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Tim Morshead QC

Call: 1995Silk: 2011
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Practice Summary

Tim is a litigation specialist practising in commercial and real estate law. He has appeared in many of the leading cases in these areas, including interpretation of contracts as well as the valuation, rating, planning and public law issues which arise. He also has expertise in the fields of nuisance, professional negligence, compulsory purchase, highways, town & village greens and local government law. A member of the Treasury “A” Panel until taking silk, he is an experienced trial and appellate advocate, including in the Supreme Court / House of Lords and Privy Council.

Advocacy and Litigation Experience

Tim is an experienced litigator with appearances in a variety of tribunals including the Supreme Court, House of Lords, the Privy Council, the Court of Appeal, the High Court (Chancery Division, Queen’s Bench Division, Technology & Construction Court, Commercial Court, Administrative Court), the County Court, the Lands Tribunal (now the Upper Tribunal, Lands Chamber), various Valuation Tribunals and Leasehold Valuation Tribunals and planning and other statutory and non-statutory inquiries. He is an experienced cross examiner of factual and technical/ expert evidence.

Tim also has experience of sitting as a non-statutory inquiry inspector, arbitrator and legal assessor. He is a qualified ADR group mediator.

Reported cases

A fuller list of Tim’s cases can be provided on request but over the past few years his main reported cases have been these:

Supreme Court:

Southwark London Borough Council and City of London Corporation v. Transport for London [2018] 3 WLR 2059: real estate/ highways: Tim acted for TfL in this appeal concerning the meaning of the word “highway”: does it mean just the “top two spits” as had been thought and held below? Or can it include the whole interest in the land covered by the surface of the highway?

Regency Villas Title Ltd v. Diamond Resorts (Europe) Ltd [2018] 3 WLR 1603: real estate/ easements: a case concerning the legal characteristics of an “easement”.

Cardtronics Europe Ltd v. Sykes [2019] 1 WLR 2281: rating: whether ATMs situated in shops are liable to rates. Tim acts for HMRC and permission to appeal to the Supreme Court has been granted with a hearing due in March 2020.

Iceland Foods Ltd v. Berry [2018] 1 WLR 1277: rating: a case concerning the interpretation of the Plant and Machinery Regulations in relation to Iceland’s air conditioning equipment.

Woolway (VO) v. Mazars LLP [2015] AC 1862: rating: this case is the leading modern authority on the identification of the “hereditament” in rating.

Arnold v. Britton [2015] AC 1619: contracts/ real estate: this case about a lease is a leading modern authority on the interpretation of contracts.

(Older House of Lords cases:

Chartbrook Limited v. Persimmon Homes Limited [2009] 1 AC 1101: contracts/ real estate: this case about an overage agreement is a leading modern authority on the interpretation of contracts.

Cobbe v. Yeoman’s Row Management Limited [2008] 1 WLR 1752: real property/ equity: this was a case about proprietary estoppel.)

Waters v. Welsh Development Agency [2004] 1 WLR 1304: compulsory purchase: this case established the modern principles applicable to identifying “the scheme” for the purposes of applying the Point Gourde principle.

Court of Appeal:

Cardtronics Europe Ltd v. Sykes [2019] 1 WLR 2281: rating: see above.

Jones v. Oven [2018 All ER(D) 65: real property: interpretation of covenant.

Dudley Muslim Association v. Dudley MBC [2016] 1 P&CR 10: public law and real property: this case concerned the relationship between public law concepts and ordinary contract law.

Swift 1st Ltd v. Chief Land Registrar [2015] Ch 602: real property: this case concerned the fraud/forgery provisions of the Land Registration Act 2002.

Beech v. Kennerley [2012] 9 EG 150: real property: easements.

R ota Milton Keynes Council v. Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government [2012] JPL 728: public law: this case concerned the law of legitimate expectations.

(Older cases of importance in their fields:

Real estate: Silkstone v. Tatnall [2012] 1 WLR 400, Franks v. Bedward [2012] 1 WLR 2428, Batsford Estates (1983) Co Ltd v. Taylor [2006] 2 P&CR 5, Starmark Enterprises v. CPL Distribution Ltd [2002] Ch 306.

Rating: Bradford (VO) v. Vtesse Networks Ltd [2010] RA 69,

Planning/ minerals: R ota Bleaklow Industries Ltd v. SSCLG [2009] 2 P&CR 21)

High Court:

R ota Principled Offsite Logistics Ltd v. Trafford Council [2018] RA 499: rating: Tim acted on behalf of a rates mitigation business in this case which vindicates its scheme for the mitigation of empty rates.

Upper Tribunal:

Harding v. Secretary of State for Transport [2017] RA 271: compulsory purchase: whether the “hereditament” covered by the blight provisions included both elements of a property used for equestrian purposes even though separated by a road.


Tim’s clients include major landholdings, large commercial organisations, supermarket operators and other retailers, branches of the central government, governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, banks, pension funds, charities, local authorities and statutory bodies, as well as private individuals and companies.

Property Law

Most of Tim’s work concerns land and he has a substantial “classic” Chancery and property law practice including: proprietary estoppel, fraud and constructive trusts, mortgages, land registration, commercial landlord and tenant litigation and arbitration (including rent review, business tenancy renewals, insolvency issues and dilapidations), overage agreements, disputed contracts for the sale of land, interpretation & rectification of development agreements other documents, restrictive covenants (including applications to the Lands Tribunal to modify or discharge restrictive covenants to enable residential and commercial development to proceed), easements, nuisance, trespass, adverse possession and disputed wayleave agreements both for and against statutory undertakers.


Tim’s work often brings him into contact with valuation questions, and not only in relation to rent review and dilapidations cases. He has appeared frequently in the Lands Tribunal in valuation cases.

Compulsory Purchase and Compensation

Tim has advised and acted for a variety of clients in relation to HS2, Crossrail, the Olympic CPO, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link CPO, the Bedford Bypass CPO, the Clapham Bypass CPO and other highway schemes; and in relation to the compensation payable under such schemes.


Tim’s property practice extends into the law of rates and he has appeared frequently for HM Revenues & Customs as well as for ratepayers in a large number of the leading cases in this field.

Highways and town and village greens

Tim also has extensive experience of the law of highways and town and village greens, as well as planning law and other more-or-less public law related aspects of land law. He has appeared as counsel at inquiries and in statutory appeals/ judicial reviews of decisions in these fields. he has also sat as a village green inspector.

Public and Planning Law

Tim also has considerable public law experience outside the property field, partly but not wholly in the planning field. He is now frequently instructed to advise and appear in cases involving elements of both property and public law, including for example: vires questions arising in connection with land transactions by or with public bodies, human rights issues relating to the use and occupation of land and interference with title.


“Classic” property law and Chancery cases

  • Knights Construction (March) Limited v (1) Roberto Mac Limited (2) Chief Land Registrar [2011] EWLandRA 2009–1459. Tim was instructed by the Chief Land Registrar in this intervention before the Adjudicator the HM Land Registry in a test case to establish the scope of the jurisdiction to rectify the register for mistake under the Land Registration Act 2002.
  • Pick v Chief Land Registrar [2011] EWHC 206 (Ch). Another instruction from the Chief Land Registrar who this time argued successfully that title of a trustee in bankruptcy is void against a disponee of registered land unless the bankruptcy petition / order is protected at the date of disposition, even if the petition / order is protected at the date when the transfer to the disponee falls to be registered.
  • Clarke & Anor v Corless & Anor [2010] EWCA Civ 338, [2010] WTLR 751. Tim was instructed in this witness action in the High Court and in the appeal to the Court of Appeal by the successful Defendant about an alleged constructive trust under the Pallant v. Morgan doctrine.
  • Diep v Land Registry [2010] EWHC 3315 (Admin). Tim was instructed by the Chief Land Registrar in this case concerning the Registrar’s power to register with possessory rather than absolute title.
  • Capron v Governor of Turks and Caicos Islands (Privy Council, [2010] UKPC 2). Tim was instructed by the Governor and Government of Turks and Caicos Islands, who succeeded in the Privy Council in this appeal concerning an alleged contract for the sale of Crown land and alleged propriety estoppel.
  • Yeoman’s Row Management Limited v. Cobbe (House of Lords, [2008] 1 WLR 1752, with Nicholas Dowding, QC). Tim was instructed by the appellant in this successful appeal to the House of Lords. This is now one of the leading modern cases on proprietary estoppel, including its relationship with constructive trusts.
  • Chartbrook Limited v. Persimmon Homes Limited (House of Lords, [2009] EWHL 267; [2009] 3 WLR 267, with Robert Miles, QC). This case has clarified the law in several respects, including the rule in Prenn v. Simmonds excluding evidence of negotiations as an aid to interpretation and the basis on which the Court orders rectification.
  • Cain, Re Waverley Lodge [2009] UKUT 212 (LC). Tim appeared in the Lands Tribunal for the applicant under section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925, who successfully obtained a modification of restrictive covenants to enable the construction of multiple dwelling-houses, without payment of any compensation to the objectors.
  • Seymour Road (Southampton) Ltd v Williams & Ors [2010] EWHC 111 (Ch). Tim obtained a declaration from the High Court under section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925, indicating that development land had ceased to be affected by restrictive covenants.

Compulsory purchase/ Compensation/ Valuation/ Rates

  • Bradford (Valuation Officer) v Vtesse Networks Ltd [2010] EWCA Civ 16; [2010] RA 69. Tim appeared in the Lands Tribunal and in the Court of Appeal for the Valuation Officer in a successful appeal establishing the basis for valuing Vtesse’s network of fibre-optic cable in rates.
  • Allen (VO) v. English Sports Council [2009] UKUT 187 (LC); [2009] RA 289. Tim appeared for the Valuation Officer in a successful appeal establishing that grant should not be taken into account in assessing rateable value.
  • Selfridges Ltd v Humphries (Valuation Officer) [2009] UKUT 296 (LC); [2010] RA 260 (with David Holgate, QC). Tim was instructed by the ratepayer in this appeal concerning the rateable value of this Oxford Street department store.
  • Persimmon Homes (Midlands) Ltd & Ors v Secretary of State for Transport [2010] EWCA Civ 474; [2010] RVR 122 and [2009] UKUT 126; [2010] RVR 11  – Tim acted for the acquiring authority in this case which settled in the Court of Appeal with the claimant accepting “nil” compensation.
  • Waters v. WDA [2004] 1 WLR 1304 (with David Holgate, QC). This case in the House of Lords is the leading modern authority on the Pointe Gourde principle.
  • Orange PCS Ltd v. Bradford (Valuation Officer) [2004] EWCA Civ 155; [2004] 2 All ER 651; [2004] RA 61; (2004) 101(8) LSG 31; (2004) 148 SJLB 236; [2004] NPC 22; Times, February 20, 2004; Independent, February 26, 2004. Tim appeared at first instance and the Court of Appeal in this case re-establishing some of the main principles underlying rating valuations.

Highways and town & village greens

  • Re: Wood Lane, Louth (letter of recommendation, January 2008) (non-statutory village green inquiry concerning the question whether a public authority with a duty to admit the public could be said to have acquiesced in the use of land by the public “as of right”, in which Tim sat as the inspector)
  • R ota Hertfordshire CC v. DEFRA [2006] EWCA Civ 1718; [2007] JPL 1207; [2007] 1 EG 93 (CS); [2006] NPC 133; Times, January 12, 2007 (concerning important limits on the use of the various powers in the Highways Act 1980 for re-configuring local footpath and bridleway networks)

Public and Planning Law

  • Robert Hitchins Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor [2010] EWHC 1157 (Admin). Tim acted for the Secretary of State who successfully resisted this developer’s challenge and established that it is lawful for the Secretary of State to judge the “viability” of affordable housing by reference to the possibility of better economic conditions in the future.
  • Bleaklow Industries Ltd v. Secretary of State [2009] EWCA (Civ) 206; [2009] 2 P&CR 21; [2009] JPL 1477; [2009] NPC 46. This case concerned the interpretation of minerals permissions and, particularly, the expression “winning and working”. The trial judge had given the expression a wide meaning which, on the facts, enabled Bleaklow to extract large amounts of limestone from a national park, to the significant harm of the landscape. Tim (who did not appear below) acted on behalf of the Secretary of State on the appeal, arguing that the expression had an established meaning which, on the facts, prevented such activities. This was accepted and the appeal was allowed.
  • Hammerton v. Ministry of Justice [2009] EWHC 1423 (Blake J). Whether unfair trial in breach of Article 6 automatically indicates unlawful detention contrary to Article 5, so producing a right to damages; whether damages available at common law or under Article 5 following claimant’s imprisonment for contempt later overturned on appeal. Tim appeared for the Ministry of Justice, successfully resisting all parts of the claim.
  • R (H) v Secretary of State for Health [2005] UKHL 60; [2006] 1 AC 441; [2005] 3 WLR 867 (with Philip Sales). Humans Rights Act 1998; Article 5 of the Convention.
  • Sloam v Adjudication Panel [2005] EWHC 124 (Admin) Regulation of conduct in local authorities.
  • With David Elvin QC he was instructed as amicus at first instance in Rowland v. Environment Agency[2003] Ch 581 — which, with the later decision in the Court of Appeal, is one of the leading cases on legitimate expectations.


Tim is a graduate of Pembroke College, Oxford. He studied law at the City University. He was the winner for his year of the Inns of Court Mooting Competition and of the Everard ver Heyden Foundation Advocacy Prize and was awarded several scholarships by Lincoln’s Inn.

He has contributed to Halsbury’s Laws of England Open Spaces and Monuments; to Hill & Redman’s Law of Landlord and Tenant; and to Jacob’s Court Precedents.

He is also a qualified ADR Group Accredited Mediator.


For many years Tim has been recognised in the leading UK legal directories:

“He is easy to work with, good with clients and a measured advocate.” “He is renowned for his High Court ability and phenomenal record in the Supreme Court. His style of advocacy is perfect for persuading senior judges.” (Rating, Chambers & Partners, 2022)

“His style of advocacy is perfect for persuading senior judges and he is able to deploy his deep knowledge of the law to make persuasive submissions.” (Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Chambers & Partners, 2022)

“He excels in the appellate court.” “He is one of the absolute top barristers of the property litigation sector, renowned for his High Court ability and phenomenal record in the Supreme Court. His advocacy style is perfect for persuading senior judges. He is able to deploy his deep knowledge of the law to make persuasive submissions.” (Real Estate Litigation, Chambers & Partners, 2022)

“He is excellent.” (Local Government (including Rating Law), Legal 500, 2022)

“He’s an accomplished cross-examiner and a destroyer of expert witnesses.” “He’s intelligent and quickly sees what the main points are in a case.” (Rating & Valuation, Chambers & Partners, 2021)

“He is razor-sharp and a fantastically good appellant advocate.” “He is very well respected and very able.” (Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Chambers & Partners, 2021)

“Very thorough and gives sensible tactical advice on tricky legal situations.” “Ferociously bright. His analysis of legal arguments is always several moves ahead of everyone else.” (Real Estate Litigation, Chambers & Partners, 2021)

‘Top of the tree for complex legal issues and interlocking arguments.’ (Property Litigation, Legal 500, 2021)

“He is excellent.” (Local Government (including Rating Law), Legal 500, 2021)

“He knows the area back-to-front and is a very compelling advocate. He’s also quite imaginative and very, very good at winning difficult cases.” “He’s an extremely good practitioner; in court he’s very commanding and authoritative.” (Agriculture & Public Affairs, Chambers & Partners, 2020)

“Tim is an exceptionally charming man, a very good advocate and a committed lawyer.” “An excellent barrister.”(Local Government, Chambers & Partners, 2020)

“A huge intellect who is perfectly suited for highly complex and technical cases.” “Impressive technical skill and advocacy.” “He gives excellent and very convincing written advice.” (Real Estate Litigation, Chambers & Partners, 2020)

“A phenomenal barrister in whatever he does.” “Perfectly suited to highly complex, technical cases.” ‘Technically very able and produces excellent written work.’ (Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, 2018)

“an excellent advocate who really understands the subject matter.” “He’s extremely bright, picks up complex matters quickly and his advocacy is brilliant. He is terrier like in drilling down to the detail, especially in cross examinations”  (Chambers & Partners 2018)

“Extremely clever and very quick. You ring him and within two hours you get back accurate written advice. He is very good on his feet too, with great communication skills” (Chambers & Partners 2017)

“He’s rigorous and clever and he’s got a very nice style orally – he’s a very effective advocate” (Legal 500 2017)

“His ability to digest complex situations and quickly get to the heart of a case is very impressive”, “He is very persuasive and argues his case very well”, “He is thorough, diligent and very accessible. He is also very steeped in his subject” (Chambers & Partners 2015)

“His ability to digest complex situations and quickly get to the heart of a case is very impressive”, “He is just viciously intelligent and extremely reliable” “He’s incredibly clever and terrier-like in court” (Chambers & Partners 2015)

“Terrifically clever and a great advocate – definitely a “big picture” silk” (Legal 500 2015).


Village green inspector


Lincolnshire County Council appointed Tim to sit as the inspector in a non-statutory public inquiry to determine a controversial “village green” application in Louth.



Village green inspector


Lincolnshire County Council appointed Tim to sit as the inspector in a non-statutory public inquiry to determine a controversial “village green” application in Louth.



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