies, specialist organisations and ancient foundations. 

     

    Recent highlights include:

    • His appointment as independent investigator to conduct a fact-finding exercise into alleged impropriety at a national charity
    • Advising on company and charity issues in respect of a high-profile legacy to charity
    • Providing a structure for the enforcement of a major public grant-making programme
    • Advising as to the validity of a trust holding prime real estate for a community body
    • Successfully concluding "charity proceedings" centred on a dispute between rival trustee bodies

     

    He is author of the forthcoming practitioner text 'Charities as Companies'.

    William was co-chair of the Charity Law Association ['CLA'] Annual Conference in 2017 and 2018.  He has sat on the CLA's Executive Committee and chaired a number of sector working parties.

     

    He has intimate knowledge of the practical workings of charities from his long experience as a trustee.  

     

    William's expertise covers:

    • Complex registrations
    • Charities operating as companies, associations and trusts
    • Construction of governing documents, wills and historic bequests
    • Dispute resolution
    • Charitable structures and arrangements (including drafting)
    • Trustee duties and conflicts
    • Application of property
    • Trading and commercial arrangements

     

    William has excellent technical knowledge and is focussed on delivering sensible, practical advice to enable charities and social purpose organisations to fulfil their objectives.

     

    He is a member of the Charity Law Association.

  • Commercial Litigation

    William provides expert advice, advocacy and drafting in commercial matters.  His contentious practice includes the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal, whilst his advisory work embraces contractual and trust arrangements of complexity and value.

    Recent highlights include:

    • Successfully appearing in the Court of Appeal in what is now the leading authority on fiduciary relations in commercial transactions tainted by bribes (Wood & Pengelly v Commercial First [2021] EWCA Civ 471).
    • Advising as to the enforcement of a £10 million per year grant programme, including as to common law and equitable remedies
    • Setting aside, as trial, a guarantee on the basis of undue influence between company shareholder and domestic partners
    • Advising as to the legal basis of the holding of a £20 million site by linked organisations
    • Reaching settlement terms in a long-running dispute as to the alleged misappropriation of funds in a joint venture to develop retail and residential properties

     

    He takes a practical and constructive approach, which combines attention to detail, technical expertise and business sense.

    William’s expertise covers:

    • All aspects of serious commercial litigation
    • Injunctions and urgent applications
    • Asset-tracing and recovery
    • Advice and drafting in relation to commercial arrangements
    • A broad spectrum of commercial activity, including:
      • Agency
      • Guarantees
      • Joint ventures, partnerships and SPV’s
      • Financial services and mortgages
      • Construction
      • Public sector contracts
      • Trusts
      • Associated professional negligence and property matters (separate CV available on request)
    • Cooperatives, unincorporated associations and clubs

    He is a member of Combar.

  • Company & Partnership

    William Hopkin has considerable experience and expertise across a range of company, partnership and insolvency matters. 

    As well as contentious business, William advises in relation to transactions and corporate arrangements, often as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

    Recent highights include:

    • Successfully concluding proceedings for the acquisition of shares on the basis of deadlock provisions - a case that included allegations of unfair prejudice and breach of directors' duties.
    • Advising as to the remedial steps required in relation to the erroneous  payment of dividends from a capital redemption reserve.
    • Providing solutions to a cooperative, registered under the Companies Acts, in respect of entrenched provisions (involving mutuals' legislation).
    • Advising as to breach of directors' duties in the context of companies whose value passed under a high-profile will.
    • Advising as to the existence and operation of an unwritten partnership in respect of an agricultural estate.

     

    William's company expertise covers:

    • All aspects of serious company litigation
    • Shareholder and director disputes
    • Company register and share issues
    • Corporate and personal insolvency
    • Claims against directors of insolvent companies
    • Partnership litigation and advice

     

    He has advised, and litigated, in a number of sectors, including mining, technology, investments, healthcare and railways.

    William is available to provide advice at short notice in relation to interim remedies and emergency action.

    He is author of the forthcoming practitioner text ‘Companies as Charities’.

  • Directory Recommendations

    ‘Very astute and a great orator’ (Legal 500, 2019).

    ‘Extremely able at assimilating complex information quickly’ (Legal 500, 2017)

     

    ‘[He] has an ability to disarm the most aggressive opponents with his frank, considered and calm approach’ (Legal 500, 2016).

  • Additional Information

    Qualifications / Education

    • Bar Vocational Course, College of Law: Very Competent
    • Graduate Diploma in Law, College of Law: Commendation
    • BA Hons, University of Exeter
    • Magdalen College School

    Awards

    • Poland Prize Scholar – Inner Temple
    • Duke of Edinburgh Exhibitioner – Inner Temple
    • Prize for Civil Litigation – Bar Vocational Course, College of Law

    Professional Appointments

    • Executive Committee of the Charity Law Association (2016-2019)

    Memberships

    • Charity Law Association
    • Commercial Bar Association
    • Philanthropy Impact

    Public Access

    Yes


    ADR

    Extensive mediation experience