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Charles specialises in private client work, both contentious and non-contentious, and increasingly involving technical advice on tax, trusts and estates. Whether advising in conference, on paper, or in court, Charles applies a detailed, but clear, analysis to complex issues.
Experience and Expertise
Charles is recognised by Chambers UK Bar and Legal 500 UK Bar as a leading junior for Chancery and private client work. He is also ranked in Chambers HNW, in which a client reports: "He's good for the particularly contentious matters and is very quick thinking. He is a committed practitioner and always goes the extra mile for his clients." Charles is regularly instructed in reported cases and writes extensively on estate planning, Inheritance Tax and trusts. He has also edited Halsbury's Laws of England on Inheritance Tax.
Cases and Work of Note
- Newman v Clarke  EWHC 2959 (Ch);  4 WLR 26: Charles Holbech acted for D1, and succeeded in obtaining summary judgment on the basis that D1 was unilaterally exercising a statutory right, vested in him on the grant of the tenancy, prior to his appointment as a trustee. He did not forfeit those rights by agreeing to act as a trustee.
- Breslin v Bromley  EWHC 3760 (Ch): A Will was unsuccessfully challenged on the grounds of want of due execution. One of the challengers relied on CPR 57.7(5) that she would only cross-examine the attesting witnesses without making any positive case. The other challenger advanced a positive case that the will was invalid. The will was upheld. The judgment addresses the costs consequences for the parties.
- All England Reporter  EWHC 3214 (Ch): Evidence - Conviction - Admission as evidence in civil proceedings - First defendant being convicted of offence in 1995 - Claimant seeking to adduce evidence of spent conviction in probate proceedings - Whether first defendant committing offence of dishonesty - Whether evidence of conviction should be admitted. Evidence Conviction. In an underlying probate action, a beneficiary under a will sought to adduce evidence of her brother's spent conviction to establish his dishonesty. The Chancery Division, in refusing to admit the evidence held that the mere fact of the conviction did not support the proposition that her brother had been dishonest.
- C v D  3214 Ch: A beneficiary under a will, who sought to establish that a fellow beneficiary had procured the will by undue influence, failed in her attempt to adduce a spent conviction as evidence of the other beneficiary's propensity for dishonesty. Even though national newspapers had reported the conviction as that of a "crooked director" who had tried to "trick the state" of money, dishonesty was not an ingredient of the actual offence convicted of and, therefore, none could be inferred.
- Erskine Trust  All ER (D) 03 (Apr): The High Court held that two adopted children were not, as a matter of construction of a provision in 1984 settlement, entitled to benefit as "statutory next of kin" of an individual. However, such a construction was unfair and discriminatory on Human Rights, which became part of English law pursuant to the Human Rights Act 1998. A non-discriminatory construction could be applied retrospectively without.
- Thompson v Humphrey  EWHC 3576 (Ch): A leading case on constructive trusts and cohabitees.
- Stephenson v Stephenson  WTLR 1467: A case on rectification of a settlement.
- Singh v Albert  All ER (D) 240 (Feb): A High Court case involving a dispute as to the resealing of a foreign grant of probate.
Recent directory editorial comment has included the following:
- "A real expert on tax and he always knows how to work through even the most complex of problems. His advice is always very helpful and is spot-on. His technical skills are outstanding and he has a very strong grasp of some of the most complex legal concepts." "He is forceful and a go-to person if you have a fraught dispute." (Chancery: Traditional, Chambers UK, 2019)
- "Excellent on really complex and intricate details." "He really knows his stuff." (Chancery: Traditional, Chambers UK, 2018)
- "Very meticulous and methodical." (Private Client: trusts and probate, Legal 500, 2017)
- " A pragmatic barrister who gets to the crux of the matter and offers sensible, straight forward advice" which "invariably chimes with the objectives of the clients." (Chambers UK, 2017).
- "He is academically bright, has great technical skills and can assimilate and deal with a great amount of detail and documentation." (Chancery: Traditional, Chambers UK, 2016)
- "Superb on detail and particularly technical points of law" (Legal 500, 2016)
Charles is the sole contributor of White v Jones liability for negligent advice published in Oxford Journals - October 2016. He also wrote A hard case to make: Bromley v Breslin  published in Trusts & Estates Law Journal July/Aug 2016, and the chapter on Taxation in Williams Mortimer & Sunnucks on 'Executors, Administrators & Probate' (2018) published by Sweet and Maxwell.
In 2012 Charles wrote an article entitled Has the golden rule lost its lustre? which was published in Trusts and Estates Law & Tax April 2012.
Christ Church, Oxford – Classics Mods; BA in Law
- Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS)
- Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)
- Chancery Bar Association
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