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Clifford Darton QC

Call date: 1988 (QC 2019)
Telephone number: 020 7400 9600

Clifford Darton QC

Call date: 1988 (QC 2019)
Telephone number: 020 7400 9600

A pleasure to work with.

Chambers and Partners – 2020 – Environment

Very good with clients and very good on his feet.

Chambers and Partners – 2020 – Real Estate Litigation

He provides very good and clear opinions with practical suggestions for moving the matter forwards.

Chambers and Partners – 2020 – Real Estate Litigation

A very perceptive analyst but whose real strength is in the preparation of the case.

Legal 500 – 2020

Quick to absorb the facts and focuses on the crucial points.

Legal 500 – 2018

He is suave, sophisticated and someone with a razor-sharp intellect.

Chambers UK 2017 – Real Estate

has great charm before the Court, but underneath also has a rapier intellect and relentless determination to persuade the Court to recognise the merits of his client’s case.

Chambers UK 2016 – Real Estate

Practice areas

Business Property & private client Public & regulatory

BA (Oxon) Lincoln College, Oxford

Clifford Darton took silk in 2019 following his success in the “exceptional” (Lord Sumption) Supreme Court Appeal that was MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd v Rock Advertising Ltd [2019] AC 119. Prior to this he had been recommended in both Chambers UK and the Legal 500 for many years, previous editions having described him as a “razor-sharp intellect”, “a force to be reckoned with” and “one of those rare advocates who is as strong on his feet as in drafting advice and pleadings”. He is the current head of EPC’s property team.

Clifford specialises in commercial/chancery work including property cases and is particularly well known for his expertise in relation to the water industry and environmental Law, including its criminal provisions.  His commercial/chancery practice covers both traditional and commercial cases and last year saw him act for the successful defendant to a £2.2 million pound claim by the Estate of a German Banker (De Muller v Harrison-Morgan [2018] EWHC 1904 Ch) and in a £3.6 million farming dispute that is still ongoing (Re Kingsley Bros [2019] EWHC 1073 Ch).  He also acts in pure insolvency cases (Sahota v Singh [2018] EWHC 1685) and in company disputes, particularly minority shareholder actions (Dooley v Norris [2019] EWHC 1131).

As a consequence of his long involvement with the Water Industry, Clifford has always undertaken construction work and regularly appears in the TCC on behalf of water companies, local authorities and employers; see Oldcorn v Southern Water [2017] Env. L.R 25 & [2017] Costs L.O 227.  In 2018 he achieved the rare distinction of successfully resisting the enforcement of no less than three adjudicator’s awards including two multi-million pound awards relating to the Olympic Village; see M Hart Construction v Ideal Response [2018] 177 Con.L.R 177 (jurisdictional challenge based on novation) and BSW Building Services v Adur D.C [2018] EWHC 3972 (breach of natural justice).


Clifford acts in most types of commercial and insolvency litigation including Pre-emptive remedies, Minority Shareholder Actions, claims against Directors for breach of duty, claims for Unjust Enrichment or for Breach of Fiduciary duties, Shareholder Disputes, Partnership Disputes, claims under the Commercial Agents Directive, Directors’ Disqualifications, actions for Breach of Confidence and Database Rights and proceedings to enforce Restraint of Trade Covenants.  He is particularly sought after in claims arising out of guarantees and indemnities having appeared in the landmark case of Johnson v. Davis (1999) Ch.117 CA.

He’s done two building cases in the Court of Appeal (Woodlands Oak v Conwell [2011] EWCA Civ 254 and MacDonald Dickens & Macklin v Costello [2012] Q.B. 244) and last year he successfully resisted two applications to enforce adjudicators’ awards  including one for in excess of £2m in relation to the Olympic Village; see BSW v Adur D.C [2018] EWHC 3972 (TCC), Hart Construction v Ideal Response 2018] EWHC 314 (TCC).  Unfortunately he lost the third owing to a change in the law two days before the hearing; see Ove Arup v Coleman Bennett [2019] EWHC 413 (TCC).

In addition to water companies Clifford also acts for Local Authorities, contractors and employers. His TCC/constructions cases currently include:

  • A substantial claim against a highway authority for damage to a sewer;
  • An even bigger claim against a piling contractor who punctured the largest reservoir on the Isle of Wight (yep it was bottled water for days);
  • An employer’s claim for substantial damages for breaches of a JCT contract for the construction of a “very big house in the country”
  • A claim for professional negligence against a structural engineer who’s subsidence scheme saw an equally big house slide down a hill;
  • A CIMAR arbitration for over/under charging on local authority contracts for gas repairs/maintenance.

Other relevent cases include;

MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd v Rock Advertising Ltd [2016] 3 WLR 1519 CA, Times, July 22, 2016 (anti-oral variation clauses and the rule in Foakes v Beer).

Hniazdzilau v Vajgel, Enriquez and Bronovets [2016] EWHC 15 (Ch) (Acting as leading junior for the successful Belarusian claimant in a 12 day trust action to recover ownership of a $6 million property in Minsk).

Wilson & Sharp Investments v Harbourview Developments [2015] EWCA Civ 1030 (Injunction to restrain a winding up petition on a £1.2 million interim certificate under a JCT Contract.

Intellimedia Systems Ltd v. Doyle [2015] EWHC 1200 (Ch) (acting for the successful Hong Kong claimant in a 7 day action to rectify a company’s register and recover shares).

Earp v Kurd (costs) [2014] EWCA Civ 1482 (Recovery of Mortgagee’s costs).

Earp v Kurd [2013] BPIR 965 (ChD) (Established that a (circa (£800,000) legal charge over a bankrupt’s property was not a sham after a 7 day trial in the Chancery Division brought by a trustee in bankruptcy).

Morse v. Eaglemoss Publications [2013] EWHC 1507 (Four day trial in the Chancery Division of claim for misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty)

Beals Mortgage & Financial Planning LLP v. First Global Financial Services [2012] EWHC 3761 (Acted on behalf of the successful claimant in 20 day action for damages and an injunction for breach of confidentiality and database rights)

Costello v. MacDonald & Otrs [2011] EWCA Civ 930 CA (Claim in restitution for unjust enrichment against the directors of a building company).

Alan Philips Associates Ltd v. Dowling [2007] BLR 151 CA (Third party costs order against a company director)

County Garages (Birmingham) Ltd v. Manton [2007] EWCA Civ 950 (six week trial in Birmingham Mercantile Court of a claim for rectification of a Shareholders Agreement and attendant damages).

Johnson v EBS Trustees [2002] Lloyd’s Rep. 309 CA (Abuse of confidence and rescission for breach of fiduciary duties on the part of a solicitor trustee).

In the Matter of Simon Box Diamonds (2002), LTL 25/6/2002 Ch.D (Appeal against a director’s disqualification).

Greene King Plc v. Stanley [2002] B.P.I.R 491 CA (Guarantees, IVA’s and undue influence).

Stimpson v. Smith (1999) Ch 340 CA (The rights of contribution between co-sureties on settlement with their joint creditor).

Johnson v. Davis [1998] 3 WLR 1299 CA (Whether an IVA under Insolvency Act 1986 released a co-debtor).

Property & private client

With a background in chancery work Clifford Darton deals with almost all aspects of real and leasehold property but particularly mortgages, restrictive covenants, easements, claims in proprietary estoppel and disputes arising out of the sale of land. He continues to practice in some areas of more traditional chancery work such as Probate Disputes, Inheritance Act claims and Co-ownership of property disputes and is currently defending (as leading junior) a £2.2 million breach of trust/tracing claim brought by the Estate of a German National.

Hogg v Eddery [2015] EWHC 942 (Ch) (Successful appeal against summary judgment on a £900,000 plus claim on a contract for the sale of land).

Bushan v Chand [2015] EWHC 1298 (Ch) (Four week trial in the Chancery Divisions of constructive trust claim to some 40 commercial and residential properties in Birmingham).

CFB Ltd v. Atkins [2013] EWCA Civ 1101 (the payment of undisclosed commission to mortgage brokers and relief under Section 140A and 140B of the Consumer Credit Act 1974)

Dibble v. Pfluger [2010] 1 FLR 659 CA (constructive trust and the application of the dicta in Oxley v. Hiscock).

MacDonald & Bannigan v. Frost [2009] EWHC 2276 Ch D (Birmingham) (Proprietary estoppel and succession)

Walters v. Smee [2008] EWHC 2902 Ch (Testamentary disposition and undue influence).

Jones v. Cleanthi [2007] 1 WLR 1604 CA (The statutory extinguishment of an easement under the provisions of the Housing Act 1985).

Lane v. O’Brien [2004] EWHC 303 QBD (Calculation of Wrotham Park damages for breach of covenant)

Horn v. Phillips [2004] EWCA Civ, 1877 CA (The exclusion of extrinsic evidence in a boundary dispute where the terms of the conveyance were clear).

West Sussex Properties Ltd v. Chichester District Council (2000) AER (D) 887 CA (Rescission in equity for mutual mistake and equitable relief).

Crewe Services & Investment Corporation v. Silk [1998] 2 EGLR 1 CA (assessment of damages for diminution in the value of a lessor’s reversion during the continuance of a lease).

Public & regulatory

Clifford regularly acts in environmental cases in both the civil and criminal courts. He is an acknowledged expert in the field of environmental permits and in the regulatory framework that governs the Water Industry and those provisions under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 that affect the laying and repair of sewers.

Clifford acts for both claimants and defendants in claims for damages arising out of surface water flooding, damaged sewers and wayward watercourses particularly in respect of claims brought before the Technology and Construction Court. He most recently acted for the successful defendant in the test case of Oldcorn v  Southern Water [2016] EWHC 15 TCC.

Clifford’s clients include Water Companies, Local Authorities and private landowners, in fact anyone who finds themselves the victim of flooding.

Oldcorn v Southern Water [2016] EWHC 15 TCC (Successfully defended, as leading junior, a seven day trial of a test claim for damages for flooding) .

R v SWS [2014] EWCA Crim 120 (First appeal brought after the coming into force of the Definitive Sentencing Guidelines for environmental offences)

Raglan Housing Association v. Southampton C.C [2008] 2 AER 44 CA (The definition of a watercourse).


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