Constance McDonnell

The directories say

'Truly a formidable advocate'

- Chambers UK 2014

Constance has a traditional Chancery practice specialising in contentious probate, trust disputes, 1975 Act claims, administration of estates, and removal of personal representatives. She has appeared recently in several highly publicised High Court cases, including Schrader v Schrader (a successful probate claim based on undue influence), VIVA! Campaigns Ltd & The Vegetarian Society v Scott (a successful probate claim by charities concerning a schizophrenic testator) and Sheffield v Sheffield (in which she defended a professional trustee against allegations of breach of trust).

Her practice also includes constructive trusts and proprietary estoppel, Court of Protection (property and affairs), professional negligence, and real property.

She has appeared at first instance and on appeal in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Constance was nominated as Chancery Junior of the Year in the 2013 Chambers Bar Awards and as Contentious Barrister of the Year in the 2013 ACTAPS Awards.

 

 

 

Professional Reputation

 Constance is recommended as a Leading Junior (Band 1) in the field of Traditional Chancery by Chambers & Partners Guide to the Legal Profession (2015): “A leading junior in the contentious probate world. She is very calm, very clear, and very good with the lay client, and really inspires confidence." "She is an excellent advocate and her preparatory skills are first-class. Takes a very good commercial approach."

Constance is also recommended as a Leading Junior (Band 3) in the field of Court of Protection (Property and Affairs) by Chambers & Partners (2015): “A superb advocate who completely sticks to her guns and fights her client's corner." "She combines an impressive knowledge of the law with a calm but persuasive manner."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reported Cases

  • VIVA! Campaigns Ltd & The Vegetarian Society v Scott [2014] WTLR 525 and [2014] WTLR 461[costs]: Constance acted for the successful charitable Claimants in proceedings to prove a will made by a schizophrenic testator.
  • Sheffield v Sheffield [2013] EWHC 3927 (Ch): Constance defended a professional trustee against allegations of breach of trust.
  • Schrader v Schrader [2013] WTLR 701: Constance acted for the successful Part 20 claimant in proceedings to set aside his mother’s will on the basis that it had been procured by his brother’s undue influence.
  • Tamlin v Edgar  The Times, 23 February 2012. Constance acted for minor and unborn beneficiaries of two family trusts in an application for the Court's approval of a decision of the Trustees.
  • Wharton v Bancroft [2012] WTLR 693 and [2012] WTLR 727 (costs). Constance acted for the successful claimant in proceedings to prove her husband's 'deathbed' will. Claimant was awarded indemnity costs.
  • Devas v MacKay [2009] EWHC 1951 (Ch), [2009] All ER (D) 09 (Aug). Constance acted for the successful claimants in proceedings to set aside a will purportedly made by their mother in favour of her carer's son.
  • Knight v Edonya [2009] EWHC 2181 (Ch). Constance acted for the successful claimant in proceedings to prove her stepfather's will.
  • Sinclair v Sinclair [2009] EWHC 926 (Ch), [2009] All ER (D) 17 (May). Constance acted for the trustees of a family trust in a claim arising out of various breaches of trust by a constructive trustee, involving issues as to his liability to account and whether he could rely upon proprietary estoppel.
  • Raymond Saul & Co (a firm) v Holden [2009] Ch 313, [2009] BPIR 50. Constance acted for a successful trustee in bankruptcy on the issue as to whether the residue of the bankrupt's mother's estate was payable to the trustee in bankruptcy.
  • Caudle v LD Law Ltd [2008] 1 WLR 1540, (2008) 11 ITELR 882. Constance acted for the successful Defendant on an appeal as to whether a prospective Administrator of a deceased's estate had locus standi to claim assets of the estate.
  • Heyman and another v Dobson and another [2010] WTLR 1151, [2007] All ER (D) 275 (Dec): removal of personal representative and costs.
  • Ustimenko v Prescot Management Company Ltd [2007] EWHC 1853 (QB); [2007] All ER (D) 48 (Aug): summary judgment in landlord & tenant dispute, civil restraint order
  • Cadlock v Aboagye [2006] All ER (D) 170 (Dec): bankruptcy appeal.
  • Bonham v Blake Lapthorn Linnell [2006] All ER (D) 164 (Oct): breach of trust and solicitors' negligence
  • Evans v HSBC Trust Company (UK) Ltd [2005] WTLR 1289. Constance acted for the successful claimants in a proprietary estoppel claim against the estate of their friend and neighbour.
  • Cox v Jones [2004] 2 FLR 1010: constructive trust claim between cohabitees.
  • Khiaban v Beard [2003] 1 WLR 1626. Constance acted for the successful appellant in a ‘leapfrog' appeal to the Court of Appeal on the issue as to whether the Court could require a claimant to increase value of his claim.
  • Re OT Computers Ltd [2004] 1 Ch 317, [2003] All ER (D) 144 (Oct). application for disclosure of policy under Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 1930,
  • Carapeto v Good [2002] WTLR 801. Constance acted for the successful claimant in proceedings to propound a will made in her favour.  

Professional Membership

 

Chancery Bar Association

ACTAPS

STEP

 

Education

 

Having attended St Paul's Girls' School, Constance read Classics at Oriel College, Oxford, before coming to the Bar.

 

Seminars and Publications

 

Constance was a speaker at the LegalWeek Trusts & Estate Litigation Forum in Provence in March 2012.

She has presented a 5-hour seminar on ‘Current issues in Contentious Probate' for Central Law Training in venues around England & Wales. She has also recently presented in-house seminars on contentious probate, and on costs issues in both probate and trusts disputes.

Constance has presented seminars for STEP on probate claims (in 2011), on ‘Perils and pitfalls in cohabitation disputes', and on ‘Orphan and unclaimed assets' focussing on the legality of heir-locators' contingency fees, on which she also published an article in the STEP Journal (Nov/Dec 2009) and in Private Client Business (2005) No.5 pp. 293-298 (co-authored with Richard Wilson). She has recently published articles in the Trust Quarterly Review February 2010 on Costs in Trusts Litigation, and in LegalWeek in April 2010 on developments in the Hastings-Bass rule.

 

 

 

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