Starting from a traditional Chancery base of property, trusts and wills, Elizabeth’s practice has developed to include substantial pensions, retail financial services and professional negligence work. She describes it as a varying and fascinating mix of case law and black letter law with regulatory overtones and a hint of charity.
Elizabeth’s practice began with the traditional Chancery fare of property, trusts and wills and she still practises in those areas. Over the years she has also acquired experience and expertise in related but distinct areas, which now form a substantial part of her work.
This process began in her early years of practice as she undertook specialist building society work, involving the drafting of building society rules and mortgage conditions and advice on constitutional matters, particularly after the Building Societies Act 1986 came into force. Following the conversion of many leading building societies into public limited companies, she has continued to draft documents for, to advise and to conduct litigation for, building societies and other institutions, including major banks. This range of work now includes not only the original constitutional and mortgage-related matters, but also consumer credit legislation, unfair terms legislation, regulatory matters and dealings with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Another early development was Elizabeth’s first contact with pensions law, which related to a small local pension scheme for Nottinghamshire miners and took place against the background of the 1985 miners’ strike. Since then, her work in the pensions field has expanded to cover the whole range of pensions law, from the trust-based issues relating to trustees’ duties and powers to the legislation-based issues of scheme funding, taking in (among other matters) group and individual estoppel claims, claims by individual members, regulatory matters and the Pensions Ombudsman on the way.
Elizabeth’s financial services and pensions work come together in a third significant area of work, professional negligence. Her involvement here began with the collapse of the housing market at the end of the 1980s and arose out of her mortgage work, as lenders looked for a solvent defendant to make good the shortfall when properties went into negative equity. That work developed into a much wider range of professional negligence work, both within the financial services field and outside it, particularly in relation to claims against solicitors, benefits consultants and actuaries. Her professional negligence expertise has been put to good use in the pensions context, where she has acted for both claimants and defendants in substantial professional negligence claims, frequently arising out of failed equalisation cases.
Elizabeth is also a part-time judge of the Upper Tribunal, which gives her an additional insight into the tribunal side of the Courts and Tribunals Service. Tribunals have become increasingly significant to the Chancery Bar in recent years as substantial areas of work which would previously have been dealt with in the High Court have been transferred to specialist tribunals. Financial services, pensions and charity matters are now all within the jurisdiction of tribunals. Elizabeth values the experience of sitting judicially both for that insight and for the different perspective to be gained from sitting in the Administrative Appeals Chamber, frequently dealing with social security claimants. Despite the wide difference in subject matter between social security law and traditional Chancery work, the ability to grapple with complex and detailed statutory material is required in both fields and her skills in that respect stand her in good stead.
Significant cases include:
Significant recent work includes:
Elizabeth Ovey is recommended as a leading junior by Chambers UK, Chambers Global and/or The Legal 500 in six commercial and chancery fields: banking and financial; consumer credit; commercial chancery; traditional chancery; pensions; and professional negligence. Examples of recent directory comment are as follows:
The directories have also noted that she “continues to impress for no-nonsense service delivery and commercial rigour”, is “very knowledgeable and thorough”, “very tough and highly able”, and is “highly thought of in terms of her level of client care. Nothing is too much trouble for a lawyer who proves highly conscientious in all her dealings”.
Elizabeth has recently contributed to Radcliffe Chambers seminars on fairness issues in financial services, on the changes made by the 2011 edition of the Standard Conditions of Sale in the field of property law and on the Independent Schools case in the field of charity law.
She has recorded podcasts on fairness issues and on construction and rectification in the pensions law field and has recorded a webinar on pensions and insolvency.
She has been a speaker at a number of CLT conferences, principally on mortgage-related matters but most recently on the charity law review conducted by Lord Hodgson.
She also speaks on pensions matters, both at events organised by the Association of Pensions Lawyers and at in-house seminars.
First class degree in jurisprudence (St. Anne’s College, Oxford)
Deputy Social Security Commissioner 1998, becoming a deputy Judge of the Upper Tribunal in 2008
Chancery Bar Association; Association of Pension Lawyers; Charity Law Association; Professional Negligence Bar Association.
VAT Registration Number: 342102414
Bar Membership Number: 16302
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