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James Kirby

"James is extremely concise and has a great ability to distil the law into user-friendly advice. He has considered judgement and inspires confidence."
(Legal 500 2024)

James Kirby is a Chancery barrister with a practice focused on Trusts and Estates (contentious and non-contentious), Court of Protection and Private Client Tax.

He is ranked by Legal 500 2024 as a ‘Rising Star’ in Private Client: Trusts and Probate.

James’s expertise as advocate may be seen from his successful defence of a probate claim at trial on the basis that the claim had been brought with undue delay: James v Scudamore [2023] Ch 391. This is now the leading case on delay in probate claims.

He is also an experienced junior counsel in heavy trusts and estates disputes and tax litigation. Reported cases include Hinduja v Hinduja [2020] 4 WLR 93, BCM Cayman Ltd v HMRC [2023] STC 1738 and HMRC v BlueCrest Capital Management LP [2023] EWCA Civ 1481.

James was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel in 2023. He is also an editor of Williams on Wills (11th edition, 2021).

Before becoming a barrister, James was a Fellow in History at Trinity College, Cambridge.



James frequently represents clients in relation to property disputes, with a particular focus on TOLATA claims and claims to the possession of trust and estate property. He also has experience of advising on a wide range of issues relating to trusts of land, settled land and estate property.

Key cases include:

  • Bridgmont v Zammit (County Court at Central London): Represented the claimant in a 3-day trial at Central London County Court concerning the beneficial ownership and sale of a property formerly owned by the client’s deceased parents. The claim received media coverage in The Times and other newspapers.
  • G v G: Striking out a TOLATA claim over a family home as an abuse of process in light of related family court proceedings (and representing the client successfully on appeal).
  • UBS AG v Rose Capital Ventures Ltd [2018] EWHC 3137 (Ch) [2019] 2 BCLC 47: mortgage possession claim (with Jonathan Gavaghan)
  • Re C Ltd: Application for land to be vested in a residents’ management company under s 181 of the Insolvency Act 1986.


‘James is extremely concise and has a great ability to distil the law into user-friendly advice. He has considered judgement and inspires confidence.’

Legal 500 2024


  • Bar Professional Training Course (Outstanding), City Law School (2017)
  • Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction; Equity & Trusts Prize), City Law School (2016)
  • DPhil in History, Balliol College, Oxford (2014)
  • MSt in History (Distinction), Balliol College, Oxford (2011)
  • BA in History (First Class – highest of year; Gibbs Prize and Arnold Prize), Balliol College, Oxford (2010)

Associations & Memberships

  • Member of the Chancery Bar Association
  • Member of the Court of Protection Bar Association and CoPPA (Court of Protection Practitioners’ Association)
  • Member of ConTrA (Contentious Trusts Association)
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society


Williams on Wills (11th edition, 2021) (with Francis Barlow KC, Susannah Meadway and James MacDougald).

Drawing a Veil? Privacy and Anonymity in Trusts and Capacity Proceedings’, Trusts & Trustees, 2023, vol. 29, 760-768 (with Georgia Bedworth).

Can delay defeat a probate claim?’, Private Client Business, 2023, 4, 158-164.

Statutory Wills and Probate Disputes: Contested Wills in the Court of Protection’, Private Client Business, 2022, 3, 104-111 (with Richard Dew).

‘Tax Planning in the Court of Protection’, Lawskills (Sep. 2018).

For more information and advice

Call: +44 (0)20 7405 0758


Pricing Policy

Unless otherwise agreed my Clerk will calculate my fees based on my current hourly rate. My rates are reviewed annually and details can be obtained from my Clerk. Once a rate is set for any particular case the hourly rate will only ever be adjusted with express agreement between my Clerks and those instructing me. All fees are subject to VAT at the prevailing rate where applicable.

James Kirby is a self-employed, independent barrister whose practice is regulated by the Bar Standards Board [Bar Council Ref 69244]. He is fully insured with the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund [BMIF Ref 2360/079] to provide legal services, please refer to the BMIF website for full details of the world-wide cover provided. He is registered for VAT under the reference 304589790.

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