Ruth Hughes - 5 Stone Buildings
Junior counsel / Mediators

Ruth Hughes

Call to Bar:2007

– from Quan v Bray [2017] EWCA Civ 405 per King LJ.

“[Miss Hughes’] written and oral advocacy were exemplary”

Ruth has a broad Chancery practice focused on litigation. The main areas of her practice are Trust and Estate disputes, Court of Protection and contentious Tax.

Ruth has appeared in (and cross-examined) in highly complex and valuable cases including the Ingenious tax-avoidance litigation, a film scheme concerning financing films such as Avatar, Life of Pi and Shaun of the Dead. The amount at stake is c. £1bn.

Ruth has represented the Attorney-General (unled) in the Court of Appeal in the high-profile Quan v Bray divorce litigation where the wife is seeking to break a Mauritian trust for the benefit of the endangered South China Tiger. 22 tigers live on the trust’s land in South Africa worth £25m.

Ruth regularly appears in the High Court and the Court of Protection where she is frequently instructed by the Official Solicitor.

Ruth has been appointed to the Attorney-General’s  A Panel.

5 Stone Buildings - brick wall
Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2020

"She is straightforward, pragmatic and always quick to respond. She doesn't sit on the fence and is sensitive to clients - she really understands the Court of Protection."

Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2020

"Her knowledge is exceptional and she turns things around extremely quickly. She's also very impressive on her feet."

Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2020

"She's technically excellent, but also fully alive to the difficult circumstances that many of these cases involve."

Chambers UK 2018 - Juniors: Star Individual

"Her knowledge of legal procedures and technicalities is excellent."

Chambers UK 2017 - Court of Protection

"Very hard worker who is an extremely well organised and persuasive advocate. She isn’t afraid to get stuck in, and she fights her clients’ corner hard."

Chambers UK 2016 - Court of Protection

"She is really fantastic on her feet."

About Ruth Hughes

Professional Reputation

“Ruth quickly assesses a matter, focuses on the key issues and provides targeted advice.”

“Her knowledge of legal procedures and technicalities is excellent.”

Chambers UK 2018 – Juniors 

“Very hard worker who is an extremely well organised and persuasive advocate. She isn’t afraid to get stuck in, and she fights her clients’ corner hard.”

Chambers UK 2017 – Court of Protection

“She’s got a fantastic knowledge of this area and very much has an eye on the welfare issues. She is really fantastic on her feet. She is really practical and makes sure the protected party is being looked after. She is absolutely in her element in this work.”

Chambers UK 2016 – Court of Protection

“Very knowledgeable and thorough”

Chambers UK 2015 – Court of Protection

“a focused, bright, effective barrister who is tenacious on her feet”

Chambers UK 2014 – Court of Protection

Traditional Chancery/Private Client

The core of Ruth’s practice is contentious probate and family provision claims including claims involving, lack of capacity, want of knowledge and approval, mutual wills and testamentary proprietary estoppel. Ruth frequently acts in relation to administration disputes including the removal of trustees/personal representatives and claims involving allegations of breach of trust/duty.  Ruth often advises in respect of the proper construction of wills and trusts and rectification. Ruth has experience of dealing with trust issues in divorce. She often advises on Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax issues in estates and trusts.

Recent experience includes

  • Re XY Deceased [2021] EWHC 2887 (Ch) – acted for the Appellants (led by Penelope Reed QC) in this appeal of an award under the 1975 Act of an award made to a dependant grandchild – instructed by DWF LLP
  • Clitheroe v Bond [2021] EWHC 1102 (Ch) – Ruth acted for the Appellant (led by Vikram Sachdeva QC and Jack Anderson) in this important case on the test for testamentary capacity and in particular delusions.  She was instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP.
  • Page v Page [2020] EWHC 394 (Ch) – Ruth acted in this claim to rescind a charge over a matrimonial home put in place as a result of negligent tax advice
  • Re Baxendale-Walker – acted for HMRC as a supporting creditor in an application for interim receivers, the well-known debtor was later made bankrupt see [2018] EWHC 1681 (Ch) [2018] STI 1585.
  • Quan v Bray [2017] EWCA Civ 405 – a three-day Court of Appeal hearing relating to a divorce. Instructed for the Attorney-General to defend charity. Ruth appeared against Richard Todd QC and Stewart Leech QC and was praised by King LJ for the quality of her written and oral advocacy which was described as exemplary.
  • Re Stanley [2014] – a three-day testamentary proprietary estoppel claim. Instructed by Linder Myers LLP
  • Zarrinkhat v Kamal [2013] WTLR 1477 – acted for the beneficiary in an adult child claim under the 1975 Act
  • Bennett v Petit [2013] EWHC 988 (Ch) – three-day want of knowledge and approval claim. Instructed by Russell-Cooke LLP
  • Close v Abaowa [2010] EWHC 1920 (QB) – a five-day fraud trial involving the beneficial ownership of property, resulting trusts and the presumption of advancement
  • Re King [2010] EWHC 3939 (Ch) – instructed for the unborn and unascertained beneficiaries of a divorce settlement in an application under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958. Instructed by Withers LLP
  • Ruth acted in the Thorner v Major litigation concerning testamentary proprietary estoppel
  • Ruth acted for the Official Receiver in the K v A divorce proceedings before Charles J.

Ruth often undertakes work that involves cross-border issues.

Court of Protection

Ruth is one of the leading barristers of her level of seniority in Property and Affairs cases, although she also undertakes welfare claims.  Ruth is often instructed by the Official Solicitor for example in statutory gift and statutory will cases and cases involving an element of welfare. Ruth’s experience advising on capital taxation issues, and in drafting wills and trusts is particularly helpful in this area. She has been involved in complex international cases.

Notable cases:

  • Re K (Inherent Jurisdiction: Costs) [2021] EWHC 2147 (Fam) – Ruth acted for the Official Solicitor in this case concerning costs under the Inherent Jurisdiction. Victoria Butler-Cole QC acted for the LPAs and Constance McDonnell QC acted for the niece and nephew.
  • Re ACC & Others [2020] EWCOP 9 – important decision by the Senior Judge on authorisation to litigate, the need for professional deputies to tender for legal work and the payment of litigation friends. Ruth acted for the Official Solicitor.
  • Mundell v P [2019] EWCOP 50 – acted for a professional deputy in a capacity to marry case in which Mostyn J questions whether it is part of the test for capacity to marry for P to know that the core of marriage is for the parties to the marriage to live together and love one another.
  • Re CJF [2019] EWCOP 1 [2019] COPLR 262 and [2019] WTLR 633.– acted for the Official Solicitor in an urgent application for a statutory settlement for a minor who was about to die but for whom a statutory will could not be made. The case is particularly interesting as it is the first reported case under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to consider the issue. The Court authorised the settlement prior to the notification of CJF’s biological father.
  • Watt v ABC [2017] 4 WLR 24 – acted for ABC’s litigation friend in this case concerning whether a deputy or a personal injury trust was in ABC’s best interests
  • Re Jones [2014] EWCOP 59[2016] WTLR 661  – acted for the Official Solicitor in this multi-jurisdictional statutory will claim involving complex taxation issues
  • Re E [2014] EWCOP 27 [2014] Med LR 417 [2015] Med LR 417 – acted for the Official Solicitor in this case which involved an injunction to restrain the removal of E from the jurisdiction and the validity of her living will
  • Re Meek [2014] EWCOP 1 [2014] COPLR 535 – appeared for the Official Solicitor in this high-profile statutory will and security bond application
  • Re AS; SH v LC [2013] COPLR 29 – an application for a deputyship by a professional
  • Re MN [2010] WTLR 1719 with David Rees – the first reported case on Sch 3 to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 concerning the abduction of a mentally incapacitated person from the US. Instructed by Lawrence Graham LLP.

Ruth often appears in contentious tax disputes including customs work. She has particular experience of cases concerning bonded warehouses and also business premises renovation allowances.

  • CHF Pip! PLC v HMRC [2021] – acted for HMRC in this appointment case concerning EIS relief in relation to the new risk to capital condition.  Ruth’s advocacy was described as ‘eloquent’.
  • Page v Page [2020] EWHC 394 (Ch) – Ruth acted in this claim to rescind a charge over a matrimonial home put in place as a result of negligent tax advice
  • Ingenious Games LLP v HMRC [2019] UKUT 226 (TCC), [2019] STC 1851 – with Malcolm Gammie CBE QC et al – Ruth acted for HMRC these valuable and complex appeals concerning the financing of Avatar, Life of Pi and Shaun of the Dead using a GAAP scheme in which she undertook the examination of both witnesses of fact and expert witnesses at first instance.
  • London Luton Hotel BPRA Property Fund LLP v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 212 (TC) with Jonathan Davey QC et al – Ruth acted for HMRC in this important capital allowances decision concerning business premises renovation allowances. Ruth cross-examined the chair of CBRE Scotland who was an expert on commercial property development.
  • Waverton Property LLP v HMRC [2017] UKFTT 853 (TC) – Ruth acted with Jonathan Davey QC for HMRC in relation to the stay of a business premises renovation allowances case.
  • HT and Co (Drinks) Ltd v HMRC with Stephen Nathan QC – Ruth has been involved in both the Tax Tribunal and Judicial Review aspects of this dispute concerning the legality of HMRC’s decision to impose conditions on and subsequently close a bonded warehouse
  • Perfect v HMRC [2015] UKFTT 639 (TC) – Ruth was involved in this case which considered the issue of the knowledge required to be “holding” smuggled goods at the duty point for the purposes of liability for excised duty
  • Abbey Forwarding (in liq) v HMRC [2015] EWHC 225 (Ch) [2015] Bus LR 882 with Stephen Nathan QC and Sarah Harman – an important decision on when the court will enforce the undertaking in damages given to support the appointment of a provisional liquidator. Ruth acted for HMRC
  • Abbey Forwarding v Hone [2015] Ch 309 with Stephen Nathan QC and Sarah Harman – Ruth acted in this appeal in relation to an inquiry into damages following the discharge of a freezing order which clarifies the law regarding the measure of loss.
  • HMRC v San Marco London Ltd [2014] UKFTT 712 (TC) – appeared for HMRC in this strike-out application in relation to an appeal to reinstate a trader’s licence to trade duty suspended alcohol

Ruth is an accredited mediator, trained through ADR Chambers

Ruth has mediated several contentious probate and contentious Court of Protection disputes all successfully.

Education and Qualifications

Graduated from Trinity Hall Cambridge, 2006, First class (Bateman Scholar)

Erskine Chambers Prize for Company Law

Called to the Bar 2007, Lincoln’s Inn (Levitt Scholar)

Professional Memberships

Member of the Attorney General’s A panel

Member of the Judicial Appointments Committee advisory panel

Member of the Equality and Diversity Committee of the Bar Council

Member of the Equality and Diversity Committee of the Chancery Bar Association


Webinar Recordings

Accepting foreign property on behalf of a child under the Children Act 1989: Re AC (a child) and Hays v Hays – 5th March 2021 – Webinar by Ruth Hughes. Please click here to view. 

How to prepare an application to Variation of Trusts Act 1958 – 29th January 2021 – Webinar by Thomas Entwistle and Ruth Hughes. Please click here to view. 

Capacity to engage in sexual relations – 2nd October 2020 – webinar by Rose Fetherstonhaugh and Ruth Hughes. Please click here to view. 

Settling Contentious Probate – 30th July 2020 Ruth Hughes presents. Please click here to view

The Basics of IHT – 10th July 2020: Ruth Hughes and Arabella Adams recorded a webinar on the basics of IHT. Please click here to view 

Conflicts of Interest and Professional Deputies – 12th June 2020: Ruth and David Rees QC recorded a webinar about conflicts of interest and professional deputies. Please click here to view

Practical Tips for Remote Hearing 5th May 2020: Eliza Eagling asks Ruth to explain her tips for video and telephone hearings during Covid-19. Please click  here to view.

Will Execution during Covid-19 –30th April 2020: Ruth Hughes contribute to Maurice Turnor Gardener’s webinar about relaxing section 9 of the Wills Act with Rupert Ticehurst, Ed Powles and Jessica Henson of Payne Hicks Beech. Please click here to view.

If you would like Ruth to contribute to a webinar/lecture please contact the clerks at or our marketing team at or by telephone on 020 7242 6201.

Publications and Lecturing

Ruth has taught company law on the Bar Vocational Course and has contributed to the Trust Quarterly Review and other professional journals. She has written headnotes for the Wills and Trusts Law Reports. She was also on the editorial board of the Elder Law Journal and a correspondent for Private Client Business. Ruth lectures on all areas of her practice and in particular proprietary estoppel, mutual wills, tax and family provision.

Privacy Notice

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