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Thomas Fletcher

Call 2009

tfletcher@maitlandchambers.com

Thomas is a specialist in trusts and estates matters both domestic and offshore.  The vast majority of his work in these fields is contentious and he is equally at home in commercial disputes, both involving trusts elements and generally.  He enjoys acting as sole Counsel or as part of a larger team and his practice has taken him to every level of the court hierarchy, including the Supreme Court.

Thomas is involved with several publications relevant to his areas of practice.  He assisted on the 19th edition of Lewin on Trusts and is one of the editors of the 18th edition of Theobald on Wills and the forthcoming 20th edition of Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate.

Trusts and Estates

Thomas's practice is principally concerned with trusts and estates matters and he has extensive experience in these areas.  He has advised on and appeared in court in respect of a wide range of trusts matters, such as the appointment and removal of trustees, trust disclosure, the administration of unincorporated associations and breach of trust disputes.

Thomas also has a growing practice in the field of succession, including contentious probate disputes, claims under the Inheritance Act 1975, applications on the administration of estates, and professional negligence in this context. Most recently, he was instructed as junior Counsel in respect of multiple claims arising out of a purported bequest of property in a will which settled shortly before a 4 week trial (Birdseye v Roythorne & Co).  His other recent work includes advising on an application under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958 to vary the statutory trust on intestacy and advising on a 1975 Act claim in respect of a multi-million pound estate.

Thomas’s practice also comprises non-contentious matters and trust administration applications.  He has experience of drafting a range of trusts instruments, wills and associated documents.  He is also regularly instructed in respect of proposed trust restructurings and is presently involved with the restructuring of a series of substantial and complex trusts in the Caribbean.

Offshore

Although Thomas's practice is mainly concerned with English trusts law, a significant proportion of his work is international.  This includes matters involving offshore trusts (both contentious and non-contentious) and commercial litigation in another jurisdiction.

In particular, Thomas has been instructed for several years in various proceedings in Guernsey concerning the Tchenguiz family trusts (Investec Trust (Guernsey) Ltd v Glenalla Properties Ltd and ors).  This litigation has produced over 20 judgments from the Royal Court of Guernsey and the Guernsey Court of Appeal, including reported decisions on the personal liability of trustees under Article 32 of the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984.  Other issues in the litigation include conflict of laws in a trusts context, implied terms and the construction of agreements, and unjust enrichment (in which Thomas has a particular interest).

Thomas has also been instructed on a range of disputes in Jersey, and his recent work includes advising on a possible Hastings-Bass application under the new statutory regime and a partnership dispute involving Jersey trustees. Outside the Channel Islands, he has been instructed in proceedings in the Isle of Man concerning payments into court by trustees (Re Barclays Private Bank & Trust (Isle of Man) Ltd), proceedings to remove trustees of substantial New Zealand law trusts and trust administration proceedings in Bermuda.

Commercial Litigation

The vast majority of Thomas's work is contentious, whether concerned with trusts and estates matters or other types of commercial litigation. Most of Thomas’s trusts and offshore practice is directed at commercial disputes within a trusts context, or involving aspects of trusts law.

Thomas’s first major case was as junior Counsel on a high-profile shareholders dispute which settled after three months of trial (Re GHD Group Holdings Limited) and he continues to regularly appear in the High Court on a range of company, contractual and other commercial disputes. More recently, Thomas appeared as sole Counsel in high-value proceedings concerning the sale of a golf club (Skelwith (Leisure) Ltd v Armstrong).

Property

As part of his trusts and estates work, Thomas has experience of cases involving trusts of land and proprietary estoppel in addition to pure real property matters. He is also acquainted with the administration of settled land and has given talks on the topic.

Separately, Thomas has advised on, and acted in, several significant rights of way disputes. He most recently appeared in the Supreme Court as junior Counsel for the successful respondents in Trail Riders Fellowship v Dorset CC. His other recent work includes advising a local authority on its powers in connection with the organisation of a major national annual event.

Notable Cases

Investec Trust (Guernsey) Ltd v Glenalla Properties Ltd & ors (2012-2017) (“the Tchenguiz Litigation”)
Junior Counsel for the former trustees of several Tchenguiz family trusts in multiple proceedings in Guernsey.  The main set of proceedings relate to sums claimed totalling c.£180 million and have generated 12 judgments from the Guernsey Court of Appeal, including 2 very significant reported decisions on the personal liability of trustees under Article 32 of the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984 (see (2015-2016) 18 ITELR 1 and (2015) 18 ITELR 30).  Appeals to the Privy Council are forthcoming.  Several other proceedings are before the courts in Guernsey.

Birdseye v Roythorne & Co & ors (2015-2016)
Junior Counsel for the executors of a substantial estate in respect of multiple claims arising out of a purported bequest of property in a will, including a claim that property was held on express or resulting trust and claims for devastavit.  Settlement was reached shortly before commencement of a 4 week trial.

Skelwith (Leisure) Ltd v Armstrong [2015] EWHC 2830 (Ch); [2016] Ch 345 and [2015] EWHC 3487 (Ch)
Junior Counsel for one of the partners in a partnership in respect of a claim concerning the validity of contracts for the sale of a property.  Two judgments were given by the High Court, including a reported decision ([2016] Ch 345) on important issues as to the interpretation of the Land Registration Act 2002 and mortgagees’ remedies and a further decision on late amendments ([2015] EWHC 3487 (Ch)).

R (on the application of Trail Riders’ Fellowship) v Dorset County Council [2015] UKSC 18; [2015] 1 WLR 1406
Junior Counsel for the successful Respondents (the TRF) in an appeal to the Supreme Court on the requirements for an application under section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Campbell v Campbell (2015)
Instructed to assist with preparation for trial in respect of a long-running dispute arising out of a family partnership concerning the beneficial ownership of shares in a Jersey company.  There have been a number of previous decisions from the Royal Court of Jersey (see e.g. [2015] JRC 249; [2016] JRC 041; [2016] JRC 070).

Re Barclays Private Bank & Trust (Isle of Man) Ltd (CHP/56/2014)
Instructed to provide written advice to be presented before the High Court of Justice of the Isle of Man (and which was accepted by the Court) in respect of the Manx equivalent of section 63 of the Trustee Act 1925 on payment of monies into court.

Re GHD Group Holdings Ltd (2011-2012)
Junior Counsel for the Petitioner in an unfair prejudice petition in respect of the well-known hair straightener company, ghd.  Settlement was reached after more than 3 months of trial.

R (on the application of Trail Riders’ Fellowship) v Devon County Council [2013] EWHC 2104 (Admin)
Appeared as sole Counsel in judicial review proceedings challenging the imposition of a Traffic Regulation Order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Publications
Lewin on Trusts (19th edition plus 1st and 2nd Supplement)
Theobald on Wills (18th edition)
Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate (20th edition, Forthcoming)

Memberships

Chancery Bar Association
COMBAR

Qualifications
MA (Cantab) First Class
LLM (Queen Mary, University of London) Distinction

What the directories say

Chambers UK

Chancery: Traditional
He's very keen and eager, and had a great interest in the matter and gave some very

good opinions. He knows how to hold his own, he's very diligent and it doesn't take you long to trust in his view on things." (2017)

Legal 500

Private Client: Trusts & Probate
"Very able and a rising star" (2016)