Matthew Mills has a broad chancery practice encompassing: wills, trusts and estates, charities, property, insolvency, company and commercial matters. He regularly appears led and unled in the County Court and the High Court. Alongside full-time practice, he is a Lecturer in Land Law at the University of Oxford. Matthew is ranked as a rising star in The Legal 500 (private client and charities) and Chambers and Partners (charities). In 2022, Matthew was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown.
Matthew regularly advises and represents clients in relation to wills, trusts and estates. His work covers the full spectrum of private client practice, from substantial and multi-jurisdictional estates to a will allegedly written by hand on the back of a coffee-stained letter. Matthew is ranked by The Legal 500 UK Bar as a rising star for private client work, with clients saying he is “a very capable and knowledge advocate”.
Matthew’s recent advisory work has involved:
- Advising on want of knowledge and approval and testamentary incapacity in relation to an estate worth c.£15 million
- Advising beneficiaries on executors’ expenses and professional negligence in relation to an estate worth c.£8 million
- Advising beneficiaries on a claim for an account in relation to an estate worth c.£6 million
- Advising professional administrators on the distribution of an intestate estate with over 50 beneficiaries across seven countries
- Advising on claims brought by various family members and dependants pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Matthew’s recent court work has included:
- Obtaining a removal order and indemnity costs against recalcitrant executors in relation to a multi-jurisdictional estate
- Representing a child of the deceased in a claim in relation to the properties held in his mother’s £6 million estate
- Representing a beneficiary in a claim brought against an executor for failing to progress the administration of the estate
- Representing a beneficiary in a derivative claim brought on behalf of the estate against the executor in his personal capacity
- Obtaining the first orders in the Business and Property Courts pursuant to the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017.
In 2020, Matthew went on secondment to Dickinson Gleeson in Jersey. While offshore, Matthew worked on Z Trust  JRC 072 (part of the leading litigation on insolvent trusts), the Crociani litigation, and Trico Ltd v Buckingham  JCA 067 (a contractual dispute heard by the Jersey Court of Appeal). He also assisted with an expert report on Jersey trusts law in an international dispute worth $200 million, EFG Bank AG v Surewin Worldwide Ltd  SGHC 227.
Matthew regularly gives seminars and webinars on private client topics. His recent talks have covered challenging wills, claims against personal representatives, and the duty to account (see here).
He also writes on trusts law (see publications below), and previously taught and examined it as a Teaching Fellow at UCL.
Matthew is one of just eight junior barristers in the country who are ranked in both Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 for charity law. Matthew regularly advises charities of all sizes on contentious and non-contentious matters and has represented charities as sole counsel and junior counsel in court.
Matthew’s recent advisory work has covered:
- Advising a grant-making charity worth over £60 million on how to bring appropriate insolvency proceedings against one of the charity’s debtors
- Advising the trustees of a charity associated with a FTSE 250 company on how they could replace themselves with a corporate trustee
- Advising religious and almshouse charities on whether, and if so how, they could spend or sell parts of their permanent endowment worth over £1 million
- Advising two substantial hospices involved in an inheritance dispute on the merits of the claim and possible creative settlement options
- Advising a large national charity on whether it could and should bring a claim against the lay executors of a will from which the charity benefitted
- Advising on the construction of ambiguous charitable bequests and the scope of the royal sign manual procedure
- Advising a village hall charity on how it could ‘incorporate’
- Advising a start-up on how the rules regulating charity fundraisers would affect the new company’s business.
Matthew’s recent court work has covered:
- Representing (with Robert Pearce KC) the Defendants in Jaffer v Jaffer, a High Court dispute over the control and financial management of a substantial international religious charity
- Representing the charity trustees of a Grade I-listed church in a landlord and tenant claim involving alleged disrepair of up to £6.5 million
- Advising and representing senior figures in a branch of the Hindu faith in relation to a dispute over the appropriate amendments to the governing document of a substantial Temple
- Representing charity trustees in a High Court dispute over the control of a mosque
- Representing another substantial national charity in bankruptcy proceedings against a debtor in relation to a debt worth over £2.25 million.
Alongside his practice, Matthew regularly presents webinars on charity law topics. Among other things, his talks have covered charity trustees’ powers, duties and decisions, and recent Charity Commission guidance (see here).
Matthew has also published several academic and practical articles on charity law topics, including the registration of grant-making charities and the Supreme Court’s decision in Lehtimaki v Cooper  UKSC 33 (see publications below).
Matthew previously taught charitable trusts to undergraduates as a Teaching Fellow at UCL.
Matthew practises extensively in all aspects of property law alongside teaching Land Law at the University of Oxford. His expertise encompasses trusts of land, estoppel, easements, charges, and adverse possession (both freehold and leasehold). Matthew’s recent cases have involved:
- Advising on a contractual dispute arising out of the sale of a £5.65 million Grade II* listed property
- Advising on a proprietary estoppel claim relating to property development companies worth over £10 million
- Successfully representing the trustees of a large, landed estate in an adverse possession dispute
- Successfully representing the owners of a c.18th Grade II listed property in a dispute concerning various easements
- Representing the freeholder of a £2 million house in a dispute over the interpretation of restrictive covenants
- Advising the owner of a multi-million-pound house in the exclusive St George’s Hill estate on a nuisance claim.
Matthew also has a broad landlord and tenant practice. He has acted on behalf of both landlords and tenants in matters relating to the construction, rectification, enforcement and breach of leases. Recent highlights of his practice include:
- Acting on behalf of a management company against a KC in £1 million+ High Court disrepair proceedings
- Acting on behalf of a property management company in interim injunction proceedings relating to temporary accommodation during the pandemic. The Council instructed a KC: Merritt v Thurrock Council  EW Misc 2 (CC)
- Securing relief from forfeiture in a dispute relating to a mixed-use property worth c.£1 million
- Advising the landlord of an Edwardian block of 150 flats in London on whether the tenants could be compelled to undertake various fire safety improvements to their flats
- Advising the landlord of a £5 million block of flats in London on whether £150,000 of proposed works would be recoverable as service charges
- Advising the landlord of a block of flats in a conservation area on a disputed application to vary the terms of the leases to expand the tenants’ service charge obligations.
Matthew has frequently appeared in the High Court and County Court on bankruptcy petitions, winding-up petitions and other insolvency matters, including without notice applications. He acts for debtors, petitioners and insolvency practitioners. Out of court, Matthew has recently advised an insolvency practitioner on an antecedent transaction claim in relation to a £4 million property. In court, Matthew has recently represented the petitioning creditor in a disputed bankruptcy petition relating to a £2.25 million debt, and obtained orders extending long-running administrations for insolvent companies with over £10 million of assets.
Matthew has also developed a broad company law practice. He has advised on directors’ rights, duties and remuneration, the construction of company charges, and the rectification of the register of companies. Recently, he successfully defended a director in a claim for the return of his remuneration and expenses.
During the pandemic, Matthew presented webinars on the latest insolvency cases and limitation periods in insolvency law
Matthew’s practice encompasses the full scope of commercial law. His recent work has raised issues of contractual construction, contractual variation, the enforceability of penalty clauses, and the delivery up of prize racehorses.
Matthew has experience of contractual disputes from the pre-action stage to trial. He has recently represented the defendant in a contractual claim worth over £700,000, and secured an order striking out a £185,000 claim brought against a debt collection agency for breach of data protection legislation, misrepresentation and harassment. He has also advised a client on the merits of a contractual claim against the Financial Times.
- “Matthew is a strong junior. Very diligent and thoughtful, he clearly knows his way around the law.” (Charities, Chambers UK Bar 2023)
- “Matthew is very knowledgeable and more than capable in the areas in question. He keeps in touch and provides realistic turnaround times. His written advices are very helpful and well set out. He makes the effort to clarify matters where required, including by phone.” – (Private Client: Trusts and Probate, Legal 500 UK Bar 2023)
Matthew is very happy to speak at open events or provide training to individual teams on topics within his practice areas. His recent talks have covered developments in charity law, property law, insolvency law and general litigation. Recordings of his webinars are available to watch on the Radcliffe Chambers YouTube channel (link).
Matthew has also published articles on a range of chancery topics:
- “Corporate trustees of charities” (2022) 28 Trusts & Trustees 613-621 (link).
- “Incorporating an unincorporated charity” (2021) 27 Trusts & Trustees (link).
- “Where duty lies” (2020) 219 Trusts and Estates Law & Tax Journal 3-10 (link) (a case note on Lehtimaki v Cooper  UKSC 33).
- “The Registration of Grant-Making Charities” (2019) 20 Charity Law & Practice Review 65 (link).
- “The Development of the Public Benefit Requirement for Charitable Trusts in the Nineteenth Century” (2016) 37 Journal of Legal History 269-302 (link).
- “Discharging a Court of Protection security bond after P dies”  Private Client Business 26-30 (link).
- “Single name family home constructive trusts: is Lloyds Bank v Rosset still good law?”  Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 350-366 (link).
- “Why the Supreme Court decision in AIB Group (UK) plc v Mark Redler & Co (a firm), on equitable compensation for breach of trust, should be reversed” (Estates Gazette Online).
Property / landlord and tenant:
- 2015 – 2016 BPTC at City University (Outstanding)
- 2014 – 2015 BCL at the University of Oxford
- 2013 – 2014 LLM at UCL (Distinction, 1st in year overall of 443)
- 2010 – 2013 MA in Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford (First Class)
Prior to coming to the Bar, Matthew was a Lecturer in Land Law at the University of Oxford and a Teaching Fellow in Trusts at UCL. Matthew also worked as a Legal Editor for the start-up ‘Sparqa’, where he researched and wrote practical guides to the legal issues that are most relevant to small businesses, including mortgages, leases, service charges and possession claims.
- 2017 Cholmeley Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn)
- 2016 Buchanan Prize for BPTC results (Lincoln’s Inn)
- 2015 Lord Denning BPTC Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn)
- 2015 City Law School Postgraduate Scholarship
- 2015 Hardwicke Entrance Award (Lincoln’s Inn)
- 2014 Full scholarship to study the BCL (University of Oxford)
- 2014 Pump Court Tax Chambers Prize for best performance in International and Commercial Trusts (UCL LLM)
- 2014 Best performance in Restitution (UCL LLM)
- 2014 Best performance in Legal History (UCL LLM)
- 2013 Finals prize (New College, University of Oxford)
- The Chancery Bar Association
- The Charity Law Association
- The Contentious Trusts Association (ConTrA)
- The Higher Education Academy (Associate Fellow)
- The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
- The Property Bar Association