John Brennan

Introduction

John’s practice encompasses an unusually broad range of chancery and commercial work. His aim is to provide clear, reliable advice and provide a user-friendly service. In his spare time, John enjoys sport and current affairs.  He is a past winner of the Birmingham Law Society barrister of the year award.

Recent Cases:

  • John recently appeared for a lender as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal. It sought to recover the losses it sustained in a re-mortgage transaction by means of a breach of trust claim against its solicitor.
  • John is currently advising a SME in relation to its efforts to extricate itself from an interest rate swap agreement which it was obliged to enter into by its bank.
  • John appeared for the same lender as junior counsel in a case in the High Court in which it proved that a guarantee and sundry personal loans were enforceable notwithstanding the guarantor / borrower’s allegation that her consent to enter into them had been procured by undue influence.
  • John appeared as junior counsel on behalf of a SME in a high profile case in which the Office of Fair Trading sought, amongst other things, to prove that gym membership contracts were subject to the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
  • John recently appeared for a lender as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal. It sought to recover the losses it sustained in a re-mortgage transaction by means of a breach of trust claim against its solicitor.
  • John appeared for the same lender as junior counsel in a case in the High Court in which it proved that a guarantee and sundry personal loan agreements were enforceable notwithstanding the guarantor / borrower’s allegation that her consent to enter into it had been procured by undue influence.
  • John successfully invoked section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 in a High Court case in order to unravel a transaction that had been entered into shortly before an earlier case between the same parties came on for trial in order to place property beyond the claimant’s reach.
  • John appeared as junior counsel on behalf of a SME in which the Office of Fair Trading sought, amongst other things, to restrain certain unfair commercial practices and to obtain a declaratory ruling as to the enforceability of long-term gym membership contracts.
  • John recently appeared for a lender as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal. It sought to recover the losses it sustained in a re-mortgage transaction by means of a breach of trust claim against its former conveyancing solicitors.
  • John was recently instructed to obtain emergency interim relief to prevent the misapplication of trust property controlled by the executors of an estate.
  • John recently appeared in the Court of Appeal in a case in which his client, a lender, sought to recover £3.3 million from its solicitor following its negligent conduct during the course of a re-mortgage transaction.
  • John was recently successful in a claim against a solicitor for breach of fiduciary duty in the County Court.
  • John is currently advising and acting on behalf of the claimants in a number of professional negligence cases including: a farmer in a case against an architect arising from the collapse of a barn roof; a SME in a case against a barrister and a solicitor arising from the misconduct of litigation against two separate finance companies in related disputes; a trustee in bankruptcy in a case against a solicitor arising from the misconduct of litigation against a financial advisor; and another trustee in bankruptcy in a case against a solicitor arising from the misconduct of a commercial property transaction.
  • John recently appeared on appeal on behalf of the successful party in a boundary dispute in which he was able to persuade the Court of Appeal to reverse the costs order made at first instance.
  • John appeared in the High Court on behalf of a SME at an interim hearing at which he obtained an injunction to prevent its former managing director from soliciting its customers pending trial.
  • John obtained summary judgment in the County Court against the vendor of a business to enforce the terms of a share purchase agreement in which he agreed not to exploit the business’ trading name in conjunction with a competing business.
  • John is currently acting on behalf of a SME in on-going litigation in the High Court in which it is seeking to reverse a transaction whereby its agent diverted business to a third party with which she was associated in breach of her fiduciary duties.
  • John is currently advising a SME in relation to a claim under the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993.
  • John appeared in the High Court on behalf of a SME at an interim hearing at which he obtained springboard relief to protect it from unfair competition from its former employees pending trial.
  • John obtained judgment in the High Court on behalf of a SME for a substantial sum pursuant to the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993.

Banking & Financial Services

John has wealth of experience acting for banks, building societies, finance companies and their customers.  He has considerable experience in matters which concern mortgages, guarantee and indemnity agreements, hire-purchase agreements, leasing agreements and conditional sale agreements.   He is also very familiar with the intricacies of consumer law, being regularly instructed to act on behalf of Jaguar Land Rover and its dealers.

Commercial Fraud & Asset Tracing

John’s reputation in the field of commercial fraud is based upon the experience he gained in the Crown Court in the early days of his practice and the breadth of his civil litigation practice. He seeks to combine an understanding of human nature and knowledge of the technical requirements of the law. He is often instructed in cases that feature death or insolvency. He has a particular interest in claims involving allegations of breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duty and undue influence.

John has recently acted for the vendor of a solicitor’s practice accused of deceit.

Contentious Wills, Trusts & Probate

John accepts instructions in both non-contentious and contentious probate matters. He has acted in cases in which the capacity of the testator, the validity of the will and the administration of the estate have been in dispute. He has made and resisted applications under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. John accepts instructions in both non-contentious and contentious trust matters. He is regularly instructed in disputes over the beneficial ownership of property allegedly held on trust. He has a particular interest in cases that concern allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of trust, knowing assistance and receipt, tracing, rectification and mistake.

John recently appeared on behalf of disgruntled beneficiaries seeking to remove a trustee from a family trust as a result of an alleged breach of the fiduciary conflict rule.

Recent Cases:

  • John recently appeared for a lender as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal. It sought to recover the losses it sustained in a re-mortgage transaction by means of a breach of trust claim against its former conveyancing solicitors.
  • John was recently instructed to obtain emergency interim relief to prevent the misapplication of trust property controlled by the executors of an estate.

Professional Liability

John regularly acts for claimants seeking to prosecute professional negligence claims against solicitors, surveyors and valuers. He also acts in cases against other professionals such as accountants, architects, barristers, consulting engineers and financial advisors. John has been instructed on a number of occasions to represent professionals against allegations of professional negligence including, in particular, solicitors.

John’s recent work includes a seven figure claim brought by a Property and Affairs Deputy against his predecessor arising from the latter’s negligent failure to invest a substantial award for damages following the conclusion of a claim for catastrophic personal injuries; the defence of an execution-only stock broker against allegations brought against it by the victims of a dishonest financial advisor.

Real Estate

John is regularly instructed in real property disputes including, in particular, constructive trust/proprietary estoppel claims in relation to the family homes, easements, restrictive covenants, adverse possession claims, boundary disputes and Party Wall Etc Act 1996 claims. John has considerable experience in the construction of sale and purchase agreements, development agreements and overage agreements. His practice encompasses cases in the High Court, the County Court and proceedings before the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry.

In recent years John has regularly acted on behalf of a nationwide housebuilder in relation to a number of property related disputes.

Restraint of Trade & Confidentiality

John has regularly been instructed to prosecute or defend claims in which a former employer seeks to enforce post-contractual restrictions against a former employee. John is also regularly instructed to appear in analogous cases in the High Court and County Court such as claims in which a purchaser seeks to enforce post-contractual restrictions against a vendor of a business; claims to enforce duties of confidentiality; claims in which a company to enforce a former director’s fiduciary duties; and claims under the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993. He is conscious of the need to act swiftly when applications for interim injunctive relief are sought pending trial and is prepared to work intensively at short notice in order to do so.

Commercial and Chancery Litigation

John regularly advises and appears on behalf of clients in substantial commercial disputes in both the High Court and in arbitral proceedings.

John has recently been involved in a number of multi-million pound warranty claims brought by Jaguar Land Rover against its suppliers and a 10 day minority shareholder’s petition.

Company and Partnership

John has a considerable experience of partnership disputes, especially those relating to farming partnerships and family businesses.  John has also advised in and appeared in a number of minority shareholder’s petitions.

John recently appeared on behalf of the respondent to a minority shareholder’s petition in a 10 day trial and is currently engaged in a substantial partnership dispute concerning a family business.

Reported Cases

Seekings v Moores [2019] EWHC 1476 (Comm), [2019] Costs L.R. 689 – Civil Procedure (Costs budgets; costs management orders; variation)

Davies v Revelan Estates (Wigston) Ltd [2019] B.P.I.R. 1102 – Insolvency / Landlord and Tenant (Bankruptcy; damages; debt; guarantees; indemnities; liquidated sums; statutory demands; sureties)

Levett-Dunn v NHS Property Services Ltd [2016] Ch. 637[2016] 3 W.L.R. 773,  [2016] L. & T.R. 26  [2016] 2 P. & C.R. DG18 – Landlord and tenant (Break clauses; estoppel; notices; service; surrender)

Stratford on Avon DC v Persimmon Homes Ltd [2015] EWHC 3593 (QB) – Planning / Local Government (Construction sites; injunctions; planning conditions; planning control; residential development)

AIB Group (UK) Plc v Mark Redler & Co Solicitors [2015] A.C. 1503, [2014] 3 W.L.R. 1367, [2015] 1 All E.R. 747, [2015] P.N.L.R. 10, [2015] W.T.L.R. 187 –  Banking and finance / Professional Liability / Trusts (Banks; breach of trust; compensation; completion; equitable principles; misapplication; mortgages; redemption; solicitors)

Aster Healthcare Ltd v Shafi [2014] EWCA Civ 1350, [2016] 2 All E.R. 316, [2016] W.T.L.R 395 – Capacity (Care costs; care homes; community care assessments; dementia; local authorities’ powers and duties; long-term care; payments; residential accommodation; residential care)

Knatchbull-Hugessen (Trustee) v SISU Capital Ltd [2014] EWHC 1195 (QB) – Contracts / Company law (Agreements; costs; interpretation; share purchases)

Knatchbull-Hugessen v SISU Capital Ltd [2014] EWHC 1194 (QB) – Contracts /Company law (Breach of contract; expenses; fees; implied terms; share purchases)

Bywater Properties Investments LLP v Oswestry Town Council [2014] 2 P. & C.R. 1 – Landlord and tenant (Business tenancies; interpretation; rent reviews)

Hellard v Irwin Mitchell [2013] EWHC 3008 (Ch) – Professional Liability (Causes of action; financial advice; limitations; pensions; professional negligence; risk; solicitors)

Bulic v (1) Harwoods (2) Santander Consumer (UK) Plc (3) Jaguar Cars Ltd [2012] EWHC 3657 (QB) – Civil Procedure (Expert evidence; single joint experts)

Edginton v Sekhon [2012] EWCA Civ 1812 – Civil Procedure (Calderbank letters; conduct; costs orders; counterclaims; discontinuance; legal advice and funding; limitations; settlement; solicitors’ remuneration)

Davies v AIB Group (UK) Plc [2012] EWHC 2178 (Ch), [2012] 2 P. & C.R. 19 – Banking (Guarantee agreements; loan agreements; undue influence)

Hutchinson v Neale [2012] EWCA Civ 345, [2012] 2 P. & C.R. DG1 – Real Property (Boundary Dispute; costs)

Quirkco Investments Ltd v Aspray Transport Ltd [2013] Lloyd’s Rep. I.R. 55, [2012] L. & T.R. 19 – Landlord and Tenant (Breach of covenant; break notices; business tenancies; date of termination; insurance premiums; interpretation; rent arrears; validity)

Office of Fair Trading v Ashbourne Management Services Ltd [2011] EWHC 1237 (Ch); [2011] E.C.C. 31; [2011] C.T.L.C. 237 – Consumer Law (Consumer credit agreements; consumer protection; credit reference agencies; unfair commercial practices; unfair contract terms)

Walsh v Singh (Costs) [2011] EWCA Civ 80, [2011] 2 F.L.R. 599, [2011] Fam. Law 344, [2011] 4 Costs L.O. 429 – Civil procedure (Abandoned claims; conduct; costs; counterclaims; no order for costs; part 36 offers; unreasonable conduct)

Toor v State Bank of India [2010] EWHC 1097 (Ch) – Banking, Real Property: (Mortgagors’ rights; residential property; possession orders)

Walsh v Singh [2009] EWHC 3219 (Ch), [2010] 1 F.L.R. 1658, [2010] 1 F.C.R. 177, [2010] W.T.L.R. 1061, [2010] Fam. Law 247 – Real property; Equity (Constructive trusts; estoppel; quantum meruit)

Kelly v Hussain [2008] EWHC 1117 (Ch) – Company Law (Conduct; directors; Dismissal; Exclusion; Petitions; Shareholders; Unfairly prejudicial conduct)

Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 A.C. 884, [2008] 1 A.C. 884, [2008] 1 A.C. 884, [2008] I.C.R. 372, [2008] P.I.Q.R. P11, Times, February 28, 2008 – Personal injury (Causation; consent; contributory negligence; depression; duty of care; fatal accident claims; foreseeability; insanity; intervening events; remoteness; suicide; volenti non fit injuria)

Morgan (Deceased), Re [2008] W.T.L.R. 73 – Probate (attestation; knowledge and approval; undue influence)

Micro Design Group Ltd v Norwich Union Insurance Ltd [2005] EWHC 3093 (TCC); [2006] Lloyd’s Rep. I.R. 235 – Insurance (fraud)

Seaborne v Russell & Co [2005] EWHC 3472 (QB) – Professional Liability (Solicitors, conveyancing, limitation)

Knight v Haynes Dufell Kentish & Co [2003] EWCA Civ 223 – Professional Liability (Solicitors, Quistclose trusts, share purchases, delay, interest)

Education

MA, Oxon (Modern History, First Class)
MA (Oxon)
Mansfield Scholar, Lincoln's Inn

Appointments and Memberships

Chancery Bar Association

Midland Chancery and Commercial Bar Association

Testimonials

"Enormously bright and extremely hardworking, with an approachable demeanour that makes him an important part of the team." Legal 500 2021
"He is direct and cuts to the core of of a problem." Legal 500 2021
"Highly intelligent, diligent and intuitive. He is a delight to work with." Legal 500 2021
"Very bright and outstanding in his advocacy before the court." "Technically very good, very practical and clear with clients." Chambers UK 2021
"He is incredibly intellectual and he really knows his stuff. He speaks the language of the clients very well." Chambers UK 2021
"He is a leading light...and he's readily capable of engaging in huge litigation." Chambers UK 2021
"He's very pleasant, very conscientious and amazingly thorough." Chambers UK
"His advice is good and frank; he isn't afraid to give his clients a realistic assessment." Chambers UK
"Provides clear, authoritative advice and is always well prepared." Chambers UK
"He is very thorough, detailed and able to cut straight to the heart of the problem. He's also very easy to deal with and is very good with clients." Chambers UK
"Very responsive and tremendous client-handling skills." "He completely throws himself into a case and has an enormous depth of knowledge." Chambers UK
"He's very diligent, hard-working, no-nonsense, good on his feet and knows the field in which he practises exceptionally well." Chambers UK
"He cuts to the core of matters and is very good with clients." "A very good court advocate." Chambers UK
"He's very, very clever, agreeable and pleasant. A future silk if there ever was one." Chambers UK
"He is able to deal with very complex matters and get right to the heart of the issue. He's very good with clients and is able to explain complex matters in an easily understandable way." Chambers UK
"He has a very good court manner, a very extensive vocabulary and a very good turn of phrase. He is a natural on his feet. His advocacy makes him stand out; he's got this sort of common touch and has the ability to spin a perfect phrase to sum up a case." Chambers UK
“He communicates well with clients.” Legal 500
"John's very solid and very experienced; sort of the ultimate safe pair of hands. He's a strong intellectual lawyer." Chambers UK
"He's very intelligent, methodical, thorough and charming, as well as being a persuasive and determined advocate." Chambers UK
"He's extremely thorough and very helpful, while being very responsive and always making himself available. His knowledge of the law is remarkable at times and he is always very clear and precise in his position." Chambers UK
“A strong and determined negotiator.” Legal 500
"Excellent, incredibly intelligent, he gets straight to the point and gives you straightforward advice." Chambers UK
“He has a great bedside manner with clients.” Legal 500
"He is not someone who will back down or give guarded opinions and is very good with difficult cases." Chambers UK