Imogen Gray – My First Month of Chancery and Commercial Pupillage at Parklane Plowden Chambers
I am a pupil in the Chancery and Commercial Team. During my 1st six I will be under the supervision of Sarah Harrison.
Before starting pupillage, I spent some time familiarising myself with the work undertaken by the Chancery and Commercial Team. I found it helpful to refresh my understanding of some of the core topics within this practice area, for example, equity and trusts. I also read reported cases in which members of chambers had been instructed. This was both informative and made me feel very excited to begin pupillage in October.
During the last month, I have had the opportunity to shadow my supervisor and other members of the Chancery and Commercial Team in various matters.
I have attended a number of hearings in the County Court and Business and Property Courts. For example, I attended an application under Section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 for the removal and substitution of executors appointed under a will, and an application to vary an interim payment order.
I also shadowed Nicola Phillipson at a trial in the High Court at Leeds. The case was highly unusual in that it related to a contested burial.
If a person dies testate then the responsibility for their burial vests with their appointed executors. Although it is well established that there is no property in a body (Williams v Williams (1882) 20 Ch D), it is possible for an applicant to apply to the court for an order that they be appointed as administrator under the deceased’s will (such grant being limited to dealing with the disposal of the body of the deceased).
I enjoyed observing the different techniques used by counsel during cross examination and closing speeches, particularly given the unique nature of the application. Overall, the experience reinforced my view that a career at the Chancery Bar offers the opportunity for interesting and varied work.
Over the past month, I have also attended two mediations. Prior to the mediations, I was given a copy of the mediation bundle and asked to prepare a draft position statement. It is likely that mediations will form part of any chancery and commercial practice. Therefore, it is excellent experience for me to observe how different members of chambers approach the mediation process.
I studied the ADR and mediation module whilst on the BPTC and also had some experience of mediations from my previous role as a property litigation paralegal. Over the last month, I have noted the role that counsel plays in mediations, such as advising the client on the law and potential settlement offers. I have quickly developed my understanding of the different practical considerations that counsel should be alive to in probate mediations – for example, any potential tax consequences arising from settlement.
I have also shadowed members of chambers in conference on a variety of matters including claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 and trustee disputes. I have enjoyed researching points of law arising from different instructions and later discussing these with counsel. In addition, the varied nature of the disputes means that I have had a comprehensive introduction to chancery and commercial practice at chambers.
Finally, I have received a very a warm welcome from the members of chambers and the clerking team. This introduction has made my first month in pupillage all the more enjoyable and I look forward to the coming months.