Michael Hartman practices in the civil bar mainly in Chancery matters involving contracts, trusts, and fraud.
Background and Expertise
Michael’s strengths lie in his analysis of legal concepts and his determination to get a favourable result for his clients. In Court he represents his client’s lawful rights as forcefully as the law allows and puts the arguments of his client in even stronger terms.
As a long-established practitioner, he is now frequently called upon to represent clients facing or bringing difficult and complex claims. The value of these claims range from thousands to many millions of pounds.
Some examples include cases where the client felt he must claim:
A client had made some mortgage arrangements with a bank, worth about £1m in borrowings. He later realised the repayments were unfair to him. The bank eventually offered a settlement agreement but when he came to work out the details, the bank did not disclose what were to be the actual dates for maturity and repayment. The settlement somehow concealed that he still could not repay the loans within the time periods claimed by the bank. One real problem is that Courts do not willingly overturn settlement agreements. But there was an issue on which he could fight to the Court of Appeal; it turned on the interpretation of the Property Act which required, in complex terms, every term of his mortgage to be in writing and here the dates for repayment of the mortgages had not been formally agreed. The bank is still having problems complying with its terms.
Counsel was asked what happens when a Liechtenstein trustee of a trust decides after the death of the benefactor that it will not pay out the trust monies and assets, say nearly $1billion held on discretionary trusts, to any of the beneficiaries. At the same time, the trust monies were being depleted at an alarming rate by the trustees. Once again counsel was asked to advise on the interpretation of contracts, statutes and trusts. Not easy when, as in Liechtenstein, the law is that a discretionary beneficiary has no right to make any claims on the trust. After establishing the true meaning of the trust, the battle became one of nailing down the missing money and the missing trustees. Even Liechtenstein Trusts can be challenged Internationally.
Advised on strategy to recover Lichtenstein trust funds held after the death of the wealthy father. Careful analysis of Trust documents to resolve the basis upon which trustees could deny beneficiaries properly entitled to almost £1billion. A route was established to prove the falsification of the underlying basis upon which funds were with held.
Defending allegations by French authorities of insider dealings re: £1m. Careful and open dealings and provision of evidence by statements concerning all relevant investments with and to the Court prosecutor. Resulted in acquittal on all charges.
Defending a claim against an eminent surgeon heard in Manchester. Technical complaints of failure to act properly on multiple accounts. Challenged at first instance with some success and eventually successful in full before the High Court. Totally exonerated.
It had been an illegitimate exercise of the court's power under CPR r.3.1(7) to vary an order so that a bankrupt claimant was allowed to amend his claim form and particulars of claim to plead an assignment of the causes of action to him by the Official Receiver where there had not been a material change of circumstances; rather, the judge had simply changed his mind. The possibility of such an assignment happening had already been contemplated by the judge in refusing an adjournment on the issue.
CIVIL PROCEDURE - CPR - INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY - INSOLVENCYCA
(Civ Div) (Gloster LJ, Lewison LJ) 20/07/2017
References: LTL 21/7/2017 EXTEMPORE :  BPIR 49 :  7 WLUK 46
An issue that a settlement agreement was too uncertain to be enforced had been abandoned at trial and permission to raise that issue on appeal was refused. In any event an appeal on that issue would have failed: the parties had proceeded on the common understanding that new loan facilities would have the same repayment dates as the facilities that were being replaced and the settlement agreement was to be interpreted on that basis.
CIVIL PROCEDURE - BANKING AND FINANCE - REAL PROPERTY - CONTRACTS
 EWHC 340 (Ch)Ch D (John Baldwin QC) 28/02/2017
References: LTL 8/3/2017
A cause of action estoppel created by the dismissal of a defence and counterclaim to a bank's claim for payment of a company's debts under personal guarantees precluded the making of a fresh claim by the guarantors against the bank for damages for an alleged breach of an agreement regarding the appointment of receivers.
CIVIL PROCEDURE - BANKING AND FINANCE
 EWCA Civ 602CA (Civ Div) (Lewison LJ, Gloster LJ) 24/06/2016
References: LTL 24/6/2016
A master had been entitled to refuse an application for a further extension of time for service of a claim form where the application had been made late, and there were no exceptional circumstances that would have justified an extension.
 EWHC 1845 (QB)
QBD (Judge Seymour QC) 17/03/2015
References: LTL 18/3/2015 EXTEMPORE
An enforcement authority's power to impose fines on premium-rate telecommunications providers was not ultra vires. Although the Codcode of practice under which the authority acted not refer to the restrictions on imposing fines in the Communications Act 2003 s.123, Those restrictions applied as if expressly incorporated in the Code.
 EWHC 4303 (Ch)
Ch D (R Hollington QC) 19/12/2014
References: LTL 2/1/2015 :  Bus LR 567
An application by the defendant to a libel action for a non-party disclosure order was premature: he had not served a defence, meaning that he had as yet no "case" for the purposes of the CPR r.31.17(3)(a).
DEFAMATION - CIVIL PROCEDURE
 EWHC 662 (QB)
QBD (Tugendhat J) 18/03/2014
References: LTL 24/3/2014
A claim for repayment of loans made by family, who mortgaged their home, to assist a member of the family in the purchase of a property/home for development. The Defendant who developed the property denied having signed a promissory note to the lenders. Successfully, after trial, recovered substantial funds with costs.
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