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Our clerks’ room is open between:

8.30am – 6.30pm

Outside of these hours and in cases of urgency, please contact
Paul Bunting on 07971 843023 or
Darren Madle on 07769 714399.

Clerk contacts

Richard Sheehan

Deputy Senior Clerk

020 7420 9503
Oliver Ventura

First Junior Clerk

020 7420 9505
Aron Hanks

Second Junior Clerk

020 7420 9506
Archie Conners

Third Junior Clerk

020 7420 9507

Our clerks’ room is open between:

8.30am – 6.30pm

Outside of these hours and in cases of urgency, please contact
Paul Bunting on 07971 843023 or
Darren Madle on 07769 714399.

Clerk contacts

Richard Sheehan

Deputy Senior Clerk

020 7420 9503
Oliver Ventura

First Junior Clerk

020 7420 9505
Aron Hanks

Second Junior Clerk

020 7420 9506
Archie Conners

Third Junior Clerk

020 7420 9507

George
Woodhead

Call: 2009

Tel: 020 7420 9500

About

George is a Chancery barrister and a specialist in property, contested probate and trusts litigation.

He is appointed to the Attorney General’s B Panel of London junior counsel to the Crown and advises the Ministry of Justice, the Chief Land Registrar, the Bona Vacantia Division and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, amongst other emanations of the Government.

George is recommended for both Property Litigation and Private Client: Trusts and Probate in the current edition of the Legal 500 (2024, London), which say:

“George is truly a first-class advocate, keen to close any gaps in the lead up to a hearing by working closely with his instructing solicitors and thus ensuring the best chance of a positive outcome.” – Private Client: Trusts and Probate (Tier 4)

The most user-friendly of barristers, with the ability to really grasp the essence of a case. He is pragmatic and sensible in his advice, and willing to really press hard for his clients to win.” – Property Litigation (Tier 4)

Previous Legal 500 editions describe him as:

“… a thoroughly charming and articulate advocate, extremely well respected by his peers…”; “… exceptional at what he does”;respectful at all times to the judge and to his opponent [and]… incredibly forceful and persuasive when needs be, adapting his approach accordingly”; and “a brave, tenacious” trial advocate for whom solicitors “have no qualms in instructing him on a heavy hitting case against KC opponents.”

George’s strategic and advisory input has been credited as demonstratinga forensic level of researchand finding solutions that have not been considered”, with solicitors noting his sharp intellect and excellent tactical skills”.

In the past three years, George has appeared in a number of leading cases in the property, trusts and probate arena, including:

  • Islam v Islam [2024] EWHC 1082 (Ch): 2-week trial concerning ownership of family property portfolio, including allegations of sham, actual and presumed undue influence, and forgery.
  • Stoney-Andersen v Abbas & Ors [2023] EWHC 2964 (Ch): costs in probate disputes.
  • Goldhill Finance Ltd v Smyth [2023] EWHC 362 (KB): appeal concerning s. 140B of the Consumer Credit Act and the unfair relationship provisions of ss. 140A-D.
  • Pile v Pile [2022] 1 P. & C.R. 6: whether service of a notice to quit a joint tenancy was a breach of trust.
  • Lohia v Lohia [2022] EWHC 2033 (Ch): rectification of deeds of trust (appeal).
  • Lohia v Lohia [2021] EWHC 2752 (Ch): rectification of deeds of trust.
  • Ralph v Ralph [2021] 4 W.L.R. 128: rectification of deeds of trust.

George is committed to the education and progress of new barristers.  He is an advocacy tutor with Lincoln’s Inn and a pupil supervisor.  He is also a member of the Chancery Bar Association and the Property Bar Association.

Further details of George’s practice and experience are contained below.

George is regularly instructed by commercial clients, often where there is a property or trust aspect to the issue in question.  He was recently instructed as junior counsel to Clifford Darton QC in an appeal to the Court of Appeal (UK Learning Academy Ltd v Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWCA Civ 370) concerning non-oral modification clauses, estoppel, statements of case and the decision of the Supreme Court in MWB v Rock Advertising [2018] 2 WLR 1603.

George has particular experience in the following areas:

(i) share purchase agreements: e.g. Gobbee v Covell (Brighton County Court) (2019), concerning the sale of an interest in a hotel in East Sussex and the correct interpretation of a Share Purchase and Settlement Agreement);

(ii) freezing injunctions: e.g. (1) Cladern Limited; (2) Makar v LDC Partners Limited (2018) (QBD) (successfully obtained undertakings following application for freezing injunction which led to subsequent settlement of substantial debt claim and proposed s. 994 petition);

(iii) partnership disputes: Arabi v (1) Arabi (2) JK Estates (2018) (ChD);

(iv) s.994 petitions and director disputes: e.g. Lewis v Clarke (2020) (ChD, ICC);

(v) sale of goods and services: e.g. Lydon Contracting Limited v Lombard Finance Limited and Electro Services Limited: 5-day trial concerning the sale of welfare units for use at construction site & Platinum VIP London Limited v Amari Lifestyle Limited (2018) (CLCC): dispute concerning ownership and conversion of a Ferrari F355;

(vi) building and construction disputes (EAC Group of Companies v Davis Contstruction (South East) Limited (2020) (CLCC, TCC List);

(vii) claims arising out of the sale of land;

(viii) contractual interpretation and rectification: e.g. Martin v Posener [2017] EWHC 2320 (dispute concerning the provision of funding for research into potential claims for compensation from German organisations in relation to the confiscation of assets belonging to German Jews by the Nazi regime);

(ix) insurance disputes: e.g. advising three businesses in relation to their insurance policies and the effects of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic; and

(x) general contractual disputes: ACM Managed Services v EMS Services Limited (2020) (Chelmsford CC): dispute concerning agency workers and recruitment contracts.

George regularly deals with clients in disputes with directors, shareholders and partners and has particularly experience in disputes between members of a family business.  For example:

(1) Cladern Limited (2) Makar v LDC Partners Limited (2018) (High Court, QBD) – successfully obtained undertakings following application for freezing injunction which led to subsequent settlement of substantial debt claim and proposed s. 994 petition.

Arabi v (1) Arabi (2) JK Estates (2018) (ChD) (2018) – successfully represented C in a claim for an account following trial. The case concerned complex accounting between two brothers and an estate agency following the trial of a dispute concerning a number of properties and trusts.

Dooley v Norris & Ors (2019) (ChD)– ongoing section 994 petition.

Lewis v Clarke (High Court, Insolvency and Companies Court) (2020) – ongoing proceedings brought pursuant to ss. 994 and 996 of the Companies Act 2006.

Squirrel v Arron (2018) (Central London County Court) – ToLATA dispute concerning residential property with attached business with issues including rectification of share register.

George acts for both claimants and insurers in professional negligence claims.  Most of his work in this area concerns  (alleged) negligence by solicitors and property professionals, such as surveyors, architects and building contractors.  Examples of more recent cases include:

Atlas Cleaning Limited v A firm of solicitors (2018) (High Court, ChD) – professional negligence claim concerning the sale of companies. Settled the week before trial. Led by Russell Stone.

Ford v (1) Haynes (2) Sussex Surveyors (2018) (Brighton County Court) – claim against vendor and surveyor in respect of flooding to residential premises.

Hills & 11 others v A firm of solicitors (ongoing) – substantial professional negligence case against a well-known national firm of solicitors, currently in pre-action stage. The proposed claim concerns an  onerous, compounding ground rent clause in respect of which the leaseholders say they were not properly advised by the proposed defendant firm of solicitors and which renders the value of their long lease as nil.

Thompson v (1) British Gas (2) SIG Energy (2020) – acting for claimants in a claim concerning residential property ruined by the installation of government-incentivised cavity wall insulation.  Settled the week before trial.

George has particular expertise in trusts of land and family-owned property/cohabitation disputes but also regularly deals with cases concerning proprietary estoppel; nuisance; restrictive covenants; boundary disputes; easements and rights of way; claims arising out of the sale of land; property-related professional negligence; and mortgages (including fraud and undue influence).  Recent cases include:

Visa Properties Limited v Swan Hotel (2007) (Weston-super-Mare County Court) (2021) Limited – dispute between a Hotel and owner of mixed-use properties concerning nuisance interference with right of way and prescription defence in central Wells.  Settled at trial.

Hyde v (1) Akinwuni (2) The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth (Wandsworth County Court) (2021) – successfully obtained an interim injunction in nuisance/anti-social behaviour/breach of covenant case.

RGM Limited v Roberts (ongoing) (Central London County Court) – 3-day trial listed in dispute concerning a Rent Act tenant alleged to have abandoned possession of a property which has fallen into disrepair.

(1) Bean (2) Bean v White (2021) (Lincoln County Court) – advised and represented at trial the successful claimants in a boundary dispute.  Issues concerning boundary agreements, estoppel and contested expert evidence.

Keenan v Singer (2020) (Luton County Court): 4-day boundary dispute trial which settled after evidence.  The trial included a site visit, and live and remote (Skype) oral evidence.  Issues including pre and post-2002 Act adverse possession, proprietary estoppel and the admissibility of expert evidence.

Collington v Uppal (2020) (Luton County Court): issued boundary dispute claim concerning issues of trespass and development of site.

Caiger v (1) Hertfordshire County Council (2) Hamilton (2020) (Hertford County Court): dispute primarily concerning (interference with) a right of way to land and also nuisance, trespass and harassment.  Settled at remote (Zoom) mediation.

Harvey v Whybrow (2019) (First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)): Multi-day hearing of application to register right of way (prescription) over unregistered land.

Ralph v Ralph (2019) (Central London County Court) (2019) – recently granted permission to appeal to the High Court following trial concerning property purchased by son and father as tenants in common.  Issues on appeal concern, amongst other things, the law of mistake, the rescission of express trusts contained within TR1 forms, and the extent to which courts can go behind such trusts in the absence of a pleaded case.

 

A substantial part of George’s practice falls within this practice area.  In particular, George has dealt with a vast number of trusts of land/cohabitation disputes, as well as Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claims, applications to remove/replace/appoint executors/trustees, proprietary estoppel and contested will cases (including all of the common challenges to a will’s validity).

George is increasingly involved in cases in which capacity is an issue and handles such matters with care, sensitivity and experience.  Some of George’s recent cases include:

Lohia v Lohia (ChD) (2021) – 3-day trial concerning rectification of an express declaration of trust within a TR1 Form.

Moulder-Brown v Moulder-Brown & others (Central London County Court) (2021) – acting for Defendant in a claim challenging a will on grounds of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval and undue influence.  Extensive medical and expert evidence from two well-known, leading experts.  Settlement shortly before trial.

Ralph v Ralph [2021] EWCA Civ 1106 (Court of Appeal) – acted for the successful appellant (led by Clifford Darton QC) in an appeal concerning the test for rectification and the applicability of the test in FSHC to the transfer of title to property/express declarations of trust contained therein.

Vellien v (1) Webbe (2) Sanjivi (3) Dharmarajen (2021) (Brighton County Court) – acted for the successful claimant in a 1975 Act claim (cohabitant/living as spouse, small to medium-sized estate).  Award of £211,000 plus indemnity costs.

Re. Nelson (deceased) (2020) (Oxford County Court): 2-day trial successfully defending claim brought by disgruntled beneficiary concerning the administration of the deceased’s estate.  Issues included trusts of land and devastavit.

Reeves v (1) Drew (2) Frain (3) Murray (4) McKinnon (5) McKinnon) (ChD) – ongoing claim challenging will of deceased on various grounds where the estate is thought to be worth >£50 million.

Aberdour v Cubbin (ChD) (2020) – Part 8 hearing to determine claim to remove Defendants as executors pursuant to s.50 of the AJA 1985.  Agreement reached mid-way through the hearing for all parties to be removed and replaced by a professional executor.

Green v Slater (2020) (Central London County Court): claim following breakdown of unmarried couple’s relationship and including issues of interpretation of a Deed of Trust, the purpose of the trust, and the timing and mechanics of an order for sale of jointly-owned residential property.

Chiemelu v Egemonye & Ors (ongoing) (ChD): spousal claim under the 1975 Act for further provision from estate.

Smith v (1) Cardwell (2) Bertie-Smith (Lincoln County Court) (2020) – acted for the successful Claimant at multi-day trial seeking an account and judgment for over £100,000 purportedly misappropriated in breach of trust by trustees (the Claimant’s long-term partner and daughter-in-law) under a personal injury settlement trust.

Amaral v Almeida (Bournemouth County Court) (2020) – successfully represented the Claimant in a trial concerning the parties’ former home.  Issues including ToLATA provisions, division of proceeds, equitable accounting and occupation.

McGregor v (1) Hindley (2) Hindley (3) Simpson: 1975 Act cohabitant and proprietary estoppel claim to estate of late partner (ongoing) (ChD).

Georgiou v Rowles & 4 others (High Court, Bristol District Registry) (2020) – acted for two Defendants at final hearing of a dispute over the distribution and value of various chattels from the estate of the parties’ mother.

Ralph v Ralph (Central London County Court) (2019) – recently granted permission to appeal to the High Court following trial concerning property purchased by son and father as tenants in common.  Issues on appeal concern, amongst other things, the law of mistake, the rescission of express trusts contained within TR1 forms, and the extent to which courts can go behind such trusts in the absence of a pleaded case.

Egemonye & Ors v Chiemelu (High Court, ChD) (2019) – successful section 50 application to remove executor.

(1) Udoinam (2) Udoinam v (3) Udoinam (High Court, ChD) – successful section 50 application to remove executor.

Tuck v Clarke (Central London County Court, Chancery List) assigned to HHJ Johns QC (2019 – at CCMC stage) – complicated possession claim for property in which 75-year old defendant has lived in for over 60 years, believing the property to be owned by her and having spent over £400,000 renovating and improving the property. Issues concerning: common intention constructive trusts, resulting trusts, quantum meruit, abandonment of interest, implied severance and adverse possession post-2002 Act. The case is likely to attract both public and legal press attention.

Lazell v Glessing (June, 2019) Central London County Court, Chancery List, HHJ Roberts) – represented the Defendant at the trial of his long-term ex-partner’s claim to a sale of three adjoining plots owned by the parties. The Claimant sought an order for the sale of the Property as a whole so as to take advantage of a £50,000 marriage value. Issues concerning the correct application of ss.14 and 15 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 and Bagum v Hafiz and Hai [2015] EWCA Civ 801. Further issues concerning occupation rent and costs (the Defendant recovered his costs of the trial, with no order on the balance).

Folarin v Folarin (2019) (Central London County Court, Chancery List) – case concerning claim for a declaration as to beneficial interest, order for sale, account and inquiry in respect of a joint venture started between two brothers in 1995. The assets of the Joint Venture are now estimated to be worth between £2 million and £3 million and include residential property, securities, motor cars and cash. Issues including: Pallant v Morgan equity; partnership and joint venture; express trusts; constructive and resulting trusts; promissory notes; and accounting (over 20 years’ worth) with likely forensic accounting evidence. 

Suckling v Suckling [2019] (High Court, ChD) WLUK 333 – successfully represented C in a Part 8 claim seeking the removal of his sister as an executor de son tort.  Successfully achieved an order in committal proceedings which led to the defendant’s compliance.

Burgess v Baynton (2018) (Hertfordshire County Court) – advised and represented the Claimant in a Part 8 claim for a declaration of beneficial interest and order for sale of former family home in Hertfordshire. Hard fought litigation which, after an unsuccessful application by the Defendant to adjourn the trial date, led to the Defendant accepting a Part 36 offer 2 days before trial. Successful pre-trial application for an order for sale.

Squirrel v Arron (2018) (Central London County Court) – ToLATA dispute concerning residential property with attached business with issues including rectification of share register. Settled at mediation.

Patel v Patel & ors (2018) (Central London County Court) – successful ToLATA claim concerning property lived in by large family over past 30 years. Issues concerning bilateral mistake and common intention constructive trusts.

Whittaker v Whittaker (2018) (High Court, ChD) – represented one of two brothers bringing a proprietary estoppel claim against mother’s estate relying on assurances given over 20 years prior. Claim settled favourably at mediation. 

Platt v Bryden (2017) (Brighton County Court) – successfully defended a ToLATA claim to beneficial interest in 4 properties owned by the defendant: claim struck out. The claim concerned a long and unusual relationship between the parties. 

Harrington v Euesden (2017) (Chelmsford County Court) – ToLATA/proprietary estoppel claim successfully setting aside express declaration of trust.

Pile v Pile [2022] EWHC 2036 (Ch) (26 July 2022)

Lohia v Lohia [2022] EWHC 2033 (Ch) 2033 (Ch)              

Ralph v Ralph [2021] EWCA Civ 1106 (22 July 2021)

Lohia ((1) Lohia (2) Singh v Lohia [2021] EWHC 2752 (Ch))

UK Learning Academy Ltd v Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWCA Civ 370. Led by Clifford Darton QC.

Suckling v Suckling [2019] (High Court, ChD) WLUK 333 – successfully represented C in a Part 8 claim seeking the removal of his sister as an executor de son tort.  Successfully achieved an order in committal proceedings which led to the defendant’s compliance.

Lazell v Glessing (June, 2019) (Central London County Court, Chancery List) – represented the Defendant at the trial of his long-term ex-partner’s claim to a sale of three adjoining plots owned by the parties.  Widespread press attention.

Aberdour v Cubbin (2020) (High Court, Property, Trusts and Probate List) – Part 8 hearing to determine claim to remove Defendants as executors pursuant to s.50 of the AJA 1985.  Agreement reached mid-way through the hearing for all parties to be removed and replaced by a professional executor.  Widespread press attention.

Martin v Posener [2017] EWHC 2320: dispute concerning the provision of funding for research into potential claims for compensation from German organisations in relation to the confiscation of assets belonging to German Jews by the Nazi regime. Led by Clifford Darton QC.

Cavanagh v Witley Parish Council [2017] 2 WLUK 371

Hackney LBC v Smith & Ors [2012] EWHC 4531 (Ch)

Eastenders Cash & Carry plc and another company v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2010] All ER (D) 52 (Nov): concerning the power of detention contained in the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, s. 139(1).

  • Leading Junior in Property Litigation (Legal 500, 2023)
  • Leading Junior in Private Client: Trusts and Probate (Legal 500, 2023)
  • Leading Junior in Property Litigation and Private Client: Trusts and Probate (Legal 500, 2022)
  • Leading Junior in Property Litigation (Legal 500, 2021)

 

Comments:

“George is a thoroughly charming and articulate advocate, extremely well respected by his peers. His preparation and attention to detail is admirable, communicating incredibly well with clients and setting realistic expectations.” (Property Litigation, Legal 500 (2023))

“George is exceptional at what he does. He is able to quickly digest large amounts of complex information which is particularly useful. He is able to think outside of the box and is always willing to bounce ideas around with his instructing solicitor. In terms of his advocacy, he is respectful at all times to the judge and to his opponent. He can however be incredibly forceful and persuasive when needs be, adapting his approach accordingly.” (Private Client: Trusts and Probate, Legal 500 (2023))

“George is a rare breed, a brave tenacious advocate, coupled with a exceptional client handling skills and impressive solicitor handling skills. Solicitors have no qualms in instructing him on a heavy hitting case against QC opponents given his sharp intellect and excellent tactical skills.” (Private Client: Trusts and Probate, Legal 500 (2022))

“He puts a forensic level of research into his written work and finds solutions that have not been considered.” (Property Litigation, Legal 500 (2021))

Registered Name: Mr George Byron Woodhead

VAT Number: 156 6922 81