Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012

UK Bar: Private Client 2017

The private client field is a core area of expertise at the bar with a number of specialist sets and individuals, making it one of the largest chapters in this edition. A total of 72 leading barristers are recognised by our research for their expertise in the areas of wills and succession planning, trusts and estates, residence and domicile, probate and charities. Below we highlight the most highly regarded practitioners in our research.

Most Highly Regarded
Shân Warnock-Smith QC 5 Stone Buildings
Nicholas Le Poidevin QC New Square Chambers
Frank Hinks QC Serle Court
Gilead Cooper QC Wilberforce Chambers
Robert Ham QC Wilberforce Chambers
Elspeth Talbot Rice QC XXIV Old Buildings
Emma Chamberlain Pump Court Tax Chambers
Thomas Dumont Radcliffe Chambers
Judith Bryant Wilberforce Chambers


WILBERFORCE CHAMBERS has a longstanding reputation for chancery work, and in particular for its expertise relating to private client tax matters. Ten members are recognised by our research, including seven leading silks.
Robert Ham QC is highly regarded in the field. Along with his “superb intellect”, he is praised for being “concise and pragmatic” and “wonderful to work with”.
The “outstanding” Gilead Cooper QC is a specialist in heavy-duty litigation involving breaches of trust and fiduciary duties. One peer sums up that he is a “very popular offshore trust litigator”. Meanwhile, a client reports: “Gilead is clever, articulate and thinks very quickly on his feet. He is a very good lawyer to have in your corner."
Brian Green QC is held in high regard, with sources commenting: “He is extremely bright and very much the best of the best when it comes to offshore trust matters.”
Michael Furness QC is known as “a very popular and extensively experienced silk” in relation to onshore and offshore trusts disputes.

Renowned chancery law set 5 STONE BUILDINGS is widely recognised for its work in the field, especially relating to trusts, the administration of estates and taxation. Six silks earn recognition.
Shân Warnock-Smith QC receives praise for being “one of the very best for offshore trust litigation”. One client responds, “Shân is one of the best known in this area of work. She is a highly respected advocate with great knowledge and experience. She is well known for being able to go straight to the heart of the problem and find an imaginative and constructive solution.”
Tracey Angus QC is widely recognised, particularly in relation to trusts and matrimonial disputes. A source notes, “She is very practical and personable, and she understands the human angle in the legal problem.”
Sources describe Penelope Reed QC as "one of the top silks at the moment”, with impressive experience handling high-value probate, personal tax and trusts cases.
David Rees QC handles all aspects of wills, estates and trusts with a particular interest in issues surrounding elderly clients and incapacity. He is commended for his “ability to see the bigger picture without losing sight of the detail.” He recently took silk.

XXIV OLD BUILDINGS has a reputation for being one of the top chambers handling trusts, probate and estate matters. The chambers achieves 10 listings in this chapter, including four silks.
Elspeth Talbot Rice QC is rated very highly by commentators and leads our research overall. As one source notes, “Elspeth is a force to be reckoned with. Highly recommended by all and a joy to be around; practical; no-nonsense; technically brilliant; and formidable in finding defensive strategies.”
David Brownbill QC is “simply excellent”. Clients say his “trust analytical skills are exceptional", adding: “He is refreshingly down-to-earth and accessible.”
Stephen Moverley Smith QC stands out for his “intellect and innovative thinking" combined with a practical approach to complex matters.
Alan Steinfeld QC is known to be an “extremely persuasive advocate” who is regularly involved in “high-stakes trust litigation”.

SERLE COURT is a large commercial chancery set with a strong practice in trust and probate matters. The set earns nine listings overall, including six silks.
Frank Hinks QC has a reputation among clients as “one of the leading offshore trusts silks”. A solicitor notes, “He is one of a very select band whom you expect to be involved in any of the big mandates and is very much someone you want to have on your side. In addition, he is very bright and very much a team operator.”
Richard Wilson QC is recognised for his offshore trust work: “Richard is an excellent advocate and a real team player. When working together, I was very impressed both with his advocacy skills and the breadth of his knowledge.”
John Machell QC has been described as “an absolute pleasure to work with”. He is “very bright and great with clients”, often involved in high-value trust litigation with an international aspect.
Sources describe Dakis Hagen QC as “one of the premier trust litigators” in London. His practice features an emphasis on international trusts, and he frequently appears as specialist counsel in matrimonial cases involving trust structures.

Five individuals are selected from TEN OLD SQUARE, including three silks.
Eason Rajah QC receives commendation for being "very calm and measured, thinking through problems in a highly strategic fashion”. In particular clients say he is “very good at instilling confidence in us due to his very quick thinking”.
Simon Taube QC is praised for his being “one of the best barristers for trusts and estate matters”. He is also highlighted for his “precise, technical skills”.
Francis Barlow QC has “a huge amount of experience" and “knows his area backwards”.

From MAITLAND CHAMBERS Christopher McCall QC specialises in matters relating to trusts and tax law and in particular is known to be "very good on charity-related matters”.

At PUMP COURT TAX CHAMBERS, William Massey QC is "very popular with clients”.  He has a reputation for “thinking creatively and has often pulled a rabbit out of the hat to produce a result for the client”.

From OLD SQUARE TAX CHAMBERS, James Kessler QC wins praise for being “extremely impressive on matters relating to UK tax in an overseas context”.

Nicholas Le Poidevin QC of NEW SQUARE CHAMBERS is deemed “a definite inclusion” and “a star of offshore trust and estate matters”. He is singled out for his technical abilities, common sense and “detailed, fluid arguments”.


XXIV OLD BUILDINGS boasts the largest number of leading juniors.
Michael King is known as “a leading practitioner”. Described by clients as a “safe pair of hands", his work spans both traditional and commercial chancery and he is “rated very highly” as an eminent specialist in trusts and complex wealth protection schemes. 
Adam Cloherty has an emphasis in his practice on international trusts and international tax law. His practice includes both advisory and contentious trust, probate and estate management work, and he is “especially skilled in private client mediation”.
Bajul Shah is “very active and constantly seen in court”. His practice includes litigation and advisory work regarding claims for constructive trusts, the appointment and removal of trustees, as well as tracing, dishonest assistance and knowing receipt, among other matters.
Clients praise Edward Cumming for being particularly “good at what he does”. He specialises in international trust advice and litigation, with sources impressed by his wide ranging experience in this area.
Elizabeth Weaver is “very tenacious and manages expectations well”. She is “particularly knowledgeable in the areas of trust litigation and probate”, with clients praising her “hands-on and friendly approach”. 

PUMP COURT TAX CHAMBERS specialises in tax matters relating to inheritance, trusts and estates as well as tax planning, and is home to an impressively strong set of juniors with six practitioners recognised in our research. 
Emma Chamberlain is known in the industry for being the “go-to practitioner for private client tax matters”. Clients say her “opinions are very thorough and detailed”, and she is particularly recommended for her work in divorces cases involving offshore trusts.
Richard Vallat has a reputation for being an “extremely able junior with an astonishing level of experience” from his practice comprising offshore trust estate planning and income matters, among other matters. 
James Rivett is “very talented” according to clients, with a reputation for his “inventive trusts techniques” and “broad knowledge” of landed estate and heritage property tax matters.
Elizabeth Wilson impresses clients with her “high level of technical skill” relating to inheritance and capital gains tax, and frequently advises foreign domicile individuals on offshore planning issues.

5 STONE BUILDINGS is likewise recognised for its private client expertise, with four practitioners listed.
Barbara Rich stands out in our research for her expertise relating to succession, trusts and Court of Protection matters. She is particularly “skilled in handling sensitive issues” due to “her very personable and client-centred manner”.
Christopher Whitehouse is known to be a “very sound practitioner” and is described by clients as their “go-to man for private client tax-planning” matters. 

SERLE COURT is home to an impressive set of barristers who specialise in private client advice and litigation.
The “excellent” Giles Richardson has a reputation for being “extremely clever and hardworking” from his trusts and probate practice.
William Henderson receives praise for his “diligent approach and thorough attention to detail”. His practice consists of handling complex disputes involving domestic and international trusts, probate, and the administration of estates, among other matters.Constance McDonnell is “very popular” among clients due to her “long track record of success”, having appeared in numerous high-profile private client cases in the High Court.

Three additional juniors garner praise outside these main sets. Thomas Dumont from RADCLIFFE CHAMBERS is known to be “extremely user-friendly”. His practice includes particular experience of contentious probate and family provision, with clients ranging from landed families, entrepreneurs, charities, oligarchs and on and offshore trust companies.  

From WILBERFORCE CHAMBERS Judith Bryant comes very highly regarded for her “straightforward and excellent advice”.

Patrick Soares at FIELD COURT TAX CHAMBERS “should definitely be included” according to sources, due to his “amazing mind and practical tax advice” to many high-profile clients.

Back to top

Follow us on LinkedIn

News & Features

Community News



Pro Bono

Corporate Counsel

Women in Law

Future Leaders

The UK Bar

Practice Areas


The Who's Who Legal 100


Special Reports



About Us

It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication

Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

Copyright © 2017 Law Business Research Ltd. All rights reserved. |

87 Lancaster Road, London, W11 1QQ, UK | Tel: +44 20 7908 1180 / Fax: +44 207 229 6910 |

Law Business Research Ltd

87 Lancaster Road, London
W11 1QQ, UK