Leslie Blohm QC acts in latest farming case: Gee v Gee [2018] EWHC 1393 Ch

Leslie Blohm QCLeslie Blohm QC, one of the country’s foremost chancery barristers, with experience of appearing in front of the highest courts in wills and trusts cases, has recently been instructed in the latest farming case to consider a claim to the family farm by a farmer’s child. Instructed by Robert James of Thrings, Leslie successfully acted for the Claimant in Gee v Gee [2018] EWHC 1393 Ch.

The Claimant, now sixty years old, sought to succeed to the farm he was promised over decades. His father had recently given his interest in the family farm and the family farming company to his other son, a property developer. The case was complicated by the total denial by both the father and the other son of any promises being made to the Claimant, the nature of the promises that were claimed (relating to the ‘lion’s share’ of the farm), and the fact that the mother had already given her share of the farm and company to the Claimant son to try to remedy what she saw as unjust behaviour.

Mr Justice Birss heard evidence over five days and awarded the Claimant son his expectation interest, but with the detailed order to await a subsequent hearing.

Download judgment: Gee v Gee [2018] EWHC 1393 Ch

Leslie is at the forefront of many farming estate cases having recently represented Lucy Habberfield in her claim against her mother for a share of her mother’s and father’s farm, relying on many promises said to have been made to her during the period when she worked on the farm for low wages and for long hours.  He also represented the Claimant  in the case of Davies v Davies [2014] EWCA Civ 568 (the ‘Cowshed Cinderella’ case), both in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal, in her claim to an entitlement to or interest in the family pedigree Holstein/Friesian dairy farm resulting from years of underpaid work.

If you would like to instruct Leslie on a related matter please contact his clerks: 0117 923 4740 or 

St John’s Chambers is presented with ‘Regional Set of the Year 2018’ award at Legal 500 UK Bar Awards

Chief Executive Derek Jenkins and Rob Bocock, Practice Manager at St John’s  Chambers attended the Legal 500 UK Bar 2018 Awards ceremony at The Royal Exchange in London on 22nd February to collect our prestigious award for ‘Regional Set of the Year’.

Derek JenkinsEach year Legal 500 carry out in-depth research across the whole of the UK legal sector to identify the best sets out there, and this award clearly recognises St John’s as a stand out national set.

Thank you to all of our referees for their on-going support, without you this achievement would not have been possible. To view the full results please click here.

Our CEO, Derek Jenkins adds, “We are delighted to have won this prestigious national award which reflects the great work St John’s has achieved and recognises Chambers’ as a leading set.”

Leslie Blohm QC | Farmer’s daughter recovers over a million pounds from her parents after a lifetime’s promises

Leslie Blohm QCLeslie Blohm QC, barrister within St John’s Chambers Commercial & Chancery Practice Group, was instructed by Stephens Scown LLP, represented Lucy Habberfield in her claim in the Chancery Division in Bristol against her mother for a share of her mother and father’s farm, relying on many promises said to have been made to her whilst she worked on the farm for low wages and for long hours.  After a five day trial, Mr. Justice Birss has awarded Ms. Habberfield a lump sum of £1,170,000 in respect of her claim.

The case shows the sort of matters that have to be proven to establish a claim based on informal promises, and how the Courts go about assessing an entitlement when such a claim is made out.

View the Judgement: Habberfield v Habberfield [2018] EWHC 317 (Ch)

View Profile: Leslie Blohm QC

If you would like to instruct Leslie on a commercial or chancery matter, please contact his clerks:   or 0117 923 4740

Leslie Blohm QC | Better late than never: Implied License Case finally arrives in the Law Reports

Leslie Blohm QCLeslie Blohm QC, barrister within St John’s Chambers’, Commercial & Chancery Practice Group, updates readers on the newly reported Implied License Case in The Weekly Law Reports.

When people claim rights of way, or town or village greens, by reason of their long use of land, landowners seek to argue that this long use was not ‘as of right’ but by permission, or license. If the license was not given expressly, by statement or notice, they may argue that it should be implied from all of the surrounding circumstances. Three specialist Queens’ Counsel  argued this point in Mann v. Somerset County Council, a High Court case heard in 2011 by HHJ Robert Owen QC in Birmingham. The case has been referred to from time to time since, but never fully reported until now, when it has been published in the Weekly Law Reports.

Leslie Blohm QC appeared for the County Council in Mann.

View the Judgement: R (Mann) v Somerset County Council (QBD) [2017] 4 WLR 170

View profile: Leslie Blohm QC

If you would like to instruct Leslie on a related matter, please contact his clerks:  | 0117 923 4740

St John’s Chambers Public and Admin Law barristers ranked Band 1 within Chambers UK 2018

Chambers’ is delighted to announce the success of our Public and Admin Law Practice Group having achieved either Band 1 or Band 2 rankings within the Chambers UK Bar 2018 guide for the Western Circuit.

Within our Agriculture & Rural Affairs team; Leslie Blohm QC achieved a Band 1 ranking within this area of law. “My first port of call for any complex agricultural or rural property matters. I trust his expertise, level-headedness and ability to whittle down the issues” Chambers UK, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (2018)

Christopher Jones was also ranked within the guide “Offers considered legal advice accompanied by practical and pragmatic suggestions.” “He is calm under pressure and well able to stand his ground against considerable opposition.” Chambers UK, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (2018)

Alex Troup “a respected chancery practitioner who frequently acts for farming clients. His caseload includes proprietary estoppel matters and inheritance claims concerning agricultural property.” Chambers UK, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (2018)

Simon Morgan, member of our Healthy & Safety law practice also achieved a Band 1 ranking within the Guide and is described here by one client “Simon has an excellent track record and is extremely good with clients. He is practical and knows how to work with regulators.” Chambers UK, Health & Safety (2018)

Our Professor Roy Light, member of our Licensing law practice achieved another Band 1 ranking for the Public and Admin Law Practice Group and is said to be “An extremely able lawyer who understands the commercial reality of what the client needs.” “He demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of many areas of licensing.” “Energetic, experienced and charming.” Chambers UK, Licensing (2018)

The achievers within our Planning group were Peter Wadsley; ranked Band 1 “He has an aura about him, and is highly respected for his encyclopaedic knowledge.” “Pragmatic, experienced and approachable.” Chambers UK, Planning (2018) and David Fletcher “He can grasp difficult questions with great skill.” Chambers UK, Planning (2018)

Rob Bocock, Practice Manager comments “I’m delighted that we have been ranked in band 1 of the Leading Sets in the 2018 Chambers & Partners UK Bar for so many of our core areas – I consider this testament to the level of service and quality which we are able to provide to our clients.”

If you would like to instruct any of our public and admin barristers, please contact their clerks: | 0117 923 4740

St John’s Chambers providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’

We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers has been recommended as a Top Tier Set in the Western Circuit’s Leading Set by The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017.

For one solicitor, St John’s Chambers is ‘one of the leading sets in the South West’, providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’. We specialise in civil matters and have been noted for our strength in commercial, construction, family, personal injury, clinical negligence, regulatory and public law matters. Inquests and inquiries is another key area for our Chambers’.

Three of our QCs are listed in the Western Circuits “Leading silks” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding silks nationwide.

Christopher Sharp QC, Family and children law & personal injury and clinical negligence, “He has a brilliant mind that understands the intricacies of any case.”

Leslie Blohm QC, Commercial, banking, insolvency, Chancery law and Property, “He is very grounded but has an air of absolute authority.”

Kathryn Skellorn QC, Family and children law, “Clients are in awe of her.”

In addition to the success of our QC’s, 38 of our barristers are listed in the “Leading juniors” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding juniors nationwide.

To view further details on our Chambers’ listings please click here

Matthew White advises on the creation of highways by express dedication

St John’s Chambers Barrister, Matthew White has been asked to advise The Trails Trust on the creation of highways by securing the express dedication of the landowner.

The Trails Trust is a charity with an interest in the development of a network of highways (typically bridleways) across England and Wales. The Trust has asked Matthew to publish the advice online and it can be found here. It covers what a highway is (including its essential characteristics), and how to determine whether a right of way exists (looking at dedication and acceptance).

Matthew will be speaking on the issues covered in the advice at the Institute of Public Rights of Way Conference on 17 October 2017.

If you would like to instruct Matthew on a related matter, please contact his clerks on 0117 923 4730 or e-mail  .

View CV: Matthew White

Leslie Blohm QC and Christopher Jones win as the Court of Appeal interprets service provisions for Agricultural Notice to Quit

Leslie Blohm QCLeslie Blohm QC and Christopher Jones, barristers within St John’s Chambers’ Agriculture & Rural Affairs team, have recently appeared for the successful tenant as the Court of Appeal interprets service provisions for agricultural Notice to Quit.

The Court of Appeal has held that a notice to quit was not properly served and so did not determine a farm business tenancy under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.

Section 36(2)(c) of the Act provides that any notice or document required or authorised to be served under the Act is duly served if it is given to him in a manner authorised by a written agreement made, at any time before the giving of the notice, between him and the person giving the notice. So it’s easy to serve a notice to quit – you just follow the instructions in the lease, right? In Grimes v. Trustees of Essex Farmers and Union Hunt [2017] EWCA Civ 361 the lease provided that ‘Either party may serve any notice (including any notice in proceedings) on the other at the address given in the Particulars or such other address as has previously been notified in writing’. The tenant did notify the landlord of another address, but the landlord served notice to quit at the address stated on the front of the lease anyway. The judge held that the notice was good – the landlord could serve the notice at either address, at his option. It meant what it said, and it gave the landlord a choice. It mattered not that different wording might have produced a fairer or less arbitrary result – see Arnold v. Britton [2015] AC 1619. The tenant had therefore been rightly evicted (the landlord had simply put another farmer into possession) and his claim for two years of lost profits (representing the profits from the occupation he would have had, had the landlord served a valid notice to quit at that time) failed.

The Court of Appeal (Beatson, Henderson, Macur LJJ) disagreed with the Judge. Whilst his view may have been the literal meaning of the provision (and the Court of Appeal were state whether they agreed with that, although their close textual analysis suggested not – see Henderson LJ at [31]), it was not its purpose. If one party gave the other a new address for service, it was plainly intended to be substituted for the earlier stated (and presumably now redundant) address. As the Court mused, it was not easy to see what the point of enabling a party to provide an up to date address in what was effectively a six year lease if the other party could disregard it. Although in some cases ‘or’ might be interpreted as ‘and/or’ (see Federal Steam Navigation Co Ltd v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 1 WLR 505) this was not one of them.

The case is only the second decision in which the Court of Appeal has applied the Supreme Court’s most recent decision on construction (Wood v Capita [2017] 2 WLR 1059) which rationalises what was considered to be the  more ‘literalist’ approach of Arnold v Britton to the construction of contracts with the ‘purposive’ approach of Rainy Sky v Kookmin [2011] 1 WLR 2900, essentially by stating that Arnold v Britton did not affect the Rainy Sky principles. Henderson LJ considered that the Judge had erred by conducting  “a literalist exercise focused solely on a parsing of the wording of the particular clause” to quote Lord Hodge in Wood v. Capita. The judge had gone wrong by starting with a consideration of the literal meaning and then asking himself whether that was plainly wrong, rather than by considering the ordinary meaning of the words in their context.

As a further point, it is also worth noting the rather short shrift given to an attempt by the landlord to challenge the judge’s factual finding that the tenant had sent the landlord his new address. This was a factual finding not to be lightly interfered with; the landlord’s submission on appeal was hopeless. Appellate courts had recently reconsidered the correct approach to such appeals, and where the challenge was to a factual decision relating to a finding of primary fact, the appellate court had to consider that the judge below was ‘plainly wrong’; this meant that no reasonable judge could have come to that conclusion – see Lord Reed in Henderson v Foxworth Investments Ltd [2014] 1 WLR 2600 and Lord Hodge in Beacon Insurance Co Ltd v Maharaj Bookstores Ltd [2014] [2014] 4 All ER 418. That is plainly a very difficult hurdle to surmount, and it may be that it was one that was more likely to be raised in a respondent’s notice (where permission is not required) than on a straight appeal.

Leslie Blohm QC and Christopher Jones of St. John’s Chambers, instructed by Roythornes, represented the successful appellant.

View the judgment: Grimes v The Trustees of the Essex Farmers & Union Hunt [2017] EWCA Civ 361

View Profile: Leslie Blohm QC & Christopher Jones

If you would like to instruct Leslie or Christopher on a commercial or chancery matter, please contact their clerks on:  or 0117 923 4740

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at St John’s Chambers


Over the festive period, Chambers will be closed from 4.00pm on Friday, 23rd December and will re-open from 10.00am until 4.00pm on Thursday 29th December through to Friday 30th December.

We will open again for normal business hours on Tuesday, 3th January 2017.

For any emergency enquiries, please see our out of hours numbers.

St John’s Chambers is recognised for its expertise in 20 areas of law in the 2017 Chambers UK Guide

“Its team of highly skilled advocates regularly act in the most prominent, high-value and heavyweight disputes in the region under the instruction of some of the biggest industry players.” Chambers UK (2017)

Chambers UK logoWe are extremely grateful to our clients for providing such positive feedback which has resulted in us achieving ‘Top Ranked Set’ in the 2017 edition of Chambers UK.

41 of our barristers have been ranked across 20 major areas of law, including new rankings in the fields of competition law and Court of Protection. These new areas clearly identify St John’s as specialists in these fields with new addition Matthew O’Regan advising in a wide range of contentious and non-contentious competition law matters, and exceptional chancery barrister Alex Troup adept at handling Court of Protection work.

To find out what our clients say about our highly skilled advocates, please click on the individual areas of law links below. 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs
Commercial Dispute Resolution
Clinical Negligence
Court of Protection 
Family / Matrimonial
Health & Safety
Personal Injury
Professional Negligence
Real Estate Litigation
Restructuring / Insolvency

Our clerks have been described as extremely approachable, practical and will accommodate client’s needs. Commentary about our specialist teams include:

  • “Acts for both claimants and an increasing number of defendants in complex and high-profile claims. The set has an impressive reach in the South West and is praised by solicitors for its established team and ‘undoubtedly good reputation”‘on the Western Circuit. Its members handle a diverse range of challenging cases including catastrophic injury, surgical error and dental negligence.” Clinical Negligence
  • “St John’s has a wealth of experience in personal injury work. The set handles all manner of matters for claimants and defendants including accident at work and RTA claims. It has recently seen a sharp increase in industrial disease cases. Sources note that ‘they are very user-friendly and will always go the extra mile for you.’ ” Personal Injury
  • “One of Bristol’s leading sets of chambers for company advisory and advocacy work, with its barristers obtaining regular instruction in shareholder disputes, directors’ duties and directors’ disqualification cases. The set is praised by sources for its provision of ‘commercially minded advice’ and the ‘professional and incredibly flexible’ attitude of its barristers.” Company
  • “One of the leading chancery chambers on the Western Circuit, and is described as a very good set with contentious probate barristers who have very good knowledge of this area. It has a particular strength in traditional chancery, particularly complex property litigation, contentious trusts and inheritance disputes.” Chancery
  • “St John’s Chambers has unmatched firepower in this area. It is the foremost specialist construction chambers on the Western Circuit, with a notable profile in the South Wales market. Its team of highly skilled advocates regularly acts in the most prominent, high-value and heavyweight disputes in the region under the instruction of some of the biggest industry players. Members of St John’s demonstrate prowess across a broad range of construction matters including claims of defects, arbitration appeals and professional negligence-related cases.” Construction & Engineering
  • “Respected chambers with a growing commercial practice, praised for its consideration of practicalities such as costs and funding. One impressed interviewee states: ‘They have the feel of a heavyweight set and they are imaginative in offering solutions to help you settle a case.’ “ Commercial Dispute Resolution
  • “This outstanding set houses a dedicated team of property practitioners who work across a broad spectrum of commercial and residential property matters, handling such matters as development issues and agricultural disputes. ‘I find that they just go a bit further for the client.They dig deep, try hard for the clients, are thorough and look for a solution.’ ”  Property & Real Estate
  • “A very strong Bristol-based team capable of representing clients across the full spectrum of family law matters. Offers a robust matrimonial finance practice and has also built up significant experience in private and public ADR proceedings. The set is also highly regarded for its forward-thinking approach to client service.” Family Law 
  • “St John’s Chambers fields a substantial team, covering all the main contentious and non-contentious partnership bases and offering not only litigation, but also arbitration and mediation expertise. The set is especially noted for its handling of insolvency issues and is also particularly skilled in the farming, property and technology partnership spheres.” Partnership