Vivian Chapman QC


Vivian Chapman’s practice encompasses a wide range of chancery and civil areas. He has a particular expertise in real property litigation and advice. He was called to the bar after taking a double first in law at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2006. He is a former head of chambers at 9, Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn. He has appeared in numerous reported cases.

He has a special interest in and is an acknowledged expert on the law relating to commons and greens and was described

  • by Lord Hoffmann in R. v Oxfordshire County Council ex p Sunningwell PC [2000] AC 335, as “a barrister with great experience in this branch of the law”,
  • by Lightman J. in Oxfordshire County Council v Oxford City Council [2004] Ch 253, [2004] EWHC 12 (Ch.) as “a senior barrister with wide experience in this field”
  • by Lord Hoffmann in Oxfordshire County Council v Oxford City Council & Robinson [2006] 2 AC 674, [2006] UKHL 25 as “a member of the Bar expert in the law of commons and greens”, and
  • by HH Judge Waksman in R (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust & Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust) v Oxfordshire County Council [2010] EWHC (Admin) as having “very extensive knowledge and experience of this area of the law and has often acted as Inspector in relation to TVG applications.”

His report and recommendation to North Yorkshire County Council in a village green case on a tricky point of prescription was upheld by the Supreme Court on judicial review: R (Barkas) v North Yorkshire County Council [2015] AC 195. Lord Neuberger referred to “an excellent report prepared by Vivian Chapman QC”.
He has now taken part as Inspector or counsel in over 60 public inquiries into village green applications including the Sunningwell, Trap Grounds, Redcar, Warneford Meadow & Barkas cases (all of which went to the Supreme Court or House of Lords)
He acted as counsel in several town or village green public inquiries in 2015 (all successfully) and several have either been heard (with decision awaited) or are awaiting hearing in 2016.

Chambers UK Guide to the Legal Profession (2016) states:

“Very highly regarded for his expertise in village green disputes generally, and is particularly strong on matters concerning sites of special scientific interest as well as those pertaining to rights of way, boundaries and restrictive covenants. He really knows the law and also gives clear and concise advice. He is very experienced, very able and certainly very respected”

The Legal 500 in its 2016 Edition recommends Vivian Chapman as a Leading Silk in property litigation and states: ‘He takes time to go that little bit extra.’

The Legal 500 2015 Edition states that Vivian Chapman QC is ‘such an acknowledged expert that his opinion carries great weight

The Legal 500 2014 Edition states ‘He has simply the best depth of knowledge and a commercial approach’.

After a hearing in September 2014 before the Property Chamber Land Registration Division in which Vivian Chapman successfully appeared for a landowner opposing an adverse possession claim the client spontaneously emailed his solicitor before the decision to say: “A big thank you must also go to Vivian who, we all agreed and whatever the outcome, was quite magnificent. A better performance would have been impossible, to such an extent that I even felt a tough of sympathy for the witnesses who were subjected to his masterful cross-examination”

Notable court cases include:

  • R (Somerford Parish Council) v Cheshire East Borough Council [2016] EWHC 619 (Admin) (Vivian Chapman acted for Somerford Parish Council on a successful application to the High Court to quash, on the ground of procedural irregularity, a decision to reject an application to register land as a new TVG)
  • R (Mann) v Somerset County Council [2012] EWHC B14 (Admin) (town or village green: whether use by implied permission)
  • Piper Land Development (Solihull) Ltd. v Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council & Jones [2011] EWHC 3591 (Ch) (time limits on application to challenge registration of new green)
  • Llewellyn v Lorey [2011] EWCA Civ 37 (Court of Appeal: prescriptive right of way)
  • McLaren v Kubiak [2007] EWHC 1065 (Town or village green)
  • Fraser v Canterbury Diocesan Board of Finance (No 2) [2006] 1 AC 377 (House of Lords. School Sites Acts) View Decision
  • Sangster v Biddulphs (a firm) [2005] PNLR 33 (Partnership- professional negligence)
  • R (Richards) v Pembrokeshire County Council [2005] BLGR 105, [2003] EWHC 2532 (Admin) (Court of Appeal: judicial review: ECHR art 6 & 1st Protocol art. 1)
  • Crest Nicholson Residential (South) Ltd v McAllister [2004] 1 WLR 2409, [2004] EWCA Civ 410 (Court of Appeal: restrictive covenants)
  • Massey v Boulden [2003] 2 All ER 87, [2002] EWCA Civ 1634 (Court of Appeal: rights of way)
  • Padgham v Rochelle [2003] WTLR 71, [2002] WTLR 1483 (undue influence)
  • Bettison v Langton [2002] 1 AC 27, [2001] UKHL 24 (House of Lords: rights of common)
  • Carapeto v Good [2002] WTLR 801, 1305 & 1311 (probate)
  • Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association Ltd [2001] 1 AC 27 (House of Lords: landlord and tenant)
  • Fraser v Canterbury Diocesan Board of Finance (No. 1) [2001] Ch 669 (Court of Appeal: Schools Sites Acts)
  • Barclays Bank Trust Co Ltd v McDougall (2001) 2 WTLR 23 (trusts: construction of settlement)
  • R v National Assembly of Wales ex p Robinson (2000) 80 P&CR 348 (public rights of way: deletion from definitive map)
  • Price Meats Ltd v Barclays Bank plc [2000] 2 All ER (Comm.) 346 (Banking: constructive notice of forgery)

He has been appointed to act as Inspector in numerous non statutory inquiries relating to applications to register new town or village greens by many local authorities, including:

  • Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
  • Bradford City Council
  • Brighton and Hove Council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Cardiff City Council
  • Cornwall County Council
  • Cumbria County Council
  • Denbighshire County Council
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Kent County Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Northamptonshire County Council
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Pembrokeshire County Council
  • Portsmouth City Council
  • Reading Borough Council
  • Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
  • Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
  • Shropshire County Council
  • Slough Borough Council
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • West Sussex County Council
  • Wokingham Borough Council

He is a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn and a Recorder, in which capacity he regularly sits as a part time judge in civil matters.

He is co-author with Paul Wilmshurst of these chambers of the second edition of a book about Town or Village Greens (2014). A third edition is in preparation for 2016. He was General Editor of “Chancery Litigation Handbook” Jordans (2005). He has also written numerous articles.

He regularly speaks on property law and litigation at conferences and seminars and on webinars. For example, he recently recorded a webinar for MBL on the development of publicly owned open spaces after the Barkas and Newhaven cases.

He is married to Sheila, a retired consultant paediatrician, and has two daughters, Alexandra (who is a ski instructor in France) and Victoria (who is a school teacher at Cheltenham Ladies’ College) and a collie dog (Abbie). His leisure interests include the theatre, music, opera and walking. He and his wife have walked the whole of the South West Coastal Path from Poole in Dorset to Minehead in Somerset (about 630 miles).

Vivian Chapman is an independent self-employed barrister registered with the Bar Standards Board of England (ref. no 11257); whose practice is governed by the Code of Conduct of the Bar of England and Wales which code can be found at; has full professional liability insurance provided by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Limited (ref BM 2930/004) (details of the world-wide cover are provided at; is registered for VAT (reg. no. 232 6901 77); and can be contacted during chambers opening hours by telephone at 02074045055 or by e-mail at

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