Practice overview

Sam joined Chambers as a tenant in September 2022. He regularly appears in both the High Court and the County Court on his own account, and also enjoys working as part of a team.

Before joining Wilberforce, Sam practised in New Zealand as a barrister, and as a solicitor in one of New Zealand’s leading litigation firms. He had a broad practice and frequently acted on large cases involving difficult contractual and equitable issues. In one such case Sam acted for PwC as liquidator of Ross Asset Management, New Zealand’s largest Ponzi scheme – a matter which raised novel questions about the intersection between equitable and insolvency principles.

Sam has lectured in contract law and tutored the property law (and equity) module at the University of Otago, and obtained a first-class LLM from Cambridge University. He is currently co-authoring chapters in Thomas on Powers with Robert Ham KC.

Sam’s practice spans all of Chambers’ key areas, including trusts, commercial disputes, property, and insolvency.

Trusts, probate and estates: contentious

Trusts, probate and estates work makes up a significant part of Sam’s practice. Sam is currently instructed as part of teams from Wilberforce acting on two large offshore cases, and also frequently appears unled in domestic disputes in this area.

  • Representing the Defendants in a three-day trial relating to whether a Pallant v Morgan equity or common intention constructive trust arose over a property which was the subject of a failed joint venture. Sam appeared unled and cross-examined the Claimants’ expert quantity surveyor (as well as their lay witnesses).
  • Acting in a contested proposal to restructure offshore trusts worth approximately $1bn, led by Jonathan Hilliard KC.
  • Acting in a high-value contested offshore trusts dispute, led by Robert Ham KC and Michael Ashdown.
  • Acting for an intervener in divorce proceedings, opposing a claim by the husband that the property, owned by the wife’s parents, was the matrimonial home by virtue of a common intention constructive trust.
  • Acting for Guernsey purchasers of a trustee business, who alleged breaches of warranties and restraint of trade provisions by the seller.
  • Acting for executors who were the subject of removal proceedings, set down for a one-day hearing in the High Court (settled on the door of court).

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    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Fraud, Trusts & Asset Recovery Conference 2024

    Thursday 4th July 2024 | 12.30pm - 5.25pm, followed by drinks and canapés
    The View at The Royal College of Surgeons

    £135 + VAT | 3.5 CPD

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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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    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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    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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Commercial disputes

Sam is comfortable advising and acting in a variety of commercial and fraud cases, including those involving urgent interim relief (such as freezing and proprietary injunctions). Many of the commercial cases he works on have an offshore element. Commercial litigation also formed a large part of the work he did in New Zealand prior to joining Chambers.

  • In Bourlakova v Bourlakov, a high-value and complex fraud claim in the Chancery Division, acting for defendants who successfully opposed an application for a worldwide freezing order.  Most recently, in [2024] EWHC 765 (Ch), the defendants successfully sought orders relating to misuse of their confidential and privileged information which had been obtained by private investigators employed by the claimants, including delivery up and disclosure. Sam is led by Andrew Hunter KC and Jack Watson.
  • Acting for an investor in a tech startup, seeking repayment of the fair value of his equity stake in the business following breach of contract by the company.
  • Successfully obtaining freezing and proprietary injunctions against an individual who allegedly misappropriated sums from the claimant metals products manufacturer (and the companies, now in liquidation, of which he was a director), led by Jack Watson.
  • Acting for sellers of a financial services business (sold for over US$20m), seeking payment of earn-out consideration in the context of a subordinated debt agreement.
  • Acting for an individual on the English dimension of foreign proceedings which seek to recover stolen diamonds worth tens of millions of US dollars.
  • Acting in a pair of cases in New York, each worth approximately $100m, assisting Graeme Halkerston in giving expert advice on issues of Cayman law, including on issues of fraud/breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Acting for a private client who seeks repayment of debts totalling over £30m.
  • Acting for claimant owners of a valuable classic Jaguar, bringing claims against the defendant engineers who worked on the car prior to it suffering catastrophic engine failure at Silverstone.
  • Advising and drafting in relation to a number of commercial disputes in the Bahamas, including claims relating to breach of an alcohol distribution agreement, a partnership agreement, pre-incorporation contracts, and an application to set aside an injunction.
  • Acting for a business bringing claims against its bank for breach of mandate, seeking repayment of sums misappropriated by thieves (led by Jonathan Chew).

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  1. Placeholder

    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Fraud, Trusts & Asset Recovery Conference 2024

    Thursday 4th July 2024 | 12.30pm - 5.25pm, followed by drinks and canapés
    The View at The Royal College of Surgeons

    £135 + VAT | 3.5 CPD

    View more
  2. Placeholder

    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

    View more
  3. Placeholder

    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

    View more
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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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Samuel's expertise

Download Property CV

Property

Sam accepts instructions across the full range of property litigation, from large commercial property disputes to small rural and residential matters. Sam frequently advises on cases involving complex and technical issues.

  • Acting for an electricity distribution network operator, applying for strike out of proceedings relating to ownership of land beneath a highway, and arguing the subsequent appeal.
  • Acting in Ensign House v Ensign House (FEC) Limited, a development dispute about a property in Canary Wharf which culminated in a month-long trial in the Chancery division in November 2022 (assisting a team from Wilberforce Chambers led by Jonathan Seitler KC).
  • Acting in Adjoin Ltd v Fortytwo House SarL [2022] EWHC 2710 (Ch), a rights to light dispute relating to a new development in the City, led by John McGhee KC and Harriet Holmes.
  • Advising claimants who brought proceedings seeking a declaration that the road which they live on is a private road, and has never been dedicated as a public highway.
  • Acting for a landlord accused of wrongfully forfeiting a commercial lease worth approximately £1.6m.
  • Acting for the claimant leaseholder in proceedings involving nuisance and trespass claims relating to water ingress caused by the defendant freeholder’s works.
  • Acting for landlords in proceedings in the Upper Tribunal in a claim by tenants for repayment of rent.
  •  Acting in various contractual leasehold and tenancy disputes concerning disrepair, responsibility for improvement works and issues of contractual interpretation.
  • Possession proceedings (on behalf of both claimants and defendants), including advising on complex issues that arise in atypical leasing arrangements.
  • Acting for a buyer of a large new residential development in London, opposing the seller’s applications to change the planning permission it had obtained. Sam was led by Joanne Wicks KC. The case concluded in an expert determination in which Sam and Joanne were successful.
  • In a matter in the Business and Property Counts, seeking to protect the rights of a leaseholder whose investment in the subject property was being threatened by applications made by a liquidator, led by Zoë Barton KC.

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Samuel's expertise

Download Insolvency CV

Insolvency

Sam regularly appears in the Winders and the insolvency application list, as well as acting on large cases involving companies in liquidation. Several of the commercial disputes listed earlier also involved insolvent companies or individuals.

  • Appearing in bankruptcy applications and winding up petitions on behalf of both creditors and debtors.
  • Advising and appearing on behalf of both applicants and defendants in injunctions to restrain winding up petitions.
  • Acting for an administrator, successfully seeking an extension to the period of administration.
  • Appearing on behalf of directors of a company, successfully seeking permission to trade under a prohibited name.
  • Acting for claimants who seek repayment of sums misappropriated by directors of the defendant companies (now in liquidation) as part of a tax avoidance scheme, led by Lexa Hilliard KC.

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  1. Placeholder

    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Fraud, Trusts & Asset Recovery Conference 2024

    Thursday 4th July 2024 | 12.30pm - 5.25pm, followed by drinks and canapés
    The View at The Royal College of Surgeons

    £135 + VAT | 3.5 CPD

    View more
  2. Placeholder

    Events / Webinars

    Wilberforce Insolvency Conference & Dinner 2024

    Thursday 1st February 2024 | 12.30pm - 5.55pm, followed by drinks and dinner
    The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, London

    £130 - £185 + VAT | 4 CPD

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  3. Placeholder

    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

    View more

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Samuel's Details

BSB/VAT information

Registered name: Mr Samuel Cathro
VAT number: 430024262

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Qualifications and Appointments

  • LLM (first), University of Cambridge
  • LLB (Hons, first class), University of Otago, NZ
  • BA in English, University of Otago, NZ

Awards:

  • Thomson Reuters Prize for best undergraduate dissertation in law at the University of Otago
  • University of Otago Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship
  • University of Otago Scholarship in Law
  • University of Otago Scholarship in Arts
  • Richard Sutton Memorial Prize
  • Sir Harold Barrowclough Scholarship

Memberships

  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Property Bar Association
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Contentious Trusts Association

Publications

  • Sam Cathro and Simon Connell “New Variations on the Rule Against Penalties: Options for New Zealand” (2017) 27 New Zealand Universities Law Review 1033 at 1087
  • Sam Cathro and Simon Connell “Radical Change to the Rule Against Penalties in England” (2016) 7 New Zealand Law Journal 247 at 271

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