HNW Guide 2017
Chancery: Traditional (The London Bar)
Market commentators highlight that Wilberforce Chambers is both “technically good” and “a leading set in terms of commercial acumen.” It is recognised as one of the premier sets in trusts, taxation and other private client work. One legal expert enthuses: “They are exceptional at dealing with private client matters and also excel with the rest of chancery work; specifically, they are regarded as the standout set for trust disputes.” Other sources also note that the set has a significant number of established silks with extensive private client expertise. A solicitor remarks: “They are of real benefit to even the most experienced practitioners.”
Another lawyer praises the clerking operation led by Nicholas Luckman and Mark Rushton: “The clerks are great and very commercially minded; they can make things happen. You always feel like you are getting special treatment.”
Brian Green QC is lauded as “trust royalty” and is praised for his “real gravitas and firepower.” He is seen as a leading practitioner in trust and estate law and is also noted for his expertise in offshore matters. One source enthuses: “I would call him a powerhouse. He has a formidable reputation and a very high profile. He does big matters, and I mean matters so big they would be on the front page of the Financial Times.” His tactical abilities are further praised by a London lawyer: “He is just supremely good at seeing the big picture. We have a huge complex matter and he can cut right through to the important points. His judgement and experience are unparalleled along with his legal expertise. I have total faith in his judgement and wisdom.” Another peer summarises: “He is outstanding and one of the best practitioners in the UK in this area of law.”
Gilead Cooper QC specialises in contentious trust and property matters on both a domestic and international basis. A legal source remarks: “He is very good at understanding the technical aspects of trust law while also being very perceptive to the personal situation and commercial realities of the case.” The source continues: “He understands personalities and the interpersonal dynamics involved. His ability to straddle both means he comes up with excellent solutions and provides very strong advice.” Cooper is also highly regarded for his expertise in offshore matters and regularly appears in overseas courts.
Michael Furness QC is described as being “an extremely intelligent and successful practitioner.” He is noted for his work in both onshore and offshore disputes and often deals with trust and tax litigation as well as the associated professional negligence issues. “He has a first-class brain and works very hard at turning over all the stones in a case,” says one solicitor, who adds: “He’s enormously constructive and I rate him very, very highly indeed.” Another adviser notes that “he has a strong track record of giving good strategic advice on litigation and the court process.” His cases often involve complex, multi-jurisdictional issues.
Robert Ham QC is recognised for his long-standing experience in traditional chancery matters. A legal expert remarks: “He has an enormous volume of understanding of his subject; when he speaks everyone listens and everyone believes what he has to say.” He specialises in trusts and taxation matters, handling both contentious and non-contentious work, and also has expertise in pensions and professional negligence matters. One solicitor further enthuses: “He is extraordinary; he gives some of the best and most clear advice on very difficult topics. He is very good with clients and has a very kind and sympathetic manner. He is a seasoned trust lawyer.”
Fenner Moeran QC focuses his practice on complex family disputes and frequently handles sensitive and high-profile trust cases. “He is able to deal with some of the most difficult and complex matters,” enthuses one source, who continues: “He is a strong and sensible advocate; he stands his ground when needed but is also open to cutting a deal.” He has also developed a substantial offshore disputes practice and is further praised for being “very commercially minded and for understanding the nature of this business.” Another interviewee says: “He is very bright and very diligent. His mind is incredibly lucid and he can recall every detail.”
One source is quick to highlight that Jonathan Hilliard QC is “extraordinarily bright and a future star as a QC.” Hilliard is noted for his experience dealing with high-value trust and family law cases. “He is incredibly knowledgeable on trust structures and the operation of complicated trusts. He knew everything inside out,” says one solicitor, who adds: “He was also very good at simplifying complex trust provisions into succinct and clear advice for the clients.” He is also noted for his offshore and international experience, and a legal adviser further enthuses: “He has been exceptional handling cases, both on overall strategy and also when dealing with substantive law.”
Clare Stanley QC enters the rankings for the first time and is recognised for her strong experience in contentious trusts and probate litigation. One lawyer comments: “She makes very informed insights about the case and she can really help clients with overall strategy.” Her advocacy is also praised by one solicitor who says: “Judges are very complimentary about her and how she controlled matters. She absolutely knew what she was doing and had total control of the case. She has an easy and straightforward manner and is also good at cross-examination.”
John Martin QC is recognised as a hugely experienced barrister with specific expertise in contentious trust cases. One peer comments that “he is authoritative and an absolute star on contentious matters; you always want him on your side in such disputes.“ Another lawyer notes: “He is excellent and is one of the senior statesmen of the Bar with tons of experience.“ He also deals with offshore disputes and regularly appears in court in a variety of overseas jurisdictions.
Jonathan Davey QC is noted as being “a very smart and powerful advocate.” He is regularly involved in complex and high-value traditional chancery disputes and has experience in significant tax litigation. “He is very good; he is very smooth, intelligent and presents his case very well,” remarks one source, who continues: “The clients were delighted with him and the client we worked with would only take advice from him.” He also has expertise in pensions and charity matters.
Andrew Child is a leading junior in the field of traditional chancery. One lawyer states: “He is a name you see on all the biggest cases. He is very in-demand with solicitors and always acting in important cases that have significant decisions and judgments.” He often deals with matters concerning estate and trust litigation both domestically and offshore. A wealth expert notes: “He does a lot of international work and is excellent in this respect. He is known for giving well thought-out and clear advice. He is incisive and analytical in his approach to complex matters.” Another peer remarks: “He’s excellent on points of law and is both authoritative and clever.”
Judith Bryant is a well-experienced junior who specialises in advisory and litigation work involving trusts. “Her legal intellect is first-rate and she added a lot of value to her advice,” says one lawyer, who adds: “She has plenty of experience in these kind of matters and she brought that to bear in the case. She also has excellent commercial instincts.” She often advises on trust variation matters and disputes over the interpretation of complex trust documentation. A source further enthuses: “She was able to give very clear, no-nonsense advice and represent the position of her clients in a very clear and decisive way.”
Emily Campbell has a practice which encompasses a broad range of chancery work and she is praised by one fellow peer as “one of the brightest people I know.” Another lawyer notes: “She is very intelligent; her work is always well considered, very detailed and comprehensive.” She has strong experience in litigation and advisory work relating to trusts, estates and taxation. A lawyer remarks: “She was impressive at explaining the law in court and confidently conveyed her legal argument. I was impressed by her knowledge of the law and her style of advocacy.” She also has expertise in offshore and international matters.
With a wide-ranging chancery practice, Mark Studer is praised as being “incredibly clear-thinking and articulate.” He deals with the full range of private client litigation and frequently handles overseas and offshore matters. One source says: “He has quite a lot of experience and we chose him specifically because he is good at dealing with complex multiparty cases with lots of family members involved.” The source continues: “He also has excellent legal knowledge, is very responsive and is very engaged with the case.” Another peer adds: “He takes an academic and intellectual approach to legal questions. He is logical and that is helpful.”
Andrew Mold has a broad chancery practice and has particular expertise in breach of trust matters. He is praised for his advocacy skills, and one peer enthuses: “He is a very persuasive speaker in court; he is a great performer on his feet and is a hugely accomplished and skilled advocate.” A legal source further notes: “I like that he’s very approachable and really straightforward with his advice. He is concise and to the point. He has a good rapport with clients; he’s articulate and intelligent but not stuffy.”
Tiffany Scott is an experienced barrister who advises on all aspects of trusts and estates work, both on a contentious and non-contentious basis. “She is very pleasant and very bright,” says one peer, who adds: “She has tons of experience and she is very well respected by her peers and third parties alike.” Another source reports: “She can simplify the most complex arguments and takes a firm and fair attitude to contentious matters.” She is also noted for her expertise in offshore and multi-jurisdictional matters.
Tax: Private Client (The London Bar)
Wilberforce Chambers has a premier reputation for chancery work, particularly trusts, property, pensions law and offshore matters, and its members are well placed to advise on complex private client tax cases. Barristers at Wilberforce can assist with all types of private client tax work, with particular expertise in offshore trusts and tax matters, IHT planning, and income and Capital Gains Tax planning. Members of the set also have a strong track record in major tax scheme cases. Instructing solicitors see Wilberforce as “really easy-going and really approachable – not fuddy-duddy at all, really easy to deal with.”
The clerks are praised by another interviewee, who says: “They get back to us very quickly, they are very good and responsive indeed.” Mark Rushton is the set’s head clerk.
Brian Green QC is one of the Bar’s top chancery silks, with an unrivalled reputation in major trusts cases. He is also a leading pensions expert and has a very strong offshore practice. This blend of expertise makes him hugely valuable to high net worth clients with offshore trusts, tax and domicile issues. “I will use Brian Green for any difficult trust work,” says an instructing solicitor, adding: “Brian is the best QC that I’ve ever used. And for me, the main reason is that he’s incredibly clever, he doesn’t change his mind and he almost always gets straight to the solution to what seems an insoluble problem.” Another private client solicitor says: “He’s been very approachable, sensible and pragmatic on what is a very sensitive issue. It was a very difficult trust issue and he has a pre-eminent reputation for trusts. He’s stellar. The other thing I’d add is that he was very good on IHT as well, and it’s really good that he can do both.”
Michael Furness QC is a well-regarded tax, pensions and chancery specialist. He handles a wide array of offshore trusts litigation and tax scheme cases, including film schemes, as well as advising on tax structuring. He also has significant expertise on pensions law matters. Fellow barristers say Furness is “very clever and persuasive, and has the respect of the court.” Another source comments: “He is a class act. He’s a really formidable advocate, extremely fluent and very easy on the ear. He is very bright and can reduce complex issues to simple propositions.”
Jonathan Davey QC is recognised as a skilled chancery practitioner and is well regarded for his private client tax work. He is particularly well known for his recent work on high-profile film scheme litigation. He is often instructed by the Revenue, but also acts for private clients in trusts and tax matters. He is “extremely bright, very eloquent and an excellent courtroom performer,” says a source, adding that he is “a very persuasive advocate and a good cross-examiner as well.” An instructing solicitor says his “best trait is he can explain the legislation to non-specialists and make it clearly understandable,” and adds that he is “excellent to deal with on a personal level.”
Arts and Cultural Property Law (The London Bar)
Gilead Cooper QC of Wilberforce Chambers “is very good at the museums side and trusts side, and also good at strategic issues,” according to a source. An instructing solicitor says he is “very pleasant, cultured, very interested in the art world and art generally, and he’s very active in the field.” He regularly acts for museums and galleries, often advising on sensitive title disputes.