Luke Watson is a Partner in the Dispute Resolution Team and specialises in contentious trust and probate disputes.
I started my legal career in the City of London over 20 years ago. Working near the Royal Courts of Justice provided me with an excellent grounding in litigation work and I gained very useful advocacy experience, which has served me well to this day. After qualifying as a solicitor in London I spent some time overseas before returning to the West Country where I have lived at work ever since. I have practised contentious trust and probate work for over 20 years and the junior barrister that I instructed in my first will dispute as a solicitor in London is now a QC, which rather ages me. I am a full member of ACTAPS and have extensive experience of dealing with disputed wills, trusts and estates.
- What do you like about legacy matter work?
Legacy disputes are invariably fascinating. Estates usually include property or companies and therefore a good knowledge of those areas of law is essential. When dealing with legacy disputes there is normally a tension between the charities that are benefitting under the will and the family members who believe that they should inherit the majority of the estate. Frequently the family members were unaware that the deceased had helped particular charities during their lifetime, which makes the shock of finding out that a considerable part or even all of that estate has been left to charity that much greater. To resolve a legacy dispute, it is often necessary to delve into the psychology of the disappointed family members – this can enable a dispute to be ‘unlocked’ and a solution found. Very often it is a question of the disappointed beneficiaries understanding why the deceased left legacies to charity that enables them to move on.
- What are your most memorable moments in law?
Two cases spring to mind. First was a case I was dealing with when we were seeking an urgent injunction to prevent goods being offloaded from a ship which was docking in Dover. I had to work intensively with the barrister instructed and I recall the barrister and I literally having to run from Temple late in the afternoon to issue the application in time at the Royal Courts of Justice. Happily, we obtained the injunction for the client.
I recently dealt with a Judicial Review where I was instructed late in the day via a QC who had previously been advising the clients directly. With time running out I had to catch the early train from Bath and issue the application personally at the Royal Courts of Justice, including making some last-minute amendments, and was able to issue the application on the same day that the deadline expired!
- What do you do outside of work?
Away from the office I enjoy spending time with my family, walking our dog, and travelling when possible. I am a keen cyclist and a qualified British Cycling coach.