Nine Guildford Chambers Barristers in Legal 500 2017

By Melissa,

Guildford Chambers’ practice areas include Chancery and employment matters, but the set has notable strength in family law, where the barristers are ‘very experienced’ in private and public law relating to children as well as TOLATA claims. Senior clerk Simon Morris and first junior Gavin Street are ‘very efficient and take the time to make you feel valued as a client’ – Legal 500 2017


Tier 1 Ranked Barristers:

George Coates is a robust advocate, who works hard for his clients” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Claire Shrimpton can instantly put clients at ease” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Matthew Pascall instils confidence in clients” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Janet Haywood is known for public law children cases” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Christine Julien is experienced in relocation and international child abduction cases” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Gregory Tee is very experienced in bankruptcy and insolvency matters” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Fiona Griffin is extensively experienced in private law children matters” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Rowan Morton is a very safe pair of hands” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Amanda Minto is very experienced in financial remedy work” LEGAL 500 – 2017

Guildford Chambers – new office and conference facilities in Reading


For over 40 years, members of Guildford Barristers Chambers have appeared in cases across the Thames Valley representing individuals, corporate clients and local authorities.

Increasingly we are instructed by solicitors based in Reading, Wokingham, Maidenhead, Bracknell and Slough who have come to value our range of expertise and experience. These firms also appreciate the advantage of using a Chambers located not too far away.

In 2017 we are going to get a little closer.

We have taken up office and conference facilities in the heart of Reading, just a few minutes’ walk from the County and Crown Courts, the Employment Tribunal and Reading Magistrates’ Courts. From this Reading venue we will be able to provide pre- and post-hearing conferences in a location convenient to you and your client and the ability to drop off and collect papers.

We are looking forward to providing an even better service to our legal colleagues in the Thames Valley.

The Child Maintanence Service and the New Rules: A Guide for Family Lawyers


georgeThe CMS is the new name for the CSA or CMEC, but it is essentially the same organisation administered by the DWP.

The new rules were enacted by the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 but did not come into force until the passing of the Child Support Maintenance Calculation Regs 2012 and are therefore referred to as either the 2008 or the 2012 Scheme.  They now apply to all new cases opened after 25.11.13.

The 2008/2012 Scheme retains much of the previous 2000/2003 Scheme (eg maintenance is based solely on the paying parent’s income), but some significant changes have taken place, which family lawyers should bear in mind.

Download Barrister George Coates guide to the new rules here: CMS for Family Lawyers

Amanda Minto of Guildford Chambers is shortlisted for Family Law Young Barrister of the Year


Young Barrister SHORT 2014We are pleased to announce that Amanda Minto has been shortlisted for the Family Law Young Barrister of the Year.

The Family Law Awards recognise the important work of family lawyers and barristers, and celebrate their many successes and outstanding achievements.

To be shortlisted for an award the nominees much demonstrate to the judges that they have the skills and knowledge to become a leading family barrister of the future.

The judging panel includes the heads of the leading family law practitioners’ associations, journal editors and important legal figures.

The awards will be presented at ceremony on 8th October 2014 at The Brewery in the City of London.

To find out more about Amanda view her profile here.

The Legal 500 – Regional Bar 2013 Rankings


Guildford Chambers is ranked as a leading 2nd tier set in the South Eastern Circuit.

Within Employment, Guildford Chambers’ Matthew Pascall is recommended for unfair dismissal and discrimination work. Rowan Morton is ‘tough but sensible; willing to fight for a point, but will not pursue a fruitless argument’.

Within Commercial and Chancery, Guildford Chambers’ Gregory Tee has a broad Chancery and commercial practice which includes insolvency matters.

Within Family, Guildford Chambers’ Janet Haywood, Christine Julien and Fiona Griffin are recommended for care and adoption proceedings. George Coates has notable financial relief expertise.

The Legal 500 is a legal directory which is published annually. Based on thousands of interviews, the directory ranks solicitors and barristers in over 60 specialist areas of law.

Charity Opera at GLive to Raise Over £5000 for Surrey Law Centre


On 25 September Absolutely Opera! will perform to a sell out crowd at a charity opera night in aid of the Guildford based Surrey Law Centre, a not-for-profit specialist legal advice agency dedicated to supporting those in Surrey facing vulnerability, hardship, discrimination and disadvantage.

The evening will feature musical performances by Absolutely Opera! who have entertained audiences all around the world, and who are kindly donating their time and their talent free of charge. The audience at the event will be made up of local solicitors, barristers and judiciary who have all bought tickets to help raise funds for centre in recognition of the work they undertake.

Laura, Centre Director at the Surrey Law Centre said “Despite evident wealth in Surrey, there are many pockets of deprivation and some very significantly so. Reforms to legal aid have resulted in an even increased demand for low cost specialist legal advice and representation and this, coupled with a reduction in funding, has put enormous pressure on our services to the most challenged communities in Surrey. Support from Absolutely Opera! and Guildford Barristers Chambers who have organised this event, will directly ensure the continuation of a high quality law service to those who are unable to obtain legal advice elsewhere.”

A charity auction is also being held at the event with prizes donated by generous local firms and clubs such as the Guildford Flames, Harlequins Rugby squad, Jamie’s Italian, Denbies Vineyard, ESPA, Burhill Golf Club, House of Fraser, Red Hot Yoga, Loseley Park, Delta Force Paint Balling and Woking Golf Club.

Petrodel – Pulling back the Veil


paulPetrodel in the Supreme Court

Paul Moulder discusses this long-trailed case that was anticipated as confirming the ‘Cheat’s Charter’ for company director-husbands and ending what seemed a divergent path between Family Court and Chancery Courts as to the use of company assets.  Has that been the result?

In a 7-strong Court Lord Sumption gave the leading opinion and one which will set the principles for future litigation.

He considered there were 3 possible candidates for justifying a look behind the veil in matrimonial cases, but were any correct in principle?:

  1. There might be an exceptional cases where a court is at liberty to disregard the ‘veil’
  2. Section 24 MCA might give the court additional distinct power (as the judge at first instance held)
  3. The companies might be regarded as holding the properties on trust for H, not by virtue of his sole shareholding but in the particular circumstances of the case.


He identified that there had not been a single general principle in relation to the question of ‘piercing the corporate veil’ in relation to looking behind corporate legal personality to get at the assets of a company largely in the control of an individual.  Rather, English Law proceeded on the basis of a number of exceptions in case law where it was appropriate to ignore the fact of incorporation.

In relation to the question of piercing the veil, Lord Sumption said:

That the court may be justified in piercing the corporate veil if a company’s separate legal personality is being abused for the purpose of some relevant wrongdoing is well established on the authorities.

However, the real difficulty was in deciding what amounts to the relevant wrongdoing; words such as ‘sham’ and ‘façade’ did no more than beg the question.

In fact, he analysed, there were two mixed strands, sometimes confused in the cases:

  1. Concealment principle.  The interposition of a/several companies to hide the truth will not deter the court.  This is not piercing the veil – ‘mere cloak or sham’
  2.  Evasion principle.  The court may disregard the veil if there is a legal right against the person in control of it which exists independently of the company’s involvement and a company is interposed so that the separate legal personality of the company will defeat the right or frustrate its enforcement.


Many cases, such as where H secretes money in an off-shore account in a company name were in fact examples of the former.  These did not involve ‘piercing the veil’ at all.  Examples of the latter were rarer, but one such was shown in Gilford Motor Co. v Horne [1933] Ch 935.  Here, Mr Horne had been found to use the device of the company to evade a right he had granted to the purchaser of his company, not to trade in competition with it within a defined period and distance.  The remedy of an injunction did involve ‘piercing’.

The Supreme Court was of the view that the Family and other Divisions of the Court could not have divergent streams concerning the principles of piercing the veil.  There had to be one consistent view of the law.  Section 24 of the MCA did not give the Court a wider power than existed elsewhere, in relation to orders concerning property “in possession or in reversion”, which was a clear reference to proprietary rights.

However, on the facts, the 7 properties were held by the companies for Mr Prest beneficially.  In a number of cases they had been transferred to the company for £1 only.  Hence it was not necessary to depart from trust principles when looking at the reality of ownership.  Neither was it necessary to ‘pierce the corporate veil’ in determining the true ownership of the companies: this was an example of the ‘concealment principle’ only.

The case gives a very clear and succinct exposition of the law relating to the ‘piercing of the corporate veil’ cases and helps to clear up a number of inconsistencies that have troubled practitioners over the years.  As such, it is not a revolutionary but certainly welcome addition   to clarify the existing law.  Whether the decision on s24 MCA now prompts further amendment of that particular statute to broaden the scope of what a Family Court can do, will be awaited with interest.


Legal aid changes to affect families going through divorce



Changes to legal aid funding in April 2013 will affect many lower income families going through divorce or separation.

Pre 1st April 2013, people on low incomes were eligible for legal aid to cover all aspects of family disputes, including divorce, children (such as contact and residence disputes), financial matters, care proceedings and domestic abuse. Under the new rules, legal aid will be limited, to low income applicants (on benefits or means tested), but only if their situation falls into one of these categories:

Cases where there has been domestic abuse

Children, financial matters and applications for injuctions where the applicant is, or has been, the victim of domestic violence. These involve cases where one party has hurt, abused or threatened the divorce applicant or the applicant’s child, and even where the abuse does not form a relevant part of the case before the courts.

Domestic violence is defined as “any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality”. As well as the physical aspects the definition includes aspects of control e.g. preventing access to money or family/friend support networks and also verbal abuse such as name calling.

Evidence of this abuse will need to be provided, and can be in the form of a conviction or caution, injuctive order or undertaking, a finding of fact made by the court, letter confirming violence from the Local Authority, health care professionals, domestic violence refuge or MARAC.

Local authority child protection matters

If the local authority has child protection concerns, parents, children and other interested adults will continue to be able to access legal aid.

Child abduction cases

If there is a history of, or risk of, child abduction outside the UK, or a child has been unlawfully removed within the UK, legal aid may be available.

Forced marriage

Anyone threatened or forced to marry against their will can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

Save in child protection and child abduction cases, legal aid will not be available for individuals responding to a divorce application, unless the respondent is also a victim of domestic abuse.

According to figures from Citizens Advice, these changes mean that of the 250,000 cases of divorce and family breakdown that historically received legal aid each year, only 40,000 cases will be eligible in future.

Dominique Gillan, a Barrister at Guildford Chambers said, “Unfortunately Legal Aid is no longer an option for most divorcing couples on low incomes. However, there are alternatives that may help families come to arrangements over finances or children.”

The first point of call is to try and resolve the issues amicably. If discussions prove hard, help can be provided through such relationship agencies as Relate or with the assistance of a qualified mediator or collaborative lawyer, experienced in helping people with family issues.

If mediation is unsuccessful and matters need to progress to the family Courts, it may be possible to obtain free representation via organisations such as the Bar Pro Bono Unit or the Free Representation Unit.

There is also a scheme called ‘Public Access’ where you can appoint a Barrister directly to represent you, without having to use a solicitor. Many barristers who do public access work offer reduced fee schemes for those on low incomes. This scheme has the further advantage of permitting the client to call on legal help only as and when this is required, thus enabling the client to keep a very close eye on the purse.

It is also possible for people to represent themselves in Court as a “litigant in person”, but whilst this might appear to be a way to save money, you should be careful as there are numerous pitfalls to catch out the uninitiated. Knowledge of what evidence, and how to obtain this, as well as a working knowldege of the relevant laws and the courts’ interpretation of these is key. There are some charities such as the Personal Support Unit who provide practical and emotional support to people who are representing themselves in court, although they do not offer legal advice.