Hal is a partner at Branch Austin and has practised in the law since 1989. He specialises in commercial and contractual disputes and in all aspects of family work. He has considerable experience in professional negligence claims, partnership disputes, defamation, employment law and breach of trust claims. Hal has experience in advising on complex commercial fraud litigation.
Hal regularly represents clients in the High Court but also recognises the increasing importance that mediation can play in dispute resolution.
Hal’s practice in family work has particular emphasis in the resolution of complex financial issues (both for married couples and unmarried couples) as well as dealing with the arrangements for children following the breakdown of a relationship. Hal and his team also regularly advise on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.
Hal has considerable experience in criminal law including matters in the magistrates court or complex fraud cases and other matters dealt with in the Crown Court, including experience gained at the start of his career as part of the team acting for Lord Spens in the Guinness trial.
Hal graduated in modern history at London University before studying law at the College of Law.
Moutreuil v Andreewitch  EWCA Civ 382
Acting for the applicant in the court of appeal which confirmed that a court hearing proceedings for committal for contempt of court had to ensure that the accused person was made aware that he was not obliged to give evidence but also warned that adverse inferences might be drawn if he exercised the right to silence
Colin Johnston v Lady Natalie Elsie Wackett  EWHC 3353 (Ch)
Mr Edwin Johnson QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, handed down judgment in Colin Johnston v Lady Natalie Elsie Wackett  EWHC 3353 (Ch), a claim for an order under Section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The judgment includes important guidance as to the correct application of the judgment of the Supreme Court in llott v The Blue Cross and others  UKSC 17 in the context of claims under the 1975 Act brought by adult children of the deceased.
Acting for a Spanish seating manufacturer at the inquest in Birmingham Coroner’s Court following the tragic death of Mr Ateeq Rafiq who died a week after he got stuck searching for his possessions under a seat at Vue Cinema Complex in Birmingham’s Star City.
Caroline Gibbs -v- Lakeside Developments Ltd  EWCA Civ 2874
This was an interesting second appeal in the Court of Appeal which deals with principles of unjust enrichment, the finality of a court order and a restatement by Lewison LJ of the law of forfeiture of long residential leases.
Re M  EWCOP 42
Acting for Teresa Kirk who was imprisoned for contempt of Court for refusing to sign a release form in respect of a patient, so that the patient would be moved from a care home in Portugal to a care home in the UK. On appeal we were able to obtain Ms Kirk’s immediate release from prison.
Caroline Gibbs -v- Lakeside Developments Ltd  EWHC 2203
The High Court considered whether a conflicting email and attachment constituted acceptance or a counter offer. A further significant point of law which was considered on appeal was whether there can be unlawful enrichment where a possession order had not been set aside.
Bennett v Bennett & Oths  EWHC 1931 (Ch) (Mr George Bompas QC)
This was a highly publicised 2 week trial in which Hal acted for the Third and Fourth parties in a £10m claim concerning the ownership of East Thurrock football club and surrounding development land. The claim involved issues of partnership law, constructive trusts and proprietary estoppel. It received widespread press attention including The Times and Daily Telegraph.
Meir Levin v Michael Tannebaum (2013) LTL 18/11/13 Ch D
Acting for the Claimant in a claim for damages against the guarantor of numerous loans. The claim arose from the biggest ponzi fraud in South African history.
Philip Afia v David Mellor QC PC and Others LTL 3/12/13
Acting for the Claimant, a shareholder in Partridge Fine Arts, in his successful claim for damages against guarantors who had guaranteed the acquisition of shares when Partridge was taken over. The claim concerned complicated issues of law including promissory estoppel, waiver, forbearance and the successful appeal of the decision of the District Judge to withdraw his Judgment.
Baturina v Times Newspapers Ltd  EWCA Civ 308
Successfully acting for the Claimant in a significant claim for damages for defamation , against the Sunday Times, in what is now a leading case in respect of innuendo meanings in defamation.
JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov and others – High Court Chancery Division
Acting for one of the Defendants in perhaps the single largest claim in the English Courts in excess of US$4 billion and featured as a Top 20 case of 2011 in The Lawyer. There are nine sets of proceedings and the firm was instructed in respect of the AAA proceedings which concerned an alleged fraudulent transaction against BTA Bank. The issues included freezing and search orders and other applications in the Chancery Division and Commercial Court.
Innovatis Investments Fund Limited v Ejder Group Limited  EWHC 1851
Acting for the Claimant who successfully obtained Judgment for just over $4,000,000 in an action concerning Lehmann Brothers Medium Term Basket Note with a face value of US$7,000,000. It is believed that this is the first reported decision in which the High Court has considered the legal nature of a securities purchase agreement. The case also concerned issues of an agent’s liability under a contract in the context of securities trading.
Northbrook v Abbey Estates Limited (June 2009) Court of Appeal
Acting for a successful Claimant seeking return of a deposit for a property purchase at auction on the basis of misrepresentation, implied covenants to title and vacant possession. The Defendant was refused permission to appeal at a fully argued permission hearing. Lloyd L. J. ruled that the common auction conditions did not exclude ability for positive misrepresentations. He also held that there was no reason why a Court could not award enhanced interest on costs under Part 36 where the receiving party was funded by a CFA.
Lichter & Schwartz (a partnership) v Rubin  EWHC 450 (Ch D);  WLR (D) 93
A successful interim application for the disclosure of information about assets which are or may be the subject of an application for a freezing injunction.
Godfrey v Torpy and Others  EWHC 919 (Ch)
Insolvency Act 1986 section 423. Leave of the Court was not required to continue proceedings in which an order to set aside a transaction at an undervalue had been applied for before the debtor’s insolvency.
Manches LLP v Carl Freer  EWHC 991
A company director held not to be liable for solicitors’ fees where terms of business containing a guarantee was not signed in his personal capacity.
Green -v- Deutsche Bank Group Services  EWHC 1898 (QBD)
Acting for a successful Claimant in a high value bullying and harassment claim.
Ch.D Re: Landhurst Leasing  BCLC 286, Ch.D
The standard of conduct of directors of insolvent companies.
Charleston and Another -v- News Group Newspapers Ltd and Another  2 All ER 313
A libel action for two Australian soap stars after the publication in a Sunday newspaper of a “defamatory” photograph which was held not to be defamatory when considered with the article as a whole.