Nicholas Le Poidevin KC specialises in trusts and estates work, both contentious and advisory. He has appeared in significant cases in England at the highest level in both areas of practice, Crociani v Crociani (2014: trust jurisdiction clauses) in the Privy Council and Marley v Rawlings (2014: switched wills) in the Supreme Court. Over half of his work comes from overseas, especially Bermuda and the Channel Islands, and he also appears in courts abroad. He is familiar with the trust laws of most of the offshore jurisdictions. A particular interest is the conflict of laws and the problems it causes in both trust and estate administration.
He is an editor of the leading practitioners’ textbook, Lewin on Trusts, and is a frequent speaker at conferences.
His practice extends also to property law, company law and insolvency, either in their own right or in connection with trusts and estates.
“Nicholas is the prototype of a leading chancery silk.” “He is urbane, very responsive, wise, immensely learned, practical, a superb draftsman and a persuasive advocate.” “He is at the top of his game.”
Chancery: Traditional – Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2024
Trusts, Wills & Estates
Nicholas is highly regarded in the field of trusts. Legal 500, ranking him as a leading silk, refers to his “great reputation” and describes him as “intellectually outstanding, but also approachable and accommodating.” Chambers UK Bar calls him “one of the top experts in the international trust arena” and says, “Any superlative would not do him justice. His advice is superb, his drafting is elegant and he is tremendous in conference.”
Chambers UK Bar (Trusts) & Chambers Global (Private Wealth) 2023 describe him as “Clear, commercial and just so willing to open up the debate. He’s really balanced in the opinion that he reaches, and you always get an answer from him that’s well considered. Top quality.”
It was recorded in Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2022 that: “He is one of the people who is first port of call on any trust matter. His drafting style is superb and stands as an example to all of how to convey complex issues with crystal clarity. He is an excellent advocate who is highly responsive.”
He litigates trust disputes of all kinds and advises on difficulties in trust administration. He is relied on by leading firms of solicitors and advocates both in England and abroad. In Crociani he argued the construction of a trust jurisdiction on appeal from Jersey and had earlier run a similar argument in Bermuda in Re A Trust. He is glad to work with local advocates in assisting their preparation of cases, as in Re B, dealing with French threats of criminal proceedings against a Guernsey trustee.
For many years he has been an editor of Lewin on Trusts (20th ed., 2020; First Supplement, 2023) and has written in detail elsewhere about sham trusts; writing and practice inform each other. He is often asked for contributions at conferences.
Wills and Estates
Nicholas deals with all aspects of wills and estates, both litigation and advice. Chambers UK Bar records “Learned but practical and able to take a commercial approach. Whatever he says about the law, you feel comfortable with, and he’s very good at working with you and seeking out your ideas.”
He has a special expertise in cases involving cross-border issues, such as conflicting rules of succession, getting in foreign assets and questions of the jurisdiction in which a grant of representation should be sought. He appeared in the first probate case to be decided in England’s highest court for over 50 years, Marley v Rawlings, where husband and wife signed each other’s wills; and he was later successful in seeking from the Supreme Court an order for costs directly against the insurers of the negligent solicitor.
Offshore & International
In Chambers UK Bar 2022, Nick is described as having “a depth of experience and looks at a case with a breadth of perspective.”
Who’s Who Legal (UK Bar 2016) states in its Private Client section that Nicholas Le Poidevin QC is particularly well known for his work in the offshore market and is “a pleasure to work with”.
Nicholas frequently appears in courts in offshore jurisdictions, including Bermuda, the B.V.I., the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands, and also takes instructions for litigation or advice in Jersey, Guernsey and elsewhere. Notable cases offshore include Re Z Trusts in Bermuda in 2023 (on the scope and effect of the self-dealing rule) and Serena v Equity Trustee Ltd in the B.V.I. in 2014. He has a special expertise in firewall legislation and issues arising under the Hague Convention. He has also acted as an expert when issues have arisen about trusts in foreign proceedings.
As an editor of Lewin on Trusts (20th ed., 2020; First Supplement, 2023), he has particular responsibility for its treatment of the conflict of laws. He has lectured widely abroad on matters within his practice and contributes articles to legal publications. He is a member of STEP and has sat on its International Committee.
General property law
Nicholas maintains an active involvement in property law, such as advising on easements and restrictive covenants. Having sat as a Commons Commissioner (until the abolition of the office by the Commons Act 2006), he has a special interest in rights of common and appeared in R. (Littlejohns) v Devon C.C. (2015), funded by the N.F.U., to establish the status of unregistered rights.
His familiarity with both real property law and company and insolvency law prove useful in trust and estate work, where such ancillary questions often arise. He was instructed in the winding-up in the Isle of Man consequent on Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd.
Dual Qualifications – Called to the Bar
- Bahamas (2022)
- Bermuda (2012)
- B.V.I. (2011)
- Cayman Islands (2001)
- Isle of Man (c. 1990)
- M.A, LL.B. (Cantab.)
- Head of New Square Chambers (2014 – 2015, 2020 to date)
- Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn
- Deputy High Court Judge (to 2019)
- The International Academy of Estate & Trust Law
- Deputy Chair, STEP Contentious Trusts & Estates Special Interest Group
- Chancery Bar Association
- Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists
- Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
What the directories say
“Nicholas is an outstanding Chancery silk. His technical expertise is of the highest order, and his written advice is utterly lucid and on point. He has a very nice persuasive advocacy style.”
Legal 500 UK Bar 2024 – Private Client: Trusts & Probate; Tier 1
“Nicholas is the prototype of a leading chancery silk.”
“He is at the top of his game.” “He is urbane, very responsive, wise, immensely learned, practical, a superb draftsman and a persuasive advocate.”
Chambers UK Bar 2024 – Chancery: Traditional; Band 1
“Nicholas is very wise and experienced, has terrific drafting skills and has a nice persuasive advocacy style.”
“If you want a barrister for sound and imaginative legal arguments, Nicholas is excellent.”
“He literally wrote the book.” “Nicholas is a fabulous resource in relation to trust matters.”
Chambers UK Bar 2024 – Offshore; Band 1
“Nick is a true expert in his field and has strength in depth. He is thorough, clear and commercial.”
Legal 500 UK Bar 2023 – Private Client: Trusts & Probate; Tier 1
“Nicholas is the prototype of a leading Chancery silk. He is urbane, very responsive, wise, immensely learned, practical, has superb draftsman skills and is a persuasive advocate. He is at the top of his game.”
“It is always a delight to instruct Nick, he is so calm under pressure and instantly commands the respect of the room.”
Chambers UK Bar & High Net Worth 2023 – Chancery: Traditional; Band 1
“He’s clear, commercial, and just so willing to open up the debate. He’s really balanced in the opinion he reaches, and you get a proper answer from him that’s well considered.”
“He is an enormously talented trust lawyer.”
“He is go-to silk for Jersey and Guernsey law firms.”
Chambers UK Bar & Global 2023 – Offshore; Band 1
“Clear, commercial and just so willing to open up the debate. He’s really balanced in the opinion that he reaches, and you always get an answer from him that’s well considered. Top quality.”
Chambers UK Bar & Global 2023 – Trusts; Band 1
“Nick grasps the issues quickly and provides sound advice.”
Legal 500 UK Bar 2022
“He is one of the people who is first port of call on any trust matter. His drafting style is superb and stands as an example to all of how to convey complex issues with crystal clarity. He is an excellent advocate who is highly responsive.”
Chambers UK Bar 2022
“A leading expert internationally on trusts”, who is “just so brilliant, such a nice person and immensely user-friendly, and so
Chambers High Net Worth 2021
“Is in a class of his own when it comes to his knowledge of trust law and practice both onshore and offshore.”
Legal 500 UK Bar 2021