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


"Simply the best – the lawyers have the support of an outstanding non-contentious but highly commercial and litigation-savvy private client, trusts and probate team."

The UK Legal 500 2022

"Macfarlanes is undoubtedly one of the premier firms – arguably “the” premier firm – specialising in high-end private client litigation. It is outstanding for heavy-duty international disputes, with a great team and superlative back-up. The litigation team is further strengthened by an equally impressive non-contentious group."

The UK Legal 500 2022

"They are the very top of this market, the absolute best firm for private wealth disputes. It's an absolute conveyor belt of excellent lawyers, the best work and the best people."

Chambers HNW 2021

"We love Macfarlanes. They are just excellent, excellent, excellent. There aren't enough superlatives to describe the team. They are supportive, proactive and knowledgeable."

Chambers HNW 2021