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.
Partnerships & LLPs
Regulatory proceedings, including complaints to ombudsmen, are now widely used against professionals as an alternative to negligence claims. Paul has extensive experience of defending professionals against all three routes of attack – primarily solicitors in the context of property or commercial chancery work, but also accountants, surveyors and financial advisers. The advisory aspect of this work has involved keeping professional partnerships or individuals on the right side of the regulator. The contentious aspect has involved representing them before the ombudsman, in disciplinary proceedings and in court.
For ten years Paul sat regularly as a member and occasional chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, the Admissions and Licensing Committee and the Appeals Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). In the Administrative Court he was the first, or one of the first, barristers to obtain a successful judicial review against a decision of the Financial Services Ombudsman: Garrison Investment Analysis Ltd v Financial Ombudsman Service Ltd  All ER (D) 110;  EWHC (Admin) 2466, Sullivan J. He has been recognised in the Legal 500 for his significant caseload in relation to disciplinary hearings involving solicitors.
- Webb v SRA  All ER (D) 50;  EWHC 2078 (Admin), Jeremy Baker J – Appeal for solicitor found dishonest by the SDT when registering transfer in breach of undertaking.
- Garrison Investment Analysis Ltd v Financial Ombudsman Service Ltd  All ER (D) 110;  EWHC (Admin) 2466, Sullivan J – Financial Services Ombudsman wrong to require redress to be made by independent financial adviser.
- White v Office for Supervision of Solicitors  EWHC (Admin) 1149, Lightman J – Solicitor challenging OSS finding of inadequate professional service.
- 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.