Stephen Richards

Partner

  • Education: Southampton University, LL.B
  • Admitted: England and Wales, 2004
  • Year joined: 2002
  • Year became partner: 2013

Overview

Stephen's practice encompasses all aspects of contentious trust and succession and Court of Protection work, often involving cross-border issues. Stephen acts for a broad range of charities and not for profit organisations in relation to their legacy income.

He regularly advises on challenges to the validity of wills, issues of construction and rectification of wills and deeds, constructive trust and proprietary estoppel claims, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and professional negligence claims involving estate planning, trust and succession issues.

Stephen is an active member of the Elder Law team.  He has particular expertise in proceedings before the Court of Protection, where he frequently acts for both applicants and respondents in applications for statutory wills, lifetime gifts, contested registrations of powers of attorney, deputyships and health and welfare decisions.

Stephen has been seconded to the Official Solicitor's Department.

'Stephen is totally focused on the needs of his client and hard working, determined and creative in achieving them. In consequence he is great to work with and gets very good results.'

Citywealth 2015

'..effective, courteous and focused on acting in the best interest of the client.' One client added: 'He is very human in his advice and has a sense of fairness. He is never flustered and I like having him on my side.'

'He is a really good lawyer; he has made this area his own...' - Probate Disputes

'In respect of his court of protection practice clients appreciate that he "doesn't get bogged down in the legal details - he's very grounded," while peers add that he's "a good combination of being technically good and brilliant with clients".'

Chambers 2014

"Stephen is 'unflappable under pressure'."

 'Stephen has handled the step up to partner very well.'

‘..a particularly good listener’ and together, with Paul Hewitt and Julia Abrey, they ‘work well as a team’.

 Legal 500 2012 & 2014

Highlights

  • On behalf of 10 charities Stephen, successfully defended a claim by a benefactor's neighbour to a property left to the charities by their benefactor (January 2012).
  • Stephen successfully recovered the loss suffered by five charities following a sale by an executor to herself for considerably less than market value (October 2011).
  • Stephen, together with Paul Hewitt, secured the distribution/partition of discretionary trust (worth over £10m) in face of hostile trustees (June 2011).
  • Stephen and Paul Hewitt acted for the charity in RSPCA v Sharp and Others before the Court of Appeal, which unanimously upheld the RSPCA's case that its benefactor, the late George Mason, intended his estate to pass free of inheritance tax. Click here to view our briefing or visit the Civil Society website. The first instance decision is reported at [2010] WTLR 855. The appeal is reported at [2011] STI 253 and [2011] WTLR 311.
  • In Re MN, reported at [2010] WTLR 1355, a dispute over the enforcement of a Californian Order that MN be returned to California, Stephen and Paul Hewitt represented MN's niece. It is the leading authority on cross-border welfare disputes in the Court of Protection.
  • In Natalia Morley-Clarke v MT Brooks & Others, reported at [2011] WTLR 297, Stephen and Paul Hewitt represented Mrs Natalia Morley-Clarke, whose husband had died intestate. The judgment is the first on a widow's successful application to capitalise her life interest. The application was contested by one of the husband's sons from a previous marriage, who was subsequently ordered to pay costs of the entire application.
  • In ITW v Z, M, and various charities, reported at [2009] WTLR 1791 Stephen and Paul Hewitt represented the charities in the Court of Protection in support of ITW's application for statutory will (October 2009).  
  • He secured recovery for executors of a significant bank balance where the deceased had transferred an account into joint names shortly before death and the surviving owner claimed to be entitled to the beneficial interest (confidentiality provision) (February 2008).
  • In World Society for the Protection of Animals and others v Bowman, Stephen obtained a High Court order for the removal of an executor who was failing to administer the estate in accordance with the will. The executor was ordered to pay the charities' costs (January 2008).

Publications and speaking engagements

  • Speaker at Global Family Office's Successful Succession seminar (November 2014)
  • Speaker at Lexis Nexis 'Contentious Probate Update' (October 2014)
  • Speaker at the Institute of Legacy Management Court of Protection conference in London (November 2013)
  • Wrote the 'Legal Capacity' chapter in Tolley's 'Finance and Law for the Older Client'
  • Co-author of the quarterly legal update for The Institute of Legacy Management
  • Wrote the 'Court of Protection' chapter in Jordans' 'Probate Disputes and Remedies'

Memberships

  • Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists
  • Charity Law Association

On a personal note

In his spare time Stephen helps organise a local summer youth club and often likes to escape to the West Country with a tent and a surfboard.

             

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