Paul Stafford is a property lawyer with a particular expertise in manorial rights. Typically these arise within land transactions or disputes involving landowners or developers and which engage the law of minerals, the law of commons, local authorities, and – increasingly – renewable energy. The work is sometimes litigious but mostly advisory in nature and of significant complexity, and he receives enquiries and instructions from individual and corporate clients across the globe. He is a member of the Legal Services Panel of the Government of the British Virgin Islands. He also sits as chairman of the National Disciplinary Committee of the Conservative Party, dealing with complaints against party members from local level to senior political figures with household names.
His practice over three decades has focused on long and complex disputes before arbitrators and the senior courts, often with a multi-jurisdictional element, of a chancery and commercial nature. Apart from property and trusts of land, these include joint venture agreements (particularly those involving local government), professional negligence, the church, and building and civil engineering. His early career as a Junior Research Fellow and Lecturer in History at Oxford University has helped him develop an expertise in manorial rights in the context of modern land registration. Professional regulation, particularly the dishonesty of solicitors and financial regulation, is another specialist area.
A particular expertise is the little-known but important area of manorial rights which has grown in significance in recent years with increasing interest in minerals exploitation and renewable energy. All aspects of manorial rights are covered including lordship title, registration issues, valuation and probate, transmission of manors, manorial waste, foreshore and coastal manors, mineral rights, the treatment of manorial rights under the Commons Registration Act 1965 and the Commons Act 2006, and issues involving the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall.
Commercial & Business Disputes
Paul Stafford has significant experience of the contentious and non-contentious aspects of chancery commercial practice over many years. His contentious work has included disputes involving banks, guarantees and indemnities, corporate insolvency, cause of action assignment and VAT fraud. He acted for Names in the closing phases of the long-running Lloyds litigation, and for HMRC in a large carousel fraud case. Examples of his non-contentious work include the drafting of management buy-out and shareholders’ agreements for a major professional services company; advising on the duties of trustees in relation to building contracts; advising on sensitive pre-merger issues following the merger of two large firms of solicitors.
Fundamental to commercial chancery work is contractual interpretation, which is also central to what is normally regarded as the different and distinct area of construction law. Throughout his time at Ten Old Square, Paul has received instructions in relation to very substantial building and civil engineering cases. These have ranged from advising trustees of a major London hospital in connection with their duties under a building contract to acting for government, at local authority level and overseas, in major arbitration and/or litigation with a multi-jurisdictional element. Due to the sums involved, these cases have often involved representation in the appellate courts.
- Amey LG Ltd v Cumbria County Council  EWHC 2856 (TCC), Judge Stephen Davies – Final Account dispute on local government highways maintenance contract.
- Estor Ltd v Multifit (UK) Ltd (No.1) (2009) 126 Con LR 40; and (No.2)  CILL 2800, Akenhead J – Adjudication: practice and procedure; test to identify parties to contract.
- Harris v The Society of Lloyds  EWHC 1433 (Comm), David Steel J – Names and Re-insurance to close.
- AG for the Falkland Islands v Gordon Forbes Construction (Falklands) Ltd  BLR 280, Supreme Court of the Falkland Islands – Meaning of clause 53 of FIDIC Conditions of Contract for Works of Civil Engineering Construction.
- Saigol v Cranley Mansion Ltd (No.3)  72 Con LR 54, CA – Effect on claimant’s damages of compromised claim against another defendant.
- Clive Brooks & Co Ltd v Baynard  TLR 269, CA – Cause of action assignment by insolvent construction company in breach of security for costs order.
- Fairview New Homes plc v Government Row Residents Association Ltd  EGCS 92 (Ch D), Scott V-C – Developers and user of private right of way.
- Saigol v Cranley Mansion Ltd (No.2)  EGCS 81, CA – Cause of action assignment by co-defendant.
- Inverugie Investments Ltd v Hackett  1 WLR 713, PC – Measure of damages for trespass to commercial property.
- MA (First Class Hons in Modern History): Christ Church, Oxford
- D. Phil (on the Mediterranean origins of the Second World War): St Antony’s College, Oxford
- Diploma in Law: City University, London
- Holker Scholar, Gray’s Inn
- Karmel Prize in Chancery law, Gray’s Inn
- Paul sits as one of the Chairmen of the National Disciplinary Committee of the Conservative Party.
- Paul is appointed to The Legal Services Panel for the Government of the Virgin Islands.
- Former Legal Member (and occasional Chairman) of the Disciplinary Committee, the Admissions and Licensing Committee and the Appeals Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Former elected Member of the Bar Council
- Former member of the Bar Council Remuneration Committee
Associations & Memberships
- Chancery Bar Association
- Ecclesiastical Law Society
Paul Stafford is a self-employed, independent barrister whose practice is governed by the Code of Conduct of the Bar of England and Wales. He is regulated by The Bar Standards Board [Bar Ref 22796] and is fully insured with the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund [BMIF Ref 2360/020] 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 524130883.