Contentious Trusts, Estates and Private Wealth Litigation

International private wealth, trust arrangements and fund management disputes are at the heart of many cases in which our lawyers advise.

Some of those arrangements involve formal trust structures in offshore jurisdictions; others involve disputes arising out of informal trust relationships. We also regularly advise on the applicability of constructive trusts to the proceeds of fraud.

We have considerable experience in dealing with private wealth disputes for families, family offices, high net worth individuals, trustees, trust companies and beneficiaries in international and offshore trust litigation.

These disputes are typically very complex in nature, requiring expert legal and strategic advice particularly on alternative and often conflicting laws and jurisdictions. Our lawyers are ideally placed to provide that assistance, acting for clients from a variety of backgrounds on trust related issues including investment trusts, hedge funds, private equity houses, insolvency practitioners, banks and corporates.

We also have considerable experience in dealing with private wealth disputes for families, family offices, high net worth individuals, trustees, trust companies and beneficiaries in international and offshore trust litigation. Much of our work involves assets located in multiple jurisdictions and which are often held in offshore structures. In advising on international litigation, we benefit from strong connections with other professional advisers in London, Hong Kong, Continental Europe, Singapore, the Channel Islands and the major Caribbean offshore centres.

Our work for clients often supports multi-jurisdictional proceedings, dealing with trust disputes emanating from high value contentious divorces, or where the trustees are based in Gibraltar. We are regularly involved in obtaining injunctions and other forms of interim relief, examining ways in which we can enforce a UK judgment in the context of a Gibraltar trust, as well as commencing proceedings in parallel to other jurisdictions to protect assets that are controlled by locally based structures, directors and entities.

Our lawyers are highly regarded for their private wealth disputes expertise

Partner Elliott Phillips, head of Signature Litigation’s Gibraltar office, is a ranked expert in the Chambers Global and Europe Guides and is listed as a ‘Recommended Lawyer’ in The Legal 500 EMEA Guide for his disputes practice. He is described as “an impressive individual” and a “a specialist in international trusts and estates disputes.” The Gibraltar practice is described as “very professional, knowledgeable and efficient” and “an ideal choice for litigation in the jurisdiction.” Elliott is also recognised in Legal Week’s Private Client Global Elite, a directory of the world’s elite lawyers advising ultra high net worth clients. He is also a regular speaker at high profile private client conferences, contributing to discussions centring on ultra high net worth private wealth disputes.

Partner Graham Huntley has 30 years’ litigation experience and has acted in a number of high profile and complex trusts and estates litigations. He is a highly ranked expert in the Chambers and Legal 500 Guides, which describe him as “hugely experienced” an “exceptional litigator” and “a very impressive solicitor who thinks strategically and deeply about his cases.

Partner Thomas Rouhette, head of Signature Litigation’s Paris office, has almost 30 years’ experience in litigation including in civil fraud, asset tracing and high net worth private wealth disputes. Thomas is highly ranked across the Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 legal directories. Described as “an intelligent and clear-minded lawyer”, a “tough but excellent” litigator, “a good strategist and the best trial lawyer [the client has] seen in the French court system”, Thomas focuses on complex, bet the company litigation. Who’s Who Legal also ranks Thomas in its Thought Leaders – Litigation 2020 Guide, which notes he is “a tough and pragmatic lawyer” with “deep knowledge of the legal and regulatory environment”.

Contentious Trusts, Estates and Private Wealth Litigation Team

“They are very efficient and effective.”

The Legal 500 UK 2022

Graham Huntley

Graham is consistently recognised by The Legal 500 and Chambers as one of the UK’s highest ranked commercial and banking litigators and has been involved in some of the most significant cases of recent years. Chambers UK describes him as “an intense and effective solicitor with an incredibly client-focused approach” and he has previously been described as “very bright, very hard-working, a good tactician” and “very committed and driven”. The Legal 500 UK 2022 recognises Graham as a ‘Hall of Fame’ lawyer for both banking litigation and commercial litigation, and a ‘Leading Individual’ for his civil fraud expertise. He is described as “a doyen of London banking litigation” and a “master tactician“.

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Elliott Phillips

Elliott is an internationally recognised barrister and specialises in global commercial litigation and international contentious trusts disputes. He has been recognised in The Legal 500 for his experience in dispute resolution work and is also ranked as a Band 2 individual in both Chambers Global and Chambers Europe for General Business Law: Dispute Resolution — Gibraltar. Elliott is also recognised as one of the world’s leading private client lawyers and trusts and estates litigators, and is listed in the Private Client Global Elite community. The Legal 500 EMEA Guide recognises Elliott as a ‘Recommended Lawyer’ for dispute resolution in Gibraltar, and notes he “is a specialist in international trusts and estates disputes.” A referee in the 2021 Guide praises Elliott as “an accomplished litigator, highly experienced, knowledgeable and great to have on your side.

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Thomas Rouhette

Thomas is ranked Band 2 by both Chambers Global and Europe for his litigation and aviation law expertise, with sources praising him for his “invaluable” advice, experience and knowledge. The Legal 500 EMEA Guide consistently recognises Thomas as a ‘Leading Individual’ for his aviation and commercial litigation practices. Who’s Who Legal regards Thomas as the “finest product liability lawyer in the country and one of the very best on the continent.”

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Contentious Trusts, Estates and Private Wealth Litigation Experience

Acting for a judgment creditor to freeze shares fraudulently obtained using the funds of a judgment debtor company.

Acting for a UK fund manager to prevent early termination of its asset management agreement by a Luxembourg SICAV fund and Italian promoter.

Advising a principal beneficiary of a number of valuable trusts established under the law of Gibraltar in relation to a dispute as to his beneficial interests with the trustees and the other principal beneficiary.

Advising a limited partner of a private equity fund on disputes relating to the investment strategy of the general partner and approach taken to valuation of assets.

Representing a Russian bank in a high profile case against a former Russian oligarch in the scope of French enforcement proceedings involving piercing the corporate veil and attachment of assets held through trusts.

Advising the fund managers of a special opportunities fund in a €200 million dispute concerning assets held in Italy following a group reorganisation.

Advising the limited partner of an English limited partnership on claims of negligence, misfeasance, and misappropriation against the general partner.

Advising a spouse attacking a Gibraltar and British Virgin Islands structure and applying for supportive interim relief in support of substantive foreign proceedings.

Acting for an investment vehicle in a dispute before the British Virgin Islands Commercial Court, Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and Privy Council relating to a disputed managerial entitlement of approximately $200 million in relation to a $1 billion investment fund.

Advising a private equity house in a dispute with its former joint venture partner relating to a $660 million sale of trust investments.

Acted in successful application for a stay of a claim for a declaration of non-enforceability in Gibraltar of future judgments in English proceedings.

Representing the Fondation Saint-Louis, to which real estate assets such as the Amboise Castle have been allocated, in a dispute against the Count of Paris, head of the Orleans Royal Family, who is seeking the cancellation of the foundation.

Assisting high net worth individuals against their former business partner in French enforcement proceedings following an English High Court decision.

Advising a major Russian company in cross-border asset-tracing litigation in connection with enforcement of a judgment issued by a Gibraltar court.

Representing a Russian bank’s interests in a legal action for dissolution and partition of community assets initiated by the spouse of the bank’s debtor, a former Russian oligarch.

Assisting the distressed assets team of a leading French bank in connection with the recovery of a loan to a Romanian company involving the call of the personal guarantee given by the founder of the debtor.

Assisting a leading French bank on asset-tracing and debt collection in a civil fraud case against Ukrainian counterparties, in the scope of enforcement proceedings involving piercing the corporate veil and attachment of assets located abroad.

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