He is described as a ‘star litigator’ and ‘a formidable opponent’.
Paul specialises in all types of trust and probate disputes. This includes claims about the validity, construction and rectification of wills and trusts, Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claims, removal of executors and trustees, and contentious estate and trust administrations.
The Court has appointed him administrator in a number of contentious estates. A barrister interviewed by the leading independent legal directories commented: ‘if I were a client with a contentious trusts or probate claim, I would, without hesitation, go to Paul’.
Paul also advises on contentious Court of Protection matters, both financial, and health and welfare, involving those unable to manage their own affairs. These include statutory will applications and disputes over the appointment or conduct of attorneys and deputies. Occasionally he acts as a ‘litigation friend’.
He also advises on professional negligence claims arising out of trust and estate administration, and failed estate and tax planning.
He heads the firm’s work for charities and not-for-profit organisations on legacy income with Stephen Richards .
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 transfrontaliere (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
In Wells v Chorus Law and Others , Paul Hewitt 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.
Paul and Deborah Nicholls represent Prince Mukkaram Jah, His Exalted Highness Nizam VIII of Hyderabad, in a dispute over funds held at Natwest Bank for over 70 years (the subject of the House of Lords decision Rahimtoola v Nizam of Hyderabad  AC 379), involving the governments of India and Pakistan. The High Court decided in Pakistan v Natwest and Ors  EWHC 55 (Ch) that the Nizam’s claim to the funds may proceed. The trial is due to be heard in June 2019.
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.
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).
In Royal Society v Robinson & others Paul and Katie Emerson 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.
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. 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 fiance 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.
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.
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 and Paola Fudakowska 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 is the appropriate forum for the dispute, despite the testatrix’s nephew, Mr Clark, having obtained letters of administration in Jefferson County, Alabama.
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 the leading authority on cross-border welfare disputes in the Court of Protection.
‘Inheritance Act Claims’, Law Society - second edition, co-author, 2017
‘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
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.
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
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