Success in the Court of Appeal for Leslie Blohm QC and Alex Troup

8th June 2020

Leslie Blohm QC and Alex Troup of the Wills & Trust Team, instructed by Burges Salmon LLP, represented the successful Appellant, Robert Sofer, in the case of Sofer v. Swissindependent Trustees SA [2020] EWCA Civ 699.

The Appellant claims that a professional Swiss trustee company acted in breach of trust by paying out over US$19 million from the trust fund to the settlor at his request, notwithstanding a prohibition in the trust instrument on the trustees making any advances to the settlor.

The trustees applied to strike out the claim on the basis of an exoneration clause which covered all breaches save for dishonesty, but that application was dismissed on appeal. The Court of Appeal further rejected the trustees’ application for reverse summary judgment based upon a deed of indemnity, signed by the Appellant, which recited that the payments were authorised loans.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment contains important guidance on the principles applicable to the pleading of a dishonest breach of trust sufficient to overcome a trustee exoneration clause. It also contains a useful discussion of the proper construction of a contractual indemnity and of the principles of waiver and estoppel by convention.

A copy of the Court of Appeal’s judgment can be found here.

If you would like to instruct Leslie or Alex on a related matter then please contact their clerks: [email protected] or 0117 923 4740.