Private client disputes

Our private client disputes group combines our pre-eminent private client and litigation practices.

We have particular expertise in high value, complex multi-jurisdictional trust disputes and have recently co-ordinated trust-related litigation in a number of different jurisdictions including Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Bermuda, BVI, Jersey and Guernsey.

We maintain long-standing, trusted relationships with our clients, as much to avoid litigation as to help guide them through it. Our lawyers are more than litigators: they are trusted advisers. They work closely with our market-leading private client team to provide a seamless service and to ensure that tax issues are fully integrated into the strategy for resolving a dispute.

Given the breadth of our litigation practice, we act for a wide range of clients, national and international, including trust companies; banks and financial institutions; investors and high-net-worth individuals from many different backgrounds. This gives us insight into a broad spectrum of businesses and individuals - which is of significant value when dealing with the diverse range of assets and family situations encountered in trust, probate and family disputes.

The range of services which the practice provides includes:

Trust litigation

  • breach of trust claims;
  • variation of trust applications;
  • directions for the administration of trusts;
  • blessing applications;
  • removal of trustees;
  • international commercial disputes involving trustees;
  • fraud and asset tracing;
  • trust disputes in the context of English matrimonial proceedings;
  • pre-emptive cost orders;
  • litigating rights of beneficiaries/creditors;
  • rectification, mistake and Hastings-Bass applications;
  • constructive trust claims;
  • knowing receipt and accessory liability; and
  • construction applications.

Probate litigation

  • challenges to the validity of wills;
  • claims against professional advisors;
  • undue influence/recovery of property;
  • removal/replacement of executors;
  • Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 claims;
  • paternity disputes;
  • breach of duty allegations; and
  • applications to the court (including the Coroner) for directions.

What people are saying


"Macfarlanes deals with a wide range of high-value trust litigation, and is recognised as being 'outstanding in this area'."

Chambers UK 2018

"A market source says that 'they have incredible strength and depth and all the lawyers there are exceptional'."

Chambers UK 2018

"One fellow trusts practitioner says: 'Personally, I think they are the crème de la crème. They have a whole raft of lawyers who are absolutely excellent in this area'."

Chambers UK 2018

"Macfarlanes LLP is ‘invariably involved in the most significant cases domestically, and has a very strong offshore presence. The strength in depth among its lawyers is outstanding’."

The UK Legal 500 2017

"Macfarlanes' contentious trusts team is known as a true leader in the field of sophisticated trust litigation. Clients say: 'They are exceedingly competent and very reassuring people to have on your side' and 'They are slick, professional and nice to deal with'."

Chambers UK 2016