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’ trusts lawyers are exceptional, and the standard against which I measure other firms. The team is technically brilliant, commercially reasonable, and a pleasure to work with. Advice is timely, solutions focused, and always excellent value for money. In terms of key capabilities, the firm is a powerhouse for private client and tax. Private client matters often touch on corporate, securities, insolvency, and financing matters and what sets Macfarlanes apart is the ability to deliver fully integrated advice and assistance across all of the key private client touch points."

The UK Legal 500 2022

"They are a first-class team. It's an absolute pleasure to work with them."

Chambers HNW 2021

"They are a first-class team. It's an absolute pleasure to work with them."

Chambers HNW 2021

"I go to Macfarlanes with my most challenging cases and always know that I will get the best possible result. There is a seamless integration of tax, trust, corporate and litigation knowledge."

Chambers HNW 2023