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Hannah Southon

London, United Kingdom

1 Testimonials
3 Case studies
0 Articles


Practice Areas:

  • Contested Probate
  • Disputed Wills
  • Private Client Litigation
Vardags Limited
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Hannah's area of expertise is litigation concerning wills, probate, trusts and works of art, in which she has specialised since qualifying as a solicitor in 2006.  Following qualification, she practised first as a solicitor at Speechly Bircham LLP and Harcus Sinclair LLP before joining Vardags as a director in February 2017.   

She advises private individuals challenging or defending, the validity of wills and, in circumstances in which there is a valid will or no will, and sufficient provision has not been made under the will or under the intestacy rules, she acts for clients bringing claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. She can also assist in circumstances in which there are concerns over the way in which an estate is being administered and advises private and professional executors of estates in relation to which challenges are being brought by aggrieved beneficiaries. 

In the area of trust litigation, she has extensive experience acting for professional trustees, trust companies and private individuals in a range of potentially and fully contentious situations, both in a domestic context and where cross-border elements are involved. She contributes a chapter on the administrative duties of trustees in the looseleaf service, Planning and Administration of Offshore and Onshore Trusts, published by Bloomsbury Professional.

Hannah holds a Diploma from the Institute of Art and Law and has acted in a number of cases, for both private individuals and trustees, in which the ownership of works of art has been in issue.  Her recent cases have included acting for a client who had been defrauded of a valuable work of art by an agent in London, to whom it had been consigned for sale, to recover the work from a third party in New York. 



Previous Employment

Allen & Overy LLP2004 - 2006

Trainee Solicitor

Speechly Bircham LLP2006 - 2008

Solicitor, Private Client Contentious Trusts and Estates

Harcus Sinclair LLP2008 - 2017

Solicitor, latterly Associate, Contentious Trusts and Probate


Disputed wills and probate - recent cases:

  • Acting for an Israeli client bringing a claim against the estate of her deceased fiance for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
  • Acting for the executors and beneficiaries of a will governing the deceased's UK assets defending a claim brought by the Deceased's 2nd wife, a US citizen resident in the United States, both regarding the validity of the Will and for provision from the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
  • Acting for a client alleging that the ostensible beneficiary of his father's will held the estate on secret trusts for the children of the deceased.

Trust litigation - recent cases:

  • Acting for the trustees of a Monaco-based trust joined to financial provision proceedings in the English Court.
  • Acting for a former professional footballer bringing claims for breach of trust against his former pension trustee.
  • Acting for a former solicitor defending a claim brought by her former partners that her pension was a partnership asset held on trust by her for all the partners of the partnership.


Art litigation - recent cases:

  • Acting for the defendants in a claim brought by their parents for title to and possession of works of art and antiques located in England, France and Monaco.
  • Acting for the owner of an artwork who had consigned the work to an art agent for sale to recover that work from a third party in New York after the agent fraudulently conveyed the work for below its true value and spent the proceeds.





BPP School of Law


2002 - 2003

Postgraduate Diploma in Law

University of Oxford


1999 - 2000

MSc Environmental Change and Management

University of Oxford


1996 - 1999

BA (Hons) Biological Sciences


BPP School of Law

2003 - 2004

Legal Practice Course


Recovery of a painting from a third party following a fraudulent disposal by an art agent

Case Studies

Recovery of artwork from a third party following disposal by a fraudulent agent
Settlement of a contested probate dispute
Breach of trust claims against the professional trustee of a SIPP


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Published Cases

[2016] EWHC 549 (Ch); [2016] WTLR 627

Hannah was the senior solicitor working under the partner acting for the beneficiaries of two significant trusts seeking to remove protectors.Although not a final hearing, this reported case is significant in that it is one of the first time the standing of protectors under English law trusts has been addressed by the Court in England and Wales.

[2017] EWHC 526 (Ch)

Acting for a client defending a claim that her pension was an asset held on trust by her for the benefit of her former partners in a solicitors' practice, from which she had retired in 2014.

Press Cuttings

Financial Times

"Pity the poor footballers" - Hannah was interviewed in an article by Simon Kuper examining the plight of professional footballers advised to invest in tax-mitigation schemes



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Associations & Memberships

Association of Contentious Trust & Probate Specialists ('ACTAPS') - since 2008

The objects of ACTAPS are to provide a forum for specialists to exchange experience, know-how and an appreciation of the law and statutes in this specialist area; to hold seminars, conferences and meetings for the discussion of contentious trust and probate issues; to promote the enhancement of the specific skills specialisation and expertise in this area by the provision of education and training and, where possible, to enable representations to be made to the appropriate governmental and judicial bodies in relation to contentious trust and probate issues.

Affiliate member, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) - since 2016

The global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning.

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