I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a lawyer, having grown up in a family of lawyers. My great-grandfather started his career as a solicitor in Bath back in 1908 (before his career was ended abruptly at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917), followed by my grandfather and father who were also solicitors in Bath. I was therefore immersed in the law from the beginning, and grew up against a backdrop of legal discussions across the family dinner table whilst enjoying Rumpole of the Bailey, the novels of Henry Cecil and the quirky world of Ally McBeal. Being aware of the changing nature of the profession, and the greater focus on business as opposed to black letter law, I studied economics at the University of Cambridge before embarking on my legal education. At the start of my career I specialised in litigation and was heavily involved in a number of cases involving charities, trustees and former trustees, which introduced me to the world of charity and social enterprise. My practice was very much on the “problem solving” end of the spectrum as opposed to the “see you in court” end, and over time that has led to me focussing on providing strategic commercial and governance advice of a non-contentious nature to charities and social enterprises. I joined Stone King in 2014 and have been Head of our national Charity & Social Enterprise Sector Group for the past 4 years.
- What do you like about legacy matter work?
I have been involved with legacy matters on both sides, acting for family members who have sought to challenge Wills and also advising charities on defending such claims or even simply interpreting the often confusing provisions of charitable legacies and what they may actually mean (including even whether what seems charitable is in fact a charitable gift). I enjoy the thought of being able to ensure that a legacy ends up being used in the way that it was intended and, in particular, where possible saving charitable legacies that might otherwise have failed for being non-charitable. Finding out more about the deceased is always interesting and understanding their particular motivation behind a legacy. I have also been involved in restructuring a number of charitable trusts established by Will back in the 18th and 19th centuries and it is always fascinating to learn more about the history before these legacies and to see how matters have developed since the legacies came into effect.
- What are your most memorable moments in law?
My most memorable moment involving a legacy claim was a mediation that I was involved in many years ago, which was essentially a dispute between brother and sister about whether or not a particular charity should benefit from a legacy. The brother insisted that their father (who had been responsible for the family’s fortune) should be represented at the mediation, but as his father had died some decades earlier he was represented by placing a portrait of him on an empty chair in the room, and we all stared spookily at the portrait from time to time for inspiration … However, the day became more memorable when the sister said she wanted to consult her mother before making any decision. I had assumed this would have been the case of a simple telephone call, but I then discovered that mother was also dead, and that the suggestion was that we all partake in a séance, unfortunately we were unable to make contact!
- What do you do outside work?
I seem to spend a lot of time cheering on the FC Bath (Whites) Under 10s football team, who never seem to let a weekend go by without a training session or match of some sort now that the pandemic is over! Along with my wife and son we have spent a lot of time, since lockdown began, running in true Forrest Gump style as we decided that we needed to ensure that we came out of lockdown fitter than before and have now covered close to 500 miles since March. As I result I am now signed up to take on the Bath Half Marathon in 2021 for the third time and am hoping to achieve a better time than before, whilst also raising funds for the Bath Rugby Community Foundation which is doing fantastic work focussing on youth inequality within the city.