Paul Burton

Call 1998

“He’s very honest, really bright, very modest and gets to the nub of the issues very quickly. He is a fearsome advocate – his advocacy is powerful and very persuasive.” Chambers & Partners 2018.

Paul is a highly experienced practitioner. He offers effective and commercially aware advice to assist in avoiding or resolving disputes and has significant experience in working with other experts. His cases often involve transnational elements and working in conjunction with foreign lawyers.

Paul’s work divides broadly into three areas, which in larger complex disputes often overlap, and centre on: commercial litigation, company law issues, including insolvency and contentious trust litigation.

Many of his cases involve allegations of fraud and he has significant expertise in asset tracing and recovery.

Over the years Paul has acquired extensive trial advocacy experience and his cases frequently start with urgent pre-emptive remedies.  His practice encompasses drafting and advisory work and Paul often works with English and foreign lawyers, and other professionals, to assist in the drafting of complex documents.

In addition to his court practice Paul also represents parties before a number of different arbitral tribunals.

Examples of his recent work are set out below.  In addition, by selecting the ‘Cases of Interest’ section, a list of his reported cases can be found.

Mondi Coatings BV v. King & Others – Defending a £5.1 million claim arising from the sale of a business pursuant to a share purchase agreement.  In addition to the usual issues of actual and constructive knowledge acquired during a due diligence process the case also raised issues as to the extent to which board minutes and resolutions prepared by the target company’s bank, documents confirming the non-existence of other documents and a guarantee agreement can amount to material misrepresentations of the existence of ‘indebtedness’ as opposed to simply a contingent liability.  The case raises interesting quantum arguments where the claimed misrepresentation is the failure to disclose a guarantee in circumstances where the underlying indebtedness is being serviced and the bank has no present intention of calling in the guarantee.

I H Limited v H and B – Representing Swiss, Danish and Bulgarian clients who have developed and operate an online gaming platform that they license to other operators.  They started negotiations with a Hong Kong based investor to invest and acquire shares in their existing business and to develop a new business.  The parties negotiated at length using various teams of lawyers.  The HK investor claims that a binding agreement on key terms was entered into, notwithstanding that the long form written agreements had not been executed, and that by selling to another investor the clients have caused circa £6 million losses.

The HK investor attempted to commence arbitration proceedings in England based on an alleged agreement to arbitrate contained in a memo of a meeting.  The matter is now the subject of open court proceedings.  The case raises a number of issues as to the extent to which the jurisdiction, choice of law and arbitration clauses in unsigned written agreements can be implied into the key terms agreement contended for by the investor.  It also raises issues of the ‘separability principle’ of arbitration and/or exclusive jurisdiction clauses in the context of a challenge to (a) a binding agreement to arbitrate and, in the absence of such an agreement, (b) whether the English court must decline any proceedings in the event proceedings are commended in another member state contrary to the alleged jurisdiction agreement.

Re: A Trust– Advising and representing one of three personal representatives in relation to issue arising out of a failed IHT ‘tax mitigation product’.  Prior to her death the deceased was encouraged by a beneficiary to dispose of her principal asset, valuable real property, and significant cash assets to a Belize ‘umbrella asset trust’.  The scheme was said to be supported by an opinion from a leading tax QC and initially satisfied HMRC.  Further investigation has revealed prima facie evidence that the scheme fails on one or more grounds: (a) it is a sham, (b) the scheme used is not suitable for IHT mitigation, (c) it was not fully or correctly implemented and (d) it was never perfected in a way required to remove value from the Deceased’s estate.

Media Entertainment BV v Paycorp Limited and Others – Representing a client carrying on business in the online gaming industry.  The client used various online payment processors as an intermediary between gamers’ banks / credit cards and the client’s online gaming platform.  One of the payment processors became embroiled in litigation between its shareholders.

The client wished to intervene in that ongoing litigation in order to claim that funds held by the payment processor were in fact monies to which it had title and did not form part of the payment processors funds.  The case had a number of complexities but we successfully deployed an extended ‘Quistclose trust’ argument to recover its monies in the context of an express commercial agreement as to how the online funds would be accounted for and the various international online gaming licensing requirements.

Hawarth-Booth v. Her Majesty’s Attorney General & Others – Representing the claimant in a contentious probate claim arising out of the £12 million estate of Major Osbert Haworth-Booth, an Oxfordshire landowner.  The claimant sought declarations against eight of nine wills made over a twelve year period on the ground of lack of testamentary capacity but sought a declaration in favour of the ninth, being the second will in time.  The Attorney General instructed Professor Robin Jacoby to act as expert witness and the claimant instructed Professor Stephen Hirsh.  There was a fundamental difference of opinion between the experts on the extent to which personality disorders can amount to a disorder of the mind and a lack of capacity under the third limb in the test in Banks v Goodfellow.  Professor Jacoby adopted the ‘traditional approach’ to testamentary capacity and Professor Hirsh relied upon the advances in psychiatry and the diagnoses and treatment of personality disorders over the past twenty years.  Both experts agreed that resolution by the court of their difference of opinion would be ‘breaking new ground’ in testamentary capacity cases.

Re: A Holding Company incorporated in the Republic of Cyprus – Drafting detailed termination and default notices to be served pursuant to a shareholders’ agreement between nine individual and corporate shareholders and joint venturers for the purposes of triggering various agreed ‘break-up’ mechanisms, agreed payments and weighted voting procedures.  Whilst the agreement was subject to English law the drafting required consideration of the laws of Cyprus and the BVI.

Re: A Californian LLC – Drafting a termination agreement to terminate the relationship between a Californian technology company funding R&D in England and its English development partner.  The termination agreement had to offer maximum protection to the directors of the English company in circumstances where the project failed owing to allegations of breach of confidence by senior employees of the English company and exploitation of the technology company’s IP rights beyond those permitted in the R&D agreement.

Re: An ICC arbitration – Representing an investor in a high-value and complex shareholder dispute between Russian and Cypriot personal and corporate shareholders.  The case involves the construction of complex default, compulsory sale and notice provisions of a shareholder agreement in the context of allegations of falsely engineered default situations.

Re: An SCC arbitration – Representing clients accused of fraud arising out of major infrastructure project in the Gulf.  The arbitration is subject to English law but issues of arbitrability and the extent of the arbitration agreement have arisen owing to that choice.  Resolving these issues will test the extent of party autonomy and its interplay with mandatory rules of law in the jurisdiction of the alleged fraud.

Re: An LMAA arbitration – Representing a seller in ordinary breach of contract arbitration proceedings that evolved into an application to remove the arbitrators on the grounds of: (a) admitted delay, (b) failure to rule on whether the tribunal was properly constituted, (c) repeated errors of law and (d) failing to act fairly and impartially between the parties and breaching s.33 Arbitration Act 1996.

  • What the directories say
    • Makes a frequent appearance in complex cross-border cases, standing out in particular for his trial advocacy. He is particularly adept at advising on issues relating to the administration of insolvent estates.
      Strengths: "He's very honest, really bright, very modest and gets to the nub of the issues very quickly. He is a fearsome advocate - his advocacy is powerful and very persuasive."
      Chambers & Partners 2018
    • "He is a tough, no-nonsense advocate who can cut through complex issues with ease. He's always within reach and responsive." "He is absolutely brilliant on his feet." Chambers & Partners UK 2016
  • Cases of interest
    • Re Zebra Industrial Projects Limited (In Liquidation) [2005] B.C.C. 104
    • Prestige Grindings Limited (Sharma v Yardley & Others) [2006] B.C.C. 421; [2006] 1 B.C.L.C. 440
    • Re Lafayette Electronics Europe Limited [2007] B.C.C 890
    • Foyle v Turner [2007] B.P.I.R 43
    • Epis Services Limited v Revenue & Customs [2007] EWHC 3534 (Ch)
    • Re Waterman Homes Limited [2007] EWHC 5747 (Ch)
    • Sefton v Gallucci [2008] B.P.I.R 1588
    • Ledger v Wootton [2008] W.T.L.R 235
    • Ogden & Hutchinson (Executors of the Estate of Ronald Henry Samuel Griffiths) v Trustees of the RHS Griffiths Settlement 2003 [2008] STC 776, [2009] 2 W.L.R 394, [2009] Ch 162
    • Re Bates, Bates v Wheildon & Others [2008] W.T.L.R 1705
    • Heath v Heath [2009] 2 P & CR 21
    • Phoenix Property investors Limited v Grange Securities [2011] EWHC 1131 (Ch)
    • O’Donnell v Bank of Ireland [2013] B.P.I.R 509, [2013] I.L. Pr. 16
    • Walden v Atkins [2013] B.P.I.R. 943, [2013] W.T.L.R. 1465
    • Catch a Ride Limited v Gardner & Others [2014] EWHC 1220 (Ch)
    • Catch a Ride Limited v Gardner & Others (Costs) [2014] EWHC 209 (Ch)
    • Weetman (Deceased), Re [2015] W.T.L.R 1745
    • Green v Chubb [2015] B.C.C 625
    • Al Nehayan v Kent [2015] EWHC 1176 (QB), [2015] All ER (D) 38
    • Metropolitan Housing Trust Limited v Taylor & Others [2015] EWHC 2897 (Ch)
    • Metropolitan Housing Trust Limited v Taylor & Others (Costs) [2015] 3709 (Ch)
    • Poole v Everall [2016] W.T.L.R. 1621
    • Blue Tropic Limited v Ivane Chkhartishvili [2016] EWCA Civ 1259
    • Re: The Sehmi Family Settlement, Hanspaul v Ward and Others [2016] EWHC 1358 (Ch)
    • JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank v Sergei Viktorovich Pugachev [2017] EWHC 2426 (Ch)
    • Sargeant v Sargeant [2018] EWHC 8 (Ch)
  • Professional memberships
    • Commercial Bar Association
  • Qualifications & appointments

    Accredited Mediator

    Member Chartered Institute of Arbitrators


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