Introduction

Gavin joined Chambers in 2014 after completion of his pupillage. He is a specialist in Chancery proceedings, especially real property (including as regards TOLATA, mortgages and landlord and tenant), trusts, contentious probate and related matters. Beyond this, his practice encompasses much of the breadth of general commercial litigation, including in such fields as partnership, professional negligence and personal insolvency. Outside of that arena, Gavin also undertakes work in areas of administrative and regulatory law. Most particularly in that regard, he undertakes a significant amount of work both for and against local authorities in rating disputes.

Gavin appears regularly in the High Court and County Court, and has experience of other tribunals (notably the magistrates’ court and divisions of the First-tier and Upper Tribunal). He also regularly represents parties in mediations and during other attempts at dispute resolution. He was junior to Avtar Khangure Q.C. in their successful appearance in the Court of Appeal in Takhar v Gracefield Developments Ltd. [2018] Ch. 1, on the test for the setting-aside of judgments on grounds of fraud. (Later, he undertook the preparation of the respondents’ case for the Supreme Court). He has also acted as junior in complex and high-value High Court litigation, as well as on his own account in other equally contentious proceedings in that forum.

Beyond practice, he has taught Equity and Trusts to undergraduates at Nottingham University, and has authored articles on judgments appearing in his fields of work.

Gavin is leader of the Business and Property Juniors grouping in Chambers.

Notable Cases:

  • Gavriel v Davis [2019] EWHC 2446 (Ch.): remuneration of executors.
  • Ardawa v Uppal (Costs) [2019] EWHC 1663 (Ch.): determination of questions of bankruptcy expenses as litigation costs.
  • R. (Clarke) v Birmingham City Council [2019] EWHC 1728 (Admin.): judicial review of a budgeting decision in respect of allocation of funds for sprinkler works in tower blocks. Questions concerning the test for showing that relevant considerations were omitted.
  • Smith v Smith (2018), unrep. H.H.J. Worster sitting as a judge of the High Court: junior in a dispute as to relief in the winding-up of a farming partnership following its dissolution.
  • Takhar v Gracefield Developments Ltd. [2017] EWCA Civ. 147; [2018] Ch. 1: junior in the Court of Appeal.
  • Bibby v Coventry City Council [2016] EWHC 2554 (Admin.); [2017] RVR 4: successful appearance in appeal by Case Stated against the imposition of a liability order by magistrates. Order upheld.
  • Davis v Wiggett [2016] UKUT 358 (TCC); [2016] WTLR 1563: successful Upper Tribunal appeal following a constructive trust trial in the Land Registration Division of the First-tier Tribunal, with a particular focus on new evidence and the rule in Ladd v Marshall.

Publications

  • The traditional concept hits the bunker: easements after Regency Villas Title Ltd v Diamond Resorts (Europe) Ltd.” – Conveyancer and Property Lawyer (2019) 3, 250 – 273

Banking & Financial Services

Gavin undertakes a significant amount of work in the context of secured lending. He has appeared on a number of contested applications for charging orders and orders for sale. In undertaking mortgage work for various lenders, he has advised upon and argued points concerning overriding interests and questions of priority, as well as enforceability having regard to consumer and regulatory protections (under the 2000 Act, 2001 Regulations, the Mortgages Directive, etc.). On the other side, he has advised mortgagors of their rights, for instance as against mortgagees in possession, and as to their prospects of avoiding possession or having it suspended under the Administration of Justice Acts.

Gavin has experience of arguments under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, including those alleging an unfair relationship. He has acted successfully for lenders at trials defending possession or seeking to have guarantees set-aside, having regard to pleas of unenforceability, undue influence and similar. In light of the remainder of his practice in property and Chancery work, he is particularly interested in questions of priority of title and of equitable claims/defences as they arise in respect of banking law.


Commercial Fraud & Asset Tracing

Gavin has experience of commercial fraud cases, including those involving complex allegations of breach of trust and of fiduciary duty, with the various considerations of personal and proprietary remedies which then result. His academic and wider Chancery background assists considerably in enabling the search for practical remedial solutions in the corporate and commercial context. He has relevant knowledge in areas of equity, trusts and restitution, amongst others. He has experience of pleading and considering cases of fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as others in which corporate veil issues have been prominent.

A considerable part of his workload in 2018 was given over to acting as junior to Avtar Khangure Q.C. in multi-million pound proceedings in which allegations of breach of directors’ duties, constructive trust and equitable compensation claims were at the heart, as well as matters of conspiracy/economic tort against related third parties.


Contentious Wills, Trusts & Probate

Gavin has a specialist contentious probate practice. He advises, pleads and appears on all manner of cases in this area, from Inheritance Act proceedings to those concerning breaches of fiduciary duty by executors and trustees, constructive trust and proprietary estoppel claims, removals and Part 64 directions requests (Re: Beddoe, etc.). Of the last few years his work in this discipline – one which is particular, complex and often arcane – has become a mainstay of his practice. In that respect he has experience of considering more particular questions, such as of title in the deceased’s assets pending letters of administration, the priority for the taking out of such letters/passing-over, intermeddling/executorship de son tort and the IHT implications of various dispositions. He has conducted seminars on a number of these matters.

Gavin regularly deals with will validity claims and challenges. This has recently involved consideration of outer-lying questions, such as of mutual wills and the developing case law on ‘affective grief’ disorders as a ground for challenging capacity. He often advises on such validity issues. In court, he has recently secured the striking-out and dismissal of proceedings brought against an executor by reference to their legally misconceived grounding – hence showing the practical utility of insight into the legally complex principles alive in this area. He is also regularly instructed at mediation, especially as regards the many Inheritance Act claims he handles.


Insolvency & Restructuring

Gavin’s emphasis is on cases of personal insolvency, and he has thus attended various bankruptcy petitions, set-asides and related hearings. He has had dealings with such matters at appellate level. These cases can often involve enquiries into the realities of property ownership and other nuanced means by which debts or bankruptcies are disputed. Gavin brings his knowledge of relevant areas of law in this regard to the specifics of the insolvency context. His work thus especially involves consideration of trust concepts, both as asserted by creditors (Quistclose, etc.) and by debtors/bankrupts and their family members. He has dealt with claims deriving from the insolvency, such as conversion proceedings at the behest of the trustee, and has advised as to bankrupts’ breaches of duty to the trustee and otherwise. In the corporate context, his knowledge of equitable principles would extend to the assessment of the actions of director fiduciaries of insolvent or prospectively insolvent companies, and of any constructive trusts to be imposed against the proceeds of equitable wrongdoing in this regard.


Professional Liability

Gavin has particular experience of advising in respect of claims against solicitors (most especially in the property, trusts and probate fields, but also generally). He brings his knowledge of the law in those areas into the consideration of potential failings by lawyers, including having regard to risks of conflict and breaches of fiduciary duty. He has recently both advised and pleaded a case against a conveyancing solicitor who had represented a group of purchasers of plots notwithstanding the apparent risk of conflict having regard to competing interests between themselves as to the access and use of those plots. The case secured a favourable settlement for the claimant.


Real Estate

Property law in various respects is a main component of Gavin’s practice. Issues upon which he advises, pleads and appears regularly include those of land registration, TOLATA/co-ownership, easements (express, implied and prescriptive), forfeiture and other landlord and tenant questions, and priority. He deals with related issues, such as of trespass, boundaries and nuisance – including in difficult neighbour litigation. He appears in courts and the property tribunals. In trusts of land work, he regularly considers the application of the 1996 Act and other issues, such as of equitable accounting/compensation and overriding interests. He has also conducted seminars on various questions upon which he has advised, such as to the validity and enforceability of Notices, and alteration/rectification of the Register.

Gavin has been junior counsel in contentious High Court proprietary estoppel litigation as to the ownership of a farm following partnership dissolution.

In landlord and tenant work, Gavin is often concerned with questions arising in respect of business leases, service charges and the legal consequences of informal arrangements (including for possession purposes). In court, he has experience of possession actions, rent arrear and service charge claims, forfeiture proceedings and those for breach of covenant.

Gavin undertakes regular work in the arena of local government rating, in which his property expertise often proves of considerable utility. His property work often overlaps with that in probate, professional negligence and personal insolvency.

Education

2011: LL.M. Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge (First Class in Public Law dissertation and the Law of Restitution)
2010: Bar Vocational Course (Outstanding): Lord Justice Holker scholar, Gray’s Inn; Beloff Q.C. Public Law Essay Prize Winner, Gray’s Inn
2009: LL.B. (Hons), First Class, University of Nottingham