We have a substantial and growing contentious trusts and estates practice which brings specialists together from across our private capital and litigation teams in all three UK offices.

This team has the resources and knowledge to handle large and complex cross-border trust litigation cases. We regularly act on in relation to disputes involving trusts and trustees (of private trusts) and litigation and disputes arising after the death of an individual.

Core areas of focus

Our areas of focus include:

  • Variation of Trust applications
  • Tax investigations and disputes with HMRC
  • Allegations of breach of trust
  • Professional negligence
  • Partnerships
  • Civil fraud
  • Large, complex and cross-border litigation

Disputes after death often concern issues surrounding the validity of wills and financial claims against estates, and we can act for both the beneficiaries and executors of wills. The team also has strong experience of claims brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Clients and experience

Recent highlights include:

  • Acting for Ekaterina Berezovskaya, Boris Berezovsky's daughter, following his death, in two cases:
    • Her application for a limited grant of probate
    • Defending proceedings brought against her by Aeroflot (the Russian airline) seeking to pass her over as administrator of her father’s estate. We were highly commended for this work at the 2015 Legal Business Awards in the Private Client Team of the Year category
  • Advising the trustees of a substantial family trust, who owned 100 per cent of the shares in a well-known private company, on the sale of the company to a management buy-in team comprising one of the beneficiaries. As well as trustee duties, this case involved issues such as:
    • The fiduciary duties owed by directors to shareholders
    • Valuation advice
    • Pensions, including dealing with the Pensions Regulator following the wind-up of the pension scheme
    • Long-term incentive plan claims
    • Tax
    • A successful application to the High Court to obtain the Court’s approval of the sale, given the highly contentious family background to this trust
  • Making an application to the High Court under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958 to vary the terms of seven substantial family trusts with combined funds in excess of £400 million and a further application to vary substantial trusts (valued at in excess of £150 million) involving US beneficiaries
  • Advising the son of the deceased in defending a sizeable 1975 Act claim. The case attracted widespread media coverage as the estate is valued at over £10 million and includes a polo estate and a family-owned construction business
  • Advising clients in respect of a negligence/breach of contract claim against the client's former advisers in relation to a domicile and tax planning, specifically the creation of two trusts with a UK deemed domicile settler and constituted with significant UK assets
  • Advised a number of UK and offshore trust companies, where they are involved in contentious trust claims or as executor in the context of a disputed estate; in relation to a number of 1975 Act claims (where the client remains neutral); and concerning an application to the court for rectification of a contested will and trust structure

Key contacts

Meet the team
Susan Garrett

Susan Garrett

Partner, Co-Head of Tech Group
Manchester, UK

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