Francis Ng
Junior counsel

Francis Ng

LEGAL 500 2022

"Francis has a keen tactical brain and is great at looking at the strategy of a case. His advice is pointed, accurate and practical with an eye for detail. He is a rising star in the field of contentious trusts and probate and destined for great things. Excellent in Court and his preparation is second to none".

Francis is a chancery barrister specialising in private client work. He is recommended as a Leading Junior in the Legal 500 (2022) which says: ‘Francis has a keen tactical brain and is great at looking at the strategy of a case. His advice is pointed, accurate and practical with an eye for detail. He is a rising star in the field of contentious trusts and probate and destined for great things. Excellent in Court and his preparation is second to none.

Recent highlights from Francis’ practice include re Clarke [2019] EWHC 1193 (Ch) on rescission for equitable mistake and claims under the Inheritance Act, and re Cadogan [2021] WTLR 411 on accounting on a footing of wilful default. He has a wide range of experience in both contentious and non-contentious private client matters as a former consultant to the private client department of McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP and having taught trusts law to undergraduates for over half a decade (including as a college lecturer at St Catherine’s College, Oxford). He is a full member of STEP.

In 2020, Francis was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown. His government clients have included HMRC, the Insolvency Service, and the bona vacantia department.

About Francis Ng

Trusts, Probate and Estates

Contentious and Non-Contentious Probate
Francis frequently represents parties in probate disputes. Recent matters have included trustee and executor removal, claims for accounts, disputes over will validity, and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Cases of note include:

  • Re Chowdhury [2021] ChD unrep – application to vary a final order in a probate claim under r 19.8A(8) CPR
  • Re Andrews [2021] ChD unrep – application for freezing and proprietary injunctions in a case where a grant of letters of administration was alleged to have been obtained fraudulently
  • Bryan Court Freehold Ltd v BC Penthouse Ltd [2021] CLCC unrep – application under r 72.10 CPR opposed on the basis that the fund in court was an asset of the estate of a deceased Kuwaiti Sheikh
  • Re Magan [2020] ChD unrep – application for interim account and interim injunction freezing the administration of an estate.
  • Re Cadogan [2020] EWHC 2714 (Ch) – resisting an application to set aside or vary an unless order providing that if the defendant failed to file an account, the claimant would be permitted to file one on his behalf
  • Re Cadogan [2021] WTLR 411, [2019] EWHC 1557 (Ch) – a 3-day trial of a claim and counterclaim for accounts on a footing of wilful default between former administrators of an estate.
  • Clarke v Allen and Smith [2019] EWHC 1193 (Ch) and [2019] EWHC 1994 (Ch)– a 3-day trial of claims to rescind a transfer for equitable mistake and for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Thornton v Woodhouse [2017] All ER (D) 114 (Apr), [2017] EWHC 769 (Ch) (as junior counsel) – a 12-day probate trial in the High Court raising issues of knowledge and approval, probate undue influence, and executor-removal.

Francis’ advisory work has covered the law on interpreting wills, executorship de son tort, rectification of wills, charitable trusts and cy-près, directions under the Royal Sign Manual, the doctrine of lapse; claims under the 1975 Act; the content and timing of estate accounts; the effect of variations and disclaimers for IHT and CGT purposes; and the effect of grants of probate for the use and benefit of a minor. Francis also has experience drafting wills and deeds of variation.

 

Contentious and Non-Contentious Trusts
Francis has a wide range of experience in trusts matters. His advocacy and advisory work has included issues over the validity of trusts, rectification and rescission of trust instruments, validity and effects of dispositions of subsisting equitable interests, applications for re Benjamin orders, Public Trustee v Cooper applications, applications under TOLATA, trustee removal and replacement in and out of court, variations of trust, the duty to account, the proper allocation of income and capital to trust expenditure, and the proper interpretation of trusts deeds. He also advises on the tax treatment of trustees and beneficiaries. Cases of note include:

  • Spencer v Roy [2021] ChD unrep – emergency application for an order under s 50 Trustee Act 1925 appointing a person to convey trust property
  • Re A Trust – [2021] ChD unrep – representing a minor beneficiary in an application by trustees to rectify a trust deed by inserting a settlor-exclusion clause and limiting a power to add beneficiaries to prevent it being used to benefit the settlors.
  • Re Queenborough Club [2020] ChD unrep – application by trustees for declarations that the club had dissolved and for re Benjamin orders authorising a scheme of distribution of assets.
  • A v B [2020] ChD unrep – application to replace a dissolved trustee company under s 41 Trustee Act 1925 and for an extra-territorial vesting order under s 56 Trustee Act 1925 raising issues over the law of bona vacantia in the British Virgin Islands.

 

Equitable Remedies
Francis has advised and represented parties in a range of cases concerning equitable remedies including subrogation; resulting and constructive trusts; promissory estoppel; rescission for mistake, undue influence, and under the rule in re Hastings-Bass; proprietary estoppel; knowing receipt; and tracing. Cases of note include:

  • Clarke v Allen and Smith [2019] EWHC 1993 (Ch), in which Francis acted for the successful claimant in rescinding the voluntary transfer by the deceased of the £1.38m matrimonial home for mistake.
  • Quay 430 Management Ltd v Li (FtT (PC) LON/00BG/LBC/2017/0014) in which Francis successfully argued that no declaration under s 168 Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 should be made in respect of breaches of covenant which were unactionable due to a promissory estoppel.
Tax

Francis completed his pupillage at a leading tax chambers and maintains an advisory and advocacy practice in those areas of taxation affecting his private client work. Recent cases include Yechiel v HMRC [2018] All ER (D) 30 (Dec)[2018] UKFTT 683 (TC), a case raising issues of main residence relief against capital gains tax, enhancement expenditure, and penalties for inaccurate returns.

Francis’ recent advisory work has covered the capital gains tax treatment of trusts and dispositions of equitable interests; the pre-owned assets tax and the gifts with reservation of benefit provisions; agricultural and business property reliefs; the application of the benefit-inkind rules to non-resident shadow directors; and the authorised surplus payments charge on pension trusts.

Insolvency

Francis regularly appears in bankruptcy and winding-up petitions. From his time with HMRC, he has particular experience in petitions raised by revenue authorities. Francis has also represented the National Crime Agency in numerous tax-related bankruptcy petitions.
Francis also acts and advises on insolvency-related applications. Recent cases have included applications for rescission; validation orders; claims under s 423 Insolvency Act 1986; and claims against directors for misfeasance under s 212 Insolvency Act 1986.

Real Property

Francis is interested in all areas of real property, having taught the subject as a Teaching Fellow at UCL. He has acted in relation to boundary disputes, adverse possession, and disputes over rights of access and rights to light. He recently appeared in Bhardwaj v Royal Bank of Scotland plc [2017] EWHC 340 (Ch), in which he advanced an argument that s 2 Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 rendered void a secured loan facility where the contract would have been void but-for an implied term. The judgment described Francis as having ‘presented it with great skill which I would like to acknowledge.’

Landlord and Tenant

Francis has appeared for and advised landlords and tenants in a wide variety of contentious and non-contentious matters. His experience covers assured and assured shorthold tenancies, secure tenancies, Rent Act 1977 protected tenancies, business and personal retail mortgages, Consumer Credit Act 1974 regulated mortgages, business tenancy renewal, and forfeiture of residential and business leases.

He has acted in cases raising various unusual issues in this area. These include Mussani v Brisset (2015 QB unrep) on whether a district judge purporting to set aside a High Court writ of possession was within the doctrine of de facto jurisdiction; Walcott v Jones [2018] L&TR  11 on whether the rules in the Deregulation Act 2015 apply to contractual periodic tenancies originally established prior to 2015, and Quay 430 Management Ltd v Li (FtT (PC) LON/00BG/LBC/2017/0013 and 0014) on whether the FtT (PC) has jurisdiction to make a declaration of breach where an action for breach would have been time-barred or subject to a promissory estoppel.

Francis has also appeared in enfranchisement actions in the County Court and First-tier Tribunal. His cases have included Gregorio v Stacey (FtT (PC) LON/00AF/OCE/2015/0317), a two-day trial in which he successfully argued that one of two joint tenants could not unilaterally serve a valid notice under s 166 Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002.

Notable Cases

Trusts and Probate

Spencer v Roy [2021] ChD unrep – emergency application for an order under s 50 Trustee Act 1925 appointing a person to convey trust property

Re A Trust – [2021] ChD unrep – representing a minor beneficiary in an application by trustees to rectify a trust deed by inserting a settlor-exclusion clause and limiting a power to add beneficiaries to prevent it being used to benefit the settlors.

Re Chowdhury [2021] ChD unrep – application to vary a final order in a probate claim under r 19.8A(8) CPR

Re Andrews [2021] ChD unrep – application for freezing and proprietary injunctions in a case where a grant of letters of administration was alleged to have been obtained fraudulently

Bryan Court Freehold Ltd v BC Penthouse Ltd [2021] CLCC unrep – application under r 72.10 CPR opposed on the basis that the fund in court was an asset of the estate of a deceased Kuwaiti Sheikh

Re Queenborough Club [2020] ChD unrep – application by trustees for declarations that the club had dissolved and for re Benjamin orders authorising a scheme of distribution of assets.

A v B [2020] ChD unrep – application to replace a dissolved trustee company under s 41 Trustee Act 1925 and for an extra-territorial vesting order under s 56 Trustee Act 1925 raising issues over the law of bona vacantia in the British Virgin Islands.

Re Magan [2020] ChD unrep – application for interim account and interim injunction freezing the administration of an estate.

Re Cadogan [2020] EWHC 2714 (Ch) – resisting an application to set aside or vary an unless order providing that if the defendant failed to file an account, the claimant would be permitted to file one on his behalf

Re Cadogan [2019] EWHC 1577 (Ch) – 3-day trial of a claim and counterclaim for accounts on a footing of wilful default between former administrators of an estate

Clarke v Allen and Smith [2019] EWHC 1193 (Ch) and [2019] EWHC 1994 (Ch) – 3-day trial of claims to rescind a transfer for equitable mistake and for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Thornton v Woodhouse [2017] All ER (D) 114 (Apr), [2017] EWHC 769 (Ch) (as junior counsel) – 12-day probate trial in the High Court raising issues of knowledge and approval, probate undue influence, and executor-removal.

Property

Bhardwaj v Royal Bank of Scotland plc [2017] EWHC 340 (Ch) (as junior counsel) –appeal concerning the validity of an agreement to enter into loan facilities secured on residential property. Francis argued that the agreements were void for uncertainty due to lack of a repayment date and that no date could be implied because the contract would then not be ‘made in writing’ within the meaning of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989.

Tax

Yechiel v HMRC [2018] All ER (D) 30 (Dec), [2018] UKFTT 683 (TC), a case raising issues of main residence relief against capital gains tax, enhancement expenditure, and penalties for inaccurate returns

Insolvency

National Crime Agency v Lynch (ChD, unrep 2016) – case concerning whether the National Crime Agency could forfeit criminal property and later present a bankruptcy petition in respect of tax on the income represented by that property.

Landlord and Tenant

Walcott v Jones [2018] L&TR 11 – case concerning whether a contractual periodic tenancy starting in 2007 could nevertheless come within the new rules relating to s 21 notices introduced under the Deregulation Act 2015.

Quay 420 Freehold Ltd v Li (FtT (PC), LON/00BG/LBC/2017/0013 & 0014) – trial of an application for declarations of breach under s 168 CLRA 2002, raising legal issues over the interaction of that provision with the Limitation Act 1980 and the doctrine of promissory estoppel.

Gregorio v Stacey (FtT (PC), LON/00AF/OCE/2015/0317) –  two-day enfranchisement trial involving expert valuation evidence, and numerous legal issues including whether a single joint tenant could unilaterally serve a valid notice under s.166 CLRA 2002.

Publications

‘“Common intention” constructive trusts arising from informal agreements to dispose of land’ [2017] Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 146 (with Toby Boncey).

‘Property Realised after Completion of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement’ (2016) 29(6) Insolvency Intelligence 92 (with Simon Jones).

‘Case Comment: re St Andrew’s (Cheam) Lawn Tennis Club Trust’ [2014] Trusts and Trustees 287 (with Toby Boncey).

‘The rule in Hastings-Bass, Mistake, and Tax Avoidance: Pitt v Holt and Futter v Futter’ [2013] British Tax Review 566.

‘HMRC’s Relationship with Business’ (2013) (a report produced by the Oxford Centre for Business Taxation (with Prof Judith Freedman and Dr John Vella)).

Education

BCL, St Peter’s College, Oxford; 2012 (Distinction)(Papers in Corporate and Business Taxation, Personal Taxation, Corporate Insolvency, and Restitution for Unjust Enrichment)

BPTC, Bristol Law School, 2011 (Outstanding)

MA in Law; University of Bristol; 2010 (Distinction)

Hardwicke Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn

Walter Wigglesworth Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn

Buchanan Prize, Lincoln’s Inn

Book Prize, St Peter’s College, Oxford

Appointments

Attorney General’s London C Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown (from Sep 2020)

Lecturer, St Catherine’s College, Oxford (Trinity Term 2018)

Tutor, Mansfield College, Oxford (Hilary Term 2017)

Tutor, St Catherine’s College, Oxford (Hilary Term 2016)

Judicial Assistant to Lady Justice Arden (2015)

Teaching Fellow, University College London (2014-15)

Teaching Fellow, University College London (2012-13)

Professional memberships

Chancery Bar Association

Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (Full Member)

Lincoln’s Inn

Denning Society