Oliver Hilton

Oliver enjoys a traditional Chancery practice, with a particularly strong emphasis on trust and estate disputes, contentious probate, breach of fiduciary duties, setting aside lifetime transactions, 1975 Act claims and property related litigation, including constructive trusts, proprietary estoppel and co-ownership disputes.

 Oliver's practice encompasses litigation, drafting and advisory work.

 In terms of litigation experience, Oliver regularly appears before Circuit Judges in the County Courts and Judges and Masters in the High Court, and his practice has taken him to the Court of Appeal on three occasions (on his own and being led).

 A significant proportion of Oliver's more recent litigation practice has involved representing clients at mediations (the vast majority of which have resulted in settlements).  

 Oliver also works efficiently as part of a team, whether being led and/or together with a number of solicitors and other professionals on a matter.

 In terms of advisory work, Oliver regularly assists trustees and personal representatives on all issues that may arise during office, including questions of construction, distribution and their various administrative and dispositive powers.

 Oliver has gained extensive experience over the years in drafting wills, trusts and pension documentation and associated instruments.

 This experience also enables Oliver to deal efficiently with mistakes made in drafting trusts, wills and associated documents, whether by way of seeking appropriate relief (rectification etc.) or dealing with related professional negligence issues.

 Oliver has a developing practice in pensions. He has acted and advised in matters concerning pensions liberation, purported amendments to trust deeds, the winding up of schemes and bankruptcy and pension rights.

 On the commercial side, Oliver has experience in company, insolvency, personal property, FSA, banking and finance related disputes.



Notable recent cases

 Oliver’s recent cases include:

  • Ong v Ping [2015] EWHC 1742 (Morgan J). Oliver was instructed (with Andrew Twigger QC) on behalf of various parties who, in the context of bankruptcy proceedings, were seeking to set aside a number of judgments of the High Court which were alleged to have been obtained by fraud. The issues included whether a valid trust was created and, if so, whether its existence was deliberately concealed from the court. Oliver and Andrew successfully established that a deceased settlor had effectively declared a trust of real property, despite the absence of words identifying the property in the instrument she had signed.  The court also set aside, on the basis that they had been obtained by the fraud of the settlor, a number of earlier orders which she had obtained on the footing that she was the absolute owner of the property.  The judgment considered when two or more documents can be read together to evidence a declaration of trust and the circumstances in which new evidence can be admitted to prove that orders have been obtained by fraud.

  • Re Boyle Deceased. Oliver is currently being led by Gilead Cooper QC on a probate dispute concerning a multi million pound estate, where they are seeking to set aside two wills on the grounds of want of knowledge and approval, undue influence and fraudulent calumny, as well as claiming to set aside various lifetime transactions for the benefit of the estate. 

  • Walker v Badmin [2014] EWHC 71 (Ch). Oliver acted for the Claimants in disputing their mother's last will on the grounds that her fatal brain tumour (and resulting psychosis) meant she did not have the requisite testamentary capacity, alternatively she did not know and approve of its contents. In finding that the Deceased had capacity, Strauss QC (after a two week trial) determined that the relevant test was that as set out in Banks v Goodfellow, which had not been superseded by the Mental Capacity Act.
  •  Re Silver Deceased (2013) High Court. Oliver successfully acted in strucking out a probate claim on the ground that it was an abuse of process, the claimant being worse off under the deceased’s previous (undisputed) will.
  • Wild v Wild (2013) High Court (Arnold J). Oliver successfully applied for the removal of one of four trustees in order to resolve a deadlock between them as to the exercise of a dispositive power contained in the discretionary trust so as to wind up the trust before the date of the first periodic charge to IHT. The Defendant was found to have been unduly influenced in his approach to the power by concerns that the proposed beneficiary (his mother) had cut him out of her will, which was improper. 

  • Re Lyons Deceased (2013) High Court. Oliver is instructed by the trustees of a number of settlements concerning the question whether the Human Rights Act applies so that an adopted child takes in remainder where otherwise she would not qualify as a child pursuant to the Adoption of Children Act 1925 (applying the decision in Gregg v Piggott [2012]).

  • Nelson v Mayne (2013) High Court. Oliver acted for a trustee where it was successfully alleged that he was liable to beneficiaries for an occupational rent under an equitable account.

  • HR Trustees Ltd v Wembley Plc [2011] EWHC 2974 (Ch) Mr Justice Vos found that where an amendment to the rules of a pension scheme was invalid because only four out of five of the scheme's trustees had signed it, despite all five having agreed to the amendment, the court could cure the defect by the application of the maxim that equity looked on matters as done which ought to be done, and correct what had been an obvious administrative error.

  • Lex Wealth Management Ltd v Giannotti [2011] EWCA Civ 1341. The Court of Appeal revisited the threshold test for showing that a debt in winding up proceedings was disputed on substantial grounds. The matter concerned the interpretation of an FSA drafted deed poll entered into by the applicant’s directors in respect of undertakings to meet the debts of a previous company

  • Oakley v Fox (2011). Oliver acted for a claimant seeking to rescind a Declaration of Trust in relation to land, alternatively seeking a declaration that the beneficial interests therein have been altered by subsequent agreement. The disputes settled at mediation.

  • Haq v Island Homes [2011] EWCA Civ 805. Following a 4 day trial in which Oliver was successful in claiming a long lease in a supermarket on the Isle of Dogs on the basis of a commercial context proprietary estoppel, he was led by Sarah Asplin QC on the Respondent’s 2 day appeal before the Court of Appeal.

  • HSBC v Watson (2011) High Court. Oliver acted for minor and unborn beneficiaries in a claim for rectification of a trust.

  • Re Asset Co (2011) High Court. Oliver acted for a former director of the company as one of a number of supporting creditors in this high profile, highly contentious petition where the company alleged the debt was disputed.

  • Atlantis v Orion (2010) High Court. Oliver was instructed to defend a £1m+ breach of contact claim pursuant to a failed joint venture arrangement between two recruitment agency companies. The matter settled before trial.

  • Alexander v Alexander [2011] EWHC 2721. Oliver acted for minors and unborns on a claim under the s57 Trustee Act 1925 and/or Variation of Trusts Act in relation to a proposed power to sell property held subject to a right of occupation.

  • Delone Properties v Harvey-Taylor & Ors (2011) High Court. Oliver was instructed on a complex trust dispute concerning a parcel of land, a building company and an alleged breach of the self dealing and conflicts rules. The claim settled at mediation.

  • Re Wharton Deceased (2010) High Court. Oliver has recently acted for the Claimant in a highly contentious probate action concering a multi-million pound estate.

  • Gibson v Hart (2010). Oliver represented a proposed claimant in a day long mediation in Manchester concerning a large family dispute which issues included the validity of a will, the beneficial interest in property, the recovery of lifetime transfers of money and the continued administration of the deceased's estate.

  • Re Kelk (2010) High Court. Approval hearing in respect of a settlement of a 1975 Act claim made in respect of a £12m estate.

  • Southern Pacific v Farrell (2010) High Court. Oliver advised and acted for a wife on her successful claim to set aside a mortgage as against her beneficial interest in the matrimonial home the husband had sought to obtain by forging her signature on the mortgage application form.

  • Stratford v Trump (2009). 5 day trial in which Oliver was successful in a claim concerning a beneficial interest in company shares based on a trust and secret profits.

  • NATIXIS v WestLB & ors (2008) Commercial Court. Oliver acted as junior counsel to Joe Smouha QC and Andrew Twigger on behalf of an investment bank in a claim in negligence and/or fraud against an arranger, lead manager and private equity firm in relation to the Box Clever securitisation. Claims settled before judgment.

  • Yewbelle Ltd v London Green Developments Ltd.& Anor [2007] EWCA Civ 475. Oliver was led by Edward Bannister QC in this appeal concerned with a implied terms as to obtaning planning permission in a contract for the sale of land. Petition for leave to appeal to the House of Lords was refused.

  • Jarrom v Sellars [2007] EWHC 1366 (Ch): recent leading authority on the costs consequences on the abandonment of a probate claim of failing to mediate.

  • Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre v Natural History Museum (2007) High Court. Oliver acted as junior counsel to Geoffrey Robertson QC and Gilead Cooper QC in a claim for the repatriation of human remains held by museum. The case settled following a mediation.

  • Bakwin v Sotheby's & Others (2006) High Court. Oliver acted as junior counsel to both Norman Palmer QC and John Wardell QC for an Amercian citizen in a successful claim for the return of highly valuable paintings stolen from his home, which had passed through various hands before ending up at Sotheby's for sale. Issues included the validity of an arbitration clause and service upon a Panamanian company abroad.


Professional membership


Chancery Bar Association





Oliver read Law at King’s College, University of London, where he graduated with first class honours. He was awarded the Hardwick scholarship from Lincoln’s Inn.


Publications and seminars


‘Dealing with Errors in the Execution of Trust Powers’ published in Trusts and Estates Law and Tax Journal, Jan/Feb ’14 Edition.

Oliver is the joint author (with Emma King of Eversheds) of Chapter A2 of Tolley's Pensions Law Service (Types of Pension Schemes – Work-Based Pension Schemes).

Oliver is the author of the Lexis Nexis Practice Note on Pension: "Amending Mistakes and Rectification" (Oct 2011)

Oliver lectures on all aspects of his practice both in chambers and at venues around England and Wales (including his solicitors’ offices). Recent talks include:

  • Testamentary Capacty: The survival of Banks v Goodfellow; An analysis of Walker v Badmin

  • Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 – Changes to the Rules of Intestacy and Family Provision Claims.

  • a 5 hours seminar titled '1975 Act and Other Claims Against Prs' for Central Law Training at various venue across England.

  • Jones v Kernott: Where are we know with Co-Ownership of Land: Talk for the FreethCartwright Contested Trusts and Probate Seminar

  • a 5 hour seminar titled 'Claims by and against Personal Representatives' for Central Law Training at various venues accross Enland.

  • a 5 hour seminar titled 'Contentious Probate - Current Issues and Problem areas for Practictioners' for Central Law Training at various venues across England.

  • 'Mistake - a gift once given, easily taken back?' - a talk to various banks and solicitors given in Jersey in July 2010.

  • ‘Jarrom v Sellars: Costs following discontinuance of a Probate Claim’ for Withers LLP

  • The protection of LGPS pensions on a transfer of public sector employees to the private sector.

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