Call: 2012

John Beresford

Direct access

Practice overview

John specialises in commercial and property law. John has appeared in levels of tribunal up to and including the Court of Appeal. He has experience of a wide variety of commercial matters including contractual disputes, breach of fiduciary duty claims, fraud, joint venture disputes, shareholder disputes, tracing claims, agency disputes, breach of confidence claims and financial services regulation. John’s substantial property practice encompasses commercial and residential landlord and tenant disputes, leasehold management matters, secured lender claims and various matters heard in the First-Tier Tribunal.

Notable current and past instructions include:

  • Tillman v Lloyds Bank Plc and Better Capital LLP:  John acts for the Claimant (a former owner of the Jaegar and Aquascutum fashion brands) in his c£150m unlawful means conspiracy claim which is being heard in the Commercial Court. John is led by Brie Stevens-Hoare QC.
  • Toner v Telford Homes Ltd [2021] EWHC 516 (QB): John acts for the Fourth Defendant in these ongoing proceedings which concern a property purchased ‘off plan’ by the Claimant who is making allegations of breach of contract, negligence, deceit, harassment and defamation against various parties. John was successful in securing strike out of the defamation and breach of contract claims made against his clients.
  • Freear v Andrews [2020] EWHC 3497 (QB): John successfully represented the Defendant in resisting the Claimant’s application for summary judgment / strike out in a claim concerning a £1.6m property investment. This ongoing matter raises some interesting points of law concerning Quistclose Trusts.
  • Ramjotton v Patel [2020] UKUT 19 (LC), [2021] 2 WLUK 148: Upper Tribunal decision concerning the scope of the jurisdiction under paragraph 5A of Schedule 11 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. John acted successfully for the Appellant.
  • A v B: John acts for the Respondents in an ongoing HM Land Registry rectification claim where serious allegations of fraud are being made. John is led by David Lewis QC.
  • Holyoake v Candy [2017] EWHC 3397 (Ch): John acted for the Claimants in their £132m claim against the Candy Brothers & others arising out of a property development gone wrong (led by Roger Stewart QC of 4 New Square Chambers). The 9 week trial of this matter (which featured in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2017) was heard in the Chancery Division and judgment was handed down in December 2017. These proceedings generated a number of interlocutory decisions (([2017] EWHC 387 (Ch), [2018] EWHC 377 (Ch), [2018] 2 WLUK 495, [2018] EWHC 502 (Ch)).
  • R v J: John was instructed by a high-end fashion label to defend a £3m claim for statutory compensation under the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993 (led by David Lewis QC). This matter settled.
  • B v S: John acted (as sole counsel) in Queen’s Bench Division proceedings on behalf of a start-up drinks company defending allegations that it had wrongfully terminated an exclusive distribution agreement. This matter settled
  • John acted successfully for an entrepreneur in seeking an order for pre-action disclosure against a publicly listed real estate services company. This matter received coverage in the Guardian, the Times and the Financial Times.

John graduated from the University of Oxford with a Double First in Law where he received numerous university and college prizes including the Gibbs Prize (Proxime Accessit) for the best university performance in Contract, Tort, Trusts and Land Law.

Areas of expertise

  • Commercial litigation

    Commercial litigation

    John has experience of a wide range of commercial disputes acting as both junior and sole counsel.

    John’s commercial practice encompasses contractual disputes, civil fraud, banking and finance, partnership and shareholder disputes, international trade, personal and proprietary restitution, joint venture disputes, breach of fiduciary duty claims, tracing claims and the economic torts.

    Recent work

    • Holyoake v Candy [2018] EWHC 502 (Ch): On whether an unsuccessful claimant was liable to pay indemnity costs.
    • Holyoake v Candy [2017] EWHC 384 (Ch):: On an application pursuant to section 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 seeking an order that a litigant disclose its third party funders.
    • Holyoake v Candy [2017] EWHC 387 (Ch): On the scope of the collateral waiver principle following the disclosure of privileged material to rebut an allegation of late fabrication.
    • Advising a property developer in relation to a potential Pallant v Morgan / proprietary estoppel claim (led by Nigel Jones QC).
    • Advising a multinational clothing brand on the enforceability of an arbitration award in the United Arab Emirates.
    • Advising a foreign national on a prospective claim against a London embassy relating to unpaid professional fees. This matter involved issues of sovereign immunity arising under the Sovereign Immunity Act 1978.
    • Drafting a statement of case in relation to a contractual dispute heard in the Dubai International Arbitration Centre.
    • Blackett v GE Money Limited: Successfully appearing at a strike out/summary judgment application hearing on behalf of a bank facing allegations that it acted in breach of contract and financial services regulations. This matter raised issues as to the scope of Section 138D of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000
    • Asif Hakim Adil v Frontline Development Partners Limited[2014] DIFC CFI 015: Advising a government advisory firm based in the Dubai International Financial Centre as to the application of Article 18 of the DIFC Employment Law.
    • Drafting written submissions in relation to a discrete procedural point arising under the Court Rules of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (heard before Chief Justice Michael Hwang SC).
    • O’Brien v Landmark Global UK Ltd & BPost International BV: Advising and appearing at various interlocutory hearings on behalf of a subsidiary of a global logistics company facing allegations that it acted in breach of a consultancy agreement. This ongoing maters gives rise to issues relating to restrictive covenants and the scope of the res judicata principle
    • Advising in relation to a prospective tracing claim arising from a fraud perpetrated across multiple jurisdictions. This ongoing matter involves complex issues of private international law and proprietary restitution.
    • CW Publishing Limited v Simpsons Limited: Successfully appearing at trial on behalf of an SME resisting a claim by a publisher for unpaid fees. The primary issue before the court was whether a binding contract had been entered into between the parties.
    • D Hammond Limited v Bromilow: Successfully appearing at trial on behalf of an engineering contractor seeking recovery of unpaid fees in the context of a dispute between two former shareholders.
    • National Westminster Bank Plc v Ramzan: Drafting pleadings on behalf of a bank pursuing a subrogated claim against a residential borrower arising out of a fraud committed by a third party.
    • Advising and drafting pleadings on behalf of a building surveyor facing allegations of professional negligence.
    • Advising and drafting pleadings on behalf of an architect facing allegations of professional negligence.
    • Drafting pleadings on behalf of a contractor pursuing a claim against a specialist sub-contractor for unpaid fees.

    In addition to the above, during pupillage John gained experience of the following commercial matters:

    • A $300m claim brought by a US based vulture fund against the Republic of Argentina in the UK courts raising novel issues relating to sovereign immunity in relation to the enforcement of foreign judgment debts against states.
    • An interest rate swap misselling claim brought by a private investor against a major bank.
    • A professional negligence and dishonest assistance claim brought against a major bank arising out of a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by a third party.
    • An arbitration in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre arising out of an alleged fraud committed against a publicly listed company by one of its directors.
    • An unfair prejudice petition pursued by a minority shareholder of a hedge fund incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
    • An application to pursue a derivative claim on behalf of a publicly listed company.
  • Property
    • Commercial landlord & tenant

      Commercial landlord & tenant

      John has experience of commercial landlord and tenant disputes.

      Recent work:

      • Appearing on behalf of commercial landlords in possessions claims based on forfeiture of long leases.
      • Cousins v Alhasan & British Developments Limited: Appearing on behalf of landlords seeking injunctions to obtain access to their tenanted properties for the purposes of carrying out inspections and works.
      • Appearing at a hearing for a Party Wall injunction.
      • Successfully appearing at trial on behalf a landlord on the question of the reasonableness of service charges.
      • Drafting pleadings in numerous disrepair claims.
    • Housing (social & privately rented)

      Housing (social & privately rented)

      John handles a wide variety of residential landlord and tenant disputes. He acts for most of the major social housing landlords in London and particularly enjoys possession claims where the tenant has raised Equality Act 2010, Human Rights Act 1998 and public law defences.

      Recent work:

      • Appearing in countless possession claims concerning ASTs, assured tenancies, secure tenancies and Rent Act tenancies facing a broad range of issues including tenancy deposit schemes, the service of notices and counterclaims for disrepair.
      • Successfully obtaining numerous anti-social behaviour injunctions under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. This includes matters which have made it to trial.
      • Appearing on behalf of residential landlords in possessions claims based on forfeiture of long leases.
      • Appearing on behalf of landlords seeking injunctions to obtain access to their tenanted properties for the purposes of carrying out inspections and works.
      • Drafting pleadings in numerous disrepair claims.
      • Drafting witness statements in respect of an adverse possession claim in the First-tier Tribunal.
      • Appearing in numerous committal hearings arising from breach of anti-social behaviour injunctions.
    • Real property & mortgages

      Real property & mortgages

      John welcomes instructions in relation to real property disputes and also mortgage work.

      Recent work:

      • Drafting a claim on behalf of a mortgage lender seeking an order from the court directing the Registrar of HM Land Registry to rectify the register.
      • Appearing on behalf of estate trustees in possession claims where the occupier has issued a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Professional associations

  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • The London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association


  • Contributing author to Construction All Risks Insurance (2nd Edition, 2016, Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Contributing author to Construction Professional Indemnity Insurance (2nd Edition, 2017, Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Contributing author to Insurance Broking Practice and the Law (CMS Cameron McKenna)


  • BA (Jurisprudence) – Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford (Double First)
  • BPTC – BPP Law School (Very Competent)
  • Shelford Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Gibbs Prize, University of Oxford
  • Lord Mansfield Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Hardwicke Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
  • College Scholarship, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford
  • Isaiah Berlin Prize, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford
  • The Citigroup Scholarship, University of Oxford


The importance of acting with “reasonable promptitude” when applying for relief from forfeiture: Keshwala and another v Bhalsod [2020] EWHC 2372 (QB)


When do you lose the right to challenge the recoverability and reasonableness of service charges?


Collateral waiver of privilege (Holyoake and another v Candy and others)