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Guillaume Staal

Partner  |  Dickinson Gleeson
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

Jersey

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

I advise clients in respect of a range of issues including all types of trust and contractual disputes, enforcement of foreign judgments and associated freezing and disclosure orders.

Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

We acted for a former trustee of a charitable trust defending allegations that the trust was a sham. The claim is brought by administrators of the estate of a HNWI who is alleged to have been the economic settlor of the charitable trust in circumstances where the assets of the charitable trust are alleged to have been worth circa £30m.

The case is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, establishing a sham is notoriously difficult given the legal and evidential hurdles to overcome. Secondly the Jersey law on sham trusts is always evolving and this case will (if pursued to its conclusion) present the Jersey court with the opportunity to develop the law further. Thirdly the events in issue in the proceedings span a period of over 20 years rich in documentary records including in relation to the HNWI’s colourful personal life. Fourthly the proceedings involve different jurisdictions including Jersey, England, Panama and Liechtenstein. Fifthly there is substantial inequality of arms between the plaintiffs (professional accountants funded by the very substantial estate of the HNWI) and our client (a retired investment adviser with significant health issues) – perhaps not quite David v Goliath but a stimulating challenge nonetheless.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Always prepare as if you are ultimately going to be arguing your client’s case in Court yourself. It is the best advice I was given in my first role in law. Whilst it may not apply in the same way in jurisdictions with a split profession, the message remains that you should constantly ask yourself whether you have considered matters and issues as thoroughly as they can be, and whether you have drafted as clearly and persuasively as you can. Do not rely on someone else (even a more senior colleague) to do that for you.

What is your favourite quote?

Treat people the way you want to be treated. Task to people that way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned not given.