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Richard Fowler

Call 2003

rfowler@maitlandchambers.com

Richard has a busy commercial chancery practice, which he has developed since joining Maitland on completion of his pupillage in 2004. His cases generally fall into one or more of five main practice areas:

Commercial litigation: including heavy contractual disputes, often (though not always) where there is a property, company, trust or insolvency aspect;

Real property litigation: including disputes involving owners and developers of land, commercial landlord and tenant, and mortgage litigation and other kinds of lender claims;

Company and insolvency disputes: including claims by minority shareholders, disputed winding up and bankruptcy proceedings, applications against liquidators and administrators, and claims against directors;

Traditional chancery litigation: disputes over trusts and wills, claims against trustees, probate claims, and Inheritance Act proceedings;

Professional negligence litigation: claims against surveyors, lawyers and accountants, lender claims and associated securitisation and insurance issues.

Areas of practice in detail

Commercial litigation

Richard has acted in a wide range of commercial disputes, including heavy and high-value claims.

Sample cases:

  • Achom v Lalic [2014] EWHC 1888 (Ch): eight-day trial in the Chancery Division of claims relating to the ownership of a high-profile Mayfair nightclub, involving partnership and property law issues.
  • Tilga v Doolan: acted for an American businesswoman in multi-million pound proceedings against her English financial adviser, involving claims in deceit, alleged misappropriation of assets, constructive trusts, a freezing injunction and jurisdictional issues (led by Richard Morgan QC). Settled before trial.
  • Acted for a Canadian investment company in claims against its lead lender following defaults on syndicated loans made to London property developers.
  • Advised a Dubai company in a large contractual dispute over the supply of aviation fuel.
  • Eastbury Developments Ltd v Tudor Property Agents: acted for the (successful) defendants / respondents at trial and in the Court of Appeal in a contractual dispute over the redevelopment of a former US Air Force base in Norfolk.
  • Acted in litigation between developers over a large property development in Guildford, involving breach of contract and rectification claims (led by John McGhee QC).
  • Acted in litigation between a property investor and a large building company arising from a sale and leaseback agreement involving the builder’s show-homes (led by Edwin Johnson QC).
  • Progress Property Co Ltd v Moore et al [2008] EWHC 2577 (Ch): led by John McGhee QC in a 14-day trial arising from the restructuring and partial sale of the property subsidiaries of a substantial retail group. The claim involved allegations of breach of director’s duties, a dispute as to whether a sale of a subsidiary was ultra vires a company and disputed commercial property valuations, and was heard with further claims relating to a share purchase agreement.
  • KPMG LLP v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd [2006] EWHC 67: led by Hazel Williamson QC in a trial involving construction / rectification of the break clause in the lease of a large office building in London.
  • Successfully resisted the making of a final charging order sought by a firm of solicitors in the Queen’s Bench Division on the ground that its effect would be to stultify a freezing injunction granted in the Chancery Division.

Real property litigation

Richard advises and litigates on a wide range of property matters, primarily commercial landlord and tenant claims, disputes between developers, and mortgage actions and other lender claims. He has experience of dilapidations and commercial service charge claims, disputed forfeiture of leases, break notice disputes and 1954 Act claims, as well as disputes over easements and covenants. He also has experience of property damage claims against insurers.

Sample cases:

  • Rigsby Asset Management Ltd v Rigsby (New Homes) Ltd: instructed by the successful defendant (acting by LPA receivers) in a three-day trial involving claims for damages for wrongful forfeiture and relief from forfeiture of a lease of commercial premises in Windsor.
  • Acted for the defendant tenants in dilapidations and service charge claims relating to leases of substantial commercial premises in central Manchester.
  • Advised a large national brewing / pub / restaurant chain in a rent review arbitration against its landlord in relation to substantial premises in Leeds, and in a connected professional negligence claim against its former solicitors.
  • Tradegro (UK) Ltd v Progress Property Company Ltd: rectification claims in respect of repairing indemnities given in the context of a sale of the freehold reversions to a portfolio of retail properties (led by John McGhee QC).
  • Stanbridge v AITC Ltd [2012] EWHC 1009 (Ch): acted for the wife in a four-day trial in the Chancery Division against a finance company, in circumstances where her husband had forged her signature on a mortgage deed and other documents. The wife succeeded on an unusual defence to an unjust enrichment claim, where money had been “siphoned” through a joint account by her husband without her knowledge.
  • Acted for the defendant tenants in a dilapidations claim involving a prominent office building in the City of London.
  • Acted for the landlord in Companies Court proceedings against the administrators of the Oddbins chain of wine merchants to recover premises let to Oddbins.
  • Acted for the administrators of the Blacks sports / outdoor retail chain in applications brought by various landlords in the Companies Court to recover premises let to Blacks.
  • Acted for trustees in a disputed claim against insurers under a buildings insurance policy following the subsidence of a row of houses in Norwich into old chalk workings.

Company and insolvency

Experienced in a range of company and insolvency litigation, including s. 994 petitions, disputed winding up and bankruptcy petitions, applications by company administrators / liquidators / trustees in bankruptcy, and claims against defaulting directors. He has acted both for landlords in cases involving insolvent tenants, and for the administrators of insolvent tenants in claims brought by their landlords.

Sample cases:

  • Progress Property Co Ltd v Moorgarth Group Ltd [2011] 1 WLR 1 (Supreme Court); [2009] EWCA Civ 629 (Court of Appeal): appeared for the successful respondent in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal on the question of whether the sale of a subsidiary was ultra vires a company as an unlawful distribution (led by John McGhee QC).
  • Tradegro (UK) Ltd v Wigmore Street Investments Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 268 and [2010] EWHC 1693 (Ch): applications in the administration of a Bermuda company, involving the construction of a solicitors’ undertaking and of an indemnity given in the context of a corporate restructuring (led by John McGhee QC).
  • Acted for the landlord in Companies Court proceedings against the administrators of the Oddbins chain of wine merchants to recover premises let to Oddbins.
  • Acted for the administrators of the Blacks sports / outdoor retail chain in applications brought by various landlords in the Companies Court to recover premises let to Blacks.
  • Chilukuri and others v Kansagra and others: claims and cross-claims brought in Jersey by groups of directors alleging breaches of fiduciary duties in relation to a company involved with the development of a luxury hotel in Morocco.
  • Acted for former directors and auditors of a company, facing claims brought by liquidators, in a three-day strike-out application relying on Nomura International v Granada (led by Anthony Trace QC).
  • Acted for the respondents in a s. 994 petition relating to a haulage company in the Midlands.
  • Advised the proposed respondents in relation to an attempt by a shareholder to wind up a property investment company in the Midlands on the just and equitable ground.
  • Instructed by third-party individuals and companies in a dispute between a husband and wife over the ownership of business and property assets. The dispute formed a preliminary issue to ancillary relief proceedings in the Family Division.
  • Ahmed & Ahmed v Islam: six-day trial of claims relating to a Tyneside restaurant and property businesses, raising issues of partnership law and trusts of land.

Traditional chancery

Experienced in the litigation side of traditional chancery work, Richard has acted in claims against trustees, probate claims and disputes involving executors and attorneys, as well as Inheritance Act proceedings.

Sample cases:

  • Re Fella: the financial adviser of an elderly lady had procured a substantial gift in her will by fraud, in circumstances where he was also stealing money from her. Richard acted for relatives of the deceased in a claim against the adviser.
  • Acted for an English executor in proceedings against attorneys under an EPA. The deceased had retired to Thailand and the case raised difficult jurisdictional issues.
  • Acted for the claimant in a complex probate case where the validity of two wills was challenged and an alleged third will had been lost.
  • Acted for the claimant in a case which raised overlapping issues in the law of executors and of proprietary estoppel / constructive trusts. An elderly couple had left him a life interest in a house, from which the executors subsequently sought to evict him.

Professional negligence

Richard has an extensive practice in the field of professional negligence. He acts for both claimants and defendants, in accordance with the cab-rank rule and insofar as the rules against conflicts of interest allow. He has experience of claims against lawyers, surveyors and valuers, accountants and financial advisers, and receivers. He has also advised on professional indemnity insurance matters. He has particular expertise in lender claims, including the issues that can arise from the securitisation or syndication of loans.

Sample cases:

  • International Leisure Ltd v First National Trustee [2013] Ch 346: acted for the successful appellant in a ground-breaking appeal which established that the rule against reflective loss (in Johnson v Gore Wood) will not prevent a secured creditor from bringing breach of duty claims against a receiver it had itself appointed.
  • Acted for the claimant in a very high-value professional negligence claim in the Commercial Court relating to the development of The Shard (led by John McGhee QC).
  • Acted for the claimants in a solicitors’ negligence claim relating to the drafting of a sale and purchase agreement following a dispute between developers over a large mixed-use development in Guildford (led by John McGhee QC).
  • Acted for a large brewery chain in a claim against its former solicitors alleging negligent drafting of rent review provisions in a restaurant lease.
  • Instructed (by both claimants and defendants) in numerous claims brought in recent years by lenders against their solicitors or valuers in relation to losses suffered on mortgage transactions.
  • Acted for solicitors and insurers in a complex case resulting from a failed attempt to purchase a gambling business, involving allegations of breaches of duty and breaches of solicitors’ undertakings, and issues of partnership law (led by Andrew Walker QC).

Seminars

Richard regularly gives seminars on current issues. Recent topics include:

  • A property litigator’s guide to insolvency;
  • Breaches of covenant and injunctions after Coventry v Lawrence;
  • Professional negligence claims: topical considerations;
  • An update on Beddoe applications.

Education and personal

Richard went to King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and then read Greats at Oxford, where he secured a Double First and won the Craven Scholarship and the Arnold Ancient Historical Essay Prize. He was also a Casberd Scholar of St John’s College. Richard then wrote a doctorate in Ancient History, and did research in the Middle East as the Craven Fellow. Thereafter he was British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford, and Stipendiary Lecturer in Ancient History at Oriel and Jesus Colleges for a number of years. He completed the CPE (Diploma in Law) at City University and the BVC at the Inns of Court School of Law, before undertaking pupillage at Maitland. His pupil supervisors were Jonathan Russen, Amanda Tipples, Michael Gibbon, Nicholas Peacock and James Aldridge, all of whom are now in silk.

Richard has published a number of academic articles on Classical topics.

He has some competence in French (A level), Russian (GCSE), Italian, German and Arabic (basic).

Notable Cases

Frederic Achom & Ors v Thomir Lalic & Ors (2014)

Webb Resolutions Ltd v JV Ltd (T/A Shepherd Chartered Surveyors) (2013)

Webb Resolutions Ltd v JV Ltd (T/A Shepherd Chartered Surveyors) (2013)

International Leisure Ltd & Citibid Securities Ltd v First National Trustee Co UK Ltd & Ors (2012)

Tradegro (UK) Ltd & Wigmore Street Investments Ltd v Charles Price (2011)

Progress Property Co Ltd v Moorgrath Group Ltd (2010)

Tradegro (UK) Ltd v Wigmore Street Investments Ltd (2010)

Tradegro UK v Wigmore St Investments (2009)

Progress Property Co Ltd v Moorgarth Group Ltd (2009)

Progress Property Co Ltd v Cornus Moore (2008)

KPMG LLP v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd (2006)

Memberships
COMBAR
Chancery Bar Association

Qualifications
MA (Hons) First Class (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)

What the directories say
Property Litigation
"He has great powers of persuasion and enormous intelligence." (Legal 500 2017)

“He is extremely affable and user-friendly, while being very incisive and alert to the technicalities.” (Legal 500 2016)