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.
Trusts of land, reverter of sites, mortgage fraud, joint ventures, rights of way, land registration, ecclesiastical law, chancel repair liability, mineral rights, manorial rights and professional negligence in relation to property matters have all been aspects of Paul’s real property practice. The litigious side of this practice has involved long and complex cases with repeated appearances in the senior appellate courts over many years. The advisory side includes clients, both individual and corporate, who may be trustees, landowners or developers.
His litigation and advisory experience of land registration and manorial rights was drawn on by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee who invited him to provide evidence to their inquiry into the future of manorial rights law. In their report, published in 2015, his contribution was extensively referred to and his advice reflected in the report’s conclusions. He has published substantial articles on the law of manorial rights in relation to its land registration and litigation aspects.
In recent years he has also lectured, written and blogged on the property law aspects of fracking. His article, ‘Free to Frack? – Landowners and the loss of common law rights under the Infrastructure Act 2015’ appeared in the Property Law Journal for June 2017.
- Stephens-Dunn v Cawthorne  EWHC 2800 (Ch), Norris J – Trusts of land – partition -application of TOLATA 1996 s 15.
- Burton v Walker  EWCA Civ 1228;  EWHC 978 (Ch), Jeremy Cousins QC – Manorial waste and land registration: Crown land in demesne and duty owed on first registration under LRA 2002); (REF 2007/1124 (10 Dec 2010)), LR Adjudicator (manorial lordships: proof of and protection of title under LRA 2002.
- Clarke v Corless  2 P&CR DG 24 (Ch D);  WTLR 751, CA – Joint venture agreement to acquire property – property kept by one party – Pallant v Morgan equity.
- Mortgage Express Ltd v Newman (No.1)  PNLR 298 (Ch D), Hart J – Mortgage fraud – solicitor’s insurers disclaiming liability on ground of alleged dishonesty);  PNLR 5, CA; Mortgage Express Ltd v Newman (No.2)  Lloyds LR (PN) 669 (Ch D), Etherton J.
- Fairview New Homes Plc v Government Row Residents Association Ltd  EGCS 92, Scott V-C – Developers and user of private right of way.
- 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.