• ‘Contentious Trusts Handbook – Practice and Precedents’, 1st Edition, 400 pages including a CD-ROM, priced £100.00, published by the Law Society in July 2020 (ISBN-13:978-1-78446-12446-124-9).

Book Reviews

‘This practical overview of contentious trusts sets out a clear route from letter before claim to costs orders. Its logical and helpful structure enables readers to find what they want to know exactly where they would expect to do so. The case analyses are cogent and commendably concise. The reviews of the law on liability for ‘dishonest assistance’ and Beddoe orders are models of their kind. The author is to be commended on succeeding in providing a portable reference work covering all aspects of the law and practice governing trust disputes in the English courts.’

Ian Mayes QC, Head of Chambers, 1 Essex Court, London EC4Y 9AR

‘Carl Islam has an impressive set of credentials and has much experience in advising on all aspects of contentious trusts. In his work Contentious Trusts Handbook, he has produced a practical reference guide for practitioners, enabling them to undertake litigation in this complex and specialist area of law. As a practical and comprehensive reference work for busy practitioners, the author is to be commended.’

Henry Frydenson LLB MBE TEP CTAPS

‘This book gives the reader what they need to know when arguing – or defending – a contentious case. Overall, the book admirably meets the authors aims. It fills a clear need for a simple guide to the principles and conduct of trust litigation and should be a welcome addition to all practitioners’ libraries.’

Richard Dew, Barrister, Ten Old Square.

Review published in Trusts & Trustees (Oxford University Press) 8th June 2021, written by Mr Jacob Meagher.

‘There are a few key texts often found within easy reach of every contentious trusts or estates practitioner, be they barrister or solicitor. Often you will find the Chancery Guide, a copy of Lewin or Snell (depending on one’s preference), usually a book on Drafting Trusts and Will Trusts (perhaps by Kessler QC), then one of the texts on the laws of probate, and a copy of the White Book. In terms of the actual practice of and preparation for the contentious area of Chancery litigation, specifically practice and precedents one would then turn to Chancery Practice and Procedure or Chancery Litigation Handbook, published by Jordans in 2001 and 2005. Now, a much needed and updated text has been commissioned by the Law Society and authored by barrister Mr Carl Islam of 1 Essex Court, Contentious Trusts Handbook: Practice and Precedents. This soon to be indispensable new work is sure to be staple not only for the preparation of contentious matters, but also for those who wish to pre-empt and ward-off problems arising in the administration of trusts and the relationship with beneficiaries and the courts supervisory jurisdiction.

As explained by Toby Graham, who provides the forward to this work, the publication of Mr Islam’s text reflects the fact that the risk of trustees, beneficiaries and their advisors ending up in court is ever on the rise. Of necessity “[t]his handbook provides the busy practitioner with a practical overview of themes that are commonly encountered. It will guide them through every stage of proceedings, from pre-action action protocols through discovery to settlement and trial”. What is perhaps even more valuable, is that the work provides the tools to head-off and anticipate potential contentious proceedings as well as to litigate and manage them, thus this work proves itself to be both a guide in times of crisis and gives the non-contentious private client practitioner the benefit of hindsight before the event. Examples of this forward-thinking analysis can be found at various stages throughout the text, which sets out in plain language the equitable principles and the leading cases which may be cited in reliance to further your cause. This handbook can also be used as a guide for trustees to take action (or to take pause) but also to draft from the included CD of precedents.

The chapter on Claims covers areas which other texts do not, and is exceedingly thorough in its coverage and application. For example, under the heading ‘Declaration of a Beneficial Interest in Property’ the author considers the various constructive trust claims and how they can be made out—this is a results focused text. Equally useful, and under the discussion of a claim for removal of trustee appears the heading ‘Trap for the unwary’ along with the warning that “removal [of a trustee] does not automatically ensure that the trust property will be vested in the remaining and any new trustees”.

The chapters on Equitable Remedies, Litigation, Costs, ADR and Settlement, are particularly relevant to private client and contentious trust practitioners as they place those subjects within the context of trust and Chancery practice—something which general texts do not. That is, “The particular features of trusts can make it difficult to analyse whether privilege attaches to any given communication”, those features are then analysed along with a discussion of Dawson-Damer v. Taylor Wessing LLP. Costs are always a factor of concern, to both trustee clients, and or beneficiaries in distress, the work clearly outlines the cost implications to all parties in the context of a trust dispute and it is useful to see the cost implications of Beddoe orders spelt out clearly along with reference to the accompanying precedent.

For some this text will hold value in its specialised precedents which for the purposes of this area of practice are in my mind superior to more general works on precedents and pleadings. These stretch from Beddoe application, Calderback offers (equitable compensation), all the way to a Confidential note to the mediator, Particulars of Claim for: Breach of Trust, Tracing, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Accessory Liability, as well as TOLATA applications. The work also includes specialist notes by experts Pandora Mather-Less on Art and heritage assets and the duties of trustees, Hector Robinson QC on Trust litigation in the Cayman Islands, and A meditator’s view by Anthony Trace QC.

Mr Islam concludes his preface by observing that “[t]he bridge that fuses the traditional technical skill set of company and commercial lawyers with that of trust lawyers (who in solicitors’ firms used to live in separate boxes) is, however, a relatively recent phenomenon outside of the Chancery Bar.” The author hopes that his text will be of value to all “who need to apply first principles when confronted with complex and novel facts that engage the ‘super-highway’ of equitable remedies and principles, when proceedings are issued” or contemplated. I can indeed confirm that his Contentious Trusts Handbook fits that description and is sure to be a staple text found within easy reach of every Equity and Trusts practitioner.’

Book Review by Sangeeta Rabadia published in the Law Society Gazette 28.06.2021:

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Written by Toby Graham, Partner and Head of the Contentious Trusts and Estates Group at Farrer & Co LLP, Co-editor of Trust & Trustees (Oxford University Press).

‘Sir John Baker explains that the publication in 1837 of “A Practical Treatise on the Law of Trusts” authored by Thomas Lewin signified a shift away from perceiving trusts as principally an adjunct of conveyancing of land towards an institution in their own right. Trusteeship shifted from being a relatively passive office ancillary to landed settlements towards a more general and demanding role. Trusts ceased to be the exclusive preserve of the aristocracy also becoming a vehicle for the wealth of Victorian England’s middle classes. The book is now known as Lewin on Trusts. It continues to dominate the English texts.

Similar observations might be made of the Contentious Trusts Handbook commissioned by the Law Society and written by Carl Islam (who like Thomas Lewin is a leading barrister practicing in the field). This is because its publication reflects the unfortunate fact that the risk of trustees becoming involved in court proceedings appears to be on the increase. Such proceedings are increasingly hostile and hard fought. This handbook provides the busy practitioner with a practical overview of themes that are commonly encountered.  It will guide them through every stage of proceedings, from pre-action protocols through discovery to settlement and trial. It contains a detailed discussion of mediation and arbitration and it is accompanied by a set of useful precedents and contributions from an art expert (Pandora Mather-Lees), an expert in trust litigation in the Cayman Islands (Hector Robinson QC) and a mediator (Anthony Trace QC).

The handbook will enable practitioners to anticipate and head off problems, thus hopefully reducing the risk of litigation, as well as providing guidance if and when proceedings are necessary. As with its non contentious cousin, authored by Gill Steel, Mr Islam’s handbook will become a well established staple on our bookshelves. The author and the publishers are to be congratulated.’

  • ‘Contentious Probate Handbook – Practice and Precedents’, 1st Edition, 424 pages including a CD-ROM, priced £79.95, published by the Law Society 1 October 2016 (ISBN: 9781784460600). The photograph shows the book on display in the window of Wildy & Sons, on Fleet Street, in London.

Book Review by Richard Dew, published in the June 2017 edition of the STEP Journal circulated worldwide (average monthly global net circulation July 2015 to June 2016: 19,757).

Richard Dew TEP is a Barrister at Ten Old Square, which won Chambers of the Year at the STEP Private Client Awards 2015/16.

‘Some years ago, I spoke at a local STEP branch regarding practice and procedure in contentious probate, and subsequently published the notes of the talk online. As is the way with the internet, I found, even recently, that I was occasionally contacted by solicitors who – or whose clients – had read the notes and found them helpful, despite their obvious antiquity. The reason was simple: there are very few publications that address squarely (and solely) the topic of contentious probate.

Carl Islam has now filled that gap with a handbook aimed at practitioners that sets out the law and practice of contentious probate, with a number of useful precedents.

The author covers all the major topic areas, not only regarding the validity of wills, but also the removal of executors and trustees, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and the principles of interpreting and rectifying wills. The requirements of civil procedure are set out in a comprehensive chapter, and there is a further chapter on the principles of costs, including the costs-budgeting regime.

The reader who wishes to quickly research a principle or check on a procedural rule will be swiftly satisfied with the logical and clear presentation. A more avid reader will also not be disappointed: the author sets out his considered views on the tactics of litigation in a chapter that will cause even a seasoned litigator to reconsider. He also clearly has considerable experience in alternative dispute resolution, and provides guidance on both the well-known process of assisted mediation and other less well-known techniques, such as barrister-assisted mediation and the system of guided settlement, something the author himself has pioneered.

Where outside expertise was needed on certain procedures, the author has obtained it: there are contributions from experts on mental disorders, forensic document examination and the preparation of costs budgets.

There are also 23 precedents ranging from, for example, Beddoe orders to a sample Precedent H (a costs budget). It is inevitable that even a book devoted to precedents will not provide all those that might be needed, but this volume contains many examples that will prove useful to its readers.

I can also recommend the notes set out in the appendices, which include a note on preparing court bundles (if only this were better known!) and a very useful digest on mediation cases.

I do not have criticisms of the book so much as suggestions for the next edition. The chapter on Inheritance Act claims is short and would be improved by further discussion of the principles applicable to such claims. In addition, while the tax effect (and advantages) of settling and concluding probate claims is discussed, the book would benefit from outlining some of the more common techniques that are used.

I had thought that I should update and expand the notes that I had written and make them into a book. This is now not only unnecessary but pointless, as I would be unable to improve on this publication.’

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  • “The Advocate and the Expert in the Court of Protection”, published in the Expert Witness Journal (Autumn 2018). Co-authored with Dr Hugh Series of Oxford University.

The Advocate and the Expert in the Court of Protection | Expert Witness Journal

  • “Equitable compensation arising out of sale of a property ordered under section 14 TLATA” published in Trusts & Trustees by Oxford University Press, Trusts & Trustees, Volume 23, Issue 10, 1 December 2017, Pages 990–995,

Link to Abstract and Article

  • “Bricks and mortar – the practical application of the residence nil rate band, including drafting issues and claiming the relief’, co-authored with Stephanie Churchill CTA and published in Taxation (12 October 2017) LINK.
  • “The Advocate and the Expert in a Testamentary Capacity Claim”, the paper serialised in the monthly Newsletter of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), of the talk I presented at their Annual Spring Seminar on 7 April 2016, at Charles Russell Speechlys in the City of London. HANDOUT. *
  • “The Advocate and the Expert in a Testamentary Capacity Claim”, published in the Expert Witness Journal (Autumn 2015) LINK* (for the on-line version click this link).
  • “Tax-Efficient Wills Simplified 2014/2015”, (360 pages priced £14.99), is available to purchase in the UK from Waterstones and Amazon. Previous editions have sold in Australia (where the book is in the National Library of Australia –, Brazil, China, Europe, South Africa, the Russian Federation, and the USA, and for posting outside the UK a copy can be purchased from Wildy’s – the world’s legal bookshop [], in Lincoln’s Inn and on Fleet Street in London. The book is also available on Kindle for immediate download – click HERE.  To view the UK Number 1 bestseller ranking for the Kindle edition of the book (23.12.2014) please click HERE*.
    The paperback edition was ranked by Amazon as a UK bestseller at Number 5 in its genre (23.12.2014), and please click HERE* to view the ranking, and at Number 2 (22.12.2014), for most popular products ordered as gifts in the category of personal taxation, and to view the ranking please click HERE*.

Book Review published in the Winter 2013 edition of ‘Light Blue Law’, the Cambridge and District Law Society Newsletter. LINK.

The foreword has been written by Nigel Eastaway OBE, Tax Partner, MHA MacIntyre Hudson, in the City of London who concludes,

‘I think anyone contemplating making a will, or advising their clients about testamentary planning, will find this book accurate, useful, and comprehensive, as a practical guide to inheritance tax planning involving the drafting of tax-efficient wills.’

The book has been fully updated to take account of the tax changes introduced by the bumper Finance Act 2013, and recent cases discussed include:

  • “Tax-Efficient Wills Simplified 2012/2013” was launched at Waterstones on Friday 7th December 2012. On Christmas Eve Amazon (based on its own internet sales) ranked the book 8 in the top 100 of bestselling books in the category of money and finance guides. [LINK].

‘Primarily written for practitioners, this book will also help to demystify the [inheritance tax planning and will writing] process for lay readers. Packed with information and fully referenced to relevant current legislation and case history, the book will provide an invaluable reference for non-specialist financial advisors, lawyers, accountants, tax advisors, will-writers, private banks, trust companies, and family offices worldwide.’ (Publisher’s description).

To read the Foreword to this edition of the book written by Nigel Eastaway OBE, please click on this link*.

For photos, Amazon book ranking and live video from the Book Launch click HERE.

Buying links:     Waterstones        Amazon        Wildy’s

  • Tax-Efficient Wills Simplified 2011/2012”, published by Management Books 2000 Ltd (November 2011) (ISBN: 9781852526887), which is being sold by Amazon, Waterstones, and Wildy’s ( Also published as an e-book available from the e-portal at

Buying links:     Waterstones        Amazon        Barnes & Noble (USA)

Photos from November’s book launch – click the images to enlarge

          booklaunch1_small   booklaunch2_small  booklaunch3_small

  • Tax-Efficient Wills Simplified 2010/2011published by Management Books 2000 Ltd (November 2010) (ISBN: 9781852526382), which is being sold by Amazon, Waterstones, and Wildy’s (

“Priced at just £14.99 the book is something of a bargain.  It is not a particularly heavy or bulky book and yet it manages to include within its pages all of the essential information about will drafting techniques and inheritance tax (save so far as non-UK domiciliaries are concerned) that the average practitioner in this field is likely to need.  If it were possible to distil the most essential elements of Williams on Wills and Tolley’s Inheritance Tax into a single 250 page volume for will draftsmen, Carl Islam’s “Tax-Efficient Wills Simplified” might well be the result.”

(Extract from the first review of the book written by Paul Davies of Lane-Smith & Shindler LLP for Trusts and Estates Law and Tax Journal).

Book Review and Ordering Links:    Leicestershire Law Society    Waterstones

  • Ranked as a bestseller by Amazon in the top 100 of personal finance books (16.04.2011).

Amazon0001a_small<  click the image to see full size

  • The concept of sham in relation to offshore trusts, how such a situation can arise and how best it can be avoided” published in the Journal of International Trust and Corporate Planning, Volume 14, Issue 3, 2007, by Jordans.  LINK
  • The legal and commercial consequences of performing unspecified design work in ship-conversion projects (April 1999). International Conference Paper published by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects in London. LINK*
  • Les effets de la directive communautaire sur la responsabilite du fait des produits sur l’introduction d’une instance au Royaume-Uni” (how to bring a product liability claim in England).Revue du Marche Commun. No325 mars 1989: 176-179, cited on the United Nations Biographic Information System.
  • “The inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises.”The Law Society Guardian Gazette 29th June 1988, Vol.95, cited in Wikipedia August 15th 2012 LINK. Text version available HERE.

    “The article was very helpful for getting our heads round a law we didn’t know existed until last night, so your work was put to good use.” Dave McMullan, Senior Broadcast Journalist, The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4 (15 August 2012).

    ‘Assange in limbo’ published by Eurasia Review News and Analysis 17 August 2012 (

See also the Diplomatic Law Guide.

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