Contentious trusts

“Enjoys a superb reputation across the board for its private client offering, including its provision for those involved in trust litigation. Market-leading litigators regularly involved in major domestic and international claims relating to trusts and estates.”

Chambers & Partners 2016 

Farrer & Co's Contentious Trusts and Estates Team has extensive experience advising trustees, protectors and other fiduciaries, personal representatives, beneficiaries and creditors across the full range of trust-related proceedings involving multiple jurisdictions and complex assets and structures.

We regularly advise on breach of trust or fiduciary duty claims, challenges to the validity of the trust including allegations of sham or fraud and in particular claims relating to the transfer of assets into the trust either by the settlor or third parties. We have particular expertise in claims involving disclosure, confidentiality, the removal of trustees and challenges to trustee neutrality. The Team also advises on professional negligence claims either against trustees or their advisers.

We also have considerable experience of resolving disputes at all stages through the use of mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. We encourage resolution by these processes whenever possible.

The team 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."

The majority of our work concerns offshore trusts. We are currently involved in trust cases before the courts in the Bahamas, Bermuda, BVI, Cayman, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, the Turks and Caicos Islands and New Zealand.

Recent work highlights:

  • Acting for Turks and Caicos Islands Trustees subject to third party tracing and proprietary claims involving assets of circa £80 million.
  • Acting for the principal beneficiary of trusts established in the Bahamas, England, Jersey and the United States holding assets of $100 million in respect of claims seeking to remove the existing protectors and trustees and challenging the validity of the trusts.
  • Acting for the trustees 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 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.

Recently reported cases:

  • JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshelenniy Bank & Others v Sergei Viktorovich Pugachev & Others [2015] EWCA Civ 130 (Court of Appeal).
  • Representation of Schroder Cayman Bank and Trust Company Limited [2015] JRC 125
  • Novatrust Limited v Kea Investments Limited and others [2014] EWHC 4061 (Ch)
  • Stiftung Salle Modulable and Rutli Stiftung v Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Ltd [2013] SC (Bda) 47 (Civ)
  • FHR European Ventures LLP v Mankarious [2013] [2014] UKSC 45
  • AB junior & Another v MB & Others 2013 [2013] (1) CILR 1.
  • Sheffield v Sheffield and others [2013] EWHC 3927 (Ch)
  • Rybolovleva v Rybolovlev
  • 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


Co-editing Trusts & Trustees – published by Oxford University Press

STEP Certificate in Trust Disputes – course materials

"A Practical Guide to the Transfer of Trusteeships" published by STEP – 2nd edition published 2011 

Download our Contentious Trusts & Estates brochure here

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.