Public Access Barrister & Mediator – Contentious Probate, Inheritance Act, & Trust Disputes

I am a registered public access Barrister, TEP, SCMA accredited mediation advocate, and a Certified Mediator, and my Practising Certificate has been extended by the Bar Standards Board to authorise me to conduct litigation.

New enquiries

To enquire about my availability and to instruct me, please contact my Clerk at 1 Essex Court:

Tel: 020 7936 3030 or 020 7832 1010.

Tel out of hours: 07721 866 858.

Email: clerks@1ec.co.uk

Access to 1 Essex Court is from Fleet Street or the Embankment via Middle Temple Lane. Our premises are in the far corner of the car park at the top of Middle Temple Lane, on the first floor.

Before you speak to my clerk please email him a brief description about who is in dispute, over what, and why.

Please do not email any documents in the case to me until I ask you to, as I will not read them until the following formalities have been complied with. If you are a member of the public please also read the ‘Public Access Cases’ information below.

I cannot provide any legal advice until instructed, i.e. until after a Client Care Letter or Public Access Agreement has been signed, MLC due diligence has been completed, and an agreed fixed fee for a defined scope of work has been agreed and paid in advance.

I undertake work on a fixed fee basis plus agreed disbursements, and charge an initial fixed fee of £1,500.00 for reading documents. This enables us to develop a plan of action during an initial Zoom conference, and to scope the work for implementation in defined stages, with payment being made in advance of each agreed stage. If documents in a case exceed 50 pages, a higher fee will need to be agreed.

I do not undertake any work on a CFA basis.

For Solicitors my standard terms of engagement are based upon the draft contractual terms agreed by the Commercial Bar Association with the City of London Law Society (the ‘COMBAR CLLS’ terms) as approved by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund.

Communications with any person other than a member of the public who is a party to a claim , or their solicitor is not legally privileged, and I cannot be instructed by e.g. an intermediary on behalf of a member of the public, i.e. I need to be instructed directly either by a party themself, or by their solicitor.

Public Access Cases

Before I can act for a public access client or agree to conduct litigation certain ground rules must be discussed, clearly understood, and agreed, see ‘Advice in conference’  below and my Guide to Instructing a Public Access Barrister’ please click on this LINK which a new public access client should read  before contacting either myself or my Chambers with an enquiry for the first time.

Under the professional conduct rules of the Bar which apply to public access work, before a Barrister can agree to act he must evaluate whether or not a solicitor needs to be involved, e.g. to investigate and assemble evidence. I therefore only undertake public access work with clients who can communicate with me clearly, and who make decisions after they have received legal advice about evidence, merits, remedies, procedure, costs, litigation risks, and ADR.

In my experience, the best starting point for a lay client is to assume no knowledge of the law and civil procedure rules, to focus of facts, and to instruct their professional advisor to advise whether or not they have a case, what that is, and what further information needs to be provided and issues investigated to properly evaluate merits. Otherwise the claim will not have been properly analysed.

Please note that I do not undertake urgent applications for new and unknown public access clients. I can of course make an urgent application to the court on behalf of a known and established  public access client or solicitor.

Case preparation

Preparation for a  County Court or High Court trial in a Contentious Probate, Inheritance Act, or Trust case involves as a minimum:

  • taking your detailed instructions;
  • analysing the issues of law and fact in the case (which typically involves 4/5 days detailed reading time);
  • drafting a chronology of facts; taking witness statements;
  • investigating and assembling documentary evidence; drafting and filing statements of case and a skeleton argument;
  • the assembly, agreement (if possible), and filing of a bundle of documents with the court;
  • agreement of a fixed fee structure after the work to be undertaken has been accurately scoped and defined;
  • execution of a public access contract; and
  • MLC due diligence (which is a strict legal requirement before any practitioner can act).

To enable me to advise in conference about remedies, procedure, and merits you  need to prepare and email me:

  • a concise and accurate statement about the background to the dispute (i.e. to set the scene);
  • a list of persons involved in the case (and who they are);
  • a brief chronology of events;
  • a list of documents in your possession (including correspondence);
  • HM Land Registry Office copies (in the dispute involves property);
  • the Will and any Codicil;
  • copies of any Caveat and Appearance;
  • a copy of the IHT 400 (in draft form or as filed);
  • copies of any asset valuations; and
  • copies of any statements of case and witness statements.

You also need to state the outcome you are seeking, i.e. your objectives – what you want the court to order.

Excluded advice

Please note that I do not provide any:

  • advice about conveyancing;
  • advice about Land Registry practice and procedure;
  • investment advice;
  • financial advice;
  • accounting advice;
  • advice about any law other than English law;
  • advice about litigation funding options, insurance (including without limitation ATE insurance), legal aid; and
  • tax advice.

The provision of such advise is expressly excluded under the terms of my retainer.

Claim value

Please also note that if the value of a claim exceeds £2.5 million (including costs), I will not act, because that is outside my PI Cover.

Costs

I will advise generally about costs risks during the first conference. Please note that I do not make commercial decisions for my clients, therefore the making of any decision by you to propose, accept, or reject an offer of settlement will be expressly stated to be outside my retainer in the Public Access Agreement.

Where a party wins a court action an order for costs is likely to be made in their favour. However, there are three potential problems with this. First, your opponents may not actually be able to pay the costs awarded against them either in full or at all. Second, because the costs would be assessed by the court in a process called taxation, by which the court only allows the recovery of certain costs  (even though you may have had to pay more) you will not get all of your fees paid even if your opponents are able to pay them. In practice you are unlikely to recoup more than 60% of your actual costs unless costs are awarded by the court in its discretion on the indemnity basis, which is exceptional, e.g. for intentional wrongdoing and breach of fiduciary duty by a solicitor, and where breach of fiduciary duty is alleged it must be pleaded in accordance with CPR, r. 16.4 and PD 16, paragraph 8.2, which requires  that,

‘The claimant must specifically set out the following matters in his particulars of claim where he wishes to rely on them in support of his claim:

(1) any allegation of fraud,

(2) the fact of any illegality,

(3) details of any misrepresentation,

(4) details of all breaches of trust,

(5) notice or knowledge of a fact,

(6) details of unsoundness of mind or undue influence,

(7) details of wilful default, and

(8) any facts relating to a claim for mitigation expenditure.’

Third, if your opponents are legally aided, you may not be able to recover your costs in any event; needless to say, we will let you know immediately if they get legal aid.

Should you lose a court action or if an order is made against you at the hearing of an interim application, then an order for costs is likely to be made against you in respect of the costs of the other side. This means that you will have to pay your opponents’ legal costs, or a proportion of them, in addition to your own legal expenses.

As a general rule, judges at all levels are required to assess costs  summarily at the end of a trial on the fast track or at the conclusion of any other hearing lasting less than one day, i.e. on the spot at the end of the trial/hearing, see: See, ‘Guide to Summary Assessment of Costs’: Guide to Summary Assessment of Costs 2005 edition (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Mediation

As a practising Barrister and Author, I specialise in Contentious Probate, Inheritance Act, and Trust Disputes, and as a Certified Mediator, can be appointed to act as either a solo or co-mediator in a Zoom mediation about a dispute anywhere in the world, including the following trust law jurisdictions: Australia; Bahamas; Bermuda; BVI; Canada; Cayman; Gibraltar; India; Malaysia; New Zealand; Northern Ireland; Pakistan; UAE; and the United States.

For more information about my services as a Mediator please visit the ‘Mediator – Contentious Probate, Inheritance Act, and Trust Disputes’ page of this website.

Remote Hearings and Mediations

I have an account with Zoom, and all of my meetings are currently taking place using this platform, including remote mediations.

Remote hearings guidance to help the Business and Property Courts | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

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