Hal Branch Partner - Dispute Resolution, Family and Employment Law

Hal is head of Dispute Resolution. He has a wide range of expertise gained from over 30 years of experience in numerous areas of practice, including commercial and general litigation, inheritance disputes, employment and family law.

+44 (0) 20 7851 0123

hb@branchaustinmccormick.com

Hal advises international and domestic clients, both corporates and individuals, in complex disputes. Those disputes are resolved either by litigation, arbitration or alternative dispute resolution. The areas of work of particular interest and expertise include cross border litigation in contractual disputes often involving fraud and issues arising from sanctions and unexplained wealth orders. Hal has extensive knowledge of directors’ duties and of shareholder disputes often requiring urgent applications to the Court.

In addition, Hal’s practice includes :

  • representing clients in criminal proceedings, in particular advising corporate clients and senior management on financial crime and fraud matters, as well as regulatory investigations.
  • family work with particular emphasis on the resolution of complex financial issues (both for married couples and unmarried couples) as well as dealing with the arrangements for children following the breakdown of a relationship. Hal also regularly advises on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.
  • and in respect of contested Wills and claims under the Inheritance (Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • acting for claimants in defamation cases.

By reason of the complex and challenging points of law that have arisen Hal has frequently represented clients in the Court of Appeal and been part of creating new case law as a result. Hal’s approach is always to look after his clients’ best interests, while offering supportive and constructive advice as to the best available strategy, taking matters to trial when necessary.

Hal studied Modern History at London University and thereafter Law at the College of Law, London.

Out of the office, Hal is interested in developing his garden from what was farmland and travelling.

Expertise

  • Career Highlights

    Hal’s first significant case was as part of the small team acting for Lord Patrick Spens in the Guinness trails. Hal also represented two soap stars in the House of Lords in a defamation case against the now defunct News of the World. A further libel case of interest was acting for the wealthiest lady in Russia in her claim against the Sunday Times up to the Court of Appeal. Hal also acted in proceedings related to the largest fraud case ever in South Africa and the largest fraud case in the UK.. More recently, litigating in the BVI was of particular interest and obtaining the release of a 72 year old lady from prison after she had been unlawfully imprisoned by a judge in the Court of Protection.

  • Moutreuil v Andreewitch [2020] EWCA Civ 382

    Acting for the applicant  in the court of appeal which confirmed that a court hearing proceedings for committal for contempt of court had to ensure that the accused person was made aware that he was not obliged to give evidence but also warned that adverse inferences might be drawn if he exercised the right to silence.

  • Colin Johnston v Lady Natalie Elsie Wackett [2019] EWHC 3353 (Ch)

    Mr Edwin Johnson QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, handed down judgment in Colin Johnston v Lady Natalie Elsie Wackett [2019] EWHC 3353 (Ch), a claim for an order under Section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  The judgment includes important guidance as to the correct application of the judgment of the Supreme Court in llott v The Blue Cross and others [2017] UKSC 17 in the context of claims under the 1975 Act brought by adult children of the deceased.

  • Coroner’s Court

    Acting for a Spanish seating manufacturer at the inquest in Birmingham Coroner’s Court following the tragic death of Mr Ateeq Rafiq who died a week after he got stuck searching for his possessions under a seat at Vue Cinema Complex in Birmingham’s Star City.

    The article on the BBC News website may be viewed here.

  • Caroline Gibbs -v- Lakeside Developments Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2874

    This was an interesting second appeal in the Court of Appeal which deals with principles of unjust enrichment, the finality of a court order and a restatement by Lewison LJ of the law of forfeiture of long residential leases.

  • Re M [2016] EWCOP 42

    Acting for Teresa Kirk who was imprisoned for contempt of Court for refusing to sign a release form in respect of a patient, so that the patient would be moved from a care home in Portugal to a care home in the UK. On appeal we were able to obtain Ms Kirk’s immediate release from prison.

  • Caroline Gibbs -v- Lakeside Developments Ltd [2016] EWHC 2203

    The High Court considered whether a conflicting email and attachment constituted acceptance or a counter offer. A further significant point of law which was considered on appeal was whether there can be unlawful enrichment where a possession order had not been set aside.

  • Bennett v Bennett & Oths [2018] EWHC 1931 (Ch) (Mr George Bompas QC)

    This was a highly publicised 2 week trial in which Hal acted for the Third and Fourth parties in a £10m claim concerning the ownership of East Thurrock football club and surrounding development land. The claim involved issues of partnership law, constructive trusts and proprietary estoppel. It received widespread press attention including The Times and Daily Telegraph.

  • Meir Levin v Michael Tannebaum (2013) LTL 18/11/13 Ch D

    Acting for the Claimant in a claim for damages against the guarantor of numerous loans. The claim arose from the biggest ponzi fraud in South African history.

  • Philip Afia v David Mellor QC PC and Others LTL 3/12/13

    Acting for the Claimant, a shareholder in Partridge Fine Arts, in his successful claim for damages against guarantors who had guaranteed the acquisition of shares when Partridge was taken over. The claim concerned complicated issues of law including promissory estoppel, waiver, forbearance and the successful appeal of the decision of the District Judge to withdraw his Judgment.

  • Baturina v Times Newspapers Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 308

    Successfully acting for the Claimant in a significant claim for damages for defamation, against the Sunday Times, in what is now a leading case in respect of innuendo meanings in defamation.

  • JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov and others – High Court Chancery Division

    Acting for one of the Defendants in perhaps the single largest claim in the  English Courts in excess of US$4 billion and featured as a Top 20 case of 2011 in The Lawyer. There are nine sets of proceedings and the firm was instructed in respect of the AAA proceedings which concerned an alleged fraudulent transaction against BTA Bank. The issues included freezing and search orders and other applications in the Chancery Division and Commercial Court.

  • Innovatis Investments Fund Limited v Ejder Group Limited [2010] EWHC 1851

    Acting for the Claimant who successfully obtained Judgment for just over $4,000,000 in an action concerning Lehmann Brothers Medium Term Basket Note with a face value of US$7,000,000. It is believed that this is the first reported decision in which the High Court has considered the legal nature of a securities purchase agreement. The case also concerned issues of an agent’s liability under a contract in the context of securities trading.

  • Northbrook v Abbey Estates Limited (June 2009) Court of Appeal

    Acting for a successful Claimant seeking return of a deposit for a property purchase at auction on the basis of misrepresentation, implied covenants to title and vacant possession. The Defendant was refused permission to appeal at a fully argued permission hearing. Lloyd L. J. ruled that the common auction conditions did not exclude ability for positive misrepresentations. He also held that there was no reason why a Court could not award enhanced interest on costs under Part 36 where the receiving party was funded by a CFA.

  • Lichter & Schwartz (a partnership) v Rubin [2008] EWHC 450 (Ch D); [2008] WLR (D) 93

    A successful interim application for the disclosure of information about assets which are or may be the subject of an application for a freezing injunction.

  • Godfrey v Torpy and Others [2007] EWHC 919 (Ch)

    Insolvency Act 1986 section 423. Leave of the Court was not required to continue proceedings in which an order to set aside a transaction at an undervalue had been applied for before the debtor’s insolvency.

  • Manches LLP v Carl Freer [2006] EWHC 991

    A company director held not to be liable for solicitors’ fees where terms of business containing a guarantee was not signed in his personal capacity.

  • Green -v- Deutsche Bank Group Services [2006] EWHC 1898 (QBD)

    Acting for a successful Claimant in a high value bullying and harassment claim.

  • Ch.D Re: Landhurst Leasing [1999] BCLC 286, Ch.D

    The standard of conduct of directors of insolvent companies.

  • Charleston and Another -v- News Group Newspapers Ltd and Another [1995] 2 All ER 313

    A libel action for two Australian soap stars after the publication in a Sunday newspaper of a “defamatory” photograph which was held not to be defamatory when considered with the article as a whole.