Dr Michael Ashdown

Practitioner Non-Stipendiary Lecturer in Law

Michael is a barrister at Wilberforce Chambers.

Before going to the Bar, Michael spent six years as Fellow and Tutor in law at Somerville College. His research concerned trustees’ powers and duties and the remedial consequences of breaches of trust, with a particular focus on the so-called “rule in Re Hastings-Bass”, and was cited in the Court of Appeal in Pitt v Holt [2011] EWCA Civ 197. He lectured, examined and gave tutorials on the law of trusts and Roman law. He continues to teach land law to Oxford undergraduates.

As a barrister, he appears regularly in the High Court and County Court, both as sole counsel and as a junior in a larger team.

Michael’s particular interests are in all aspects of litigation and advice relating to trusts law. This encompasses both traditional private client work and pension schemes, together with professional negligence in those fields.

Recent notable instructions include:

  • British Airways v Maunder. Acting for British Airways in a long-running claim against the trustees of the Airways Pension Scheme for alleged breaches of trust in the exercise of discretionary powers, culminating in a 7-week trial before Morgan J (with Michael Tennet QC and Sebastian Allen).
  • Acting (as sole counsel) for a minor beneficiary in two sets of contested High Court proceedings, first pursuant to Schmidt v Rosewood Trust Ltd to obtain trust accounts and other information to explain the diminution of the trust fund, and secondly to remove and replace the existing trustees.
  • Acting (as sole counsel) in High Court proceedings for a beneficiary seeking to establish his entitlement to a half share in a substantial trust fund, and to value and realise that share.
  • Acting (as sole counsel) for the claimant firm of solicitors in the County Court trial of their claim to recover unpaid fees from a client for whom they had acted in Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings.
  • Advising the defendant administrator on claims under the under the Inheritance (Provision for Family of Dependants) Act 1975 concerning overseas property, the validity of UK and foreign marriages and divorces by both claimant and deceased, and the recognition in England of foreign polygamous marriage.


‘English Trust Law Principles’ in S Kempster, M McMillan and A Meek (eds) International Trust Disputes (OUP 2020)

‘Disorder & delayed discovery’ (2019) 169 (7840) New Law Journal 16

‘A modern approach to fraud on a power’ (2018) 24 Trusts & Trustees 653 (with Tiffany Scott QC)

‘Professional Advice’ in PS Davies, S Douglas and J Goudkamp (eds), Defences in Equity (Hart Publishing 2018)

‘Trustee Decision Making: The Rule in Re Hastings-Bass’ (OUP 2015)

‘Laches and limitation’ (2014) Trusts & Trustees 20 (9): 958-965 (with Clare Stanley QC)

Where Next?