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Trusts, Tax, Probate and Estates

We have long been regarded as a leading chambers in the fields of trusts, related tax work, and wills and probate, with our reputation for excellence reinforced by constant recommendations in legal directories. We are described by Chambers & Partners (2017) as: the set that probably has the widest and deepest talent for private client work.”

With strength in depth at both silk and junior level, we have a wide range of barristers who are skilled in both contentious and non-contentious trusts and estates work.

Our barristers not only have outstanding intellectual ability but also commercial acumen and sensitivity to the needs of clients, with a commitment to providing an excellent quality of service.

Areas of expertise include:

  • The scope of trustees’ powers and duties
  • Construction and rectification of trust documents
  • Tax planning relating to trusts
  • Drafting trust documents
  • Probate disputes, including issues of construction and rectification of wills and testamentary capacity
  • Administration of estates, including cross-border issues
  • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  • Trusts in a commercial context, including employee benefit trusts and Quistclose trusts
  • International trust and estates disputes, including conflicts of law issues
  • Trust issues in matrimonial proceedings
  • Charitable trusts
  • Applications to the Court of Protection
  • Professional negligence in trust and estates matters

Our barristers have a wealth of shared knowledge and experience. We are trusted and valued for our skills and know-how in the private client field. Our annual Wilberforce Trust Litigation Conference is a firm fixture for leading private client practitioners, providing a forum in which we can examine and discuss recent trends and developments with our clients.

We are regularly instructed by accountants, banks and financial institutions, as well as solicitors, attorneys and advocates. We are experienced in handling international work in offshore jurisdictions including Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Recent leading trust cases in which our barristers have been involved include

  • Twin Benefits v Barker – acted for the successful Claimant seeking third party disclosure of allegedly privileged documents.
  • Akers v Samba – a successful appeal to the Supreme Court on the application of section 127 Insolvency Act 1986 and the Recognition of Trusts Act 1987 to a disposition of legal title to Saudi shares held under a Cayman Islands trust.
  • Labrouche v Frey & Ors – a long-running claim for breach of trust, which principally concerns the relationship between an English Will trust of a Swiss resident and a Liechtenstein Establishment and issues regarding remuneration of the trustees.
  • Futter v HMRC and Pitt v Holt – the seminal Supreme Court decision on what had become known as the rule in Re Hastings-Bass and on the ability to set aside voluntary dispositions on the ground of mistake
  • Day v RCM  – Linked appeals concerning an enduring power of attorney, inter vivos gifts of chattels and the rule in Strong v Bird
  • Marley v Rawlings  the Supreme Court decision on the construction and rectification of wills
  • Rawstron v Freud (High Ct)  – Whether the will of Lucian Freud created a fully secret trust
  • P L Travers Will Trust Trustees v HMRC (FTT)  – Whether the royalties from the Mary Poppins stage musical were income or capital receipts for trust law purposes, and their correct tax treatment
  • CIR v Nice Cheer Investments (HK Court of Final Appeal)    Whether unrealised profits of a trader in investments were liable to profits tax.
  • MHI v Cayman Island Tax Information Authority – representing companies in a judicial review which established the obligations of Revenue Authorities seeking to enforce Tax Information Exchange provisions under the OECD model or double taxation treaties.