Trusts, probate and estates: contentious

We have long been regarded as a leading chambers in the fields of trusts, wills and probate disputes, with our reputation for excellence reinforced by constant recommendations in legal directories.

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
  • 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
  • Advising on and attending applications to the Court of Protection – experience includes but not limited to, acting for Protected Person (via Official Solicitor or litigation friend), interested parties and the Deputy
  • Professional negligence in trust and estates matters
  • Art and cultural property law (more information here)

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.

Rankings and recognition

Wilberforce is ranked as a tier 1 set in Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 for Traditional Chancery and Private Client (Trusts & Probate) work.

Chambers & Partners 2024: Wilberforce Chambers has an impressive group of barristers who handle complex disputes surrounding trusts and estates, and demonstrate multi-jurisdictional knowledge of the law. “The team here is tried, tested, battle-hardened and excellent,” comments a source. Recently, members of the set have appeared in a number of significant matters including Halabi v Equity Trust, which looked at fundamental principles of trusts and insolvency and their interrelationship. As one interviewee said: “Wilberforce is the go-to set for tricky cases that sit at the interface between different areas of law. They are the set to go to when you need someone really skilled and you’re seeking out the best advice.”

The Legal 500 2024: Wilberforce Chambers is ‘a leading set on all matters relating to trusts’ and ‘a real powerhouse in private wealth work’. ‘Trusts expert’ Clare Stanley KC is ‘a persuasive advocate’; sherepresented Simon Halabi in the Halabi v Equity Trust case before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, an appeal from the Jersey courts concerning if trustees have priority over other creditors of an insolvent trust. In addition, Jonathan Davey KC represented HMRC in Levack v Bay Trust International test case concerning the doctrine of mistake, and trustees placing themselves at risk of mistakes as applied to tax structures, in this case one established by the practice of struck-off solicitor-turned-pornographer Paul Baxendale-Walker. Turning to the set’s juniors. Simon Atkinson represented the trustees in Goodrich v AB – a case concerning if provisions in a trust deed drawn up in 1990 should, in the light of subsequent legislation, should be interpreted as including stepchildren as children and civil partners as spouses.

Chambers Bar Awards 2023: Wilberforce wins Chancery Set of the Year

The Legal 500 Bar Awards 2022: Wilberforce wins Chancery Set of the Year

Chambers Bar Awards 2022: Clare Stanley KC wins Chancery Silk of the Year

Chambers Bar Awards 2021: Thomas Grant KC wins Chancery Silk of the Year

Chambers High Net Worth Awards 2020: Wilberforce wins of Set of the Year

The Legal 500 Bar Awards 2020: Wilberforce wins Private Client Set of the Year

Chambers Bar Awards 2018: Wilberforce wins Chancery Set of the Year

Wilberforce Chambers publishes a regular Private Client eBriefing update – if you would like to be added to the mailing list, please email

Notable cases

Hinduja v Hinduja (Court of Protection) [ongoing]

Acting for the Deputy for the head of the Hinduja family (one of the wealthiest families in the world) amidst complex disputes between separate branches of the family in various jurisdictions.

In the matter of the X Trusts [2023]

Successfully acting for the respondent in Bermuda Court of Appeal in a decision on breadth of standard form consent powers of fiduciary protectors of trusts. The Court reached a unanimous decision following full argument that the role of a fiduciary protector having a power of consent in relation to the exercise of trustee powers is “narrow” rather than “wide”.

Read the In the matter of the X Trusts judgment here.

Equity Trust (Jersey) Ltd v Halabi [2022]

A key Privy Council decision of significance throughout the common law world, concerning the interplay between trusts and insolvency law. It has particular importance in circumstances where the trust fund is ‘insolvent’, in the sense that the trust assets are insufficient to meet the amounts due under the trustee’s right of indemnity.

Read a copy of the Equity Trust (Jersey) Ltd v Halabi judgment here.

Punter Southall Governance Services Ltd v Benge [2022]

Concerns the circumstances in which the Court might refuse to bless a decision of pension scheme trustees, with particular reference to the meaning of “necessaries of life”, the conflicted position of member-trustees, and the relevance of disputed matters of fact.

Read the Punter Southall Governance Services Ltd v Benge  judgment here.

Goodrich v AB [2022]

An important decision concerning the construction of settlements created prior to the Human Rights Act 1998, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

Read the Goodrich v AB judgment here.


Financial Services Compensation Scheme Ltd and others v Estera Corporate Trustees (Guernsey) Ltd [2020]

A high-value trusts dispute arising from the insolvency of the Freedom Bay property development scheme in St Lucia. The case raises important legal questions about trustees’ ability to rely on investors’ contributory negligence as a defence.



Spitalfields Open Space v The Governing Body of Christ Church Primary School and Others [2019]

In the wake of the multi-million pound restoration of Hawksmoor’s masterpiece, there was a long-running legal dispute over the consecrated churchyard which forms the setting to the Church, a World Heritage Site.


Children’s Investment Fund Foundation v HM Attorney General [2018]

Heard in the Court of Appeal, this case concerns a registered charity, which sought approval of making a grant of $360m to a new charity established by one of its trustees. It marks the first time that the question of duties owed by members of a charitable company has been considered by the courts, and has significant implications for members of charitable companies.

Akers v Samba [2017]

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.

Read the Akers v Samba judgment here.


Labrouche v Frey & Ors [2016]

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.

Read the Labrouche v Frey & Ors judgment here.

Day v RCM

Linked appeals concerning an enduring power of attorney, inter vivos gifts of chattels and the rule in Strong v Bird.

CIR v Nice Cheer Investments

A Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal case on 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.

Insights View all thought leadership

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    Four wins for Wilberforce at Chambers UK Bar Awards 2023

    We are absolutely delighted to have picked up four awards at last night’s Chambers UK Bar Awards! We are proud to announce that Wilberforce Chambers won the highly coveted ‘Set of the Year‘ award, as well as ‘Chancery Set of... Read more

    Friday 1 December 2023

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    Citywealth Magic Circle Awards 2024: Wilberforce Shortlisted

    Citywealth Magic Circle Awards have recently revealed their 2024 shortlist and we are delighted to announce that Wilberforce has been shortlisted for Chambers of the Year. In order to vote and/or to view the full shortlist, please click here. Voting closes... Read more

    Tuesday 14 November 2023

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    Lumb v Lumb: fitting together the costs rules in probate disputes with the general ethos of the CPR

    Article by Benjamin Slingo, 30th October 2023 To read or download this article as a PDF, please click here.  Lumb v Lumb [2023] EWHC 2052 (Ch) was an appeal on costs which sheds interesting light on how general rules of... Read more

    By Benjamin Slingo
    Monday 30 October 2023

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    Recent Cases

    Judgment handed down in CPF One Limited & anor v Ortus Secured Finance I Limited

    Banking and financial services, Property, Trusts, probate and estates: contentious

    Zoë Barton KC | Jia Wei Lee
    Thursday 5 October 2023

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Upcoming events View all events

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Trusts Litigation Day 2024

    Monday 29th January 2024 | 9am - 5.35pm, followed by drinks and dinner
    InterContinental Park Lane, London

    £299 - £360 + VAT | 5.5 CPD

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    External Conferences

    TL4’s First Annual Practitioner’s Forum on Trusts in Divorce

    Thursday 15th February 2024 | 9.00am - 5.20pm, followed by a drinks reception
    Central London

    £299 + VAT (members), £399 + VAT (non-members)

    Andrew Mold KC

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    External Conferences

    ThoughtLeaders4 – HNW Divorce Litigation – 3rd Annual Flagship Conference 2023

    Thursday 23rd November 2023
    One Whitehall Place

    Jonathan Hilliard KC | Andrew Mold KC

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Fraud, Trusts & Asset Recovery Conference 2023

    Wednesday 8th November 2023 | 12.45pm - 5.30pm, followed by drinks
    Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch, London

    £120 + VAT | 3.5 CPD

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Guernsey Conference 2023

    Thursday 19th October 2023 | 3.30pm- 6.20pm, followed by a drinks reception
    The Old Government House Hotel & Spa, St Peter Port

    Free to attend | 2.0 CPD

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Jersey Conference 2023

    Wednesday 18th October 2023 | 3.30pm - 6.20pm, followed by a drinks reception
    Grand Jersey Hotel & Spa, St. Helier

    Free to attend | 2.0 CPD

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