Our deep-rooted expertise in trusts is the cornerstone of both our private client and commercial chancery practices. Our barristers are sought after to appear in high stakes trusts litigation and advise on critical non-contentious trusts matters. A number of our team are recognised for their excellence in the Chambers UK Bar 2019 trusts rankings, an elite list of the most distinguished practitioners.
We have extensive experience in trusts litigation, both in the UK and offshore, including disputes relating to the validity and interpretation of trusts and claims for breach of trust, civil fraud and asset recovery. We often advise on and appear in cases relating to trusts created informally, such as where lawful transactions give rise to implied trusts, and where trusts arise from unlawful or unconscionable conduct.
Our non-contentious expertise includes the drafting of trust instruments, advice on questions concerning the scope and proper exercise of trustees’ powers, and applications to the court for the variation of trusts.
Some of our members have specialist expertise in technical areas such as strict settlements, entails, perpetuities, and heritage assets. We also advise on tax issues relating to the establishment, administration and termination of trusts.
We are regularly involved in international trusts matters and many of our barristers have undertaken secondments at law firms in offshore jurisdictions. Our offshore expertise encompasses all aspects of our contentious and non-contentious trusts expertise, as well as the PSC register and the transfer of trusts between jurisdictions.
Radcliffe Chambers has vast experience in trusts matters. Past cases in this area include:
Acting for the successful first defendant in a case concerned the National Fund, a charity set up in 1928 by a donor of £500,000 with the aim of investing and accumulating the income of the fund until it, together with other hoped-for donations, would be large enough to discharge the National Debt. The fund has since grown to £500 million, but this is still a tiny fraction of the National Debt. The Attorney General applied to the court for the fund to be released to the National Debt Commissioners. Heirs of the donor intervened in the proceedings to claim that the trust of the fund was invalid. The Attorney General and the trustee of the National Fund, represented by Robert Pearce KC and Daniel Burton, successfully opposed the arguments of the heirs, and the court confirmed that the fund is held on a valid charitable trust.
The Bermudian Court of Appeal handed down a landmark judgment in Grand View Private Trust Co Ltd v Wong, Wen Young & Ors, reversing the decision of the Bermudian Supreme Court and rejecting any limitation on the exercise of trustees’ powers to add and remove beneficiaries by reference to the so-called “substratum” of the trust. In the $560m Global Resource Trust appeal Keith Rowley KC appeared successfully for the Second Intervenor, and Robert Pearce KC and Piers Feltham were members of the Appellant’s and Second Intervenor’s respective legal teams.
Thomas Dumont KC, assisted by Poppy Rimington-Pounder succeeded in the Court of Appeal in establishing that solicitors can (despite Lewin on Trustees’ view to the contrary) rely on the innocent trustees’ 6-year limitation period, even when their fraudulent partner had stolen the proceeds of conveyancing transactions. This landmark decision lays down an important principle. Surprisingly it has never before been determined, despite Parliament first introducing the innocent-trustee limitation period in 1888 and carrying it through into the Limitation Act 1980.
Our barristers in this area include some of the most are sought after barristers in this field. A number of our team are recognised for their excellence in the Chambers UK Bar 2019 trusts rankings, an elite list of the most distinguished practitioners.