Contentious Probate

To enquire about instructing me directly please send an email to carl@ihtbar.com.

My Legal Services

I am a registered Public Access practitioner, and subject to the Public Access Rules can be instructed directly by members of the public (including executors and trustees) without the involvement of a Solicitor. I act principally for lay and professional clients located in the North East, Midlands, and in London. I am a member of the South Eastern Circuit, which includes London (www.southeastcircuit.org.uk), Chancery Bar Association (www.chba.org.uk), Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (www.step.org), belonging to the STEP ‘Contentious Trusts and Estates’ and ‘Mental Capacity’ Special Interest Groups, and a SCMA accredited mediation advocate (www.mediationadvocates.org.uk). I am listed on page 1 of the Google search pages for ‘Contentious Probate Direct Access Barristers.’

Exercising full rights of audience in all courts and proceedings I provide the following services in relation to will, trust, and inheritance disputes:

  • legal opinions about the construction and rectification of wills under s.20 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982;
  • preliminary evaluation of the legal merits of a claim or defence;
  • case preparation (including advice about evidence, drafting witness statements, and instructing technical tax experts);
  • drafting statements of case;
  • drafting applications and appearing as an advocate at interim hearings;
  • negotiation, mediation advocacy, and drafting settlements and orders;
  • drafting skeleton arguments; and
  • Trial advocacy.

My recent and current work includes claims and proceedings involving:

  • rectification;
  • Beddoe applications;
  • removal of a caveat;
  • lack of knowledge and approval (including the reversal of the burden of proof under the ‘suspicious circumstances’ rule);
  • presumed undue influence (in relation to a lifetime transfer of property);
  • actual undue influence (in relation to a lifetime transfer of property);
  • probate undue influence;
  • fraudulent calumny;
  • lack of testamentary capacity (and the reversal of the burden of proof by raising a ‘sufficient doubt’);
  • common intention constructive trusts; and
  • forgery.

Stages in preparing and litigating a Part 7 (non-money) multi- track claim through to trial 

  1. Evaluation of the:

1.1     evidence (which usually involves taking preliminary proof of evidence from  key witnesses, reviewing documents, and drafting a case summary incorporating a chronology of facts cross-referenced to evidence) – it may also be necessary to instruct an expert to provide a technical report e.g. about testamentary capacity;

1.2     basis of claim and legal merits (i.e. what has to be proved, by whom, and the what standard);

1.3     commercial analysis (involving preparation of an estate assets inventory with valuations);

1.4     remedies;

1.5     applicable civil procedure rules;

1.6     costs (and initial preparation of a costs budget for filing and exchange 21 days before the first case management conference (‘CMC’));

1.7     litigation risks (including costs); and

1.8     ADR options,

which involves providing a written report or opinion.

  1. Formulating and then presenting the claim (including pre-action protocol compliance) which involves drafting a letter before action which is usually followed by an exchange of correspondence in an attempt to clarify, define, and narrow the issues in dispute.
  1. Drafting, issue, and service of the claim form and particulars. Issue fee for non-money claims:
Claim other than money £308 county £528 high
  1. Acknowledgment of service (optional).
  1. Defence.
  1. Reply.
  1. Directions questionnaires.
  1. Track allocation /directions, and filing and exchange of costs budgets.
  1. Interim applications and hearings e.g. for striking out. Application notice fee:
Applications £255
By consent or without notice £100
  1. Case management conference (if ordered by court).
  1. Lists of documents.
  1. Inspection of documents.
  1. Witness statements.
  1. Experts’ reports.
  1. Without prejudice meeting of experts.
  1. Pre-trial checklists.
  1. Listing for trial. Hearing fee:
Hearing Fee £1,090 Multi-track
Hearing Fee £545 Fast-track
  1. Pre-trial review (if ordered by court).
  1. Preparation of trial bundles and skeleton arguments.
  1. Trial.

Court fees: https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/ex50-eng.pdf

Draft Chancery Case Management Directions: http://wbus.westlaw.co.uk/forms/pdf/cpf10814.pdf

Chancery Guide: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630347/Chancery_Guide_updated_0717.pdf

Costs budgets: https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part03/practice-direction-3e-costs-management

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