Clifford Darton

Call date: 1988

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Areas of Practice



BA (Oxon)  Lincoln College, Oxford.

Experience & Expertise

Described as a “razor-sharp intellect”, “a force to be reckoned with” and “one of those rare advocates who is as strong on his feet as in drafting advice and pleadings” Clifford Darton is recommended in both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. Specialising in commercial/chancery work and in property cases, Clifford is particularly well known for his expertise in relation to the Water Industry and environmental law; he has appeared in over 40 reported cases in these and associated fields.


Clifford acts in most types of commercial and insolvency litigation including Pre-emptive remedies, Minority Shareholder Actions, claims against Directors for breach of duty, claims for Unjust Enrichment or for Breach of Fiduciary duties, Shareholder Disputes, Partnership Disputes, claims under the Commercial Agents Directive, Directors’ Disqualifications, actions for Breach of Confidence and Database Rights and proceedings to enforce Restraint of Trade Covenants.  He is particularly sought after in claims arising out of guarantees and indemnities having appeared in the landmark case of Johnson v. Davis (1999) Ch.117 CA.

Property and Chancery: 

With a background in chancery work Clifford deals with almost all aspects of real and leasehold property but particularly mortgages, restrictive covenants, easements, claims in proprietary estoppel and disputes arising out of the sale of land.  He continues to practice in some areas of more traditional chancery work such as Probate Disputes, Inheritance Act claims and Co-ownership of property disputes and is currently defending (as leading junior) a £2.2 million breach of trust/tracing claim brought by the Estate of a German National.


Following his long association with the water industry (see Raglan H.A v. Southampton C.C (2008) 2 AER CA) and with claims arising out of damage to sewers and associated pipes (see Oldcorn v Southern Water [2016] EWHC 15 TCC), Clifford has in more recent years acted in a number of disputes before the Technology and Construction Court and in claims against construction professionals.  He has considerable experience of those parts of environmental legislation that affect the waste and water industry including its criminal provisions (R v SWS Ltd [2014] EWCA Crim 12).

Current & Recent Work

Clifford’s current workload includes the following cases:

An appeal (as leading junior) to the Supreme Court on anti-oral variation clauses and the rule in Foakes v Beer; see MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd v Rock Advertising Ltd [2016] 3 WLR 1519, Times, July 22, 2016.

Acting for commercial mortgagors in cases concerned with the payment of undisclosed commissions to brokers and sections 140A and 140B of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 following his success in CFB Ltd v. Atkins (2013) EWCA Civ 1101

Defending several high profile prosecutions brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010 or the Environment Act 1995.

Advising on a £33 million Minority Shareholder’s action in the Isle of Man.

An appeal to the Court of Appeal on Section 2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 and boundary agreements – see Atkins  v Glasgow (Appeal Ref: 2014/2943).

Defeating a test claim for damages arising out of the June 2012 floods - Oldcorn v Southern Water [2016] EWHC 15 TCC.

De Muller v. Harrison-Morgan (HC-2016-002413) - Defending (as leading junior) a £2.2 million breach of trust/tracing claim brought in the Chancery Division by the Estate of a German National.

Reported Cases:


MWB Business Exchange Centres Ltd v Rock Advertising Ltd [2016] 3 WLR 1519 CA, Times, July 22, 2016 (anti-oral variation clauses and the rule in Foakes v Beer).

Hniazdzilau v Vajgel, Enriquez and Bronovets [2016] EWHC 15 (Ch) (Acting as leading junior for the successful Belarusian claimant in a 12 day trust action to recover ownership of a $6 million property in Minsk). 

Wilson & Sharp Investments v Harbourview Developments [2015] EWCA Civ 1030 (Injunction to restrain a winding up petition on a £1.2 million interim certificate under a JCT Contract.

Intellimedia Systems Ltd v. Doyle [2015] EWHC 1200 (Ch) (acting for the successful Hong Kong claimant in a 7 day action to rectify a company’s register and recover shares).

Earp v Kurd (costs) [2014] EWCA Civ 1482 (Recovery of Mortgagee’s costs).

Earp v Kurd [2013] BPIR 965 (ChD) (Established that a (circa (£800,000) legal charge over a bankrupt's property was not a sham after a 7 day trial in the Chancery Division brought by a trustee in bankruptcy).

Morse v. Eaglemoss Publications [2013] EWHC 1507 (Four day trial in the Chancery Division of claim for misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty)

Beals Mortgage & Financial Planning LLP v. First Global Financial Services [2012] EWHC 3761 (Acted on behalf of the successful claimant in 20 day action for damages and an injunction for breach of confidentiality and database rights)

Costello v. MacDonald & Otrs [2011] EWCA Civ 930 CA (Claim in restitution for unjust enrichment against the directors of a building company).

Alan Philips Associates Ltd v. Dowling [2007] BLR 151 CA (Third party costs order against a company director)

County Garages (Birmingham) Ltd v. Manton [2007] EWCA Civ 950 (six week trial in Birmingham Mercantile Court of a claim for rectification of a Shareholders Agreement and attendant damages).

Johnson v EBS Trustees [2002] Lloyd’s Rep. 309 CA (Abuse of confidence and rescission for breach of fiduciary duties on the part of a solicitor trustee).

In the Matter of Simon Box Diamonds (2002), LTL 25/6/2002 Ch.D (Appeal against a director’s disqualification).

Greene King Plc v. Stanley [2002] B.P.I.R 491 CA (Guarantees, IVA’s and undue influence).

Stimpson v. Smith (1999) Ch 340 CA (The rights of contribution between co-sureties on settlement with their joint creditor).

Johnson v. Davis [1998] 3 WLR 1299 CA (Whether an IVA under Insolvency Act 1986 released a co-debtor).

Chancery and Property:

Hogg v Eddery [2015] EWHC 942 (Ch) (Successful appeal against summary judgment on a £900,000 plus claim on a contract for the sale of land).

Bushan v Chand [2015] EWHC 1298 (Ch) (Four week trial in the Chancery Divisions of constructive trust claim to some 40 commercial and residential properties in Birmingham).

CFB Ltd v. Atkins (2013) EWCA Civ 1101 (the payment of undisclosed commission to mortgage brokers and relief under Section 140A and 140B of the Consumer Credit Act 1974)

Dibble v. Pfluger (2010) 1 FLR 659 CA (constructive trust and the application of the dicta in Oxley v. Hiscock).

MacDonald & Bannigan v. Frost (2009) EWHC 2276 Ch D (Birmingham) (Proprietary estoppel and succession) 

Walters v. Smee (2008) EWHC 2902 Ch (Testamentary disposition and undue influence).

Jones v. Cleanthi (2007) 1 WLR 1604 CA (The statutory extinguishment of an easement under the provisions of the Housing Act 1985).

Lane v. O’Brien (2004) EWHC 303  QBD (Calculation of Wrotham Park damages for breach of covenant)

Horn v. Phillips (2004) EWCA Civ, 1877 CA (The exclusion of extrinsic evidence in a boundary dispute where the terms of the conveyance were clear). 

West Sussex Properties Ltd v. Chichester District Council (2000) AER (D) 887 CA (Rescission in equity for mutual mistake and equitable relief).

Crewe Services & Investment Corporation v. Silk (1998) 2 EGLR 1 CA (assessment of damages for diminution in the value of a lessor’s reversion during the continuance of a lease).


Oldcorn v Southern Water [2016] EWHC 15 TCC (Successfully defended, as leading junior, a seven day trial of a test claim for damages for flooding) .

R v SWS [2014] EWCA Crim 120 (First appeal brought after the coming into force of the Definitive Sentencing Guidelines for environmental offences)

Raglan Housing Association v. Southampton C.C [2008] 2 AER 44 CA (The definition of a watercourse).

Directory Comments

“He is suave, sophisticated and someone with a razor-sharp intellect.”
Chambers UK 2017 - Real Estate
"has great charm before the Court, but underneath also has a rapier intellect and relentless determination to persuade the Court to recognise the merits of his client's case."
Chambers UK 2016 - Real Estate 
“One of those rare advocates who is as strong on his feet as in drafting advice and pleadings”
Legal 500 2012 Property, planning and environment
“[a] fresh eye for detail”
Legal 500 2012 Commercial and Chancery
“a razor sharp intellect”
Legal 500 2011
“a force to be reckoned with, mixing steely court room poise with oodles of charm”
Legal 500 2010
“mixing charm with steel as the circumstances require”
Legal 500 2009

Professional Memberships

Chancery Bar Association

Property Bar Association

Sussex Bar Mess

Additional Information

Clifford regularly provides seminars in chambers and in-house for solicitors.  He has lectured widely as part of the CLT Lecture Programme and provided a number of CPD online podcasts. His most recent article on the subject of flooding claims entitled “In Deep Water” was published in the New Law Journal N.L.J. in March of this year; see (2014) Vol.164 No.7597.