Introduction

Chris Royle is a well-regarded and experienced junior with particular expertise in real property, chancery and general commercial litigation. He has significant trial and appellate experience, including a 7-day trial involving mortgage fraud and has worked on cases up to and including the Supreme Court.

Solicitors describe him as ‘thorough, never just giving off the cuff advice’, having ‘a good analytical mind’ and ‘one of the team – willing to engage and keen to see the bigger picture’.

Additionally, he is a specialist in the fields of enforcement by taking control of goods, non-domestic rating, and the council tax. Chris deals with professional liability and insolvency where necessary as part of work within his mainstream expertise.

As a former owner manager of a business in the computer services and telecommunications sectors, Chris is ideally placed to assist with cases in those fields.

Chris is an ADRg accredited mediator and sits as a Deputy District Judge (civil). He is authorized to hear Business & Property cases on the North-Eastern Circuit.

Away from the Bar, Chris is a semi-professional organist, an enthusiastic road cyclist, and maintains a keen interest in various computing, software and electronics projects

Recent and significant cases

K Pub Trading Limited & another v Cardiff City &another [2021] EWHC 3011 (Successful appearance for the respondent Council in two joined proceedings for judicial review of the local authority’s refusal to recognize parties as liable to rates and consequent refusal to pay pandemic-related grants.)

Hamilton v SoS Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy & another [2021] EWHC 2647 (QB) (Complex question of interpretation of the abandonment provisions relating to taking control of goods by way of enforcement; acknowledged as having played an “exemplary role”, with submissions noted for their “thoroughness and clarity”)

Court Enforcement Services v Marston Legal Services [2020] EWCA Civ 588 (Priority of writs; duties of enforcement agents and High Court Enforcement Officers as regards payment of proceeds; certified as a matter of general public importance by the QB Master.)

Victus Estates (2) Limited v Munroe & others (Central London County Court, 2019-20) (Success after 7-day trial in obtaining an order to rectify the register for a house belonging to his client after a fraudulent transfer arranged by her joint titleholder and the purported transferee; issues of unjust enrichment, subrogation and test for rectification.)

Broxfield Limited v Sheffield City Council [2019] A.C.D. 106; [2019] EWHC 1946 (Admin) (Appeal by way of case stated; execution of leases; sham transactions.)

Barnsley MBC v Hadfield [2019] P.T.S.R. 111[2018] EWHC 866 (QB) (Test for injunctive relief for breach of a tree preservation order; test for whether new growth included in tree preservation orders.)

Clarke v Lighting & Lamps UK and another [2016] EWCA Civ 1454 (Clarification of the test on late amendment of appeal notices.)

Chandra v Mayor [2016] EWHC 2636 (Ch) (Enforceability of costs orders against represented defendants.)

West Sussex County Council v Persons Unknown [2013] EWHC 4024 (QB) (The eviction of the Balcombe ‘fracking’ protesters.)

Real Estate

Chris is regularly instructed in real property disputes including, for example, those involving easements, restrictive covenants, boundary disputes, adverse possession, rectification, and claims to interests in family homes arising under trusts (and associated proceedings under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996) or by proprietary estoppel. In addition, Chris acted for the local authority landowner in the Balcombe ‘fracking’ protesters eviction.

Reported and significant cases:

Victus Estates (2) Limited v Munroe & others (Central London County Court, 2019-20) (Success after 7-day trial in obtaining an order to rectify the register for a house belonging to his client after a fraudulent transfer arranged by her joint titleholder and the purported transferee; issues of unjust enrichment, subrogation and test for rectification.)

Turan v Nasim (Leeds County Court, 2021) (Issues involving unlawful re-entry, validity of surrender, execution of deeds and the effect of a rent cesser clause.)

Barnsley MBC v Hadfield [2019] P.T.S.R. 111[2018] EWHC 866 (QB) (Test for injunctive relief for breach of a tree preservation order; test for whether new growth included in tree preservation orders.)

West Sussex County Council v Persons Unknown [2013] EWHC 4024 (QB) (The eviction of the Balcombe ‘fracking’ protesters.)

Acting for the administratrix of an estate claiming an interest in property by way of proprietary estoppel. Successfully obtained interim injunction restraining a threatened sale of the same by the personal representatives of the defendant estate.

Advised a significant landowner as to its ability to enforce of restrictive covenants over nearby land available for sale.

Acted at trial for a landowner resisting a claim to rectification of a lease to remove a full repairing and insuring covenant by the tenant.

Commercial and Chancery Litigation

Chris regularly advises and appears for clients in substantial commercial and chancery disputes both in the High Court and County Court, at case management, trial, and in applications for interim relief including freezing orders.

With 10 years as a founder, owner and manager of IT services business covering computer network security, managed services and telecommunications, Chris is ideally placed to assist with technology-related disputes and professional liability.

Current or recent work includes:

  • Acted for a multi-national technology services company facing a claim in excess of £1m for defective and/or underperforming equipment. (Resolved without trial.)
  • Acting for guarantors of a limited company debt; issues include whether the sum sought comports with the terms of the company’s or the guarantors’ liability, and its quantification. Successfully resisted summary judgment by the creditor.
  • Acted for a property owner in his claim (resolved without trial) against a surveyor for negligently failing to identify heave.
  • Acting for property owners in their claim for defective design and installation of a spiral staircase at their home.
  • Acted for a financial broker enforcing post-termination restrictions on an agent by way of injunction and damages.
  • Acting for a engineering client in a claim for damages for supply of defective specialist industrial hole-boring equipment and ancillary parts.
  • Advised and appeared for the leasehold owner of an apartment bought under the ‘right to buy scheme’ facing a claim for unjust enrichment by the local authority, who claimed to have transferred the property at an undervalue by mistake.
  • Appeared in a claim against a gas supplier for damages for negligent provision of a location map of local gas pipes to a property owner carrying out groundworks.

See also the section on contentious wills, trusts and probate for further details of Chris’s chancery practice.

Reported and significant cases:

Court Enforcement Services v Marston Legal Services [2020] EWCA Civ 588 (Priority of writs; duties of enforcement agents and High Court Enforcement Officers as regards payment of proceeds; certified as a matter of general public importance by the QB Master.)

Hamilton v SoS Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy & another [2021] EWHC 2647 (QB) (Complex question of interpretation of the abandonment provisions relating to taking control of goods by way of enforcement; acknowledged as having played an “exemplary role”, with submissions noted for their “thoroughness and clarity”)

Non-Domestic Rating and the Council Tax

Chris has a specialism in the law of Non-Domestic Rating and the Council Tax, having appeared both for local authorities and respondents to summons for non-payment in the Magistrates’ Courts civil jurisdiction.

He routinely deals with questions of sham agreements intended to avoid rates liability, issues surrounding the test for rating liability in Laing, together with issue surrounding rates avoidance and evasion, such as charitable use, ‘bluetooth’ and insolvency-type schemes.

Reported and significant cases:

K Pub Trading Limited & another v Cardiff City & another [2021] EWHC 3011 (Successful appearance for the respondent Council in two joined proceedings for judicial review of the local authority’s refusal to recognize parties as liable to rates and consequent refusal to pay pandemic-related grants.)

Q Street Properties and another v Cardiff City Council CO/3173/2021(Appeared for the Council at first instance and on appeal by way of case stated in a matter concerning liability for rates of two long leaseholders found to be in rateable occupation having produced licences declared to be shams by the Magistrates’ Court.)

Broxfield Limited v Sheffield City Council [2019] A.C.D. 106; [2019] EWHC 1946 (Admin) (Appeal by way of case stated; execution of leases; sham transactions.

K Pub Trading Limited & another v Cardiff City & another [2021] EWHC 3011 (Successful appearance for the respondent Council in two joined proceedings for judicial review of the local authority’s refusal to recognize parties as liable to rates and consequent refusal to pay pandemic-related grants.)

Hamilton v SoS Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy & another [2021] EWHC 2647 (QB) (Complex question of interpretation of the abandonment provisions relating to taking control of goods by way of enforcement; acknowledged as having played an “exemplary role”, with submissions noted for their “thoroughness and clarity”)

Victus Estates & others v Munroe & others [2021] EWHC 2411 (Ch)(Appeared for the respondent on appeal from the County Court in a mortgage fraud case involving £4.5m of real property, issues of sham, subrogation, change of position and implied trusts of land.)

Court Enforcement Services v Marston Legal Services [2020] EWCA Civ 588 (Priority of writs; duties of enforcement agents and High Court Enforcement Officers as regards payment of proceeds; certified as a matter of general public importance by the QB Master.)

Broxfield Limited v Sheffield City Council [2019] A.C.D. 106; [2019] EWHC 1946 (Admin) (Appeal by way of case stated; execution of leases; sham transactions.)

Barnsley MBC v Hadfield [2019] P.T.S.R. 111[2018] EWHC 866 (QB) (Test for injunctive relief for breach of a tree preservation order; test for whether new growth included in tree preservation orders.)

Clarke v Lighting & Lamps UK and another [2016] EWCA Civ 1454 (Clarification of the test on late amendment of appeal notices.)

Chandra v Mayor [2016] EWHC 2636 (Ch) (Enforceability of costs orders against represented defendants.)

West Sussex County Council v Persons Unknown [2013] EWHC 4024 (QB) (The eviction of the Balcombe ‘fracking’ protesters.)

Contentious Wills, Trusts and Probate

A chancery practitioner from a very early stage in his career, Chris is well placed to advice or appear in cases in this area of law. He has experience of claims to remove executors, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, claims relating to disputed or lost wills, and associated claims for interests by proprietary estoppel.

Current or recent work includes:

  • Advising an administratrix on a lost will and proprietary estoppel claim against another estate in relation to a house, having earlier obtained an interim injunction to restrain the threatened sale of the same.
  • Advising on a White v Jones type claim (settled without trial) against a solicitor’s firm for failing to obtain execution of a will by an elderly testator who subsequently died, leaving the clients without their inheritance, and the estate being distributed to those whom his instructions had been to disinherit.
  • Advising a beneficiary on a claim under s.50 Administration of Justice Act 1985 to remove an executor who failed to vacate or sell a house intended to be distributed under the terms of the will.
  • Advised a beneficiary executrix on a proprietary estoppel claim to a freehold of significant farm land against the estate.

Professional Liability: Enforcement Agents & High Court Enforcement Officers

Chris is one of the few specialists in the law of taking control of goods (and, prior to 2014, the law of seizure), having practised in the field since pupillage. He is well known in the enforcement industry for his in-depth knowledge of Schedule 12 to the 2007 Act and its associated regulations and caselaw, and for representing clients including enforcement agents, High Court Enforcement Officers, and their agency businesses. He has appeared in many of the leading cases in this area of law. His clients include most of the major industry players, whom he has either advised or appeared on behalf of. He frequently appears on behalf of local authority creditors in proceedings to which they are a party, or in related proceedings (for example, liability order proceedings in the Magistrates’ Courts).

He is in the process of completing a practitioners’ text on the subject, due for publication in December 2022.

His practice covers the whole range of proceedings to which clients may be subject, including:

  • Civil claims for trespass, unjust enrichment and conversion
  • Third party claims to controlled goods
  • Debtor’s claims, including to hire purchase or exempt goods
  • Fees assessments under regulation 16 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014
  • Complaints proceedings (EAC2 / ‘Form 4’) in the County Court against enforcement agents, often including allegations of assault, unlawful forced entry, unlawful taking into control, and (in one case) strangulation of the debtor
  • Proceedings before the High Court Enforcement Officers Association or the Senior Master in relation to HCEOs

Reported cases:

Just Digital plc v CIVEA and others (Appearing for two professional bodies in

Hamilton v SoS Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy & another [2021] EWHC 2647 (QB) (Complex question of interpretation of the abandonment provisions relating to taking control of goods by way of enforcement; acknowledged as having played an “exemplary role”, with submissions noted for their “thoroughness and clarity”)

Court Enforcement Services v Marston Legal Services [2020] EWCA Civ 588 (Priority of writs; duties of enforcement agents and High Court Enforcement Officers as regards payment of proceeds; certified as a matter of general public importance by the QB Master.)

In Re Sandbrook [2020] EWHC 347 (QB) Successful defence, led by Alison Padfield QC, of am HCEO referred by the Court after findings at trial.

Appeared for the High Court Enforcement Officer in a long-running claim (resolved without litigation) involving the seizure of a substantial library before the change in the law of 2014.

Appeared for an enforcement agency in a claim for unlawful eviction by a former tenant given judicial permission to re-enter premises; issues included whether the occupier had the benefit of the Protection From Eviction Act 1977.

Education

MA, Cantab. (Computer Sciences Tripos, 2.1)
LL.B, BPP Law School (First Class; additional academic law following GDL Commendation)
BVC, BPP Law School (Very Competent)
Lincoln’s Inn Levitt Scholar & Buchannan Prizewinner (highest mark in year on BVC)
Leeds Grammar School

Appointments and Memberships

Deputy District Judge (Civil), North-Eastern Circuit, authorized to hear Business & Property cases

Attorney General’s Regional Panel of Counsel 2012-2018

Chancery Bar Association

North Eastern Circuit Commercial Bar Association

North Eastern Circuit

Languages

English

Chris Royle

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