In Klein v Adler and Klein  EWHC 2503 (Ch) Paul and Alexandra Dix acted for the successful claimant, Mrs Klein, in an action to replace the executor with an independent administrator, the Deputy Master holding that there had been a ‘real failure to progress the administration’ resulting in part from her lack of modern technological ability which served to emphasise why she was ‘not a suitable person to carry through the administration of the estate’.
Paul and Alice Tomlin acted for Sightsavers as representative residuary beneficiary in Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind v Beasant and others  in the charity’s successful application to determine that a legacy expressed to be equal to the maximum that could pass free of tax had a nil value where there were already gifts to non-exempt beneficiaries in excess of £500,000. Click here to read our briefing note on the case and click here to read to Judgment.
Paul Hewitt and Sarah Aughwane advised the nominated representative of the former employees of Zaha Hadid Limited in Schumacher v Clarke and others  in which the executors and trustees of Dame Zaha Hadid’s estate sought the Court’s blessing of a decision to pass significant assets to an Employee Benefit Trust. The Court accepted submissions made on behalf of the former employees and other representative parties that the decision should not be blessed. Click here to read the Judgment.
Paul, Deborah Nicholls-Carr and Olivia Turner represented Prince Mukarram Jah, His Exalted Highness Nizam VIII of Hyderabad, in a dispute over funds frozen at Natwest Bank for over 70 years (the subject of a 1958 House of Lords decision Rahimtoola v Nizam of Hyderabad), the governments of India and Pakistan. Pakistan issued a new claim in 2013. The High Court decided in Pakistan v Natwest and Ors  EWHC 55 (Ch) that the Nizam’s claim to the funds should be allowed to proceed. The Judge upheld the Nizam’s claim (along with those of his younger brother and India) to his grandfather’s funds. Read the Judgment here. The case was one of The Lawyer’s ‘Top 20 Cases of 2019’. In July 2020 we succeeded in ensuring applications to set aside the Judgment and seeking disclosure of various documents were dismissed. See the Times of India’s report here.
Paul and Alexandra Dix acted for Mrs Bhusate in her claim for financial provision from her late husband’s estate more than 25 years after her husband passed away. Despite the lengthy delay (the previous record of just under six years was set in 1993) Chief Master Marsh ordered that Mrs Bhusate’s claim should be allowed to proceed. Click here to see his judgment. In January 2020 the High Court upheld Chief Master Marsh’s decision (the appeal judgment here) meaning Mrs Bhusate’s claim could proceed. Shortly after the defendant stepchildren conceded the claim. Click here to read our briefing note.
Paul and Sarah Aughwane represented Mrs Cowan in her claim for reasonable financial provision from the estate of her late husband. In July 2019 the Court of Appeal unanimously gave her permission to bring her claim notwithstanding it having been issued out of time. Here is a link to the Court of Appeal Judgment and to our article. The defendants subsequently conceded her claim and settled.
In Wells v Chorus Law and Others , Paul and Alexandra Dix acted for the successful defendant in the first ‘child of a single parent family’ 1975 Act claim, ensuring that the Judge was not persuaded the claimant was ever part of a family and therefore was not able to bring a claim. Click here to read our briefing note on the case.
In Macmillan Cancer Support v Hayes and Another  EWHC 3110 (Ch) Paul and Julia Schtulman succeeded in ensuring that relief from forfeiture was granted by the Judge notwithstanding that the husband killed his wife in tragic circumstances. Click here to read our briefing note on the case.
In British Red Cross and Others v Werry and Others, reported at  WTLR 441, Paul, together with Richard Walker successfully appealed a 1975 Act order made as long ago as April 2011 on the basis that it resulted from a fundamental mistake (namely a belief that the deceased had died intestate when, five years later, it was discovered he had made a will). Click here read our briefing note on the case.
In Royal Society v Robinson & Others  Paul acted for the Royal Society in its successful application to extend the meaning of ‘United Kingdom’ to include Jersey and the Isle of Man in the context of the Will of the eminent physicist, Michael Crowley-Milling. Click here to read our briefing note on the case
In Bourke v Favre  EWHC 277 (Ch), Paul acted for the owner of Chettle in Dorset, one of a handful of privately held villages in England, in response to her nephew’s claim that she was required to leave him the entire village based on a purported 50 year old oral family agreement. The Court rejected the nephew’s attempt to add a significant new cause of action, proprietary estoppel, after exchange of witness statements. Click here to see the decision. The substantive dispute settled shortly thereafter.
In the matter of the estate of Nicholas Turquand-Young  JRC 235, Paul, working with Jersey advocates, advised Macmillan Cancer Support on an application before the Royal Court of Jersey about the correct interpretation of a will. Under the will, two shares of residue were left to Macmillan, but under different former names. The executor considered Macmillan only took one share. The Royal Court, applying English law, held that Macmillan was entitled to both shares.
In the matter of the representation of Hawksford Executors, reported at  JRC 188, Paul and Phineas Hirsch working with Jersey advocates advised RSPCA, Cancer Research UK and RAF Benevolent Fund in securing an order that Mrs Ivelaw had not intended to revoke an earlier will benefiting the three charities when making a later Belgian will.
Paul acted for Louisa Hodkin in a judicial review of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages’ refusal to register a Church of Scientology Chapel as a place of religious worship (thereby denying Louisa and her fiancé the right to a legally recognised marriage in their own church). Ouseley J refused the application, reported at  ACD 32, because he was bound by a 1970’s Court of Appeal authority, but recognised that Scientology is a religion. In a separate judgment the Judge gave permission to seek leave to appeal direct to the Supreme Court (leapfrog). The Supreme Court expedited the hearing and in December 2013 unanimously upheld the appeal. Click here to view Lord Toulson summarising the Court’s decision, which is reported at  AC 610 and  WLR 23.
Paul and Natasha Stourton acted for the first defendant in re Goodman, decd, reported at  3 WLR 1551, where Newey J, on appeal from Master Bragge, upheld the first instance decision on removal of executors (Paul was the successful advocate before Master Bragge).
In Burgess v Hawes Paul and Natasha Stourton acted for the successful claimants in overturning a will purported to be that of their late mother and securing recovery of lifetime transfers from their sister and her immediate family. The Court of Appeal, reported at  WTLR 453, unanimously upheld the first instance decision which is reported at  WTLR 423. Click here to view the decision. Click here to read our briefing note on the case.
Paul acted for the trustees in the Hastings Bass matter of Futter v Futter in their application to set aside an advancement, the result of incorrect tax advice, which went to the Supreme Court. The first instance decision is reported at  WTLR 609. The Court of Appeal decision is reported at  2 All ER 450.
In Spurling & another v Broadhurst & Others, reported at  WTLR 1813, Paul represented the executors who sought a declaration to determine which of four possible constructions was the correct interpretation of the will.
In Semmens v Hards & Another (2011), Paul acted for the deceased’s nephew to secure relief from forfeiture and ensure that he received his uncle’s entire estate, notwithstanding assistance in his uncle’s final trip to the Dignitas Clinic.
In Clark v World Wildlife Fund and Others, reported at  WTLR 961, Paul Hewitt and Natasha Stourton represented the charities who successfully argued that English law governs the validity of a will dealing with English immovable property (the first judicial approval of the rule in Dicey). The court also held that England rather than Alabama was the appropriate forum for the dispute, despite the testatrix’s nephew, Mr Clark, having obtained letters of administration in Jefferson County, Alabama.
In Morley-Clarke v Brooks  WTLR 297 Paul and Stephen Richards represented Mrs Morley-Clarke whose husband had died intestate. The judgment is the first on a widow’s application to capitalise her life interest out of time which one of the husband’s sons from a previous marriage opposed. The Court had to consider the impact of alleged non-consummation of the marriage and lack of capacity to marry. The son was ordered to pay Mrs Morley-Clarke’s costs of the entire application.
Paul together with Stephen Richards acted for the charity in RSPCA v Sharp & Others  in which the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the RSPCA’s case that its benefactor, the late George Mason, had intended his estate to pass free of inheritance tax. Click here to read our summary of the case and click here to read the Judgment.
In Esson v Esson, reported at  WTLR 187, Paul acted for the successful claimant in an application for construction and rectification of his late mother’s homemade codicil. The Judge agreed that the words ‘should I predecease him’ were not intended to be a condition of the gift of a bank account to the testatrix’s grandchildren.
In Re MN, reported at  WTLR 1355, a dispute over the enforcement of a Californian Order that MN be returned to California, Paul and Stephen Richards represented MN’s niece. It is a leading authority on cross-border welfare disputes in the Court of Protection.
Paul and Stephen Richards acted for the charities joined to the statutory will application in ITW v Z  WTLR 1781 successfully securing the interest intended for them under an earlier will.
England and Wales, 1997
‘Inheritance Act Claims’, Law Society - second edition, co-author, 2017
‘UK Court of Appeal Rules British Tycoon’s Widow Can Bring Will Claim,’ WealthManagment.com, August 2019, quoted
‘Probate Disputes and Remedies’, Jordans third edition - March 2014, co-author
‘Strength of Will’, Law Society’s PS Magazine - May 2013, co-author
‘A matter of Record’, Private Client Advisor - April 2013, co-author
‘The Court of Protection, Charities and the Evolution of Best Interests’, Elder Law Journal - 2012, co-author
‘Legacy Income’, Tolley’s Charities Manual,
‘Practical Will Precedents’ and ‘McCutcheon on Inheritance Tax’ (both Sweet and Maxwell),
‘Charities as Beneficiaries’ guidance, Law Society Private Client Section/ILM, contributor
Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists
Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
Law Society Private Client Section
Charity Law Association
International Association of Young Lawyers
Solicitors for the Elderly
Contentious Trust and Probate Ceremony - James v James - 8 February 2018
The Law Society Private Client Cross Border Conference 2016, Cross Border Contentious Probate
Law Society, Will drafting post Illot v Mitson - 9 October 2015
Contentious Trust and Probate Conference, Removal of Personal Representatives - 8 October 2015
Institute of Fundraising, Legacy Fundraising Summit, What happens when your legacy gift is under dispute? - 14 September 2015
IBC’s UK & Cross Border Contentious Wills & Probate Conference, “Examining the Role of the Personal Representative in Probate Litigation”:%20https://www.iiribcfinance.com/event/UK-and-cross-border-contentious-wills-and-probate-conference - January 2015
Legacy Labyrinth, Chattels as a source of discord - January and February 2015
Law Society webinar, Contentious probate - September 2014
Legacy Labyrinth, Deathbed Gifts - January and February 2014
Law Society webinar, The latest on contentious probate - September 2012
Jordans Wills Trust and Probate Update 2011 - Contentious Probate - the Golden Rule revived? - November 2011
STEP Cheshire Charities as beneficiaries - friend or foe? - September 2011
Surrey Law Society 2011 Private Client Conference Construction of wills - when words don’t always mean what they say - September 2011
Solicitors Group Wills and Probate Trustee Errors - Hastings Bass and other remedies after the Court of Appeal - May 2011
LexisNexis Webinar Charities as Beneficiaries under wills: drafting, administering and litigating - April 2011
STEP Cross Border Incapacity Conference The Case of Re MN - December 2010
STEP Norwich and Norfolk Family disputes: pre and post death - November 2010
Surrey Law Society Private Client Conference The Court of Protection in Practice - September 2010
Solicitors for the Elderly Putting Tax Mistakes Right - June 2010
STEP Lakes and Lancaster Confusion in Wills - the modern approach to construction - May 2010
Advising The Elderly Conference 2010 Court of Protection Issues including Lasting Powers of Attorney - April 2010
Jordans Wills, Trusts & Probate Seminars Autumn 2009 No Contest Clauses
4me Convention Nationale des Avocats 2008 Reformes des tutelles: La protection en Common Law, Illustrations transfrontalière (France/Grande Bretagne)
Contributor to Legal Network Television programmes including Private client: troublesome trustees, executors and beneficiaries; Will and Trusts: Mistakes; Private Client: Contested Legacies and Trusts and Mistakes
Me in a minute
I love the challenge of my specialist area
I wanted to be a lawyer since I was about ten even though I don’t think we knew any lawyers. As my wife and colleagues know only too well I enjoy a good debate and if I hadn’t gone into the law, I would most probably have pursued a career in politics.
I love the challenge of my specialist area. Disputes about wills and trusts require detailed knowledge of the law but they also require strategic planning, detective work and understanding of the family emotions that often drive discord, as well as commercial common sense.
Probably my highest profile case is acting for His Exalted Highness the VIII Nizam of Hyderabad over the ownership of £35 million his grandfather deposited with NatWest bank in 1948 (the money is also claimed by the governments of India and Pakistan).
The case I am proudest of is Burgess v Hawes - a finely balanced probate dispute where our preparation tipped the balance in a winner takes all scenario.
I act for a whole variety of charities, as well as individuals, some high profile. I am very proud of my record in resolving the vast majority of disputes without putting clients through the risk, stress and expense of going to court.