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The Contentious Trusts & Estates team at Kensington Swan draws on the combined resources, expertise and reputations of our Private Wealth and Dispute Resolution teams to deliver advocacy and advice to trustees/executors, beneficiaries, foreign and local law firms, barristers under reverse brief arrangements, and charities across the full spectrum of trusts and estates disputes.

We have extensive experience both within New Zealand and offshore, including disputes concerning the validity of trusts and wills, the governance and administration of trusts and estates, the exercise of fiduciary powers, the appointment and retirement of trustees, the addition and removal of beneficiaries, regulatory enforcement matters, equitable tracing claims and injunctive relief (such as Mareva injunctions).

We have particular expertise in applications for Beddoe, Public Trustee v Cooper or related orders, and regarding claims under the Property (Relationships) Act 1974, the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949 and the Family Protection Act 1955.

Recent experience includes acting for:

• Four New Zealand foreign trusts ‘settled’ by Sergei Pugachev in the NZ limb of hard fought trust litigation.

• The protector and beneficiaries of New Zealand foreign trusts in disputes with a former trustee (a global bank). The dispute concerned fees, charges, the validity of a resettlement, European privacy/disclosure obligations, and the form of the trustees’ indemnity.

• The trustee of a New Zealand foreign trust which is party to ongoing litigation in three jurisdictions concerning contractual claims arising from the business activities of the underlying operating company (a global brand).

• The trustee of a New Zealand domestic trust in relation claims made by a beneficiary. The dispute concerns whether the power to remove trustees was exercised lawfully.

• Beneficiaries against trustees of a domestic trust where the trustees had sided with the settlor beneficiary and not paid distributions resolved to be paid. The proceeding was ancillary to relationship property proceedings.

• Three of four beneficiaries of a domestic trust where the remaining beneficiary was indebted to the Trust. The proceeding was ancillary to a related Family Protection Act 1955 claim.

• Various claimants seeking relief from the Court under the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949.

• Various plaintiffs seeking orders under the Trustee Act 1956 varying trusts where the original purpose could no longer be met.

• A charity in curing invalidity where trustee appointments had not been made properly.

• A professional trustee company in resolving a will trust dispute concerning a long-standing life interest, remote remaindermen, and statutory interpretation issues.

• Three classes of beneficiaries (three generations) in claims against trusts controlled by the third wife of the deceased settlor.

• The trustees of a family trust where the siblings have fallen out and are in dispute over entitlements to the trust fund.

We also provide expert witnesses to assist the court in trust litigation matters. A recent case concerned whether a trustee had breached trust in failing to pay income to a beneficiary in accordance with the terms of the trust deed. The hearing involved complex legal argument relating to how income and capital should be classified.