Manchester, United Kingdom
I work in the Dispute Resolution Group at Pannone Corporate LLP where I am a Senior Associate. Pannone Corporate was formed in February 2014 following the acquisition of the majority of the commercial practice of Pannone LLP. I previously worked at Pannone LLP from 2005, having completed my training contract there and worked my way up to Associate level in 2012. I became a Senior Associate in 2015.
In my work I strive to help my clients achieve positive results in their disputes in the most cost effective way possible. I act for a diverse client base of both commercial clients and private clients and I provide pragmatic advice to meet the specific needs of the individual client, whether they are a business, or an individual with no previous litigation experience.
I have been described as being “very diligent, thorough and detailed” and that I provide “constant intelligent advice on how to move forward”. My clients have commented that I am “very friendly, helpful and approachable” and I make my clients feel “comfortable and at ease” throughout the litigation process.
My practice covers a wide range of areas, including both private client and commercial work. I have a particular specialism in the field of contentious trusts and probate work and am acutely aware of the difficulty and stresses, both emotionally and financially, of being embroiled in such a dispute. I have a wide range of experience in acting in such disputes for executors, beneficiaries, trustees and also individuals bringing claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. My experience in this area also covers contested will disputes, rectification of wills, the removal of trustees and/or executors, conflicts over the construction of a trust, and breach of trust claims. I am a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and the Manchester Law Society Private Client Committee and I have written a number of articles and often deliver seminars in this practice area.
I have experience in acting for clients before the issue of proceedings, and also once claims have been issued at the courts. The majority of cases I deal with settle before trial and I have been involved in a number of mediations and fully support the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques.
Within my practice I also regularly deal with contract disputes, professional negligence cases, partnership disputes and breaches of restrictive covenant cases. I am a member of the Association of Partnership Practitioners (APP) and I am on the North West Panel of the APP.
Once instructed for my clients I adopt a collaborative approach to achieving a successful outcome. It is vital for me to understand my clients’ aims and objectives and I take great time in ensuring that I do so that I can work with the client to achieve a positive outcome as quickly and cost effectively as possible. I also consider it essential that my clients are kept fully up to date on matters and I am very conscious that receiving information about their case is of paramount importance to my clients.
Trainee Solicitor, Solicitor, then Associate
Throughout my practice I have gained experience in a wide variety of disputes at various stages, from pre-action to trial, with the majority achieving terms of settlement at some point in between.
My experience includes advising clients prior to the issue of proceedings, guiding them through the litigation process, acting on injunction cases, attending numerous mediations and settlement meetings and preparing for trial.
The case studies set out below give a more in-depth indication of the type of work I have undertaken.
1991 - 1999
3 A-Levels, Grade A and 11 GCSEs
1999 - 2002
Jurisprudence – law degree
2003 - 2004
Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
2004 - 2005
Legal Practice Course, Distinction
The Legal 500 in 2016 ranked Pannone Corporate LLP in tier 1 in the area of Contentious Trusts and Probate, being one of only two firms ranked in the top tier in the North West. Jonny Scholes was described as being "very efficient".
I acted for a company in a claim against a company incorporated in the Isle Of Man. The claim related to sums my client claimed were due to it under the terms of a Development Management Agreement (DMA) with the Isle of Man company in which our client was the development manager of a project involving the development of a Hotel in London.
The other side alleged that it terminated the DMA in accordance with its terms. My client denied such termination took place and sought to recover unpaid development management fees in excess of £130,000, together with an Incentive Fee which was calculable as 40% of the net profits (being open market value less the project costs involved). The Incentive Fee was estimated as being worth over £1 million.
Substantial pre-action correspondence was exchanged and an early settlement was agreed on satisfactory terms to the client.
I acted for a couple in a claim against a large Public Limited Company, which was a multi-utility supplier listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company is said to supply over 500,000 customers in the UK, working with 40,000 independent distributors, who operate on a multi-level marketing model. The PLC’s results for 2014 showed revenue of £658.8 million.
My clients were an independent distributor of the PLC whose claim was for losses suffered by alleged breaches by the PLC of its own Business Manual and Compensation Plan. The matter required the understanding of the complex network marketing model and the terms of the Compensation Plan and I was able to negotiate a pre-action settlement directly with the Executive Chairman of the PLC which enabled my clients to retire from their position as a distributor with the PLC on good terms and with a financial settlement package which the clients described as “successfully securing our financial future”.
I assisted in acting for the widower of the deceased in a dispute that concerned the deceased’s brother.
The deceased’s last Will and Testament appointed our client, her brother a business colleague as Executors and created a discretionary trust in respect of the deceased’s Business Property, being predominantly her shares in family business incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. The family operated a successful group of companies, the parent company having net assets of approximately £11million, with the shares held by the deceased being valued for probate at approximately £4.7million. The executors were also the trustees of this trust.
Following his wife’s death in 2011, our client had been denied access to any significant financial information regarding the family company. The beneficiaries of the Trust had also received no income on the shares since the deceased’s death. This has led to a dispute between our client and his co-trustees. The issues which arose concerned the validity of the deceased’s letter of wishes, and in particular whether one page of the letter of wishes, was amended after her death.
A further issue arose between our client and his brother-in-law relating to a Life Assurance Policy and the proper application of funds arising from that policy. Proceedings were issued in respect of the Life Assurance Policy and successfully concluded in our client’s favour.
Following extensive pre-action correspondence and the threat of proceedings the trustees also all agreed to retire from the Trust and a professional trustee was appointed as the independent trustee.
I acted for Mr and Mrs P who were the executors under the Last Will and Testament of a late Aunt of Mrs P. The deceased had no children and her husband pre-deceased her. The Aunt was an eccentric personality who suffered from agoraphobia. Her husband died in November 2009 and, following his death, the Aunt decided she wished to make a will and asked Mr P to assist her, the Aunt having a dislike of dealing with professional people. Mr P prepared a will in accordance with the Aunt’s instructions, which she signed on 6 December 2009. The Aunt died on 25 December 2009, with the main beneficiary under the will being Mrs P. The value of the estate was just under £500,000.
After the Aunt’s death, various caveats were lodged by a number of first cousins once removed. The will was disputed by a group of these relatives, who had little or no contact with the Aunt in her later years, on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and want of knowledge and approval. In the event of an intestacy, because the Aunt had no children and a wider extended family, the number of beneficiaries stood to be at over 40.
The matter involved lengthy pre-action correspondence, followed by the issue of proceedings to prove the will in solemn form. Matters were settled pre-action on very favourable grounds to my clients and their position was protected by making complex applications to the court for permission to serve notice on the claim on certain non-parties and for an application for a representation order to ensure any other relatives were bound by the settlement.
I acted for the daughter of the deceased and her aunt. The deceased separated from my client’s mother in 2003, but never divorced. He was in a relationship from that date with another lady until his death in February 2007. His estate comprised of a half share in a property, savings with Northern Rock, and numerous shareholdings.
Under the will, made days prior to the deceased’s death, the half share in the property was to pass to his new partner and the residue of the estate to my client (his daughter). One of the partners of the solicitors who were managing the administration of the estate was also a co-executor. The deceased’s new partner alleged that the deceased instructed his investment managers and stockbrokers to arrange for the transfer of certain shares to her in the days prior to his death. Our clients did not accept the shares were gifted and issues of forgery and dishonesty arose in respect of the matter with forensic handwriting experts being instructed.
Substantive correspondence was sent to the solicitors acting for the estate and to the investment managers and stockbrokers who managed the deceased’s shareholdings. Significant pre-action correspondence was exchanged with the deceased’s partner and proceedings threatened. This enabled matters to eventually be concluded following extensive without prejudice correspondence on positive terms for my clients.
I acted for Ms H in respect of a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 against the estate of her late long-term partner of over 10 years. The executor of the estate is the Deceased’s brother and the beneficiary appointed by the Deceased’s last will and testament is the Deceased’s daughter. The estate had a net value of over £1.4 million. The parties to the dispute were all based in Yorkshire.
The Deceased died on 1 January 2013. My client was ejected from the property she co-habited with the Deceased by the executor shortly afterwards. After significant pre-action correspondence, court proceedings were issued and were vigorously defended by the executor and beneficiary of the estate. Significant dispute arose in respect of the value of the estate. The opponents were reticent to produce any documentation at all relating to the size and extent of the estate (and specific disclosure applications were required).
The matter was complicated by the fact the Deceased operated a cash business (dealing in window fittings and repairs) for which expert valuation reports were required. These reports identified that a significant number of sales had been under-recorded in the accounts. Expert valuation reports were also obtained in respect of a portfolio of rental properties.
The matter was settled at mediation with a good result for my client both in terms of settlement value and costs.
I act for a father (the husband of the deceased and a holocaust survivor), and two sons of the deceased and the father. The other side to the dispute is the other son.
The father and all three sons were all named as executors in the will of the deceased who died in January 2014. The will was made in 2006 and created a nil-rate band discretionary trust, which the full value of the net estate (which is of limited value) fell within. A non-contentious firm of solicitors was instructed to administer the estate, and prepared draft probate forms for the brothers with power reserved to the elderly father when a dispute arose over certain items of jewellery of the deceased which, on my clients’ case, were gifted to female relatives of the two brothers who I act for in 2006.
The other brother obtained a grant of probate in his sole name necessitating an application for a double grant of probate, which was obtained. All three sons and the father remain trustees of the trust. Agreement as to how the discretion under the trust is to be exercised cannot be reached and substantive pre-action correspondence was exchanged with solicitors acting for the other brother.
A mediation took place in October 2015, but was unsuccessful and the parties are still attempting to reach a resolution in respect of the matter. The position is complicated by ongoing concurrent litigation concerning a company within which the three brothers are all shareholders, within which a search, freezing and property preservation order has been made against the other brother. This litigation forms much of the backdrop to the probate dispute and is a material consideration in respect of correspondence and attempts to resolve the dispute.
The APP was set up in 1998 as a multi-disciplinary organisation of partnership and professional service firm practitioners as a source of information and debate. It currently has over 400 members.
ACTAPS was established in 1997 for lawyers specialising in contentious trust and probate work.