Contentious trusts

Thoroughbred private client practice with a team of highly regarded and experienced litigators.

Chambers UK 2015


Farrer & Co has a distinct ethos, a broad range of expertise and enviable experience in dealing with high net worth clients, in particular substantial landed estates.

STEP Award Judges Panel 2014-2015

The risk of trustees becoming involved in court proceedings is on the increase.  Such cases are increasingly hostile and hard fought.  Each dispute is of course different but our Contentious Trusts and Estates Team has considerable experience across the full gamut of trust-related proceedings ranging from “friendly” through to hostile claims.  We have handled both “internal” claims and “external” claims impugning the validity of the trust. We have helped trustees to recover loss caused by negligent advice.   These cases are frequently ultra high-value and highly complex.  

We also have considerable experience of resolving disputes at an early stage through the use of mediation.  In addition, we are involved in planning to mitigate the risk of disputes arising in the first place, by suitable drafting, and by careful and practical advice tailored to meet the attendant risks.  We are experienced in acting for corporate and individual trustees, beneficiaries, protectors and other parties involved in trust disputes.

Testament to our expertise in this area is the fact that the team has won the STEP Contentious Trusts and Estates Team of the Year award in two consecutive years, in 2013 - 2014 and 2014 - 2015. The 2014-2015 Judging panel remarked that:  “Farrer & Co’s strong record of impressive onshore and offshore litigation in multiple jurisdictions was a stand-out attribute during the judging process. They have high quality advisors offering a top-class service at a competitive price. In a category of outstanding finalists, Farrer & Co were truly notable.”

Several members of the team are members of STEP and ACTAPS.

The majority of our work concerns trustees in other jurisdictions and trusts which are not governed by English law.  At the moment we are involved in trust cases before the courts in the Bahamas, BVI, Cayman, Cyprus, Geneva, Gibraltar Guernsey and Jersey.

Recent work highlights:

  •  Advising two Swiss foundations in high profile proceedings Bermuda regarding funding for the construction of an opera house for approximately £80 million.
  • Acting for the trustes of a number of Cypriot international trusts in relation to challenges to the trusts' validity and issues of private international law.
  • Advising the discretionary beneficiaries of Bermudian trusts, valued at hundreds of millions of pounds, on the validity of the appointment of trustees and protectors, corporate governance, and tax negotiations on the proposed restructuring of the beneficial interests.
  • Advising a selection of discretionary beneficiaries of a Jersey trust worth £200 million in relation to complex issues concerning the validity of the trust, tax, and allegations of sham and illegality.
  • Acting for the beneficiaries of a Cayman Islands trust in a significant breach of trust claim against the trustees.
  • Acting for the settlor of a substantial trust in Nevis in respect of a claim against the trustee and protector for a failure to properly administer the trust.

Reported cases:

  • Stiftung Salle Modulable and Rutli Stiftung v Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Ltd [2013] SC (Bda) 47 (Civ)
  • FHR European Ventures LLP v Mankarious [2013] EWCA Civ 17
  • Alhamrani -v- Russa Management Limited and others (Re Intertraders)
  • Gomez -v- Gomez-Monche Vives: High Court of Justice, Chancery Division ([2008] EWHC 259 (Ch)) and on appeal before the Court of Appeal (Lawrence Collins L.J., Jacob L.J. and Lewison J. reported at [2008] EWCA Civ 1065)
  • Close Trustees (Switzerland) -v- Vildosola [2008] EWHC 1267. Directions application.
  • Wingate -v- Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Ltd [2008] WTLR 357. Disclosure to beneficiaries.
  • Brown -v- Executors of Estate of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother [2008] EWCA Civ 56

Download our Contentious Trusts & Estates brochure here


View all briefings

More information

For more information contact one of our specialist advisers above or email us at

Subscribe to our newsletters


Sign up here to receive our regular updates covering the latest legal developments, regulations and case law.