George Woodhead

Call date: 2009
Telephone number: 020 7400 9600

George Woodhead

Call date: 2009
Telephone number: 020 7400 9600

Practice areas

Business Property & private client

George is an experience chancery barrister, specialising in property, commercial and contested probate and trusts cases. He is Deputy Head of the Property and Private Client Group.

George is noted for his clear advice, strategy and determination to succeed. His advocacy and written work are in high demand from a broad range of clients. Testament to George’s expertise, whether on paper or in the courtroom, is the very high proportion of repeat business from solicitors who value George’s pro-activity and user-friendly attitude.


George is regularly instructed by commercial clients, often where there is a property or trust aspect to the issue in question.  He was instructed as junior counsel to Clifford Darton QC in an appeal to the Court of Appeal (UK Learning Academy Ltd v Secretary of State for Education [2018] EWHC 2915 (Comm) concerning non-oral modification clauses, estoppel and the decision of the Supreme Court in MWB v Rock Advertising [2018] 2 WLR 1603. George has particular experience in the following areas: Share purchase agreements; freezing injunctions; partnership disputes; s.994 petitions and director disputes; sale of goods and services; building and construction disputes; commercial leases and renewals; claims arising out of the sale of land; contractual interpretation and rectification; insurance disputes; and general contractual disputes.

Recent trials/hearings:

EAC Group of Companies Limited v Davis Construction (South East) Limited (2020) (Central London County Court, TCC List) – successful enforcement of an adjudication decision in excess of £200,000.  Issues of breach of natural justice and error of procedure raised.

Lewis v Clarke (High Court, Insolvency and Companies Court) (2020) – ongoing proceedings brought pursuant to ss. 994 and 996 of the Companies Act 2006.

Gobbee v Covell (Brighton County Court) (2019) – Part 8 claim concerning the sale of and interests in a hotel in East Sussex and the correct interpretation of a Share Purchase and Settlement Agreement.

Dooley v Norris & Ors (High Court, ChD) (2019) – ongoing section 994 petition.

Platinum VIP London Limited v Amari Lifestyle Limited (2018) (Central London County Court) – successfully defended a dispute concerning ownership and conversion of a Ferrari F355.

Arabi v (1) Arabi (2) JK Estates (High Court, ChD) (2018) – successfully represented C in a claim for an account following trial. The case concerned complex accounting between two brothers and an estate agency following the trial of a dispute concerning a number of properties and trusts.

Lydon Contracting Limited v (1) Lombard Finance Limited (2) Electro Services Limited (2018) (Northampton County Court) -successfully represented D2 at 5-day trial with issues including: rejection of goods; collateral contracts; total failure of consideration; and competing live expert evidence. Obtained all budgeted costs for D2 at the conclusion of the trial.

(1) Cladern Limited (2) Makar v LDC Partners Limited (2018) (High Court, QBD) – successfully obtained undertakings following application for freezing injunction which led to subsequent settlement of substantial debt claim and proposed s. 994 petition.

Atlas Cleaning Limited v A firm of solicitors (2018) (High Court, ChD) – professional negligence claim concerning the sale of companies. Settled the week before  trial. Led by Russell Stone.

Other reported decisions:

UK Learning Academy Ltd v Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWCA Civ 370

Martin v Posener [2017] EWHC 2320: dispute concerning the provision of funding for research into potential claims for compensation from German organisations in relation to the confiscation of assets belonging to German Jews by the Nazi regime.

Eastenders Cash & Carry plc and another company v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2010] All ER (D) 52 (Nov): concerning the power of detention contained in the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, s. 139(1).

Property & private client

The bulk of George’s practice falls in this practice group. George has particular expertise in the following:

Real Property: George has particular expertise in trusts of land and family-owned property/cohabitation disputes but also regularly deals with cases concerning proprietary estoppel; nuisance; boundary disputes; easements and rights of way; claims arising out of the sale of land; property-related professional negligence; and mortgages (including fraud and undue influence).

George’s clients have particular regard for his sharp intellect and ability to grasp the facts of a case quickly, particularly where urgent action is required, such as injunctions, declarations and/or specific performance.

Landlord & Tenant: (residential and commercial): commercial lease renewals; possession and forfeiture; dilapidations; lease interpretation and analysis; and lease extensions.

Contested Probate: Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; trusts of land applications and cohabitation disputes; proprietary estoppel; trustees’ duties and powers; the removal and appointment of trustees; and challenges to the validity of wills and testamentary capacity.

George is increasingly involved in cases in which capacity is an issue and handles such matters with care, sensitivity and experience.

Recent trials/hearings

Aberdour v Cubbin (High Court, Property, Trusts and Probate List) (2020) – Part 8 hearing to determine claim to remove Defendants as executors pursuant to s.50 of the AJA 1985.  Agreement reached mid-way through the hearing for all parties to be removed and replaced by a professional executor.

Smith v (1) Cardwell (2) Bertie-Smith (Lincoln County Court) (2020) – acted for the successful Claimant at multi-day trial seeking an account and judgment for over £100,000 purportedly misappropriated in breach of trust by trustees (the Claimant’s long-term partner and daughter-in-law) under a personal injury settlement trust.

Amaral v Almeida (Bournemouth County Court) (2020) – successfully represented the Claimant in a trial concerning the parties’ former home.  Issues including ToLATA provisions, division of proceeds, equitable accounting and occupation.

Georgiou v Rowles & 4 others (High Court, Bristol District Registry) (2020) – acted for two Defendants at final hearing of a dispute over the distribution and value of various chattels from the estate of the parties’ mother.

Ralph v Ralph (Central London County Court) (2019) – recently granted permission to appeal to the High Court following trial concerning property purchased by son and father as tenants in common.  Issues on appeal concern, amongst other things, the law of mistake, the rescission of express trusts contained within TR1 forms, and the extent to which courts can go behind such trusts in the absence of a pleaded case.

Egemonye & Ors v Chiemelu (High Court, ChD) (2019) – successful section 50 application to remove executor.

(1) Udoinam (2) Udoinam v (3) Udoinam (High Court, ChD) – successful section 50 application to remove executor.

Tuck v Clarke (Central London County Court, Chancery List) assigned to HHJ Johns QC (2019 – at CCMC stage) – complicated possession claim for property in which 75-year old defendant has lived in for over 60 years, believing the property to be owned by her and having spent over £400,000 renovating and improving the property. Issues concerning: common intention constructive trusts, resulting trusts, quantum meruit, abandonment of interest, implied severance and adverse possession post-2002 Act. The case is likely to attract both public and legal press attention.

Hills & 11 others v A firm of solicitors (2019) – professional negligence case against a well-known national firm of solicitors, currently in pre-action stage. The proposed claim concerns an  onerous, compounding ground rent clause in respect of which the leaseholders say they were not properly advised by the proposed defendant firm of solicitors and which renders the value of their long lease as nil. Each claimant’s claim will be between £250,000 and £350,000.

Lazell v Glessing (June, 2019) Central London County Court, Chancery List, HHJ Roberts) – represented the Defendant at the trial of his long-term ex-partner’s claim to a sale of three adjoining plots owned by the parties. The Claimant sought an order for the sale of the Property as a whole so as to take advantage of a £50,000 marriage value. Issues concerning the correct application of ss.14 and 15 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 and Bagum v Hafiz and Hai [2015] EWCA Civ 801. Further issues concerning occupation rent and costs (the Defendant recovered his costs of the trial, with no order on the balance).

Folarin v Folarin (2019) (Central London County Court, Chancery List) – case concerning claim for a declaration as to beneficial interest, order for sale, account and inquiry in respect of a joint venture started between two brothers in 1995. The assets of the Joint Venture are now estimated to be worth between £2 million and £3 million and include residential property, securities, motor cars and cash. Issues including: Pallant v Morgan equity; partnership and joint venture; express trusts; constructive and resulting trusts; promissory notes; and accounting (over 20 years’ worth) with likely forensic accounting evidence.

Suckling v Suckling [2019] (High Court, ChD) WLUK 333 – successfully represented C in a Part 8 claim seeking the removal of his sister as an executor de son tort.  Successfully achieved an order in committal proceedings which led to the defendant’s compliance.

Burgess v Baynton (2018) (Hertfordshire County Court) – advised and represented the Claimant in a Part 8 claim for a declaration of beneficial interest and order for sale of former family home in Hertfordshire. Hard fought litigation which, after an unsuccessful application by the Defendant to adjourn the trial date, led to the Defendant accepting a Part 36 offer 2 days before trial. Successful pre-trial application for an order for sale.

Issues including: equitable accounting (and whether property can be sold beforehand); express and common intention constructive trusts; Trust of Land and the Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

Squirrel v Arron (2018) (Central London County Court) – ToLATA dispute concerning residential property with attached business with issues including rectification of share register. Settled at mediation.

Daejan Properties Limited v O’Loughlin (2018) (Willesden County Court) – Claim for possession against Rent Act tenant. Issues concerning who the tenant was for the purposes of the Act and whether the property had been vacated owing to illness. Settled at mediation.

Patel v Patel & ors (2018) (Central London County Court) – successful ToLATA claim concerning property lived in by large family over past 30 years. Issues concerning bilateral mistake and common intention constructive trusts.

Whittaker v Whittaker (2018) (High Court, ChD) – represented one of two brothers bringing a proprietary estoppel claim against mother’s estate relying on assurances given over 20 years prior. Claim settled favourably at mediation.

Platt v Bryden (2017) (Brighton County Court) – successfully defended a ToLATA claim to beneficial interest in 4 properties owned by the defendant: claim struck out. The claim concerned a long and unusual relationship between the parties.

Harrington v Euesden (2017) (Chelmsford County Court) – ToLATA/proprietary estoppel claim successfully setting aside express declaration of trust.

Other reported decisions:

Suckling v Suckling [2019] 7 WLUK 333

Cavanagh v Witley Parish Council [2017] 2 WLUK 371

Hackney LBC v Smith & Ors [2012] EWHC 4531 (Ch)


George began practice at the Bar with three major scholarships from Lincoln’s Inn. He is a member of the Property Bar Association, Chancery Bar Association and the Association of Contested Trusts and Probate Specialists. George is the Editor of Chambers’ Property newsletter and ‘Proprietary Estoppel’ on Westlaw’s Insight.

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