Our dedicated Private Wealth and Charities practice comprises expert disputes, advisory and transactional lawyers who provide commercial and technical advice in relation to contentious issues, structuring, governance, tax and other advisory matters. Our multicultural, highly regarded and award winning global practice team has many years of experience advising international clients from across the world.
We regularly advise institutional clients (including banks and trust companies), trustees, their insurers, beneficiaries, family offices and ultra-high net worth individuals, including some of the wealthiest and most high profile families in Asia, the Middle East and Europe (including the United Kingdom).
Our philanthropy client mandates include acting for some of the world’s largest foundations, multinational corporates and major public sector donors in relation to their charitable activities. We also advise a broad range of local, regional and global charities and social enterprises.
Our Private Wealth and Charities team sits predominantly in London, Hong Kong and Melbourne, connecting seamlessly with our other offices in traditional and emerging wealth centres. This includes Moscow, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, our mainland China offices and our associated offices in Riyadh and Jakarta. We also have experience of working in most of the major offshore financial centres and have close relationships with law firms operating in those jurisdictions.
Our team includes specialists in matters involving offshore and onshore trusts, estates, charity law and mental capacity issues. When matters are contentious, or have the potential to become contentious, our offering is bolstered by direct and immediate access to our in-house advocacy group which contains QCs with specific expertise in this field. We are able to draw upon our market-leading specialisms in other practice areas across the firm (including corporate, regulatory, insolvency, fraud and asset tracing, real estate, jet and yacht acquisition and finance, tax, anti-corruption, funds and asset management) to provide clients with a well-rounded service.
Our Private Wealth and Charities offering is complemented by our market-leading social finance and sustainable investment practice, HSF Impact. Through HSF Impact we support founders, investors, asset managers and social finance intermediaries to maximise positive social and environmental impact and realise growth potential.
How we can help
These are some of the opportunities and challenges that we help clients with:
Private Client and Tax
The ever increasing burden of tax compliance is felt by the wealthy, intermediaries and their professional advisers alike. With the proliferation of tax changes targeting the international and wealthy, new civil and criminal penalty regimes, and intrusive revenue powers, it has never been more important to have access to specialist tax advisers with deep experience of handling both advisory and contentious matters.
Our team of expert tax professionals, which includes a serving UK tax judge, has the skills and credentials needed to help clients navigate through the thicket of tax laws. Among other things, we advise on estate planning and management, international relocations, and business/investment start-ups and exits, to ensure client's tax objectives are achieved. As well as ensuring things go right, we help clients who come to us after things have gone wrong: finding novel solutions to "fix" broken structures; helping them to handle tax enquires and investigations; and resolving disputes (civil and criminal) with tax authorities.
We advise ultra-high net worth individuals, family offices, private banks, trustees, and professional advisers.
As essential as creating the right wealth structure for a family is safeguarding to ensure it remains effective – we advise trustees and families on all trusts and tax aspects of the on-going management of trusts and foundations to ensure existing structures remain appropriate to fulfil the family's needs, as those needs, the family's circumstances and the tax and regulatory environment change. The team has particular experience of dealing with and advising on trusts structures which hold shares in large corporates (listed and non-listed), we also help set up structures for cross-border and cross-generational purposes.
Our team has extensive experience in acting for all parties in litigation about structures (e.g. trustees, settlors, beneficiaries, protectors/appointors, creditors etc.). We also assist parties to negotiate division of trust funds where relationships between parties have broken down, but have no desire to litigate.
Recent mandates include advising the chairman of a listed company who is also a protector and beneficiary of a trust fund which holds over 30% of the shares in a listed company; a protector and beneficiary of an offshore trust which owns a large private garment and property business and advising the settlor of three offshore trusts which hold over 50% of the shares in a listed company.
It is unfortunately not uncommon that the passing of a loved one can lead to old family tensions coming to the surface. We have extensive experience of advising on these situations, both proactively to avoid conflict and dealing with conflict that has arisen. Our experience encompasses high value, complex and cross border estates. We regularly deal with estates affected by forced heirship regimes (both secular and religious). As well as advising on succession planning, common issues which we encounter are mental capacity, undue influence and want of knowledge and approval.
Our global team of charity law experts acts for a wide range of national and international charities, NGOs, foundations, social enterprises and major donors, including multinational corporates, public bodies and international organizations.
We provide a full service offering that spans all practice areas - from data protection, intellectual policy and pensions, to trusts, real estate and employment. Our work often involves an international dimension and we frequently deal with complex cross-border issues, including taxation.
We are regularly instructed to advise local and international charities and foundations on issues relating to structure, governance and charitable trading, as well as those relating to grant-making, social investment and fundraising. We also frequently advise charities on their third party agreements and provide disputes and reputation management advice. This includes representing numerous high-profile charities in public interest interventions in judicial review cases.
Trustees and Corporate Service providers
Trustees and corporate service providers (TCSPs) operate in an increasingly regulated environment. They are subject to both specific and general regulation/oversight from government authorities. We, in conjunction with our specialist regulatory teams, have extensive experience advising TCSPs on licensing, regulatory issues arising from assets held by trustees (e.g. Bitcoin and other digital tokens), the interplay between different regimes in different jurisdictions, data privacy (including GDPR) and other regulatory and compliance matters.
Medical advances and standard of living improvements have led to marked increases in life expectancy across the world. However, mental capacity issues are also becoming increasingly common as wealthy patriarchs and matriarchs age. We work with those individuals, their court appointed representatives, trustees and family offices to tackle these issues and react appropriately where wrongdoing has occurred e.g. asset recovery actions.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
To help you achieve your best results, we combine our deep global sectoral expertise with local market understanding. Complementary areas of expertise include:
A BENEFICIARY OF A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR OFFSHORE TRUST
Advising the beneficiary of a multi-billion dollar offshore trust in relation to ongoing disputes with the trustee and other beneficiaries.
Awards and Recognition
CONTENTIOUS TRUSTS AND PROBATE, LEGAL 500 2018
"The department acts for ultra-high-net-worth individuals as well as institutions, family offices, private banks and trust companies on complex and high-value matters involving multiple jurisdictions".
TIER 1, TAX LITIGATION AND INVESTIGATIONS, LEGAL 500 2018
"The standout tax disputes group".
COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - RANKED: TIER 1, LEGAL 500 2018
"Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has one of the largest and most specialised practices in the UK for all types of commercial and corporate litigation and across all sectors".
CHAMBERS HNW 2018
"Aware of how different jurisdictions work, clients are completely confident".
RICHARD NORRIDGE, CHAMBERS HNW 2019
"He is top-notch, top quality. He is very polished, efficient and thorough". "He does a lot of international trust work; he is immensely experienced".
JOANNA CAEN, CHAMBERS HNW 2019
"She gives good, practical advice and is technically sound".
Our Latest Thinking
Tom is a QC and head of Herbert Smith Freehills' advocacy group. He is a leading advocate in courts and tribunals at interim, trial and all appellate levels both in England and Wales and a number of offshore jurisdictions. He is also a Deputy High Court Judge and acts as arbitrator.