Matthew Mills has a broad chancery practice encompassing: property, wills, trusts and estates, charities, insolvency, company and commercial matters. He regularly appears as a sole advocate in the County Court and the High Court, both in-person and remotely. Alongside full-time practice, he is a Lecturer in Land Law at the University of Oxford.
Matthew practises in, writes on and teaches property law.
He has developed an extensive practice in real property, advising on and acting in disputes concerning trusts of land, estoppel, easements and adverse possession (both freehold and leasehold). Last year, he acted on behalf of a major bank seeking relief from forfeiture in a dispute in which the other defendants instructed a QC.
Matthew has also established a broad landlord and tenant practice. He has advised and appeared on matters relating to the construction, rectification, enforcement and breach of leases by both landlords and tenants. Recently, Matthew has advised on onerous ground rent and service charge obligations, and the nationwide stay on possession proceedings. He is currently representing a management company in a High Court disrepair claim worth over £1 million.
In property law matters, Matthew has appeared successfully in the First-tier Tribunal, County Court and High Court, where he once obtained 25 charging orders in one hearing in the Queen’s Bench Division.
During pupillage, Matthew:
- Shadowed counsel in the Court of Appeal in P&P Property Ltd v Owen White & Caitlin LLP  Ch 273 – a case concerning professional liability for conveyances made to identity fraudsters
- Assisted with Smyth-Tyrrell v Bowden  L & TR 23 – a case concerning agricultural tenancies, business tenancies and proprietary estoppel
- Assisted with Sensar Ltd v Kalivera Ltd – a High Court trial concerning the priorities of unregistered interests in land
- Assisted with a possession claim relating to a 400-acre farm
- Assisted with various professional negligence claims relating to conveyancing.
Alongside his practice at the Bar, Matthew teaches Land Law at Oriel College, Oxford University.
Matthew regularly advises and represents clients in relation to wills, trusts and estates. He has advised on the scope, delegation and breach of fiduciaries’ powers and duties, and the rectification of both wills and trusts. He has also advised and acted in claims seeking to challenge the validity of a will and claims brought pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Matthew has experience of drafting summonses and affidavits for issue in the Probate Registries.
Recently, Matthew represented the successful claimant in the first case brought in the Business and Property Courts pursuant to the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017.
Matthew has undertaken two secondments to Dickinson Gleeson in Jersey. While offshore, Matthew assisted with an expert report on Jersey trusts law in an international dispute worth $200 million. He also assisted with the Crociani litigation, the leading ‘insolvent trust’ litigation (Z Trust  JRC 072) and the appeal to the Jersey Court of Appeal in Trico Ltd v Buckingham  JCA 067.
Matthew also writes on trusts law (see below), and previously taught and examined it as a Teaching Fellow at UCL.
Matthew has had an interest in charity law since university, where he wrote a dissertation (which was subsequently published) on the history of the public benefit requirement.
Since then, Matthew has dealt in the more practical side of things. He has advised on the validity of disputed charitable trusts, the construction of charitable gifts, and how a charity could most appropriately recover possession of a property from a vulnerable tenant. Unusually, Matthew has also provided expert advice on charity law to a team of criminal defence lawyers to assist with a Crown Court trial.
Recently, Matthew has advised charity clients on various applications to the Charity Commission and on potential claims which a charity beneficiary could bring against the executors and their solicitors. He has also published articles on the registration of grant-making charities and the Supreme Court’s decision in Lehtimaki v Cooper  UKSC 33 (see below).
During pupillage, Matthew:
- Assisted with advice to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland on its policies relating to certain categories of charities
- Assisted with advice to a charitable foundation in relation to an inheritance dispute
- Shadowed counsel in Miah v Hoque  EWHC 2645 (Ch) – a case concerning a dispute over access to a mosque run by an unincorporated charity.
Prior to pupillage, Matthew worked as a Teaching Fellow at UCL where he taught charitable trusts to second year undergraduates.
Matthew regularly appears 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. Matthew also regularly advises on insolvency law and has provided a certificate of English law for an insolvency dispute abroad. Recently, Matthew represented joint liquidators at interim hearings in an antecedent transaction claim worth £30 million.
Matthew has also developed a broad company law practice. He has advised on directors’ duties and remuneration, the construction of company charges and the rectification of the register of companies. Matthew’s practice also encompasses partnership disputes.
Recently, Matthew successfully represented the members of an unincorporated club in a winding up petition brought pursuant to the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction.
During pupillage, Matthew:
- Shadowed counsel in Ingram (Liquidator of MSD Cash & Carry Plc) v Singh  BPIR 1343 – a case concerning de facto directors and preferences
- Assisted with Re D’Eye (A Bankrupt)  BPIR 411 – a case concerning third party costs orders in the insolvency context
- Assisted with resisting an application to seize £1.5 million of gold bars that a bankrupt had tried to move offshore
- Assisted with advice on the transfer of shares held on trust
- Assisted with conflict of laws advice relating to the migration of an offshore company between offshore jurisdictions.
Matthew has experience of advising on the construction, enforceability and breach of various types of contracts, and settling associated pleadings. He has also advised on service out of the jurisdiction for breach of contract. Recently, Matthew advised companies on how best to deal with commercial deadlock, how to recover seized goods and the enforceability of liquidated damages/penalty clauses.
Matthew has experience of contractual disputes from the pre-action stage to trial. In the last year, he has acted in a County Court trial of a joint venture dispute worth over £400,000 and settled pleadings in a High Court contractual dispute worth over £700,000.
Recently, Matthew appeared on an application for the delivery up and sale of racehorses worth over £500,000.
During pupillage, Matthew:
- Assisted with a £40 million commercial dispute over the enforceability of a bank’s mortgage and guarantee documents, which were subject to Scots law
- Shadowed counsel in Burki v Seventy Thirty Ltd  EWHC 2151 (QB) – an unusual case concerning misrepresentation by and defamation of an online dating company.
Matthew has experience of chancery mediations and financial dispute resolution hearings. He is happy to accept instructions for the alternative dispute resolution of matters within his practice areas.
During pupillage, he assisted with various chancery mediations and shadowed a senior member of chambers in his capacity as a mediator.
Matthew is very happy to speak at open events or provide training to individual teams on topics within his practice areas. Matthew’s recent topics have covered coronavirus-related 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 on a range of chancery topics:
- “Lehtimaki v Cooper  UKSC 33 – an initial analysis”, Radcliffe Chambers website (link).
- “The Registration of Grant-Making Charities” (2019) 20 Charity Law & Practice Review 65 (link).
- “Costs and Co-operation: What Tenants Must do to Assist with Fire Safety”  23 Landlord and Tenant Review 183-187 (link).
- “Claiming an interest in someone else’s property—common intention (family home) constructive trusts (Sandford v Oliver)”, Lexis Nexis Q&A, 23rd September 2019 (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).
- “The Development of the Public Benefit Requirement for Charitable Trusts in the Nineteenth Century” (2016) 37 Journal of Legal History 269-302 (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).
- 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