A commercial chancery practitioner, Justin’s work encompasses property, landlord and tenant, commercial, media and entertainment and trusts and private client disputes and related professional negligence work. He has appeared in the highest courts in this jurisdiction and in the Caribbean.
Justin is described in the Property Litigation, Professional Negligence and Media and Entertainment categories of recent editions of the Legal 500 as a “formidable trial barrister who is thorough and tactically savvy”, “devastatingly effective”, “very charming” and a lawyer possessed of “a great legal mind” with the ability to produce “written work and advocacy that is first rate.” In Chambers & Partners he is recommended as a lawyer who handles “some of the most complex cases,” is “absolutely brilliant at client service” and “always goes out of his way and is very generous with his time.” In the courtroom, he has been described as a “very forceful” and a “brave and tough advocate who is great on cross-examination.”
In 1999, Justin was the recipient of the prestigious Prince of Wales Scholarship from Gray’s Inn. In 2005, he was elected Chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee of the General Council of the Bar. He is an accomplished pianist and has strong connections to both London and the North of England
Justin commercial work includes acting in disputes concerning contracts, partnerships, joint ventures, agency agreements (including estate agent’s commission), guarantees and indemnities, conversion of goods, restitution, breaches of duty by directors and other fiduciaries, and minority shareholder and derivative actions.
Among many other cases, Justin has acted in in recent years in disputes concerning (i) the alleged breach of restrictive contractual covenants in relation to commercial agreements entered into between a UK company and an African nation state, (ii) a £150 million dispute involving the demerger of a large gaming organisation, (iii) highly contentious insolvency proceedings arising from dead lock in a joint venture for the development of a former mill in West Yorkshire, (iv) the construing of highly unusual terms in shareholder and partnership agreements that require shareholders and partners to hold and practice a particular religion, and (v) petitions under section 1994 of the Companies Act 2006.
Landlord and Tenant
Justin’s work in landlord and tenant involves disputes concerning forfeiture, interim and terminal dilapidations, break notices, lease renewals, rent reviews, breaches and the enforceability of leasehold covenants, service charges and all other types of landlord and tenant issues.
Among many other cases, Justin has acted in in recent years in disputes concerning (i) the commercial development of a retail outlet car park in alleged breach of a commercial tenant’s leasehold covenants, (ii) the premises of a very well-known retailer collapsing into a previously unknown tunnel network, (iii) the highly contentious termination of a commercial lease of an iconic building in central Manchester under ground (f) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, (iv) the contractual construction of rent review disregards in a lease of premises at a British port, (v) various lease renewals for a large supermarket operator, and (vi) a multi-million pound dilapidations claim.
Media and Entertainment
Justin’s work in the arena of media and entertainment includes disputes concerning the creation, operation and termination of partnership agreements of pop band members, song authorship rights, royalty entitlements and the PRS, agency and management disputes and distribution rights in media and film.
In recent years Justin has acted in (i) copyright litigation arising from the disputed ownership of one of the most famous pop songs from the late 1970s, (ii) a partnership dispute involving the break-up of a well-known rock band, (iii) a £30 million dispute involving the alleged negligent drafting of music contracts, and (iv) a cross-border dispute concerning the release in France and French speaking territories of the box-set for a highly popular television drama series.
Justin regularly acts in professional liability claims relating to his core practice areas. Among other cases, he has acted in recent years in disputes concerning (i) the negligent drafting of leases, (ii) a £30 million claim brought by a music producer in relation to the drafting of music contracts, (iii) a considerable number of professional negligence claims brought by institutional lenders against solicitors and surveyors, and (iv) an electricity operator that had allegedly failed to keep sufficient mapping records of its mains cables, which were struck during piling works for a large commercial development.
Justin’s real property work includes disputes involving easements, restrictive covenants, overage agreements, options, trusts of land and rectification claims. He also has considerable experience in matters relating to land registration.
Among many other cases, Justin has acted in recent years in disputes concerning (i) sporting rights over a large private estate in North Yorkshire, (ii) the release of restrictive covenants precluding the use of commercial premises by a large supermarket operator, (iii) the registration of implied and prescriptive easements on first registration where all the land’s deeds and documents of title had been lost, (iv) the rights of a national telecoms provider to access a multi-million pound UK-wide underground network of fibre-optic cabling, (v) joint venture and option agreements relating to substantial commercial and residential developments, and (vi) the new Communications Code introduced by the Digital Economy Act 2017.
Trusts, Probate & Estates
Justin acts in disputes involving disputes relating to family and property trusts, wills, dispositions of equitable interests, the removal and replacement of trustees (in and out of court), trust variations, fiduciary duties and the proper interpretation of trusts deeds and wills.
Among many other cases, Justin has acted in in recent years in disputes concerning (i) the application of the Forfeiture Act 1982 and ECHR principles to the unusual situation where grandchildren had been denied the right to benefit from a £ multimillion trust fund as a result of their father murdering their grandfather and committing suicide immediately thereafter, (ii) a case before the Court of Appeal on the efficacy of trustee exoneration clauses, (iii) the extent of property assets forming part of a deceased’s estate, (iv) the removal of executors and trustees for alleged breach of fiduciary duty and self-dealing, and (v) the proper construction of terms of a multi-million pound will.
Moylett v. Geldof  EWHC 893 (Ch)
Successfully resisted an application to strike out parts of expert evidence at the PTR of a trial to be heard imminently in the Chancery Division.
James Hall And Company (Property) Ltd v Maughan & Ors, Re The Aclet (Restrictive Covenants)  UKUT 240 (LC)
Successfully brought a claim in a Upper Lands Tribunal for the release of restrictive covenants relating to the user of a community interest building.
Clifford Chuku v. Owen Chuku to  1 W.L.R. 3137
Appeared before Newey J. in an appeal concerning the court’s jurisdiction and exercise of discretion when considering applications for security for costs. The case is of particular interest in the context of counterclaiming defendants seeking security.
Barnsley & Others v. Noble  EWCA Civ 799.
Appeared in the Court of Appeal in a dispute concerning the public policy limitations of trustee exoneration clauses.
Barnsley & Others v. Noble  EWHC 2657 (Ch)
Appeared for the Claimants before Mr. Justice Nugee in a 7 week trial in the Chancery Division in £150 million claim for breach of contract, deceit, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Barnsley & Others v. Noble  2 Costs L.O. 150
Hearing before Mrs. Justice Proudman concerning whether the court had jurisdiction to order a payment on account where there had been discontinuance under r.38.6, and if it was appropriate to do so.
Crossco No.4 Unlimited v. Jolan Ltd  2 All ER 754,  1 P&CR 16
Appeared for the successful Respondent in an important case in which the Court of Appeal considered the nature and applicability of the common intention constructive trust in a commercial context.
Crossco No.4 Unlimited & Ors v Jolan Ltd & Ors  EWHC 803 (Ch.D),  NPC 38
Appeared for the successful Defendant in a 36-day trial before Morgan J concerning the right of a landlord to determine a business tenancy of large commercial premises in Manchester Piccadilly. The case involved complex factual and legal arguments concerning the 1954 Act, rectification, constructive trust and estoppel.
Frasers Islington Limited v. the Hanover Trustees & Others  EWHC 1514 (Ch.D)
Appeared for Hanover in an important case concerning the extent to which equity will assist a claimant by making an order for the specific performance of an option in circumstances where the party seeking the relief is itself in breach of the contract that contains the option.
Eileen Corr v. IBC Vehicles Limited  1 AC 884
Appeared for the Appellant Insurer in the House of Lords in an important negligence case involving scope of duty, novus actus, causation and contribution.
Golden Grove Estates Limited v Chancerygate Asset Management Limited  EWHC 968 (Ch.D)
Appeared for the Appellant in the Chancery Division. Interpretation and application of CPR provisions relating to an application for security for costs against a BVI company which had failed fully to disclose its assets, the location of its assets and its liabilities.
Handf Acceptances Limited v Russell  EWHC 1273 (QB)
Appeared for Handf Acceptances in recovery of a mortgage debt flowing from a £1.2 million bridging advance. Allegations of dishonesty and fraud.
CI Ltd v Joint Liquidators of Sonatacus Limited  BCC 186 (CA)
Appeared for the Joint Liquidators in the Court of Appeal. Recipient of a benefit from a payment, voidable as a preference under the Insolvency Act 1986 s.239, could not retain that benefit where it had not shown that it had acted in good faith within s.241(2) of the Act.
Total Spares & Supplies Ltd. & Another v Antares SRL & Others  EWHC 1537 (Ch.D)
Leading High Court authority on the jurisdiction of the court to order a non-party to pay costs, notwithstanding the fact that it was not causative of any costs being incurred.
Barber and Henry v CI Limited (2006) BCC 927
Whether consideration amounting to a preference, voidable at the instance of a liquidator, could be regarded as constituting a valuable consideration for the purpose of defeating a transaction at an undervalue claim under s.238 Insolvency Act 1986) .
CA Webber (Transport) Ltd v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd (formerly Railtrack Plc)  1 WLR 320
Appeared for Railtrack at first instance and in the Court of Appeal – whether a notice served under s.25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 by recorded delivery was deemed served when posted rather than when received by the addressee and whether such approach was compatible with Art.6 and Protocol 1 Art. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The London Mews Company v Burney  All ER (D) 66
First and second appeal to the Court of Appeal – what constituted an ‘effective cause of sale’ and an ‘introduction’ for the purposes of entitling an estate-agent to commission.
Halley v The Law Society  All ER (D) 182 and  EWCA Civ 97
Appeared in both the Chancery Division and Court of Appeal in a claim for monies held in the client account of a solicitor whose practice was intervened. Allegations of money laundering and advance fee fraud.
“Leading Junior” in Real Estate Litigation since 2006 (Legal 500 & Chambers & Partners)
“Leading Junior” in Professional Negligence since 2009 (Legal 500)
“Leading Junior” in Media and Entertainment since 2017 (Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners)
“Leading Expert” in Property Law (Legal Experts)
“He has developed a considerable media practice and acts in significant contractual, copyright and royalty disputes in the music industry.” (Media and Entertainment, Chambers & Partners (2018))
“He has a great deal of expertise in property-related professional negligence, and regularly handles high-value property disputes more generally. His recent cases have involved easements, sales contracts and restrictive covenants, as well as conveyancing disputes and dilapidations matters. (Real property Litigation, Chambers & Partners (2018))
“A very bright and hard-working barrister who we use on some of the most complex cases.”
“Absolutely brilliant at client service, he always goes out of his way and is very generous with his time. You get the impression that he does what he does because he loves helping clients.” (Real property Litigation, Chambers & Partners (2018))
“A formidable trial barrister who is thorough and tactically savvy’ (Media and Entertainment, Legal 500 (2018))
“He is prepared to get into the detail of a matter and is a great team player.” (Professional Negligence, Legal 500 (2018))
“His written work and advocacy are first rate, dictates a clear approach” (Property Litigation, Legal 500 (2018))
“He is clever, commercial, hardworking and always willing to assist” (Property Litigation, Legal 500 (2017))
“He has a great legal mind, which he combines with an excellent client manner” (Professional Negligence and Media and Entertainment, (Legal 500 (2017))
“Extremely good junior barrister, who is bright, thorough and a great team player.” (Real Estate
Recent comments include:
“Devastatingly effective” (Professional Negligence; Legal 500, 2016)
“Very charming, highly clever and happy to adapt to the client needs” (Media and Entertainment; Legal 500, 2016)
“Engaged and proactive; he gets his sleeves rolled up, and gives clear and practical advice.” (Property Litigation; Legal 500, 2016)
“Very bright, hardworking, client-friendly and engaged” (Property Litigation; Legal 500, 2015)
“A standout junior for professional negligence matters” (Professional Negligence; Legal 500, 2015)
“Provides clear advice and good written work, and is effective in conference” (Media and Entertainment; Legal 500, 2015)
“Regularly appears in both commercial and residential property disputes, and also has an active property-related professional negligence practice. His work ethic and client service are particularly highly praised …. He works very, very hard and is very accessible. He’s an extremely bright junior.” (Chambers and Partners, 2015)
“Sensible and stands his ground carefully” and “a very bright chap.” (Chambers and Partners, 2015)
“A brilliant team player” (Legal 500, 2014)
“He is knowledgeable, responsive and a good team player. He is so good with the detail – he works prodigiously hard and works so well with our team.” (Chambers and Partners, 2014)
“A brilliant team player – he’s very hard-working and instills confidence in clients.” (Chambers and Partners, 2014)
“Justin Kitson is a ‘brave and tough’ advocate who is ‘great on cross-examination.’ According to one respected QC he ‘does the research and gets the right points’ and allied to this, ‘he manages to make things fun’” (Chambers and Partners, 2013).
“Justin Kitson ‘has exceptional presence and is extremely bright’” (Chambers and Partners 2012)
“Justin Kitson has a particular strength in property-related professional negligence claims, and comes across as ‘a barrister with real presence.’ ‘He is the sort of person you have confidence in; for someone his age he is a very forceful advocate,’ say commentators, who also add that he ‘has the ability to absorb huge volumes of paper and can give advice extremely quickly.’” (Chambers & Partners 2011)
“Justin Kitson ‘is very pleasant, fair and sensible’” ; “The ‘exceptional’ Justin Kitson is also recommended”(Legal 500 2010)
“a proficient junior who punches above his weight.’ He has recently acted on the case of RAB Pension Trust v Fraser’s and is a big favourite with solicitors” (Chambers & Partners 2010)
“isn’t an expense, he just adds value to the case” (Legal 500 2009)
“A lawyer with ‘extremely impressive knowledge, considering his year of call,’ he acted for BT in a trial before HM Adjudicator to the Lands Registry concerning the acquisition of prescriptive easement rights and adverse possession over unregistered land belonging to the company. Sources agree that he is ‘mature beyond his years’.” (Chambers & Partners 2009)