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SIMON ATKINSON

Call: 2011   

+44 (0)20 7306 0102satkinson@wilberforce.co.uk

Trusts, Tax, Probate & Estates

Simon has a specialist trusts and estates practice. He is frequently instructed in his own right, although he also acts as junior counsel in more substantial disputes. He undertakes a mixture of contentious and non-contentious work, both onshore and offshore. His instructions span the whole spectrum of Chambers’ work including: advising trustees in relation to the administration of a trust (including charitable trusts as well as commercial and private trusts), appearing as sole and junior counsel in breach of trust claims and claims challenging trustees’ decision-making generally, acting in probate disputes and Inheritance Act claims and advising in relation to TOLATA claims and family trust disputes.

Notable instructions include:

  • Goodrich v AB [2022] EWHC 81 (Ch): Simon was instructed on behalf of the trustees in 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.  The trustees of two employee trusts sought directions concerning, inter alia, the construction of the terms “spouses” and “children” contained in a settlement deed dated April 1990, as well as directions concerning the possible sharing of confidential information between the trusts.  The judgment considers the approach to construction of employee trust deeds given their commercial purposes and also whether it is possible to read down the CPA 2004 and the MSSCA 2013 compatibly with ECHR rights, specifically articles 8 and 14, to eliminate potentially discriminatory outcomes between (i) spouses and civil partners, (ii) opposite sex and same sex spouses and (iii) children and step-children in older settlements.
  • Appearing with James Ayliffe QC in National Stadium Project (Grenada) Corp v NH International (Caribbean) Ltd [2020] UKPC 25. This dispute arose out of the construction of a sports stadium in Grenada in the late 1990s and concerned the entitlement to a multi-million dollar fund which had been frozen when the dispute first arose back in 1999. After 20 years, an arbitration, and multiple court proceedings, the matter was finally resolved by the Privy Council in 2020. It is an important recent authority on the law of Quistclose trusts and equitable assignment.
  • Appearing (with Andrew Mold QC) in Long v Rodman [2019] EWHC 753 (Ch), [2019] EWHC 2451 (Ch) on behalf of two of four daughters who successfully sought the removal of a Court-appointed professional administrator of their father’s estate in a heavily contested application under s. 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985.
  • Appearing (with Emily Campbell) for the professional trustees in Labrouche v Frey; Re Olga Martin-Montis Will Trusts [2016] EWHC 268 (Ch). This was a seven-week trial in which a beneficiary of English will trusts alleged numerous breaches of trust by the trustees over a period spanning the 1980s to 2010. The claim raised a number of questions of Liechtenstein, Swiss and English law.
  • Advising the trustees of an accumulation and maintenance trust as to whether a proposed distribution would comply with the requirements of section 71 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 and thus allow the settlement to remain subject to favourable tax treatment.
  • Acting for several heirs under Saudi Arabian law, who sought to have restrictions entered against the titles of UK properties as beneficiaries of an English resulting trust.
  • Advising the settlor of a charitable trust of steps to take where the terms of all the trustees had expired without new trustees having been appointed.
  • Appearing in the High Court to seek the removal of a co-executor because of his alleged fraudulent activities and to make related specific disclosure and third-party disclosure applications.
  • Advising trustees of a charitable trust as to their powers in relation to the upkeep of
    a public recreation ground.
  • Appearing in the High Court on behalf of a co-executor in relation to a specific disclosure application and directions for the administration of an estate.
  • Appearing in the Court of Protection in relation to the disputed appointments of
    health and welfare attorneys, and property and financial affairs attorneys.
  • Advising as to whether an inter vivos sale of property at an undervalue would be treated as an advancement under the deceased’s will.
  • Acting for the executors of an estate in relation to potential rectification claims
    arising out of conveyances of land containing mistakes as to the description of the parcels conveyed.
  • Acting for the beneficiary of two will trusts in professional negligence proceedings brought against the solicitors retained to draft the wills of the testator and testatrix.
  • Acting (with Andrew Child) for the father of a family who was being sued for alleged breaches of trust in relation to the management of the family’s extensive property portfolio which was owned through various offshore entities.
  • Acting for the trustees of an employee benefit trust in relation to the proposed sale
    of the shares in the company which formed the principal asset of the trust.
  • Advising outgoing trustees of a large investment fund in relation to the vesting of onshore and offshore trust assets in incoming trustees.
  • Appearing in various claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, including acting for claimants, defendants and executors.