Leaders List Interview: 60 seconds with Gail McCourt, RBC Wealth Management
Gail McCourt, Head of Private Client Fiduciary Services at RBC Wealth Management shares an insight into her daily life, and career so far.
6 July 2021
I am a barrister at commercial chancery set Serle Court, from where I have practised since 1998 (following pupillage and a 6-month stint as an attorney-at-law in the Cayman Islands). In addition to my domestic work, I have maintained a significant international aspect to the cases in which I am involved, in particular in the British Virgin Islands and the Channel Islands.
Serle Court’s brand benefits from a long-standing consistency in its values and a continually evolving approach to its promulgation. We offer a genuine blend of chancery and commercial expertise, including a strong presence in fields of a more commercial nature such as civil fraud and company disputes in addition to our private client work. Above all, Chambers has established a particularly strong reputation for combining those technical capabilities and a commercial mind-set with an approachable and collaborative attitude, which sets it apart and has resulted in a loyal client following.
We will continue to adapt to whatever working within the restrictions of the pandemic allows or requires. Over the last year or more we have replaced a busy series of international in-person conferences with bespoke virtual events aimed at addressing issues arising at the coalface. While we are looking forward to a return to in-person events soon, for the near future we anticipate continuing with a bespoke virtual approach tailored to our clients’ needs.
One instruction that springs to mind involved advising a beneficiary concerning a reconstruction of certain family trusts. The matter gave rise to various thorny issues (both legal and evidential) arising in the trustee’s decision-making process and in seeking to ascertain the settlor’s wishes for that purpose, with different family branches (perhaps inevitably) adopting contrasting positions.
There is obviously always a thrill from a good victory or a particularly successful cross-examination or from some other professionally satisfying result. However, the incident that always brings a smile to my face is one at which I was merely a by-stander, but which acts as a reminder that in trial you have to be prepared for anything. It was during the trial of an action in which the other party’s signature on (and receipt of) a particular document was disputed by that party. My opponent called his client (the disputed signatory) to the witness box. After she had been sworn in, opposing counsel took her to the first page of her witness statement in the bundle. She denied outright that she had ever seen the document before. Sensing the need to remind his client that it was her own statement, her counsel then took her to the signature page of her witness statement. She immediately and vehemently denied that the signature on her statement was hers. My opponent had to take her through everything in chief.
The big game-changer in recent times has been the wide adoption of technology for court hearings (onshore and offshore), both in terms of virtual hearings and electronic bundles. Suddenly travel and paper are no longer inhibiting factors in getting before the Court.
Beach lifeguard. Assessing risks and solving problems of a different kind.