John has a first-class degree from the University of Cambridge. He achieved an Outstanding at Bar School and a Distinction for the GDL. He has won numerous scholarships and awards, including the Louis Gluckstein Advocacy Prize.
John specialises in Business & Property work with a particular focus on real estate and probate. He especially enjoys dealing with disputes over boundaries, adverse possession, rights of way and disputes that arise in the construction and administration of wills and trusts.
Before coming to the Bar, John worked as a Church of England minster. He is married with a young daughter. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf badly and walking in the Worcestershire countryside.
- Louis Gluckstein Advocacy Prize – Lincoln’s Inn
- Tancred Studentship – Lincoln’s Inn
- Excellence Award – BPP University
- Lord Brougham Scholarship – Lincoln’s Inn
- Hardwicke Entrance Award – Lincoln’s Inn
- Wordsworth MPhil Grant – Cambridge Divinity Faculty
- 1912 Senior Scholarship – Cambridge University
- Nick Clarke Prize – Cambridge University
Contentious Wills, Trusts & Probate
John frequently acts in claims where a will is challenged on the grounds of incapacity, undue influence or fraudulent calumny. He has resolved numerous TOLATA, Inheritance Act and proprietary estoppel claims at trial and by mediation. He enjoys advising on obscure points of law relating to mutual wills, secret trusts, purpose trusts, cy-près, perpetuity periods and the remoteness of vesting. He also has experience of applications to pass over or remove an executor, Beddoe applications and Cobden-Ramsay applications.
John’s recent experience includes:
- Obtaining an order for possession and sale of the deceased’s property against a residuary beneficiary who unsuccessfully counterclaimed for a declaration of his beneficial interest in the property on the grounds of proprietary estoppel and sought an equitable account in respect of £80k of alleged renovations carried out to the property.
- Drafting and obtaining court approval of a deed of variation by which estate assets were settled on new trusts in favour of the deceased’s infant sons pursuant to their Inheritance Act application.
- An order for the removal of an executrix due to her vendetta against her co-executrix sister.
- Obtaining an order under TOLATA that the public trustee held the former matrimonial home on trust for the estate and the deceased’s husband as beneficial tenants in common; and an order under the Inheritance Act that the executors in India should transfer the entire residuary estate to the husband.
John often acts in TOLATA, proprietary estoppel and possession claims. He particularly enjoys dealing with disputes over boundaries, adverse possession, rights of way and prescription. He is experienced in drafting Particulars of Claim, Details of Claim, First-Tier Tribunal Statements of Case and witness statements.
John’s recent experience includes:
- City & Country Properties Ltd v Birmingham City Council REF 2020/0209 (Decision date 24 March 2022) – Successfully defended an adverse possession claim to a carpark adjoining the applicant’s commercial property on the grounds that the disputed land became a highway maintainable at public expense in the 1930’s either by statute or by dedication and acceptance at common law.
- Khan v Mahmood  EWHC 597 (Ch) – Successfully appealed a decision that the Respondent had a beneficial interest in the Appellant’s residential property. On appeal Marcus Smith J held that: (a) the execution of a legally defective TR1 operated as an assignment of the Respondent’s equitable interest in a property; and/or (b) the Court would perfect the imperfect gift because it would be unconscionable for the Respondent to resile from it.
- Kirkbright; (2) Kirkbright v Toseva  EWHC 2320 (TCC) – Successfully defended a proprietary estoppel claim in circumstances where a developer (who intended to purchase and renovate a barn owned by the vendor) had paid for certain demolition and decontamination work on the vendor’s land during abortive negotiations to purchase the barn before a contract of sale was signed. HHJ Watson held that there was no proprietary estoppel because the demolition and decontamination work was also a pre-condition for the development of another barn owned by the developer. Moreover, the vendor had instructed the developer to stop any other works to the barn until contracts were signed.
- (1) Tucker; (2) Hill v (1) Campbell; (2) Campbell REF/2020/0309 – A First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) application in which the Applicants were registered as the proprietors of part of an open plan front garden within their neighbours’ paper title on the grounds of adverse possession. The acts which were held to constitute factual possession included replacing 2 paving stones; re-laying gravel and a waterproof membrane; mowing the lawn and planting and pruning a bed of topiary. In addition, the judge found that a 6-month delay in making the application did not mean that the Applicants did not have a reasonable belief that the disputed land belonged to them (within the meaning of paragraph 5(4)(c) of Schedule 6 of the Land Registration Act 2002) because they acted promptly, and the delay was largely caused by their solicitor.
- ANG Properties Limited v Boston REF/2019/0780 – A First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) application for the cancellation of a unilateral notice in respect of a document which the Respondent residential tenant maintained gave rise to a 90-year lease under s.149(6) of the Law of Property Act 1925 on the principles in Berrisford v Mexfield Co-Operative Limited  UKSC 52. The document said that the Respondent, subject to certain conditions, could remain in the property indefinitely following a sale and lease back of the property to him. However, it did not comply with s.2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 – and the parties had subsequently negotiated a fixed term AST through solicitors before the tenant sold the property to the landlord. In the circumstances, the judge held that Berrisford v Mexfield was distinguished, and the unilateral notice should be cancelled
Commercial and Chancery Litigation
John expertise extends from simple debt recovery to disputes over the parties to the contract, actual and apparent authority, incorporation and construction of terms, exclusion clauses, unfair contract terms, misrepresentation, limitation and restitution. He also has experience of partnership claims for accounts & enquiries, dissolution and winding up.
John’s recent experience includes:
- An ongoing claim for dissolution of a real estate partnership which involves determinations of the partners’ respective beneficial interests in 39 residential properties and an account of the rental income.
- Quadro Services Limited v Creagh Concrete Products Limited  EWHC 2637 (TCC) – Summary judgment was granted to enforce an adjudicator’s decision that the Defendant employer should pay 3 invoices due to the Claimant under a construction contract. The Defendant opposed the application on the grounds that the adjudicator lacked jurisdiction because the Claimant had referred 3 disputes to him not 1; and the Defendant did not consent to the adjudicator determining more than 1 dispute under s.8(1) of the Scheme for Construction Contracts (England and Wales) Regulations 1998 (as Amended). HHJ Watson rejected this submission and held that the question of whether each of the invoices was due was a sub-issue in a single dispute over the whether the Claimant was entitled to the cumulative sum claimed.
- Summary judgment for £80k against a trade debtor with an order to pay of 95% the creditor’s costs following a summary assessment.
Insolvency and Restructuring
John is frequently instructed to act in claims at the intersection between property and insolvency. This includes obtaining orders for sale of residential land under s.335A of the Insolvency Act and advising on CVAs, forfeiture and relief from forfeiture in respect of commercial property.
John has also obtained numerous orders in relation to breach of directors’ duties, misfeasance, transactions at an undervalue and unlawful dividends.
- Khan v Mahmood  EWHC 597 (Ch)
- (1) Kirkbright; (2) Kirkbright v Toseva  EWHC 2320 (TCC)
- Quadro Services Limited v Creagh Concrete Products Limited  EWHC 2637 (TCC)
First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) cases:
- (1) Tucker; (2) Hill v (1) Campbell; (2) Campbell REF/2020/0309
- ANG Properties Limited v Boston REF/2019/0780
- Greenbelt Group Limited v (1) Lane; (2) Bourne BIR/OOCS/LIS/2018/0028
- City & Country Properties Ltd v Birmingham City Council REF 2020/0209
Appointments and Memberships
Worcester Law Society Committee Member