Trusts, Wills & Estates
"The strong team of silks and juniors at New Square Chambers regularly handles a wide array of traditional chancery matters, including trusts, wills, estates and probate matters. 'They have some excellent people', comments one market insider."
Chambers UK Bar 2021
"New Square Chambers is a ‘well-known and highly regarded set’ with a ‘small but impressive cadre of specialist traditional Chancery barristers who are among the leading practitioners in this area.’"
Legal 500 UK Bar 2021
Our clients come to us with trusts and estates cases in ever more diverse contexts and with an increasing focus on international private wealth. They rely on us to be experienced, responsive and expert in chancery law and practice, and in the application of English law in many other jurisdictions. We are well known for our work both at home and abroad. We have been instructed in some of the highest profile cases of recent times, including Marley v Rawlings and Roberts v Gill in the Supreme Court, Guest v Guest, Price v Saundry, Stark v Walker, Bradbury v Taylor, the Alhamrani litigation in Jersey and BVI, the Tchenguiz litigation in Guernsey and the Berezovsky estate case in England.
Our approach to the problems our clients bring to us is pragmatic and flexible, whether or not they involve litigation.
Trusts and estates cases are often only part of a wider picture, involving commercial disputes, company law claims or civil fraud. Our expertise in these areas allows us to respond effectively and comprehensively to our clients’ needs.
We are the home of the leading practitioners’ works: Lewin on Trusts, Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks on Executors, Administrators and Probate, Theobald on Wills, and Protectors of Trusts. Our team regularly contributes headnotes for the Wills & Trusts Law Reports and articles to leading journals, including TQR and Trusts & Trustees. We also speak at conferences worldwide.
Probate and administration of estates
Our wills litigation experience includes cases of incapacity, forgery, undue influence, want of knowledge and approval, interpretations of wills and rectification, as well as proprietary estoppel arising in the context of estates, the administration of digital assets, and numerous other difficulties arising in the administration of estates. We have substantial experience in claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, including high-value matrimonial cases, and cases involving discretionary will trusts. Members also deal with professional negligence considerations arising out of the preparation of wills and administration of estates.
Recent and important cases include:
- Marley v Rawlings (SC)
- Guest v Guest (CA)
- Guide Dogs for the Blind v Box
- Goss-Custard v Templeman
- Chin v Chin
- Todd v Parsons
- Griffin v Higgs
- Lewis v Tamplin
- Patel v Patel
- Crabbe v Townsend
- Seward v Seward
- Bradbury v Taylor (CA)
- Goncharova v Zolotova
- Ashkettle v Gwinnett
- Re Pittaway
- Re Berezovsky
As noted above, three of the leading textbooks on wills and the administration of estates are edited within Chambers, so we are well versed in the challenges that the administration of an estate often presents: will construction, challenges under foreign law, disputed ownership of assets and countless others. We are also used to assisting beneficiaries where there is delay or breach of duty.
Interim remedies, including injunctions and the appointment of interim administrators form part of our work.
Contentious and non-contentious trusts
We have remained at the vanguard of modern trust litigation, as it has evolved in England and offshore. Our recent contentious trusts work has included the Alhamrani litigation in Jersey and BVI, Investec v Glenalla, Guernsey litigation concerning the Tchenguiz family trusts and the collapse of Kaupthing Bank, and Re A Trust, involving a Bermudian trust of $1bn and the effect of trust exclusive jurisdiction clauses. Many of our other cases, including some of our most significant, must however remain confidential.
In the post-Prest v Petrodel environment we are also used to acting in high-value matrimonial finance cases involving complex trusts, foundations and other opaque offshore structures.
We draft and advise on trusts of all kinds, including charitable, governmental, employment and commercial trusts governed by English law or the law of offshore jurisdictions. Our knowledge of UK tax includes the fiscal consequences of complex trust arrangements at home and offshore, inheritance tax and issues of residence and domicile. We are also used to working closely with our clients’ tax advisers and specialist revenue counsel.
Offshore and International
Much of our work is offshore or has a substantial offshore or international element. We have particular experience as advisors or as advocates in cases involving the laws of Anguilla, the Bahamas, Bermuda, BVI, Cayman, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Hong Kong and the Isle of Man. In these cases we work closely with our colleagues in international legal teams and have developed strong relationships with leading firms in many jurisdictions.
Enforcement and Asset Tracing
Both domestically and offshore, our skills in trust and estate litigation are often deployed in cases involving civil fraud in commercial and family contexts and where there are claims to recover or trace assets from trustees or claims based on resulting or constructive trust and breaches of fiduciary duty.