Chris’ practice covers disputes relating to:
- Property/real estate law (including landlord and tenant);
- Private client law (spanning contentious trusts, wills, and intestate estates); and
- Insolvency law (both corporate and personal). Chris also deals with professional negligence claims arising in these fields, with conveyancing negligence being a speciality.
In addition to providing drafting and advisory services, Chris frequently appears as sole counsel in the Chancery Division, the Insolvency and Companies Court, and the County Court.
Notably, Chris has also acted as junior counsel for the successful parties in two of the most important property law appeals in recent years: Bank of New York Mellon (International) Ltd v. Cine-UK Ltd  EWCA Civ 1021 (concerning liability for coronavirus-related rent arrears); and P&P Property Ltd v. Owen White & Catlin LLP  EWCA Civ 1082 (concerning liability for the sale of property by impostors posing as the owners, a surprisingly common fraud).
As part of his private client practice, Chris is a co-author of “Drafting Trusts and Will Trusts: A Modern Approach” (Sweet & Maxwell; 15th ed.), forming part of an editorial team led by James Kessler KC. Copies of this textbook, praised for its clear explanations and emphasis on plain English drafting, are available for purchase here.
Chris was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown for a five-year term from September 2021. In Hilary Term 2020, Chris was a Judicial Assistant in the Chancery Division, where he was assigned primarily to Mr Justice Trower and Mr (now Lord) Justice Nugee. The previous year, he was seconded to the disputes team at Carey Olsen Bermuda as a Pegasus Scholar.
Against the backdrop of the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Chris has recently advised on a variety of “anti-avoidance” claims involving preferences, transactions at an undervalue, and transactions defrauding creditors under s.423 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
In addition, following his appointment to the Attorney General’s C Panel, Chris is regularly instructed by the Insolvency Service to appear in directors’ disqualification proceedings in the Insolvency and Companies Court.
In this field, Chris also acts in or advises on:
- Bringing or resisting winding-up petitions (with supplementary advice on, for example, validation orders).
- Bringing or resisting bankruptcy petitions.
- Applications for injunctions restraining the presentation of winding-up petitions.
- Application to set aside statutory demands and to annul bankruptcy orders.
Landlord & Tenant
Disputes between landlords and tenants form a large part of Chris’ practice. Chris appeared as junior counsel for the successful landlord in Bank of New York Mellon (International) Ltd v. Cine-UK Ltd  EWCA Civ 1021, a two-day appeal in which the tenant sought to avoid liability for rent falling due at times when it was illegal to open the subject cinema premises due to Covid-19 “lockdown” regulations. The appeal was heard by a panel led by the Chancellor of the High Court in view of its legal and practical significance.
More generally, in this field Chris has extensive experience of:
- Bringing or defending possession proceedings, whether issued by landlords (for non-payment of rent or other breach of the tenancy agreement) or by secured lenders (for non-payment of capital/interest or other breach of the mortgage agreement). In a three-day trial before HHJ Backhouse, Chris successfully secured the forfeiture of a lease on the basis of “immoral use” (where the tenants had used the property as a brothel).
- Claims involving the distinction between leases and licences.
- Claims for relief from forfeiture and/or damages arising from wrongful forfeiture.
- Claims relating to the breach of leasehold covenants, including dilapidations disputes, alterations disputes, chattels/fixtures disputes, and service charge disputes.
- Claims relating to the renewal of business tenancies under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954.
- Claims relating to the collective enfranchisement and lease extension under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
- Claims relating to the right of first refusal under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987.
In the professional negligence field, conveyancing fraud is a particular area of expertise for Chris. In 2018 Chris appeared (with Gary Blaker QC) in P&P Property Ltd v. Owen White and Catlin LLP & anor  EWCA Civ 1082, the leading case on solicitors’ liability where a property has been sold by a fraudster impersonating the true owner. Following his client’s success in P&P Property Ltd, Chris is now regularly instructed to provide advice in high-value property identity fraud claims.
Chris has recently written an article (see the “Publications” section below) on the application of the illegality defence to mortgage fraud cases following the Supreme Court’s decision in Stoffel & Co v. Grondona  UKSC 42. Negligent surveys also form another part of Chris’ property-related professional negligence practice.
As part of his trusts, probate, and estates practice, Chris contributed the “Claims Against Professionals” chapter to the Contentious Estates course run by the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP).
Beneficial Interests/TOLATA. Currently, a large portion of Chris’ work in this field involves disputes (typically but not exclusively arising between co-owners) relating to beneficial interests in property. These cases often require consideration of “common intention” constructive trusts and/or proprietary estoppel. By way of example, in June 2022 Chris appeared as sole counsel before Recorder Blohm QC in a three-day trial concerning whether an occupant was the beneficial owner of the property in question or merely a tenant of the registered legal owner. In this context, Chris regularly deals with applications for orders for sale under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.
Secured Lending. Chris also has significant experience in dealing with disputes relating to loans secured against property (with particular regard to the “unfair relationship” provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the “regulated activity” provisions of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000). In this field, Chris acts for lenders seeking to enforce their security as well as for borrowers seeking to resist enforcement. In a two-day trial before HHJ Tindal in June 2022, Chris successfully argued that a mortgage deed had been invalidly executed (because the signature page had been substituted from a previous draft) and was therefore unenforceable.
Restrictive Covenants. Additionally, Chris deals with disputes involving restrictive covenants and their impact on development projects. Chris is happy to advise on both freehold and leasehold restrictive covenants, whether qualified or absolute in nature. Those interested in the subject in the freehold context should read Chris’ article (see the “Publications” section below) on the application of s.84 of the Law of Property Act 1925 in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Alexander Devine Children’s Cancer Trust v. Housing Solutions Ltd  UKSC 45.
Chris is also frequently instructed on:
- Commercial disputes with a property flavour, such as those arising out of joint venture agreements for the development of property or those relating to the interpretation of contracts for the sale and purchase of commercial property.
- Disputes between owners of property regarding the alleged infringement of rights of way and other easements (such as parking rights).
- Disputes involving the principles of “bona vacantia” and “escheat” following the dissolution of companies.
- Applications for orders for sale.
Trust, Probates & Estates
Most recently, Chris’ contentious probate practice has involved (i) claims (generally by adult children) under the Inheritance Act 1975 and (ii) challenges to the validity of various wills on the ground of testamentary incapacity.
In addition, Chris has also been instructed in:
- A three-day trial before HH Patrick Moloney QC, successfully representing the claimant (as sole counsel) in setting aside his mother’s will on the grounds of lack of capacity and want of knowledge and approval. (The claim involved contested expert evidence from prominent Oxbridge clinical academics on both sides.)
- A claim by a professional executor for a pronouncement (in solemn form) for the validity of a will.
- A claim by an administrator to recover possession of a property forming part of the deceased’s estate.
- An application by an executor for a “put up or shut up” order in respect of potential claimants prior to distributing the estate.
- Contested applications for the removal of caveats.
- Contested applications for the removal of executors and protectors.
- A dispute regarding the validity and construction of will trusts for charitable purposes.
- A claim against an independent administrator alleging failure to administer the estate properly.
Chris is a co-author of “Drafting Trusts and Will Trusts: A Modern Approach” (Sweet & Maxwell; 15th ed.), forming part of an editorial team led by James Kessler KC. Copies of this textbook, praised for its clear explanations and emphasis on plain English drafting, are available for purchase here.
In addition, Chris contributed the “Claims Against Professionals” chapter to the Contentious Estates course run by the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP)”.
- BA (Hons) (First Class), Magdalen College, Oxford (2012).
- GDL (Commendation), Kaplan Law School (2014).
- BPTC (Very Competent), University of Law (2015).
- Called to the Bar, Lincoln’s Inn (2015).
- Anne Shaw Scholarship in Classics, Magdalen College, Oxford.
- Advocacy Scholarship, University of Law.
- Lord Mansfield and Hardwicke Scholarships, Lincoln’s Inn.
- Chancery Bar Association.
- Property Bar Association.
BSB & VAT Information
Registered Name: Christopher Michael Robert de Benducci
VAT Number: 240645426