Before his call to the Bar, Paul Stafford was a historian who taught at Oxford University and researched and published on the Mediterranean origins of the Second World War. That experience of identifying, analysing and understanding evidence from widely different sources and perspectives, establishing a narrative, and presenting clearly reasoned conclusions from that narrative, has informed his practice at the Bar for thirty years in advisory, drafting and advocacy contexts before the senior courts, arbitrators, adjudicators and tribunals. His cases typically involve significant factual and legal complexity with issues that overlap a wide range of different practice areas. His contentious cases often settle unreported. His practice is broad, commercial, and has often included local government or central government as clients or opponents. His advocacy experience is primarily in the Court of Appeal, the Chancery Division (as it was known before being renamed the Business and Property Courts) and the Technology and Construction Court. He has lectured and published on manorial rights and fracking.

Areas of Experience (Select to add to the CV download)

Property, manorial rights and mineral rights

Trusts of land, reverter of sites, mortgage fraud, joint ventures, rights of way, land registration, chancel repair liability, mineral rights, manorial rights and professional negligence in relation to property matters have all been aspects of Paul’s real property practice. The litigious side of this practice has involved long and complex cases with repeated appearances in the senior appellate courts over many years. The advisory side includes clients, both individual and corporate, who may be trustees, landowners or developers.
His litigation and advisory experience of land registration and manorial rights was drawn on by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee who invited him to provide evidence to their inquiry into the future of manorial rights law. In their report, published in 2015, his contribution was extensively referred to and his advice reflected in the report’s conclusions. He has published substantial articles on the law of manorial rights in relation to its land registration and litigation aspects.
In recent years he has also lectured, written and blogged on the property law aspects of fracking. His latest article, ‘Free to Frack? – Landowners and the loss of common law rights under the Infrastructure Act 2015’ appeared in the Property Law Journal for June 2017.

Reported cases include:

Stephens-Dunn v Cawthorne [2015] EWHC 2800 (Ch), Norris J – Trusts of land – partition -application of TOLATA 1996 s 15.
Burton v Walker [2013] EWCA Civ 1228; [2012] EWHC 978 (Ch), Jeremy Cousins QC – Manorial waste and land registration - Crown land in demesne and duty owed on first registration under LRA 2002; (REF 2007/1124 (10 Dec 2010)), LR Adjudicator, Mr Edward Cousins- manorial lordships: proof of and protection of title under LRA 2002.
Clarke v Corless [2009] 2 P&CR DG 24 (Ch D); [2010] WTLR 751, CA – Joint venture agreement to acquire property – property kept by one party – Pallant v Morgan equity.
Mortgage Express Ltd v Newman (No.1) [2000] PNLR 298 (Ch D), Hart J – Mortgage fraud – solicitor’s insurers disclaiming liability on ground of alleged dishonesty); [2001] PNLR 5, CA
Mortgage Express Ltd v Newman (No.2) [2001] Lloyds LR (PN) 669 (Ch D), Etherton J.
Fairview New Homes Plc v Government Row Residents Association Ltd [1998] EGCS 92, Scott V-C – Developers and user of private right of way.
Inverugie Investments Ltd v Hackett [1995] 1 WLR 713, PC – Measure of damages for trespass to commercial property.

Building and civil engineering

Throughout his practice, Paul has received instructions in relation to substantial building and civil engineering cases. These have ranged from advising trustees of a major London hospital in connection with their duties under a building contract to multi-party disputes, acting for government at local authority level and overseas, in major arbitration and/or litigation with a multi-jurisdictional element, and in adjudication.

Reported cases include:

Amey LG Ltd v Cumbria County Council [2016] EWHC 2856 (TCC), Judge Stephen Davies – Final Account dispute on local government highways maintenance contract.
Estor Ltd v Multifit (UK) Ltd (No.1) (2009) 126 Con LR 40; and (No.2) [2010] CILL 2800, Akenhead J – Adjudication: practice and procedure; test to identify parties to contract.
AG for the Falkland Islands v Gordon Forbes Construction (Falklands) Ltd [2003] BLR 280, Supreme Court of the Falkland Islands – reference by arbitrator to court – s 45 Arbitration Act 1996 -meaning of clause 53 of FIDIC Conditions of Contract for Works of Civil Engineering Construction.
Saigol v Cranley Mansion Ltd (No.3) [2000] 72 Con LR 54, CA – Effect on claimant’s damages of compromised claim against another defendant.
Saigol v Cranley Mansion Ltd (No.2) [1996] EGCS 81, CA – Cause of action assignment of claims against contractors and surveyors by co-defendant.

Professional negligence and professional regulation

Paul’s experience of professional negligence covers claims against solicitors, surveyors and accountants in relation to their conduct of property and conveyancing transactions, construction contracts, and financial and tax advice. He has appeared mostly for defendants, and a theme of many of his cases is the boundary between negligence and dishonesty.
Complaints to regulators and ombudsmen are now widely used against professionals as an alternative or precursor to negligence claims. Paul has extensive experience of assisting professionals against these two lines of complaint – primarily solicitors, but also accountants, surveyors and financial advisers. The contentious aspect of this work has involved representing them before the ombudsman, in disciplinary proceedings or in court. The non-contentious aspect has involved keeping professional partnerships or individuals on the right side of the regulator where solicitors have pre-and post-merger issues and where new business arrangements involve membership of more than one entity.
For ten years Paul sat regularly as a member and occasional chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, the Admissions and Licensing Committee and the Appeals Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). In the Administrative Court he was the first, or one of the first, barristers to obtain a successful judicial review against a decision of the Financial Services Ombudsman. He was recognised in the Legal 500 (2014 edition) for his significant caseload in relation to disciplinary hearings involving solicitors.

Reported cases include:

Webb v SRA [2013] All ER (D) 50; [2013] EWHC 2078 (Admin), Jeremy Baker J – Appeal for solicitor found dishonest by the SDT when registering transfer in breach of undertaking.
Garrison Investment Analysis Ltd v Financial Ombudsman Service Ltd [2006] All ER (D) 110; [2006] EWHC (Admin) 2466, Sullivan J – Financial Services Ombudsman wrong to require redress to be made by independent financial adviser.
White v Office for Supervision of Solicitors [2001] EWHC (Admin) 1149, Lightman J – Solicitor challenging OSS finding of inadequate professional service on conveyancing transaction
Mortgage Express Ltd v Newman (No.1) [2000] PNLR 298 (Ch D), Hart J; and [2001] PNLR 5, CA – Mortgage fraud and conveyancing transaction– solicitor’s insurers disclaiming liability on ground of alleged dishonesty)
Mortgage Express Ltd v Newman (No.2) [2001] Lloyds LR (PN) 669 (Ch D), Etherton J – retrial of case heard by Hart J
Lowes v Clarke Whitehill [1997] EWCA Civ 2794 – accountants’ negligence – measure of damages – tax efficient route for sale of business

Commercial and traditional chancery

Paul Stafford has significant experience of the contentious and non-contentious aspects of chancery commercial practice over many years. His contentious work has included disputes involving banks, guarantees and indemnities, corporate insolvency, cause of action assignment and VAT fraud. He acted for Names in the closing phases of the long-running Lloyds litigation, and for HMRC in a large carousel fraud case. Examples of his non-contentious work include the drafting of management buy-out and shareholders’ agreements for a major professional services company; advising on the duties of trustees in relation to building contracts; advising on sensitive pre-merger issues following the merger of two large firms of solicitors.

Reported cases include:

Harris v The Society of Lloyds [2008] EWHC 1433 (Comm), David Steel J – Names and Re-insurance to close.
AG for the Falkland Islands v Gordon Forbes Construction (Falklands) Ltd [2003] BLR 280, Supreme Court of the Falkland Islands – Meaning of clause 53 of FIDIC Conditions of Contract for Works of Civil Engineering Construction.
Clive Brooks & Co Ltd v Baynard [1998] TLR 269, CA – Cause of action assignment by insolvent construction company in breach of security for costs order.
Fairview New Homes plc v Government Row Residents Association Ltd [1998] EGCS 92 (Ch D), Scott V-C – Developers and user of private right of way.
Lowes v Clarke Whitehill [1997] EWCA Civ 2794 – accountants’ negligence – measure of damages – tax efficient route for sale of business
Inverugie Investments Ltd v Hackett [1995] 1 WLR 713, PC – Measure of damages for trespass to commercial property.

 

Qualifications

  • MA (First Class Hons in Modern History): Christ Church, Oxford
  • D. Phil: St Antony’s College, Oxford
  • Diploma in Law: City University, London
  • Holker Scholar, Gray’s Inn
  • Karmel Prize in Chancery law, Gray’s Inn

Appointments

  • Legal Member (and occasional Chairman) of the Disciplinary Committee, the Admissions and Licensing Committee and the Appeals Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, 2003-2012
  • Elected Member of the Bar Council, 2014-2016
  • Member of the Bar Council Remuneration Committee
  • Legal Member of the Disciplinary Committee of the Conservative Party

Associations & Memberships

  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Member of Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn
 
 
 

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