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Matthew Hodson
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A go-to guy who knows how to extract pertinent points in cross-examination

Legal 500

Matthew is a commercial barrister with particular expertise in company and shareholder disputes, commercial contractual claims, insolvency and employment issues including employee competition work. He also has niche specialisms in contentious trust and probate work.

Out of chambers, Matthew is often to be found up mountains, completing long distance walks or leading expeditions abroad. He is also a keen tennis and football player and glory hunting Burnley fan. As well as his sport, he dabbles in computer programming and gardening.

Commercial Litigation

Matthew has a strong commercial dispute resolution practice covering high value commercial litigation concerning commercial entities of all types with an emphasis on joint venture, shareholder and partnership disputes, breach of shareholder agreement, misuse of company funds and diversion of business being particular strengths.  He also covers fraud and asset tracing as well as insolvency.

He advises and represents individuals, businesses and insurance companies on a wide range of matters.

His recent experience includes:

  • Towergate v Hopkinson [2018] EWCA Civ 2744: A seven figure share purchase agreement dispute, relating to the interpretation and construction of an indemnity clause.
  • Kelly v Bluebridge: A long running shareholder dispute between father and son over a multi-million pound business. The matter has been resolved by successful prosecution of an unfair prejudice petition.
  • An arbitration to determine the enforceability of a restrictive covenant barring competition by a management consultant with a seven-figure annual salary.
  • A joint venture dispute relating to the purchase and renovation of properties without properly agreeing terms of business first, involving breach of contract and trust issues (per Pallant v Morgan) as well as misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
  • A proprietary estoppel claim involving a company employee who had worked for a business in expectation of an interest in the company.
  • Restraining presentation of a winding up petition against a company on the basis of a genuine and substantial dispute.
  • Advice on negotiating disqualification periods for company directors.
  • Theft and misuse of company confidential information claim.
  • A case involving the fraudulent imposition of fake landlord and tenant contracts on a developer by an estate agent.
  • Advice on jurisdiction and procedure for recovery of contract sums relating to professional advisory work performed internationally and outside of the EU.
  • Claims by professionals for recovery of unpaid fees.

Employment & Executive Disputes

Matthew regularly provides representation in the High Court and in arbitrations in cases with a commercial angle such as those involving employee competition (i.e. restrictive covenants and springboard relief, whistleblowing or breach of shareholder/director’s duties).

Matthew is ranked in the Legal 500 – ‘A go-to guy who knows how to extract pertinent points in cross-examination.’

He also commonly undertakes cases in the employment tribunals and the EAT on a range of matters. He acts for both employees and employers. He has particular expertise in discrimination cases and has recently advised and appeared in several disability, pregnancy, sex and sexual harassment disputes.

Matthew is a member of the ELAAS scheme, providing pro-bono representation to appellants in the EAT. He is also a speaker on employment issues for White Paper conferences.

His recent experience includes:

  • Dagorne v Petit Forestier (UK) Ltd (2018) WL 04698261 – A claim for damages arising out of a negligent and defamatory employment reference
  • A claim against a foreign embassy for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination, involving an issue of state immunity.
  • An arbitration to determine the enforceability of a restrictive covenant barring competition by a management consultant with a seven-figure annual salary.
  • A whistleblowing claim by a senior risk management employee against a fund management company.
  • Unfair dismissal of company directors for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Claims involving allegations of sexual harassment by senior male managers against junior female employees.
  • A claim of race discrimination by an area manager who was dismissed in circumstances where the employer claimed there were performance and conduct issues.
  • A pregnancy discrimination claim by an employee whose business moved to a new location during her maternity leave and who was not kept properly informed of developments.
  • A disability discrimination claim by a senior employee of a marketing agency who pushed her to work too hard on return after going to into remission following bowel cancer.
  • A whistleblowing and disability discrimination claim by a senior custody officer against a provider of security services.
  • A claim of sex and race discrimination by two employees of a foreign state that relied upon state immunity as a defence.
  • Countrywide Estate Agents v Turner (2014) UKEAT/0208/13/LA; WL4250036; LTL 8/9/2014. An appeal to the EAT to determine the correct basis of contractual and compensatory damages following unfair dismissal.
  • Indigo Design Build & Management v Martinez (2014) UKEAT/0020/14/DM; WL 4423177; LTL 11/9/14. Appeal before the EAT to determine the correct “reason why” legal test for direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
  • A claim of disability discrimination following long term bullying by a manager

Previous significant reported cases on employee competition include:

  • Customer Systems v Ranson [2011] EWHC 3304
  • Tim Russ & Co v Roberston [2011] EWHC 3470

Contentious Probate & Inheritance Act Claims

Matthew has developed a niche specialism in contentious probate and Inheritance Act claims. He has been involved in advising, negotiating and appearing at trial on topics that range from the rule against double portions to mutual will claims.

Recent work includes:

  • A claim involving argument on inter vivos gifts and the presumption against double portions.
  • An unusual claim involving mutual wills.
  • A dispute concerning entitlement under various trusts, the Inheritance Act and a life insurance policy.
  • Advising on the distribution of assets in a foreign jurisdiction.
  • Advice on the effect of a hotchpot clause that called into account inter vivos gifts by the testator.
  • A dispute involving alleged undue influence and lack of knowledge/approval in the drawing up of a will.
  • A claim involving allegedly late distribution of an estate and incorrect IHT payments.
  • A claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 by a previously unknown mistress for maintenance in undisclosed accommodation
  • A claim for a common intention constructive trust on the basis of an agreement between two co-habiting partners that the home owned by only one of them should be held upon that parties’ death to bring up their child.
  • A claim based on trust and proprietary estoppel for a share in the family business.
  • A claim by step children for maintenance under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, arguing that they were treated as children of the family.
  • Advice on the construction of a condition precedent in a will, and the consequences of its breach.
  • An application to remove named executors who were suspected of theft of estate assets.
  • An application to remove an executor for delay in distribution of the assets.

He previously appeared in Re Frost (Deceased) [2013] EWHC 435 (Ch), a well-known case on double portions.

Trusts including TOLATA

Matthew regularly advises and represents clients in claims involving trusts or estoppel, often between co-habiting partners or otherwise in a commercial context.

His recent work includes:

  • A claim for a common intention constructive trust on the basis of an agreement between two co-habiting partners that the home owned by only one of them should be held upon that parties’ death to bring up their child.
  • A claim based on trust and proprietary estoppel for a share in the family business.
  • A defence based on proprietary estoppel to a claim by a bank for a half share in a domestic property as a result of an irregular mortgage.
  • A case involving the negligent failure of a trustee to prevent his co-trustee from squandering trust assets in a series of ill-judged investments during the 2007 financial crash.

Defamation

Matthew is regularly instructed in media and defamation matters. He is experienced in drafting claims, seeking and opposing injunctive relief, obtaining strike out or summary judgment at an early stage or appearing at trial or mediation as may be required. His clients have included actors, doctors, members of local government, businessmen, employees and lawyers, all seeking to protect their reputations. He has also defended international businesses such as hotel groups and law firms from defamation actions.

His reported cases include Kim v Park & Otrs [2013] EWHC 3568 in which he obtained strike out of a newspaper’s defence to his client’s libel claim and Lloyd v Rawding & Otrs [2017] EWHC 1854 in which the claimant’s slander claim against his clients was struck out.

Other recent cases have included:

  • Statements made in national newspapers alleging that the police were investigating an actor for hate crimes.
  • Statements made in newspapers describing an individual as a ‘conman’ and ‘fraudulent’.
  • Statements made in a work email published to the whole business describing an employee as ‘AWOL’, ‘behind in his work’ and ‘playing one person off against another’.
  • Statements made in a public objection to a planning development describing the applicant businessman as ‘ethically questionable’ and untrustworthy.
  • A claim made by an expert witness against the other side’s solicitors, relating to comments made about that expert in open correspondence.
  • Statements made in a newspaper that a public figure had ‘rigged an election’ and had lost public office on account of ‘dishonourable conduct’.
  • An allegation made in a hotel lobby that an individual was subject to a police restraining order preventing him from coming near an employee.
  • Statements published in online blogs and forums to the effect that an individual appearing in court was not a qualified solicitor and was therefore not entitled to be making representations.
  • Dagorne v Petit Forestier (UK) Ltd (2018) WL 04698261 – A claim for damages arising out of a negligent and defamatory employment reference

Professional associations

  • Employment Lawyers Association
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association

Qualifications

  • University College London, BSc Mathematics
    PGDL, BVC, College of Law
  • Mediator (Chartered Institute of Arbitrators accredited)
  • Chairman of the Tribunal of Travelling Showmen (2014 – )

Directory Recommendations

Matthew is recommended for Employment by Legal 500.

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