Stephen is a commercial and Chancery practitioner. He acts as sole or junior counsel in cases involving trusts, financial services, taxation, commercial disputes, real and personal property rights and insolvency. He has rapidly built a substantial High Court practice in the most complex of disputes. In recent years Stephen has been involved in some of the leading cases turning on the alleged professional negligence of tax advisors, particularly in the context of employee benefit trusts. Stephen is presently involved in a substantial and increasing number of cases of this type, acting for taxpayers, scheme providers and introducers.
Having developed a particular expertise in the niche area of personal property law, Stephen is sought out by clients who wish to assert or defend ownership and/or possession rights over chattels. His book, “The Ownership of Goods and Chattels”, dealing with the creation, disposition and protection of ownership rights in such property, was published by Hart in 2020.
Stephen also has a substantial real property practice, which includes expertise on trespass, easements, covenants, nuisance and all aspects of real property entitlement. He has experience of construction disputes, including those touching on issues frequently arising in a rural context such as conservation restrictions.
Prior to coming to the Bar, Stephen spent five years training and practising as a solicitor at two leading commercial firms, including a six month secondment to Barclays Wealth’s financial services legal team. Stephen regularly acts for large businesses and individuals of high net worth and on occasion substantial public profile. He is accustomed to representing clients operating in highly regulated industries and those subject to considerable regulatory and public scrutiny. Away from chambers Stephen enjoys cricket and other sports, cooking, the countryside and fly fishing.
Barker v Confiance Ltd  EWHC 1401 (Ch)- The leading modern authority on the liability of minors and their litigation friends for costs orders.
Gwinnutt v George  EWCA Civ 656 (first instance decision reported at  Ch 52) – Court of Appeal decision about the meaning of “property” for the purposes of the vesting regime in s.306 Insolvency Act 1986, and in particular whether it extends to fees payable to a barrister under an honorarium rather than a contract.
Barker v Confiance  EWHC 2965 (Ch) - This was an application by the applicants for an order pursuant to CPR 19.7(7) to the effect that the court should direct that an earlier order of the court, made by Asplin J on 25 July 2014, was not binding on them.
Gwinnutt v George  3 W.L.R 1323 - A bankrupt barrister contended his aged debt did not fall within his bankruptcy estate because it was not owed to him pursuant to a contract but under the old “honorarium” system.
Barker v Baxendale-Walker  1 W.L.R 1905 - This was the hearing of a petition presented to the Court by Mr Barker (the 'Petitioner') who sought an order that Mr Baxendale-Walker (the 'Debtor') be adjudicated bankrupt.
T v V  EWHC 1492 (Comm) - An unsuccessful party to an arbitration brought a Part 8 claim in the Commercial Court to oppose enforcement (of somewhat over £1m) because of alleged irregularity under s.68 Arbitration Act 1996.
Twin Benefits Ltd v Barker EWHC 1412 (Ch) – Junior counsel in a substantial and complex application turning on a challenge to the court’s jurisdiction. Marcus Smith, J’s judgment is interesting in a number of respects, including for the clarity it gives to the question of the court’s jurisdiction to grant permission to serve out of the jurisdiction in claims for breach of fiduciary duty.
T v V  EWHC 565 (Comm) – acted as sole counsel in successful opposition to an application by a defendant in arbitration proceedings to remove the arbitrator under s.24 Arbitration Act. Popplewell, J’s judgment includes a helpful survey of the relevant law.
R&J Birkett (t/a Orchards Residential Home) v Revenue and Customs Commissioners  UKUT 89 (TCC). Acted for the taxpayer in the Upper Tribunal. The Tribunal chaired by Nugee J gave valuable guidance on a question of the jurisdiction of the First-Tier Tribunal to give effect to a taxpayer’s legitimate expectation
Twin Benefits Ltd v Barker  EWHC 177 (Ch). Acted as junior counsel in a significant application for third party disclosure. Arnold, J’s judgment establishes that prima facie privileged document may be disclosable under the CPR 31.17 regime even if they cannot be employed in the proceedings because the discloser’s privilege is good against the world even if not the applicant.
Hawk Recovery Ltd v Hall  EWHC 3260 (Ch). Acted as junior counsel for the claimant in a double-appeal to the High Court. The judgment deals with important issues of the locus standi of the defendant bankrupts and an equitable owner’s rights to possession of real property as against the legal owner.
Edwards-Moss v Revenue and Customs Commissioners  W.T.L.R. 995. Acted for the taxpayer in an application touching on significant questions about HMRC’s investigatory powers into the personal medical records of a deceased taxpayer.
Barker v Baxendale-Walker  EWHC 664 (Ch). Acted as second junior counsel for the defendant in professional negligence claim in respect of allegedly negligent tax advice with implications running to many millions of pounds. Roth, J’s judgment establishes important principles as to whether an advisor who gives correct advice about the construction of statute is nevertheless negligent if he does not give more than a "general health warning" that he might be wrong."
Anita and Anthony Bridgland v Earlsmead Estates Ltd  EWHC B8 (TCC). Acted for the claimants in an application addressing novel questions of the existence and extent of actionable statutory duty arising from the obligations imposed by the Party Walls etc. Act 1996.
Sargespace Ltd v Eustace  1 P. & C.R. DG8. Acted for the claimant company in High Court litigation to recover a property and a vehicle from the defendant, ownership of which was disputed. The application turned on issues of property law, company law and the law surrounding gifts.
Bluebird Productions Ltd v Eustace  EWHC 1095 (QB) Acting for claimant company in claim for civil fraud against the defendant in respect of monies allegedly misappropriated from a television production company. The judgment involved a potentially significant application of the equitable “clean hands” maxim.
Re LPA Umbrella Trust  EWHC 1378 (Ch). Acting for four corporate defendants in the Chancery Division in litigation brought by the Pensions Regulator in respect of alleged pensions liberation. This case is likely to prove highly significant in view of recent budget reforms to the pensions liberation regime.
Alway Sheet Metal Ltd v Capco Trust Jersey Limited  EWHC 2394(Ch). Acting for the claimant settlor of a trust in a Part 8 claim seeking decrees of rectification and a declaration as to the efficacy of retrospective amendments of a trust deed.
Property Bar Association
Bar Transfer Test (2010)
Legal Practice Course (2006)
Graduate Diploma in Law (2005)
BA (Hons) Christ Church, University of Oxford (2004)