Fenners Chambers | 3 Madingley Road | Cambridge | Cambridgeshire CB3 0EE | United Kingdom

Fenners Chambers | 3 Madingley Road | Cambridge | Cambridgeshire CB3 0EE | United Kingdom.

Fenners Chambers | 3 Madingley Road | Cambridge | Cambridgeshire CB3 0EE | United Kingdom.

Liam Varnam
Called to the Bar in 2007

Liam practises exclusively in civil law, with an emphasis on commercial, employment, probate and inheritance, and property matters. His clients benefit from his comprehensive legal knowledge, practical advice, and robust advocacy.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Commercial
  • Employment
  • Probate & Inheritance
  • Property

AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Commercial: Contractual disputes; construction disputes; debt recovery; claims based on economic torts, on mistake and misrepresentation, on bailment, and for money had and received; equitable remedies; unjust enrichment claims; sale of goods/supply of goods and services; personal and corporate insolvency; company law; cases turning on limitation points.
  • Employment: Advocacy, drafting, and advisory work in respect of employment tribunal disputes, including experience in the EAT. Experience of unfair dismissal; discrimination cases; TUPE; whistleblowing; employee status disputes; maternity claims; wages and breach of contract claims.
  • Probate and Inheritance: Advocacy, drafting, and advice across the whole range of probate work, including contentious probate, Inheritance Act claims, trusts claims, and actions relating to the administration of estates.
  • Property: particularly landlord and tenant and trusts disputes, but also matters such as restrictive covenants, agricultural law, and leasehold enfranchisement.

For more detailed guides to Liam’s work, please click on one of the practice areas listed above.

HIS WORK

Liam’s practice takes him across East Anglia, the East Midlands, London, and beyond, representing clients in a variety of courts and tribunals. Besides appearing in court, Liam drafts pleadings and advises both in conference and in writing. He accepts instructions directly from members of the public, as well as from solicitors.

Commercial law has been a significant part of Liam’s practice ever since he joined Fenners. Liam appears in interlocutory and final hearings in the High Court and on the fast and multi-tracks in the county court. He also advises in writing or conference and settles pleadings.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Contractual disputes
  • Sale of goods/supply of goods and services
  • Construction disputes
  • Debt recovery
  • Claims based on economic torts, on mistake and misrepresentation, on bailment, and for money had and received
  • Equitable remedies; for example, claims based on constructive, resulting, and Quistclose trusts
  • Unjust enrichment claims; for example, claims based on failure of basis
  • Professional negligence, particularly solicitor’s negligence
  • Personal and corporate insolvency
  • Company law
  • Cases turning on limitation points

HIS WORK

Liam accepts instructions directly from members of the public, as well as from solicitors. Besides appearing in court most days, he drafts pleadings and advises both in conference and in writing.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES

Choudhry v Luton Borough Council [2017] EWHC 960 (Ch); [2017] BPIR 1150; [2017] RVR 208: An appeal to the High Court against the making of a bankruptcy order arising from a council tax liability order.

Successful application to set aside the order of a Queen’s Bench Master (made several years earlier) granting permission to enforce a Lithuanian judgment in England, on the basis that the order was contrary to EU law.

Successfully defending a claim concerning the export of goods from the UK to Lebanon, in which the Claimant alleged that Liam’s client had supplied goods which were unfit for the purpose of being sold in Lebanon.

Acting for the respondent company in High Court proceedings for an administration order, including issues as to whether the applicant was genuinely a creditor of the respondent, and whether the court should order administration in circumstances where the respondent was balance sheet insolvent, but its debts were principally owed to its parent company, which was continuing to support it financially. The application was withdrawn prior to the final hearing.

Successfully acting for the Claimant in a solicitors’ negligence claim alleging a failure to competently advise on the terms of a settlement agreement, entered into on the termination of Liam’s client’s employment.

Acting in proceedings under the Torts (Interference with Goods Act) 1977 for the hirer of high-value building equipment which had been detained on an incomplete building site. The equipment was recovered following an interim application under section 4 of the 1977 Act, and a consequential damages claim was settled on favourable terms.

Numerous proceedings involving the sale of motor vehicles; for example, concerning whether the vehicle was of satisfactory quality, or whether the vendor had good title to the vehicle. Liam has particular experience representing motor dealers, but has also successfully represented purchasers on multiple occasions.

Successfully acting in a dispute over the ownership of a prize-winning pedigree dog, in which the key question was whether a retention of title clause had been incorporated into the contract for sale of the dog.

Liam Varnam’s property practice focuses on three main areas. First, land law, including easements, boundary disputes, restrictive covenants, etc. Second, trusts of land/TOLATA cases. Third, landlord and tenant cases, where he deals with both commercial and residential tenancies, acting for both landlords and tenants. Liam is listed as leading counsel in property law (tier 1) in the 2021 edition of the Legal 500.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Private landlord and tenant (commercial and residential), including possession claims, dilapidations, assignment of leases, forfeiture (and relief therefrom), and tenancy deposits
  • Trusts/TOLATA, particularly proprietary estoppel and constructive/resulting trust cases
  • Easements, including in particular rights of way and parking easements
  • Boundary disputes
  • Trespass actions
  • Housing law, including in particular cases involving public law, Human Rights Act, and Equality Act defences
  • Leasehold enfranchisement
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Agricultural holdings
  • Nuisance claims between neighbours
  • Adverse possession

HIS WORK

Liam appears in court and advises in writing and in conference. He accepts instructions directly from members of the public, as well as from solicitors.

WHAT OTHERS SAY

Extremely knowledgeable in property matters, with an ability to quickly grasp key facts and information from documents…particularly adept at handling trusts of land cases, land law matters such as boundary disputes and easements, as well as commercial landlord-and-tenant disputes
Legal 500, 2021.

RECENT CASES

TM v Metropolitan Housing Trust Ltd [2020] EWHC 311 (QB): Liam represented the housing trust at first instance and on appeal, in a possession claim against a severely disabled tenant. The tenant raised numerous Equality Act and public law defences, including allegations that the housing trust had breached its public sector equality duty, and that the decision to seek possession proceedings was discrimination arising from disability. Following a three-day trial, possession was granted, and the Equality Act defences were dismissed. The tenant’s appeal to the High Court was also dismissed. The tenant is now appealing to the Court of Appeal.

Representing a mortgagee in protracted possession and debt proceedings against a husband and wife, in which the wife alleged that her husband had forged her signature on the mortgage deed with the connivance of the mortgagee’s agent. The issues arising included forgery/fraud, alleged unfair relationship contrary to section 140 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and two separate applications to set aside judgment under CPR 39.3(5). As of December 2020, following nearly four years of litigation and thirteen hearings, the dispute appears to have been conclusively resolved in favour of Liam’s client.

Acting for the Defendants in a factually complex claim, involving multiple members of the same family, turning on whether the Claimants were the beneficial owners of the property held by the Defendants, pursuant to a constructive or resulting trust, or proprietary estoppel.

Acting in High Court proceedings between the co-owners of a multi-million-pound plot of land in Birmingham, concerning the terms on which their co-ownership should be brought to an end.

Successfully acting in the First-tier Tribunal in a dispute concerning an application by Liam’s client to register land of which the respondent claimed ownership, involving arguments concerning the construction of the original conveyance, proprietary estoppel, and adverse possession.

Acting in long-running boundary dispute proceedings, in which most boundary markers had been removed in the 1970s, and the parties and their lawyers were left to piece together the former position of the boundary based on a broad array of evidence of variable reliability. The case involved extensive examination of documentary and photographic records, and conflicting expert evidence. It settled at a mediation one week before a lengthy trial.

Successfully acting on behalf of a commercial landlord, seeking to recover over one million pounds in unpaid rent; the tenant’s unsuccessful defence raised numerous allegations of breach of the landlord’s repairing covenants.

Advising the leaseholders of two large blocks of flats, in respect of their claim for collective enfranchisement under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.

Liam accepts instructions in all areas of probate and related chancery practice. Besides having a busy paperwork practice, he also appears in interlocutory hearings and trials on a regular basis. He is currently completing the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) associate membership course.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Contentious probate; for example, questions as to the construction of wills; challenges to the validity of wills based on lack of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval, undue influence, and fraud; cases arising from intestacy; claims against personal representatives, etc
  • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
  • Claims based on proprietary estoppel and/or constructive trusts
  • Administration of estates, including the removal or substitution of personal representatives

HIS WORK

Liam accepts instructions directly from members of the public, as well as from solicitors. Besides appearing in court on an almost daily basis, he drafts pleadings and advises both in conference and in writing.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES

Advising in respect of a successful application to the Chancery Division for the removal and replacement of a personal representative, under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Successfully representing an executor in a claim against a beneficiary for the repayment of an overpaid legacy.

Representing the Claimant (a former cohabitant) at an Inheritance Act FDR, negotiating a settlement of £200,000.

Advising on a regular basis on matters such as the formal or substantive validity of wills, the construction of wills, and Inheritance Act claims. One memorable recent Advice involved considering whether newly-appointed executors should bring proceedings against the former executor for wrongfully disposing of the deceased’s flock of racing pigeons!

Having specialised in employment law since 2009, Liam regularly appears in the employment tribunal and EAT in cases covering the whole breadth of employment practice, with expertise in all types of discrimination claim, as well as unfair dismissal and protected disclosure/whistleblowing claims. Liam is also particularly interested in cases lying at the intersection of employment and general contract law, and has recently acted for both employers and employees in a number of six-figure breach of contract claims. He is listed as leading counsel in employment law in the 2021 edition of the Legal 500.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Unfair and wrongful dismissal, including constructive dismissal and ‘automatically unfair’ dismissals
  • Discrimination claims, whether direct, indirect, victimisation, harassment, etc – covering sex, race, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, etc
  • TUPE
  • Protected disclosure (‘whistleblowing’) claims.
  • Disputes concerning employee status.
  • Unlawful deductions from wages
  • Contractual claims, including those alleging wrongful dismissal and/or non-payment of wages
  • Holiday pay claims, including claims for accrued holiday pay following HMRC v Stringer, and claims for rolled-over holiday pay following King v Sash Windows Workshop

HIS WORK

Liam appears in court, and advises in writing and in conference. He accepts instructions directly from members of the public, as well as from solicitors.

WHAT OTHERS SAY

Meticulous attention to detail, very thorough and very approachable
Legal 500, 2021

REPRESENTATIVE CASES

Hossaini v EDS Recruitment Ltd & Another [2020] ICR 491: Successful appeal in a factually unusual race and religious discrimination claim involving the apparent doctoring of evidence and its effect on the substantive fairness of a first-tier judgment relying on that evidence, the admissibility of fresh evidence on appeal, and the application of the ‘without prejudice’ rule when costs are considered.

Fox v Ocean City Recruitment Ltd [2011] All ER (D) 108 (Aug): Successful appeal concerning vicarious liability for sexual harassment, the statutory defence afforded (at that time) by section 41 of the Sex Discrimination Act, and the correct measure of damages in sex discrimination cases.

Acting in a constructive dismissal claim for a former regional manager in a leading rail haulage firm. Responsibility for the main depot in his region was removed from Liam’s client, following trade union complaints (including the threat of unlawful industrial action) arising from his allegedly hardline management style. The unfair and wrongful dismissal claims succeeded, and Liam’s client subsequently settled his claim for a substantial sum.

Successfully acting against the Home Office in an unfair dismissal claim, in which Liam’s client had been dismissed following long-term sickness absence.
Defending a lengthy unfair dismissal and race discrimination claim, brought by the former manager of the UK branch of an international accountancy practice. The race discrimination claim was dismissed and while the unfair dismissal claim was conceded, no compensation was awarded, as the tribunal made a 100% Polkey reduction.

Representing a multinational supermarket chain resisting a race discrimination and unfair dismissal claim, arising from alleged theft by the Claimant, and his consequent dismissal. The Claimant withdrew his claim midway through the evidence, which was increasingly showing that he was guilty of the thefts alleged.

Representing a teacher in a whistleblowing dismissal claim, in which Liam’s client alleged that he had been dismissed for exposing institutional cheating in exams at a prominent boarding school. The case was extensively reported in the national press (for example, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Daily Mail).

Successfully defending an unfair dismissal and disability discrimination claim, on behalf of a FTSE 100 company.

Acting for an air ambulance doctor, in an unfair dismissal case turning on whether the doctor was an employee of the air ambulance.

 

QUALIFICATIONS

LLB (Hons), King’s College London

LLM by research, University of Reading

MEMBER

  • Employment Law Bar Association