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HNW Guide

Family/Matrimonial — London (Firms)

Overview

UK: An Introduction to Family/Matrimonial Contributed by Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Family Law – Still a Lottery? 

For family lawyers, the government cuts continue to cause difficulties, delays and chaos in the court system. The courts were creaking at the seams before Legal Aid funding was largely withdrawn for family work in 2013, and the number of judges has since continued to be reduced. There is an alarming increase in children’s work - sometimes of a complex nature - being allocated to lay magistrates, as well as the devastating impact of an exponential rise in litigants in person.

The government and the judges continue to express surprise that more family cases are not resolved in mediation. The extent of judicial discretion in virtually all areas makes outcomes hard to predict, and has largely doomed mediation in family work to a highly useful means of negotiation for a minority. Even so, financial dispute resolution hearings in which a judge becomes involved in settlement discussions are successful, and are due to be expanded into the other divisions of the High Court. If judges want cases to settle easily and quickly, they must fetter their discretion or agree to support each other's judgments, so that judicial policy can be discerned by those advising their clients. The current crop of High Court judges seem as reluctant as ever to do this, and family law litigation continues to be largely a lottery, with the result depending upon the judge who hears the case at any final hearing.

Lifetime maintenance 

Against this background, a number of matters have particularly concerned lawyers this year. The first is a creeping uncertainty as to whether there has or has not been a shift against the making of lifetime maintenance orders in a traditionally pro-wife jurisdiction. This is a tricky area because it is widely known that such orders have never had popularity outside London and are particularly unpopular in courts in the Midlands and North of England, being regarded as unfair. Moreover, the Court of Appeal judge with the greatest financial experience is Lady Justice King, whose practice before judicial appointment was largely in Yorkshire. Her Ladyship is thought to consider the popularity of lifetime maintenance orders in London to be unfair, so a wife worried about a term order is unlikely to find redress in the Court of Appeal.

Quantification of needs 

Uncertainty in this area goes hand-in-hand with uncertainty about the court’s approach to the quantification of capital and income needs. Moylan J and Mostyn J have both given judgments on this issue: Moylan J in BD v FD (No 2) [2016] EWHC 594 (Fam), in which a wife with four children was bound to the standard of living of a frugal husband despite his very considerable wealth; and Mostyn J in SS v NS (Spousal Maintenance) [2014] EWHC 4183 (Fam) opining that spousal periodical payments can only be made in order to meet needs. Mostyn J went on to coin a new phrase - not reasonable needs or real needs, but 'hard needs'. Meanwhile, Moor J introduced the new concept 'needs light' in a Part III 1984 case MA v SK [2015] EWHC 887 (Fam), and Roberts J broke all records in awarding Christina Estrada £53 million to supplement her own monies of £22 million in an assessment of needs in another Part III case, Juffali v Juffali [2016] EWHC 1684 (Fam).

In June 2016 Roberts J was the author of Guidance on "Financial Needs" on Divorce, a Family Justice Council guide endorsed by the President of the Family Division and arising out of a Law Commission recommendation. Despite the comprehensive references to case law and worked examples, the basis for quantification of needs, reasonable, real, hard, or light, remains highly arguable and an area of real uncertainty.

Publicity 

The second issue of continuing concern to family lawyers is publicity. It was Jack Straw as Home Secretary who suddenly announced that family courts would be open to the press but not the public in 2009, with arguments to be had about the reporting restrictions which should then arise. Fired with enthusiasm for openness, Holman J has decided to preside over all his financial hearings in public, in stark contrast to all other High Court judges. Those who appear before him will find that reporting restrictions are confined to the naming and identifying of any children and possibly the parties' homes; his hearings are open not just to the press but to the public. With his constant exhortations to the parties to settle, this form of adjudication can often feel as though the parties are being punished publicly for being unable to settle, as well as being pilloried in the press. Mostyn J does not approve. In DL v SL [2015] EWHC 2621 he said that "no-one has greater admiration for the wisdom and skill of Mr Justice Holman than me, but with great deference to him I cannot agree with his practice of ordering pursuant to FPR 27.10 that every ancillary relief case listed before him should be in open court. In my opinion the matter needs to be considered by the Court of Appeal and a common approach devised and promulgated." Moor J agrees and in February 2016 said: "This difference between the other Judges and Mr Justice Holman needs to be dealt with."

Family lawyers unanimously agree with Mostyn J and Moor J, but so far no-one has managed to reach the Court of Appeal on this question, and of course its answer may be one family lawyers and their clients do not wish to hear. In the meantime, it is extremely difficult to advise both clients and third parties, such as trustees, precisely how confidential the disclosure of documents will turn out to be. This is an issue of enormous importance to clients in family proceedings. The rules in relation to disclosure are extremely wide and clients can be compelled to disclose extensive and sometimes sensitive or confidential information. How tricky an issue this will prove to be in practice depends on the identity of the judge. Once again it is family law justice by way of lottery.

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From the HNW guide

The "fantastic" team at Hughes Fowler Carruthers is "without comparison" according to market sources. An interviewee says it is "one of the best departments in London and the country," adding: "They are all top-notch." The firm is well recognised for its mediation and arbitration practice, and is described as "really good at litigation." 

"They are what you call the absolute peak of the boutique niche in the market. Their niche is private family law - high-value matrimonial and children's law work," says a commentator. The firm is particularly praised for acting on ultra high-value cases involving cross-border pre- and post-nuptial agreements. "I think it benefits enormously from being small and niche," says a source: "I think that its real advantage is that it provides what it says on the tin. If you go to a partner you get them."

Notable practitioners  

Frances Hughes is one of the best-known names in the family law field. "She's the best. She's certainly the best litigator," comments one source, adding: "If you want a substantial piece of litigation she's head and shoulders above the rest. She gets the most difficult cases with the highest assets but often settles cases too." She acts for a wide range of clients and often represents notable figures in financial proceedings. Clients praise her "formidable reputation" as a "very talented litigator." An interviewee regards her as "fearsome in her defence of her clients," while another observer says: "If necessary she is entirely resolute and determined, she will fight your corner efficiently and to the nth degree." Hughes also regularly advises clients on complex pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

Alex Carruthers "did me a superb service," enthuses one client: "He is measured, calm and has the ability to see round corners." He specialises in advising and representing international and domestic clients on matters relating to sophisticated financial arrangements. "He has a really good breadth of knowledge of complex property tax issues and unusual jurisdictional points," says a source, adding: "He is a creative thinker and an out and out litigator, that's his main strength. He is always incredibly calm and unflappable. He is a good, solid, safe pair of hands." Another observer says: "He is a very good negotiator and understands the family and the consequences for children's law." 

Pauline Fowler is "a force to reckoned with in family law," according to one source. She regularly handles high-value cross-border work and complex private law matters involving children. Commentators say that she "has a subtle, deft, light touch and a sophisticated understanding of human nature." "I have a huge amount of time for her, she is a superb lawyer," comments an interviewee.

Mark Harper "is my favourite solicitor in family law," states a commentator, adding: "I think he's just fantastic and not just because he's very bright and able. There is just something about the way he works that is extremely effective, that makes you want to work with him." Harper's impressive work includes international matters concerning pre- and post-nuptial agreements, while he is noted in particular for his ability to handle complex cases involving trusts. "He's extremely strong on anything with an international element, particularly trusts. He is extremely erudite, diligent and hard working. He has got real flair," says a source. He is also praised as "a highly empathetic lawyer who takes a holistic approach to giving his advice. He is totally on top of the latest case law but combines that with practical advice." 

The "extremely good, clever and extraordinarily diligent" Renato Labi is highlighted by a source as "a star of the future," who adds: "He knows the law backwards. He can negotiate if that's required, but he is also up for the fight. Clients love him." Labi is experienced at handling financial issues connected with divorce proceedings and advises clients on matters arising out of cohabitation and private law children's cases. "His knowledge of detail and technicalities is huge. He is very pleasant and gets on with most opponents," says a commentator, who adds: "He achieves far more by charming than most people do by shouting, but carries a big stick if necessary." Another interviewee comments: "I rate him highly. He is hugely respected in the profession for being astute, sharp, diligent, committed and reliable."

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Payne Hicks Beach "provide a first-rate service throughout the family law field," says one source. The firm's impressive clientele includes HNW and UHNW individuals and public figures involved in high-profile cases that are regularly heard before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

A market commentator describes the the firm's practice as "extremely well run with top quality from top to bottom. A really classy operation." Members of the group advise on a range of issues, including Part III claims, wealth allocation, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and matters involving the relocation of children. Interviewees praise the breadth and depth of the team and the firm. One observer compliments the group for its "first-class assistance at a junior level," and adds: "They have also got brilliant support teams in other departments which is absolutely vital."

Notable practitioners  

The "phenomenal" Fiona Shackleton is a renowned figure in the family law market. She is praised by sources as the "the rainmaker of all rainmakers" and recognised for her "absolutely fantastic list of clients." She represents high-profile private individuals in complex, high-value divorce cases. "Her judgement is very good," says a market commentator, while another observer says: "She gets it very, very quickly and can smell what the right answer is with very great instinct." She was made a Life Peer in 2010 in recognition of her contribution to the field of family law.

Ian Airey "impresses as incredibly sound and sensible," according to a source. Department head Airey is experienced in all areas of family law and frequently advises clients on complex international finance matters. He is described by an interviewee as a "clever guy, a good lawyer and careful. He has a good reputation." He is an arbitrator and sits as a deputy district judge in the Central Family Court and the Principal Registry of the Family Division. 

The "tremendously clever" Philip McGuirk has a notable family law practice with a concentration on financial remedies. He advises HNW individuals on complex international disputes and often assists clients with pre- and post-nuptial agreements. McGuirk also advises on non-contentious matters, including separation agreements and cohabitation contracts. "He is a good lawyer and a good person, sensible. He's thoroughly level-headed and doesn't take bad arguments. He is a very nice person to deal with," remarks a source.

Fiona Brown is identified by an interviewee as "one of the best legal brains doing family work at the moment." A consultant in the family department, Brown regularly handles high-value international and domestic ancillary relief matters and related issues. Brown also assists clients with pre-nuptial contracts and separation agreements.

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Stewarts Law is described by sources as a "fantastic firm" at the "top of the tree." With an impressive client list, this litigation boutique has established itself as a go-to firm for HNW family law cases. Members of the team are adept at taking matters to court, but are also able to provide expertise in the mediation and arbitration of significant disputes. 

This impressive team handles a broad range of work, including international divorces, marital wealth disputes and private law matters concerning children. "They are in a brilliant position," says an interviewee, adding: "They have star performers, strength in depth and then the support of first-class supporting departments. That's the mark of a top-tier firm." Another source states: "They have a brilliant finance team there. They are highly regarded."

Notable practitioners  

Helen Ward is a hugely respected market leader with experience in all manner of family law matters. Interviewees describe her as a "highly effective" litigator and state that she is "at the top of the tree." Ward has specific expertise representing clients in high-profile international matrimonial wealth cases.

Debbie Chism "is very good to deal with and will come up with solutions. She is very highly regarded." She concentrates on high-value financial cases, often involving international elements. In addition to her reputation as a strong litigator, Chism has a leading collaborative practice and is a member of the Resolution Standards Committee. A marker peer describes her as "very expert in her field and good at handling difficult client situations."

Stephen Foster leads the firm's divorce and family team. "He's fantastic," says a source, adding: "He is clearly a leader in the field." Foster is regularly involved in complex proceedings and is well known for representing individuals in high-value divorce cases. "Stephen is excellent at sifting through files and in the process distils what is needed," observes an interviewee, adding: "He has terrific client care skills. It is his ability to communicate with the client that sets him apart from so many of his peers. He is surrounded by an excellent team and is one of my first choices when recommending people to a top divorce lawyer." 

Emma Hatley is identified by sources as an "excellent lawyer" who is "very committed and determined." She has experience of a wide range of family law issues, but is particularly well known for her work with clients in matrimonial finance matters. "She has effortlessly coordinated some of the biggest cases to ever come through London," says an interviewee. Hatley is also able to negotiate and draft pre- and post-nuptial agreements for domestic and international clients. "She is very good to deal with. A good lawyer, she is bright and will come up with solutions," observes a peer.

The "very sensible and pragmatic" Matthew Humphries maintains a broad family law practice with a focus on financial disputes. He is praised for his "sensitive and reassuring" approach and is notable for his interest in cohabitation claims, especially those involving the property rights of unmarried families. "He's good and clever," comments an interviewee: "He has been doing complicated cases and handling them really well. He is very good with clients and has a good sense of humour."

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The family team at this "fantastic" international firm is frequently praised by sources for its "very good strength in depth." "They really are impressive," says one market observer, adding: "The depth of their expertise is superb. I have seen a lot of their work and they really are just stunning from top to bottom."

The firm represents HNW and UHNW individuals from a wide range of jurisdictions across the world in complex matrimonial disputes. The family team also benefits from expertise in the firm's private client, contentious trusts and reputation management departments. "I was in formidable hands at Withers and am so grateful for everything they did for me," says a source, who adds: "They were straightforward, no-nonsense, quick and professional. Everyone I came into contact with was very personable."

Notable practitioners  

Department head Julian Lipson is "a tough but fair negotiator who always bears in mind the bigger picture," according to a peer. He is a leading individual for high net worth cases, and is a go-to figure for clients from the worlds of business, media and sport. "He is very astute, he knows his law. He's somebody you can have a very good constructive discussion with," says a market insider, adding: "He will work hard for his clients." Lipson also assists clients with pre- and post-nuptial agreements in the UK and internationally, and maintains a busy Anglo-French practice. "I rate him as the best matrimonial solicitor in London. He is exceedingly bright, exceedingly focused, calm and solution-oriented. In terms of all round ability he's got everything."

Diana Parker enjoys a superb reputation among interviewees. She is particularly well regarded for advising clients on high-value, high-profile matters involving complex finances and international elements. "She is first class," says a source, adding: "From the outset I felt that I was in very good hands and I was absolutely delighted with her performance." She is a well-known mediator and negotiator but she has also taken cases before the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. "If I had to choose one solicitor in the entire world that I admired the most it would be her. She is just astonishing - she identifies and resolves issues before you even realise there is one. She is just knockout, she really is," enthuses a peer.

The "excellent" Michael Gouriet is praised by a peer as "bright, sensible and a good person to have on the other side." He represents high net worth international clients and city professionals in complex financial cases. Much of his work involves trusts and the preservation of inherited wealth and business assets, and he also assists clients with pre-nuptial agreements. An interviewee describes him as "highly intelligent, very efficient and a pleasure to deal with - a really strong practitioner."

Suzanne Kingston continues to enjoy a "great reputation" for her expertise in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Sources regard her as "a very well known" and "very good" mediator. She acts as a litigator for clients involved in major disputes.

James Copson is a "very reliable lawyer, and great to deal with. He's very much a safe pair of hands," comments a source. He has a strong practice acting on high-profile divorce matters and is adept at handling cross-border cases involving EU jurisdictions, and especially Italy. "He is very bright. On the mathematical tax side he's very good," says an interviewee.

The "superb" Suzanne Todd is described by sources as "pragmatic and fun, with phenomenal energy." She balances a strong financial practice with her leading private law children's work. She is also adept at handling pre- and post-nuptial agreements for domestic and international clients, and regularly advises and represents Italians living in the UK. Sources note that she "gives 110% for her clients, is always available and provides very sound advice."

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A well-regarded boutique family practice, Alexiou Fisher Philipps is described by an interviewee as "very impressive and good to deal with." The firm frequently handles significant multi-jurisdictional matters for domestic and international clients, including those from Russia and the Middle East. "They are a universally respected outfit that is fully in tune with the modern age and the modern client. Their ability to deliver a consistently excellent, seamless service marks them out," comments a source. 

The team represents clients in a range of family and matrimonial matters, including pre-marital agreements, divorce-related financial proceedings and matters concerning child custody. Members of the group are also active in ADR proceedings. "They're absolutely a Rolls-Royce firm, without exception," enthuses one interviewee.

The firm transferred to an LLP structure on 1st December 2016.

Notable practitioners    

Susan Philipps "is quite simply one of the best family law solicitors working in London today," says a commentator, adding: "She is a phenomenally bright and tactically astute family law solicitor, with excellent judgement and remarkable intuition." She maintains a broad financial matrimonial practice, while she is also notable for her mediation and collaborative law expertise. "She is vastly experienced, there is no situation she hasn't come up against a dozen times. She is calm and knowledgeable, but above all thoroughly tough on her clients' behalf. If you instruct her you know she's in your corner," says a source.

Tom Amlot is described as "very smart" and "on the ball," and is praised by sources as "constructive, helpful and sensible. I have always found him extremely easy to deal with." His practice includes family matters and cases concerning the invasion of privacy. "He has a very good manner with clients. He goes the extra mile," says a source, adding: "He is a very able lawyer who fights his cases hard but always with a mind to his clients' best interests." He is often involved in mediations and is often assists clients with pre-nuptial agreements. "I think there's two things that strike me," comments an interviewee; "his judgement is very good and he has the ability to find pragmatic ways through."

Emma Harte "is very good, extremely nice and has a kind and gentle manner about her," says a source, adding: "She does a lot of collaborative law so you would go to her if you want to settle before litigation, she is very good at that, she is a very safe pair of hands,"  Harte is identified by interviewees as a "very good mediator" and is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

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Sources are quick to praise Charles Russell Speechlys for its "very strong" high net worth family offering. The group is well supported by the firm's expert private client team and acts on complex children's law cases, matters involving trusts and divorce, and has considerable expertise in the sports and media sector. Members of the team are also regularly involved in ADR proceedings. 

"I think over the last few years the strength of the team has blossomed," says a source, adding: "They are very strong. One of their real plus points is that when any point arises in a case, they've got the team there to provide the answer and you get top representation."

Notable practitioners  

James Freeman "is a complete star," enthuses a source, describing him as "very capable and very experienced with a canny knack for calling cases well." Adept at handling complex matters, his work often involves multiple jurisdictions, offshore financial structures and significant commercial enterprises. "I think he's excellent, very clever, tactical and personable," observes a commentator, who adds: "He's got perspective, he really thinks about his cases and has a plan about where he's going with them. He doesn't take bad points or small points, he is very good to work with. I think he's a really safe pair of hands."

William Longrigg is a "leading family lawyer" who is "particularly prominent in the international field," according to market sources. "He is a very able lawyer indeed and a very nice man to deal with," says one peer, adding: "If you have him on the other side you breathe a sigh of relief because you can be fairly confident that he'll be able to sort matters out." His practice focuses on divorce, financial protection arrangements and private law children's cases. He is the President of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The "brilliant" Sarah Anticoni handles private law matrimonial and children's matters with a specific focus on complex financial claims in divorce proceedings. Anticoni often drafts pre- and post-marital agreements and is able to advise families on child relocation. A source describes her as "a very good lawyer," adding; "she is exceptionally good at trying to resolve matters."

Sarah Higgins is "knowledgeable, well respected and sensible," according to market sources. She advises on a wide range of family and matrimonial issues, including financial applications, civil partnership matters and private law children's applications. "She is really good! She's very thorough and on top of the detail of her cases," says an inteviewee. A source praises her "depth of experience in doing top-level work," adding: "She is very good at giving clients a balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of the case." Higgins leads the family team at the firm.

Erica Shelton concentrates on complex international financial cases, often involving offshore tax and trust structures. "She is very experienced and intellectually very sharp," says a source, adding: "She understands complex trust and company structures." Shelton also handles non-financial disputes regarding children. "I like her a lot. She is very good with clients," says a peer.

The "fantastic" Miranda Fisher is "good, sensible and cooperative," according to interviewees. Her broad practice includes pre-nuptial agreements, financial settlements and child arrangements following divorce or separation. Fisher regularly tackles international cases and assists clients with financial settlement applications made to English courts following overseas divorce proceedings. 

Grant Howell "is a good, strong lawyer" who is well regarded by sources for his "big-ticket work." Advising both married and unmarried high net worth individuals on all aspects of family law, Howell is able to assist on marital agreements, divorce, civil partnerships, property matters and arrangements for children. A source comments: "I would describe him as measured and very thorough. He is an all-round nice guy as well."

Shona Alexander recently joined Charles Russell Speechlys from Forsters. She frequently advises high net worth individuals and families on international financial matters involving business interests and offshore assets. Alexander also assists with children cases and marital agreements. One source comments: "I like her, and clients love her." She is a member of the London Family Solutions Collaborative Pod.

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Family Law in Partnership is described by a source as "the most creative family department in the country. They are always thinking of new approaches to age-old problems," adding: "They are bold, imaginative and innovative." The firm has strong dispute resolution capabilities and regularly handles significant financial matters and private law children's issues.

Sources recognise the firm's leading collaborative law and ADR expertise. "They think about the process of what they're doing a great deal. They are very much at the forefront of ADR," says one observer. Another interviewee states: "They are a model firm. The way they set themselves up with in-house mediators is fantastic. They do not compromise their determination to get an appropriate deal for their clients, managing their cases in a sensible and non-confrontational way."

Notable practitioners  

David Allison concentrates on matters concerning financial claims, but he also acts regularly in cases involving cohabitants, civil partners and same-sex couples. "What really comes through is his absolute efficiency," says a source, adding: "He's just so pragmatic and applies legal concepts to real life." "He lives and breathes family law, it's a passion for him and that shows in the way he conducts himself. I'm a fan of him," states an impressed interviewee.

Gillian Bishop is a founding member of the firm and an expert mediator. "She is an extremely good negotiator," observes a peer, adding: "She is able to attend a round table meeting with both parties and solicitors present and manoeuvre her way through the process and get an agreed solution at the end of it. That's quite a remarkable skill." Bishop also tackles litigation and works on collaborative law cases. One interviewee says: "She looks at her cases holistically and is always trying to provide solutions that are best for the family concerned. She speaks with years of experience and vast wisdom."

Pamela Collis is a highly experienced consultant at the firm. "She is bright and knows what she's doing. She is sensible, good with clients and a nice person to deal with," comments an interviewee. Collis advises wealthy international and domestic clients on marriage agreements, financial issues and matters relating to children's law. "If someone wants a case to be settled, she's the right person," says a source.

James Pirrie is praised by sources for his "academic and practical" approach. A specialist in complex financial issues, he is a notable for assisting clients through collaborative law and ADR, and is frequently involved in Child Support Act cases. One source regards him as "the cleverest family lawyer I've ever come across," adding: "He thinks so fast and is innovative and generous with his knowledge. I find him really astonishing."

Ann Northover is praised by sources for being "very sensible, very easy to deal with and straight down the line." Northover has particular expertise in complex divorce cases, children's law proceedings and nuptial agreements, while she also has experience of assisting with tax and trust matters relating to divorce. Interviewees praise her as a "very sound and practical specialist."

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A noteworthy name in the private client market, Farrer & Co enjoys a fine reputation for its family and matrimonial law expertise. One source describes them as a "Rolls-Royce service" and a "very slick operation." The team is best known for acting on high net worth, complex, international cases concerning marital breakdown, financial issues and children's law proceedings. 

"They are very efficient and very comprehensive. They act very quickly and they do everything properly. Absolutely top-level service," says one observer. Members of the team are able to draw upon the firm's significant expertise in private client matters to advise clients on a wide range of issues, including the tax and trust implications of marriage and divorce, while the media team is able to handle privacy matters. "They are very responsive and give exceptionally high levels of service. They give extremely good advice, and understand the courts, judges, solicitors and personalities involved," praises a market source.

Notable practitioners 

Jeremy Posnansky QC is praised by a source as "fiercely intellectual and practical." He is often involved in high-profile, highly complex financial and technical cases, and continues to appear in court on behalf of his clients. One observer highlights his ability to "bring a skill set as a QC that clients love." A market commentator says: "Superlative. He is an absolutely amazing guy. He knows a lot about a lot."

Simon Bruce is a "leading light in the field," enthuses one interviewee: "He is a person of choice for the biggest cases because of his ability and client skills. He is one of the standout people in the profession." As a fluent French speaker, Bruce has established a strong international practice. "His people skills are phenomenal, he is always available to his clients," says an observer, adding: "He has got an eye for strategy and has great international connections." Bruce has litigated significant Supreme Court cases, but he is also well known for promoting the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques in family matters. "He is easy to deal with because he communicates well and is approachable. You can have a very good down-to-earth conversation with him," says an interviewee.

The "absolutely tremendous" William Massey leads the family team at the firm. He is praised by sources as "great to deal with, very approachable, knowledgeable and pragmatic." Massey has specific experience handling high-value financial matters and children's law cases arising from the breakdown of relationships. An interviewee praises him as a "super lawyer," adding: "He is one of the nicest people in family law. He gets good clients as a result and he really knows what he's doing."

Richard Parry is is a well-regarded senior partner at the firm. "Clients like him. He has lots of experience. He's one of that breed of very well-respected senior figures," says a source. He advises individuals, families, beneficiaries and trustees on a range of family law and trust matters. One source commends him "as a go-to guy for trusts," while another interviewee praises his ability to "sail in, sort things out and sail out again," regarding him as "absolutely superb."

Claire Gordon maintains a notable family law practice. She regularly acts for entrepreneurs, professionals, and established families on domestic and international financial matters involving trusts, while she also handles issues relating to pre- and post-nuptial agreements and cases involving children. A source highlights her "good strategic approach," adding: "She is a good tactician and is really good at mapping it out for the clients. She instils confidence."

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From the HNW guide

The "excellent" and "top-notch" Levison Meltzer Pigott "occupies a prominent niche space in the family law market," according to an interviewee, while another source says: "They impress enormously with their highly polished, highly experienced and utterly human approach."

Sources recognise the breadth and depth in this "really strong team." An interviewee observes: "The team as a whole is fantastic, so you have good back up if someone is away." The firm advises on all areas of family law, including complex financial cases and matters relating to children. The team's financial work often includes uncovering hidden assets and handling matters involving trust across multiple jurisdictions.

Notable practitioners  

Jeremy Levison "is a serious player in the market," and is described by sources as "astoundingly good." He is experienced at handling sophisticated financial matters and is a well-regarded collaborative lawyer. "Jeremy Levison is excellent at the big money trials," lauds a source; "he has humour and a thoroughness which the clients really appreciate." An interviewee identifies him as "a real institution," adding: "He's an absolutely excellent solicitor with fabulous instincts for the outcome of a case. He is excellent at giving clients realistic advice early on and then pursuing it and sticking to it. He is completely unflappable." He founded the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Simon Pigott "is unsurpassed in his experience, knowledge and calm authority. He is utterly likeable, he puts clients at ease. Few people are better at settling a really awkward, fractious case," according to one observer. An expert in all areas of divorce law, he is also a collaborative lawyer and an active mediator. "He is the perfect combination of a very good lawyer and a very personable individual. Clients always like him but he also gives honest advice," says a source, adding: "He is never afraid of the fight but is not looking for one, which is always a very, very good combination." One interviewee comments: "There's no messing around, he cuts to the chase and always trys to find a solution rather than problems. He has really interesting financial remedy cases. He is very charming, sensible and constructive."

Alison Hayes is praised by sources as "a real all-rounder." She splits her practice between financial remedy cases and the full range of matters concerning children. Hayes is a Resolution-accredited member and regularly helps clients create relationship agreements. Sources praise her "brilliant client care skills," adding: "She is brilliant with everybody. She's fantastically organised which is really important."

Julian Ribet is praised by a source as "a dedicated and committed family lawyer who gives his clients everything. He always knows when to fight and when to settle." He is instructed on significant high net worth matters involving multiple jurisdictions, and is particularly well versed in complex financial cases involving acquiring freezing injunctions and asset tracing. "He will always put clients' interests first. I think he has got a very good strategic approach to litigation," remarks an observer.

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Band 2

第二等

From the HNW guide

Mishcon de Reya is a noteworthy name in the field of high net worth family law. The firm is described by sources as "one of the big hitters in the field." The team advises notable high net worth and ultra high net worth clients on a range of domestic and international family matters, often drawing in expertise from the firm's private client and tax experts. "I'm seriously impressed with their commitment, energy and resources. They give their clients a very impressive service and are honourable advocates," says a market commentator.

The group assists clients with marital agreements, in addition to complex financial and property disputes and private law children's matters arising from marital breakdown. "They were very responsive, very helpful and very reassuring," comments a source, adding; "I really felt everything was covered and nothing would be missed. It was very efficient and the whole team working together was impressive."

Notable practitioners  

The "obviously phenomenal" Sandra Davis is "a big player in the family law world," according to a market source. She leads the family department at the firm and specialises in high net worth and ultra high net worth cases, many of which have an international dimension. "She is a joy to work with and goes beyond the call of duty. I cannot commend her highly enough in terms of representing parents in what are difficult and stressful proceedings," comments a market observer, adding: "She rightly has a reputation of fearlessly representing her client's interests. She is extremely personable, astute and unflappable." Davis also works with clients on pre- and post-nuptial agreements and handles disputes involving children. An impressed interviewee describes her as "strategic, insightful, knowledgeable, diplomatic and organised, the ultimate professional."

David Lister is described by a source as "an excellent lawyer who gets the best results for his client without being aggressive." He tackles sophisticated financial and property cases and regularly works with clients involved in international divorce and enforcement matters. "He grasps hugely complex cases very quickly," observes an interviewee.

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Band 3

第三等

From the HNW guide

The lawyers at Boodle Hatfield "are a joy to work with," according to one impressed source, while another interviewee says: "They effortlessly blend experience with enthusiasm and wisdom with drive."

The firm is best known for representing high net worth individuals in financially complex cases, while it also handles marital agreements and disputes involving children. Clients may also benefit from the expertise provided by the firm's private client and tax experts. "They handle a lot of top-quality, big-money cases and are certainly a firm I would recommend people to," comments an interviewee.

Notable practitioners  

Christopher Butler is praised as "a tremendously astute lawyer who brings enormous insight to every case he handles." He acts for a range of wealthy and notable clients on high-value divorce negotiations, including those involving tax and trust issues. Another interviewee adds: "He is extremely experienced and very good at the strategy of a case. He is very wise and shrewd, he knows when to fight and when to settle."

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Band 3

第三等

From the HNW guide

The Clintons family team acts for numerous high-profile high net worth individuals, including clients active in sport, business, politics and entertainment, and is praised by sources for its clients service. "Clintons has a genuinely client-focused approach. They are interested in progressing cases for the benefit of their clients," says an interviewee, adding: "They also understand the importance of maintaining family relationships over the long term." Another observer says: "They are really responsive, give very practical advice and are always accessible. The quality of the work is always very high," lauds an interviewee.

The group is able to offer expertise in all forms of dispute resolution and has specific expertise in divorce proceedings, civil partnerships and marital agreements. "They have excellence across the board and combine a wonderful mix of professional ability to fight a case in court with a willingness to be realistic and settle if required," reports a commentator. 

Notable practitioners  

The "highly experienced" and "seriously bright" Maggie Rae is regarded by sources as "one of London's leading family lawyers." A consultant at the firm, Rae acts for HNW individuals and families on domestic and international matters. "I think that she is tenacious but her tenacity is balanced by a desire to compromise if it's the right result for her client," says a market source, adding: "She is very commercial and very empathetic. She is also an incredibly funny, witty and driven individual." Rae is a fluent French speaker and a leading expert in pensions on divorce.

Elizabeth Vernon "is well respected" by sources and praised for her "shrewd and excellent judgement." Her practice encompasses financial cases alongside matters relating to children. An interviewee commends her as "extremely sympathetic. All of the clients have found her to be outstanding." She is a notable litigator in addition to being a collaboratively trained lawyer.

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Band 3

第三等

From the HNW guide

Dawson Cornwell is a respected boutique family law firm. The team handles a wide range of matters, but is especially well known for its children's law work. "They are the market-leading international children's law firm. The world has become more international and they've kept at the forefront of it. There is a lot of expertise there," says a source. 

The firm offers high-quality matrimonial services and frequently helps clients with marital agreements and all manner of issues arising from relationship breakdown. Members of the group are capable of taking a collaborative approach to matters, while they are also adept at tackling litigation and participating in mediation. "I was really struck at how the entire staff pulled together. There was clear communication between everyone and they went the extra mile for me," states an interviewee. 

Notable practitioners  

Rhiannon Lewis handles financial applications and settlements relating to divorce and cohabitation cases, including those involving cross-border issues. Interviewees describe her as "careful, sensible and empathetic." Lewis is also often called upon to assist clients with pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Sources commend her as "analytical, thorough, organised and very positive."

The "very pragmatic and approachable" Kate Allen is identified by sources as a "good, solid and sensible" family lawyer. She is best known for her busy collaborative law practice and is praised by interviewees for her strong negotiating skills. "She is no-nonsense, direct and very professional, with a user-friendly and intuitive approach," comments one interviewee, while another source notes: "She does her work with a great deal of verve, really cares about the outcome and is extremely interested in the process. That shows in terms of the way she negotiates and litigates. She's very good."

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Band 3

第三等

From the HNW guide

The Forsters family team handles a range of matters, but is particularly adept at acting for high net worth individuals on complex financial cases. "It's a very capable department and a very pleasant team to deal with. They have a wide area of expertise," comments an interviewee.

Much of the group's work is cross-border and involves multi-generational wealth, business interests, pensions and tax issues. Members of the team also advise on the drafting of marriage agreements, while clients may also benefit from the firm's notable expertise in private client and property matters. "They are nice to do business with. They know exactly what they're doing," says a market insider.

Notable practitioners  

Joanne Edwards leads the family team at Forsters.

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Band 3

第三等

From the HNW guide

This "long-established firm" enjoys a strong reputation among interviewees. "They're a jolly good firm who get some very good work," reports one source, while another observer adds: "The department is really good: strong, well organised and good value for money."

The firm advises on complex and high-value financial work alongside private law children issues, including wardship and adoption. Members of the team are regularly involved in international matters and are active collaborative lawyers and participants in ADR proceedings. "I would highly recommend them for impartial and a bespoke and professional service," says a commentator.   

Notable practitioners  

Henry Hood is described by sources as "empathetic, pragmatic, straightforward and gently persuasive." He is adept at tackling complex litigation but is also regularly involved mediations and collaborative law matters. His work includes financial provision and cases relating to children. "He has a very good and strong practice. He has a very nice manner with clients," observes one interviewee, while another market commentator says: "He is very affable and very supportive. He is brilliant with high-profile private clients."

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Band 3

第三等

From the HNW guide

The firm advises HNW individuals on a wide range of cross-jurisdictional family matters, relating to both finance and children. A source praises the Kingsley Napley family team for its "great deal of breadth of experience across the board, particularly in international cases, while another interviewee says: "I always think of them as having a Rolls-Royce service but they are particularly good when there's a European element to the case."

Members of the team assist clients with marriage agreements and divorces, and act on issues relating to children including surrogacy and relocation. "Kingsley Napley consistently take great care to assess the personal and emotional needs of their clients," comments a source, adding: "They are effective and professional, with a very human face."

Notable practitioners  

The "excellent" Jane Keir brings to family and matrimonial matters a "breadth of knowledge and a lightness of touch," according to an interviewee. She balances her role as senior partner at the firm with an active family law practice, and is well known for acting on high-value international financial matters. "Her strengths are client care skills. She is efficient and businesslike," says a source; "she's got a good eye on getting a case sorted and finished."

Charlotte Bradley is described by sources as "fabulous," "incredibly bright" and "the most lovely, warm person ever." She is well known for her ability to handle international matters, especially those relating to European jurisdictions. "She is very good at international work and litigation, and she has a sensible approach," comments one interviewee. Bradley regularly represents clients involved in cross-border disputes concerning children and also tackles finance cases. 

Michael Rowlands "is an exceptional man and my first point of contact for any family law matter," states a source, adding: "I greatly admire how he takes a client carefully and gently through the difficult process of matrimonial dispute, and I trust him." He maintains a broad family practice with specific expertise in claims on divorce or separation of unmarried couples with children. He is experienced in handling cases relating to the USA and Middle East. "He is an incredible champion for the client. He won't pull any punches and won't leave a stone unturned in making sure that his client gets a good deal," says a market insider.

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Band 3

第三等

From the HNW guide

Penningtons Manches offers a notable family law service and is also able to draw upon its well-regarded private client expertise. "They are enormously strong in all areas," observes a source.

The team regularly acts for clients in high-value domestic and international financial claims arising from relationship breakdown. Members of the group also assist with cases involving children, including matters relating to relocation and abduction. An interviewee states: "They are really on top of their cases and go into the detail. They have very good client relations."

Notable practitioners  

Jane Craig is a "very good lawyer, very thorough and leaves no stone unturned," according to one source. Craig leads the firm's family team and maintains a strong practice tackling financial divorce matters. She also handles disputes involving children and is an expert in Schedule 1 Children Act claims. Interviewees describe her as "very experienced and very good with clients," and commend her for her "perception and good judgement."

James Stewart "gets good work" according to interviewees. He has a broad family law practice covering both international and domestic financial matters. He is a leading figure in promoting collaborative law and is described by an interviewee as a "lovely guy, great fun."

Anna Worwood is praised by sources as "very bright," "very good and very able." She balances a notable high net worth financial practice with her considerable expertise in private children's law. One source regards her as "a lovely person and a good lawyer," noting: "She is particularly strong on the children's law side." 

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Overview

UK: An Introduction to Family/Matrimonial Contributed by Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Family Law – Still a Lottery? 

For family lawyers, the government cuts continue to cause difficulties, delays and chaos in the court system. The courts were creaking at the seams before Legal Aid funding was largely withdrawn for family work in 2013, and the number of judges has since continued to be reduced. There is an alarming increase in children’s work - sometimes of a complex nature - being allocated to lay magistrates, as well as the devastating impact of an exponential rise in litigants in person.

The government and the judges continue to express surprise that more family cases are not resolved in mediation. The extent of judicial discretion in virtually all areas makes outcomes hard to predict, and has largely doomed mediation in family work to a highly useful means of negotiation for a minority. Even so, financial dispute resolution hearings in which a judge becomes involved in settlement discussions are successful, and are due to be expanded into the other divisions of the High Court. If judges want cases to settle easily and quickly, they must fetter their discretion or agree to support each other's judgments, so that judicial policy can be discerned by those advising their clients. The current crop of High Court judges seem as reluctant as ever to do this, and family law litigation continues to be largely a lottery, with the result depending upon the judge who hears the case at any final hearing.

Lifetime maintenance 

Against this background, a number of matters have particularly concerned lawyers this year. The first is a creeping uncertainty as to whether there has or has not been a shift against the making of lifetime maintenance orders in a traditionally pro-wife jurisdiction. This is a tricky area because it is widely known that such orders have never had popularity outside London and are particularly unpopular in courts in the Midlands and North of England, being regarded as unfair. Moreover, the Court of Appeal judge with the greatest financial experience is Lady Justice King, whose practice before judicial appointment was largely in Yorkshire. Her Ladyship is thought to consider the popularity of lifetime maintenance orders in London to be unfair, so a wife worried about a term order is unlikely to find redress in the Court of Appeal.

Quantification of needs 

Uncertainty in this area goes hand-in-hand with uncertainty about the court’s approach to the quantification of capital and income needs. Moylan J and Mostyn J have both given judgments on this issue: Moylan J in BD v FD (No 2) [2016] EWHC 594 (Fam), in which a wife with four children was bound to the standard of living of a frugal husband despite his very considerable wealth; and Mostyn J in SS v NS (Spousal Maintenance) [2014] EWHC 4183 (Fam) opining that spousal periodical payments can only be made in order to meet needs. Mostyn J went on to coin a new phrase - not reasonable needs or real needs, but 'hard needs'. Meanwhile, Moor J introduced the new concept 'needs light' in a Part III 1984 case MA v SK [2015] EWHC 887 (Fam), and Roberts J broke all records in awarding Christina Estrada £53 million to supplement her own monies of £22 million in an assessment of needs in another Part III case, Juffali v Juffali [2016] EWHC 1684 (Fam).

In June 2016 Roberts J was the author of Guidance on "Financial Needs" on Divorce, a Family Justice Council guide endorsed by the President of the Family Division and arising out of a Law Commission recommendation. Despite the comprehensive references to case law and worked examples, the basis for quantification of needs, reasonable, real, hard, or light, remains highly arguable and an area of real uncertainty.

Publicity 

The second issue of continuing concern to family lawyers is publicity. It was Jack Straw as Home Secretary who suddenly announced that family courts would be open to the press but not the public in 2009, with arguments to be had about the reporting restrictions which should then arise. Fired with enthusiasm for openness, Holman J has decided to preside over all his financial hearings in public, in stark contrast to all other High Court judges. Those who appear before him will find that reporting restrictions are confined to the naming and identifying of any children and possibly the parties' homes; his hearings are open not just to the press but to the public. With his constant exhortations to the parties to settle, this form of adjudication can often feel as though the parties are being punished publicly for being unable to settle, as well as being pilloried in the press. Mostyn J does not approve. In DL v SL [2015] EWHC 2621 he said that "no-one has greater admiration for the wisdom and skill of Mr Justice Holman than me, but with great deference to him I cannot agree with his practice of ordering pursuant to FPR 27.10 that every ancillary relief case listed before him should be in open court. In my opinion the matter needs to be considered by the Court of Appeal and a common approach devised and promulgated." Moor J agrees and in February 2016 said: "This difference between the other Judges and Mr Justice Holman needs to be dealt with."

Family lawyers unanimously agree with Mostyn J and Moor J, but so far no-one has managed to reach the Court of Appeal on this question, and of course its answer may be one family lawyers and their clients do not wish to hear. In the meantime, it is extremely difficult to advise both clients and third parties, such as trustees, precisely how confidential the disclosure of documents will turn out to be. This is an issue of enormous importance to clients in family proceedings. The rules in relation to disclosure are extremely wide and clients can be compelled to disclose extensive and sometimes sensitive or confidential information. How tricky an issue this will prove to be in practice depends on the identity of the judge. Once again it is family law justice by way of lottery.

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Senior Statesmen

Clintons

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "highly experienced" and "seriously bright" Maggie Rae is regarded by sources as "one of London's leading family lawyers." A consultant at the firm, Rae acts for HNW individuals and families on domestic and international matters. "I think that she is tenacious but her tenacity is balanced by a desire to compromise if it's the right result for her client," says a market source, adding: "She is very commercial and very empathetic. She is also an incredibly funny, witty and driven individual." Rae is a fluent French speaker and a leading expert in pensions on divorce.

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Senior Statesmen

Sears Tooth

From the Chambers HNW guide

Raymond Tooth of Sears Tooth "is certainly one of the most pre-eminent practitioners in HNW matters," lauds one market insider. Drawing upon years of experience, Tooth is well known for representing clients in complex and high-profile cases. One source highlights him as a "pleasure to do business with." "He knows it all backwards and isn't afraid of a fight; he's absolutely extraordinary. He's seen it all and done it all," says an interviewee.

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Eminent Practitioner

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "excellent" Jane Keir brings to family and matrimonial matters a "breadth of knowledge and a lightness of touch," according to an interviewee. She balances her role as senior partner at the firm with an active family law practice, and is well known for acting on high-value international financial matters. "Her strengths are client care skills. She is efficient and businesslike," says a source; "she's got a good eye on getting a case sorted and finished."

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Star Individuals

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Frances Hughes is one of the best-known names in the family law field. "She's the best. She's certainly the best litigator," comments one source, adding: "If you want a substantial piece of litigation she's head and shoulders above the rest. She gets the most difficult cases with the highest assets but often settles cases too." She acts for a wide range of clients and often represents notable figures in financial proceedings. Clients praise her "formidable reputation" as a "very talented litigator." An interviewee regards her as "fearsome in her defence of her clients," while another observer says: "If necessary she is entirely resolute and determined, she will fight your corner efficiently and to the nth degree." Hughes also regularly advises clients on complex pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

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Star Individuals

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Department head Julian Lipson is "a tough but fair negotiator who always bears in mind the bigger picture," according to a peer. He is a leading individual for high net worth cases, and is a go-to figure for clients from the worlds of business, media and sport. "He is very astute, he knows his law. He's somebody you can have a very good constructive discussion with," says a market insider, adding: "He will work hard for his clients." Lipson also assists clients with pre- and post-nuptial agreements in the UK and internationally, and maintains a busy Anglo-French practice. "I rate him as the best matrimonial solicitor in London. He is exceedingly bright, exceedingly focused, calm and solution-oriented. In terms of all round ability he's got everything."

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Star Individuals

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Diana Parker enjoys a superb reputation among interviewees. She is particularly well regarded for advising clients on high-value, high-profile matters involving complex finances and international elements. "She is first class," says a source, adding: "From the outset I felt that I was in very good hands and I was absolutely delighted with her performance." She is a well-known mediator and negotiator but she has also taken cases before the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. "If I had to choose one solicitor in the entire world that I admired the most it would be her. She is just astonishing - she identifies and resolves issues before you even realise there is one. She is just knockout, she really is," enthuses a peer.

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Star Individuals

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "phenomenal" Fiona Shackleton is a renowned figure in the family law market. She is praised by sources as the "the rainmaker of all rainmakers" and recognised for her "absolutely fantastic list of clients." She represents high-profile private individuals in complex, high-value divorce cases. "Her judgement is very good," says a market commentator, while another observer says: "She gets it very, very quickly and can smell what the right answer is with very great instinct." She was made a Life Peer in 2010 in recognition of her contribution to the field of family law.

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Star Individuals

Stewarts Law LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Helen Ward is a hugely respected market leader with experience in all manner of family law matters. Interviewees describe her as a "highly effective" litigator and state that she is "at the top of the tree." Ward has specific expertise representing clients in high-profile international matrimonial wealth cases.

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Band 1

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Simon Bruce is a "leading light in the field," enthuses one interviewee: "He is a person of choice for the biggest cases because of his ability and client skills. He is one of the standout people in the profession." As a fluent French speaker, Bruce has established a strong international practice. "His people skills are phenomenal, he is always available to his clients," says an observer, adding: "He has got an eye for strategy and has great international connections." Bruce has litigated significant Supreme Court cases, but he is also well known for promoting the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques in family matters. "He is easy to deal with because he communicates well and is approachable. You can have a very good down-to-earth conversation with him," says an interviewee.

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Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Alex Carruthers "did me a superb service," enthuses one client: "He is measured, calm and has the ability to see round corners." He specialises in advising and representing international and domestic clients on matters relating to sophisticated financial arrangements. "He has a really good breadth of knowledge of complex property tax issues and unusual jurisdictional points," says a source, adding: "He is a creative thinker and an out and out litigator, that's his main strength. He is always incredibly calm and unflappable. He is a good, solid, safe pair of hands." Another observer says: "He is a very good negotiator and understands the family and the consequences for children's law." 

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Band 1

Stewarts Law LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Debbie Chism "is very good to deal with and will come up with solutions. She is very highly regarded." She concentrates on high-value financial cases, often involving international elements. In addition to her reputation as a strong litigator, Chism has a leading collaborative practice and is a member of the Resolution Standards Committee. A marker peer describes her as "very expert in her field and good at handling difficult client situations."

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Band 1

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "obviously phenomenal" Sandra Davis is "a big player in the family law world," according to a market source. She leads the family department at the firm and specialises in high net worth and ultra high net worth cases, many of which have an international dimension. "She is a joy to work with and goes beyond the call of duty. I cannot commend her highly enough in terms of representing parents in what are difficult and stressful proceedings," comments a market observer, adding: "She rightly has a reputation of fearlessly representing her client's interests. She is extremely personable, astute and unflappable." Davis also works with clients on pre- and post-nuptial agreements and handles disputes involving children. An impressed interviewee describes her as "strategic, insightful, knowledgeable, diplomatic and organised, the ultimate professional."

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Band 1

Stewarts Law LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Stephen Foster leads the firm's divorce and family team. "He's fantastic," says a source, adding: "He is clearly a leader in the field." Foster is regularly involved in complex proceedings and is well known for representing individuals in high-value divorce cases. "Stephen is excellent at sifting through files and in the process distils what is needed," observes an interviewee, adding: "He has terrific client care skills. It is his ability to communicate with the client that sets him apart from so many of his peers. He is surrounded by an excellent team and is one of my first choices when recommending people to a top divorce lawyer." 

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Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Pauline Fowler is "a force to reckoned with in family law," according to one source. She regularly handles high-value cross-border work and complex private law matters involving children. Commentators say that she "has a subtle, deft, light touch and a sophisticated understanding of human nature." "I have a huge amount of time for her, she is a superb lawyer," comments an interviewee.

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Band 1

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Freeman "is a complete star," enthuses a source, describing him as "very capable and very experienced with a canny knack for calling cases well." Adept at handling complex matters, his work often involves multiple jurisdictions, offshore financial structures and significant commercial enterprises. "I think he's excellent, very clever, tactical and personable," observes a commentator, who adds: "He's got perspective, he really thinks about his cases and has a plan about where he's going with them. He doesn't take bad points or small points, he is very good to work with. I think he's a really safe pair of hands."

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Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Mark Harper "is my favourite solicitor in family law," states a commentator, adding: "I think he's just fantastic and not just because he's very bright and able. There is just something about the way he works that is extremely effective, that makes you want to work with him." Harper's impressive work includes international matters concerning pre- and post-nuptial agreements, while he is noted in particular for his ability to handle complex cases involving trusts. "He's extremely strong on anything with an international element, particularly trusts. He is extremely erudite, diligent and hard working. He has got real flair," says a source. He is also praised as "a highly empathetic lawyer who takes a holistic approach to giving his advice. He is totally on top of the latest case law but combines that with practical advice." 

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Stewarts Law LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Emma Hatley is identified by sources as an "excellent lawyer" who is "very committed and determined." She has experience of a wide range of family law issues, but is particularly well known for her work with clients in matrimonial finance matters. "She has effortlessly coordinated some of the biggest cases to ever come through London," says an interviewee. Hatley is also able to negotiate and draft pre- and post-nuptial agreements for domestic and international clients. "She is very good to deal with. A good lawyer, she is bright and will come up with solutions," observes a peer.

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Band 1

Irwin Mitchell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Elizabeth Hicks of Irwin Mitchell is an "absolute star" in the high net worth family law arena. She handles international cases involving the breakdown of family structures and has a specific focus on financial disputes. She has "got a very quiet and gentle manner which belies a steely tactical mind," observes one source, while interviewees also praise her ability "to quickly grasp the very complex details of the ongoing litigation." "She's so good with clients," says one market commentator, adding: "I am so full of praise for her. You get the sense that the clients really feel that she is on their side right the way through, and that's invaluable in this context." 

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Band 1

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jeremy Levison "is a serious player in the market," and is described by sources as "astoundingly good." He is experienced at handling sophisticated financial matters and is a well-regarded collaborative lawyer. "Jeremy Levison is excellent at the big money trials," lauds a source; "he has humour and a thoroughness which the clients really appreciate." An interviewee identifies him as "a real institution," adding: "He's an absolutely excellent solicitor with fabulous instincts for the outcome of a case. He is excellent at giving clients realistic advice early on and then pursuing it and sticking to it. He is completely unflappable." He founded the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

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Band 1

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

William Longrigg is a "leading family lawyer" who is "particularly prominent in the international field," according to market sources. "He is a very able lawyer indeed and a very nice man to deal with," says one peer, adding: "If you have him on the other side you breathe a sigh of relief because you can be fairly confident that he'll be able to sort matters out." His practice focuses on divorce, financial protection arrangements and private law children's cases. He is the President of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

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Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "absolutely tremendous" William Massey leads the family team at the firm. He is praised by sources as "great to deal with, very approachable, knowledgeable and pragmatic." Massey has specific experience handling high-value financial matters and children's law cases arising from the breakdown of relationships. An interviewee praises him as a "super lawyer," adding: "He is one of the nicest people in family law. He gets good clients as a result and he really knows what he's doing."

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Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Richard Parry is is a well-regarded senior partner at the firm. "Clients like him. He has lots of experience. He's one of that breed of very well-respected senior figures," says a source. He advises individuals, families, beneficiaries and trustees on a range of family law and trust matters. One source commends him "as a go-to guy for trusts," while another interviewee praises his ability to "sail in, sort things out and sail out again," regarding him as "absolutely superb."

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Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Simon Pigott "is unsurpassed in his experience, knowledge and calm authority. He is utterly likeable, he puts clients at ease. Few people are better at settling a really awkward, fractious case," according to one observer. An expert in all areas of divorce law, he is also a collaborative lawyer and an active mediator. "He is the perfect combination of a very good lawyer and a very personable individual. Clients always like him but he also gives honest advice," says a source, adding: "He is never afraid of the fight but is not looking for one, which is always a very, very good combination." One interviewee comments: "There's no messing around, he cuts to the chase and always trys to find a solution rather than problems. He has really interesting financial remedy cases. He is very charming, sensible and constructive."

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Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jeremy Posnansky QC is praised by a source as "fiercely intellectual and practical." He is often involved in high-profile, highly complex financial and technical cases, and continues to appear in court on behalf of his clients. One observer highlights his ability to "bring a skill set as a QC that clients love." A market commentator says: "Superlative. He is an absolutely amazing guy. He knows a lot about a lot."

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Band 2

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Ian Airey "impresses as incredibly sound and sensible," according to a source. Department head Airey is experienced in all areas of family law and frequently advises clients on complex international finance matters. He is described by an interviewee as a "clever guy, a good lawyer and careful. He has a good reputation." He is an arbitrator and sits as a deputy district judge in the Central Family Court and the Principal Registry of the Family Division. 

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Dawson Cornwell

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "very pragmatic and approachable" Kate Allen is identified by sources as a "good, solid and sensible" family lawyer. She is best known for her busy collaborative law practice and is praised by interviewees for her strong negotiating skills. "She is no-nonsense, direct and very professional, with a user-friendly and intuitive approach," comments one interviewee, while another source notes: "She does her work with a great deal of verve, really cares about the outcome and is extremely interested in the process. That shows in terms of the way she negotiates and litigates. She's very good."

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Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

David Allison concentrates on matters concerning financial claims, but he also acts regularly in cases involving cohabitants, civil partners and same-sex couples. "What really comes through is his absolute efficiency," says a source, adding: "He's just so pragmatic and applies legal concepts to real life." "He lives and breathes family law, it's a passion for him and that shows in the way he conducts himself. I'm a fan of him," states an impressed interviewee.

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Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "brilliant" Sarah Anticoni handles private law matrimonial and children's matters with a specific focus on complex financial claims in divorce proceedings. Anticoni often drafts pre- and post-marital agreements and is able to advise families on child relocation. A source describes her as "a very good lawyer," adding; "she is exceptionally good at trying to resolve matters."

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Camilla Baldwin Solicitors

From the Chambers HNW guide

Camilla Baldwin of Camilla Baldwin Solicitors has a notable high net worth family practice. Sources say that she is "first class in dealing with clients on a personal level." Baldwin brings "vast experience and polished judgement" to all manner of family matters, including those concerning divorce, cohabitation, civil partnerships and international child disputes. One interviewee describes her as "very knowledgeable and very precise," while another source praises her "crisp and clear" advice.

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Harbottle & Lewis LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "extremely good" Catherine Bedford "gets superb work" according to market sources. Bedford maintains a broad family practice, regularly handling complex financial matters as well as private law children's cases. "She is fantastic! She's got oodles of charm," says an observer. Other interviewees remark on her ability to "fight her clients' corner" and her "tenacious" approach to contentious matters. Bedford recently joined Harbottle & Lewis LLP as head of its family team, having previously been a partner at Lee & Thompson.

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Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Gillian Bishop is a founding member of the firm and an expert mediator. "She is an extremely good negotiator," observes a peer, adding: "She is able to attend a round table meeting with both parties and solicitors present and manoeuvre her way through the process and get an agreed solution at the end of it. That's quite a remarkable skill." Bishop also tackles litigation and works on collaborative law cases. One interviewee says: "She looks at her cases holistically and is always trying to provide solutions that are best for the family concerned. She speaks with years of experience and vast wisdom."

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Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Pamela Collis is a highly experienced consultant at the firm. "She is bright and knows what she's doing. She is sensible, good with clients and a nice person to deal with," comments an interviewee. Collis advises wealthy international and domestic clients on marriage agreements, financial issues and matters relating to children's law. "If someone wants a case to be settled, she's the right person," says a source.

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Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jane Craig is a "very good lawyer, very thorough and leaves no stone unturned," according to one source. Craig leads the firm's family team and maintains a strong practice tackling financial divorce matters. She also handles disputes involving children and is an expert in Schedule 1 Children Act claims. Interviewees describe her as "very experienced and very good with clients," and commend her for her "perception and good judgement."

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Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "excellent" Michael Gouriet is praised by a peer as "bright, sensible and a good person to have on the other side." He represents high net worth international clients and city professionals in complex financial cases. Much of his work involves trusts and the preservation of inherited wealth and business assets, and he also assists clients with pre-nuptial agreements. An interviewee describes him as "highly intelligent, very efficient and a pleasure to deal with - a really strong practitioner."

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Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sarah Higgins is "knowledgeable, well respected and sensible," according to market sources. She advises on a wide range of family and matrimonial issues, including financial applications, civil partnership matters and private law children's applications. "She is really good! She's very thorough and on top of the detail of her cases," says an inteviewee. A source praises her "depth of experience in doing top-level work," adding: "She is very good at giving clients a balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of the case." Higgins leads the family team at the firm.

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Band 2

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Suzanne Kingston continues to enjoy a "great reputation" for her expertise in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Sources regard her as "a very well known" and "very good" mediator. She acts as a litigator for clients involved in major disputes.

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Band 2

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "extremely good, clever and extraordinarily diligent" Renato Labi is highlighted by a source as "a star of the future," who adds: "He knows the law backwards. He can negotiate if that's required, but he is also up for the fight. Clients love him." Labi is experienced at handling financial issues connected with divorce proceedings and advises clients on matters arising out of cohabitation and private law children's cases. "His knowledge of detail and technicalities is huge. He is very pleasant and gets on with most opponents," says a commentator, who adds: "He achieves far more by charming than most people do by shouting, but carries a big stick if necessary." Another interviewee comments: "I rate him highly. He is hugely respected in the profession for being astute, sharp, diligent, committed and reliable."

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Band 2

Dawson Cornwell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Rhiannon Lewis handles financial applications and settlements relating to divorce and cohabitation cases, including those involving cross-border issues. Interviewees describe her as "careful, sensible and empathetic." Lewis is also often called upon to assist clients with pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Sources commend her as "analytical, thorough, organised and very positive."

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Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "tremendously clever" Philip McGuirk has a notable family law practice with a concentration on financial remedies. He advises HNW individuals on complex international disputes and often assists clients with pre- and post-nuptial agreements. McGuirk also advises on non-contentious matters, including separation agreements and cohabitation contracts. "He is a good lawyer and a good person, sensible. He's thoroughly level-headed and doesn't take bad arguments. He is a very nice person to deal with," remarks a source.

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Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Ann Northover is praised by sources for being "very sensible, very easy to deal with and straight down the line." Northover has particular expertise in complex divorce cases, children's law proceedings and nuptial agreements, while she also has experience of assisting with tax and trust matters relating to divorce. Interviewees praise her as a "very sound and practical specialist."

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Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Susan Philipps "is quite simply one of the best family law solicitors working in London today," says a commentator, adding: "She is a phenomenally bright and tactically astute family law solicitor, with excellent judgement and remarkable intuition." She maintains a broad financial matrimonial practice, while she is also notable for her mediation and collaborative law expertise. "She is vastly experienced, there is no situation she hasn't come up against a dozen times. She is calm and knowledgeable, but above all thoroughly tough on her clients' behalf. If you instruct her you know she's in your corner," says a source.

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Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Pirrie is praised by sources for his "academic and practical" approach. A specialist in complex financial issues, he is a notable for assisting clients through collaborative law and ADR, and is frequently involved in Child Support Act cases. One source regards him as "the cleverest family lawyer I've ever come across," adding: "He thinks so fast and is innovative and generous with his knowledge. I find him really astonishing."

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Band 2

Miles Preston & Co

From the Chambers HNW guide

Miles Preston of Miles Preston & Co is praised by sources as a "very effective negotiator and a very sound, wise individual." Preston has developed a fine reputation for representing high net worth clients. He handles the full range of family law matters but has specific expertise in assisting clients with the resolution of complex financial disputes. An interviewee describes him as a "very nice man - urbane, charming and sensible," adding: "He has some great clients and some good cases. He is extremely nice to deal with."

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Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Erica Shelton concentrates on complex international financial cases, often involving offshore tax and trust structures. "She is very experienced and intellectually very sharp," says a source, adding: "She understands complex trust and company structures." Shelton also handles non-financial disputes regarding children. "I like her a lot. She is very good with clients," says a peer.

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Band 2

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Stewart "gets good work" according to interviewees. He has a broad family law practice covering both international and domestic financial matters. He is a leading figure in promoting collaborative law and is described by an interviewee as a "lovely guy, great fun."

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Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Shona Alexander recently joined Charles Russell Speechlys from Forsters. She frequently advises high net worth individuals and families on international financial matters involving business interests and offshore assets. Alexander also assists with children cases and marital agreements. One source comments: "I like her, and clients love her." She is a member of the London Family Solutions Collaborative Pod.

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Band 3

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Tom Amlot is described as "very smart" and "on the ball," and is praised by sources as "constructive, helpful and sensible. I have always found him extremely easy to deal with." His practice includes family matters and cases concerning the invasion of privacy. "He has a very good manner with clients. He goes the extra mile," says a source, adding: "He is a very able lawyer who fights his cases hard but always with a mind to his clients' best interests." He is often involved in mediations and is often assists clients with pre-nuptial agreements. "I think there's two things that strike me," comments an interviewee; "his judgement is very good and he has the ability to find pragmatic ways through."

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Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Charlotte Bradley is described by sources as "fabulous," "incredibly bright" and "the most lovely, warm person ever." She is well known for her ability to handle international matters, especially those relating to European jurisdictions. "She is very good at international work and litigation, and she has a sensible approach," comments one interviewee. Bradley regularly represents clients involved in cross-border disputes concerning children and also tackles finance cases. 

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Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Fiona Brown is identified by an interviewee as "one of the best legal brains doing family work at the moment." A consultant in the family department, Brown regularly handles high-value international and domestic ancillary relief matters and related issues. Brown also assists clients with pre-nuptial contracts and separation agreements.

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Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Christopher Butler is praised as "a tremendously astute lawyer who brings enormous insight to every case he handles." He acts for a range of wealthy and notable clients on high-value divorce negotiations, including those involving tax and trust issues. Another interviewee adds: "He is extremely experienced and very good at the strategy of a case. He is very wise and shrewd, he knows when to fight and when to settle."

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Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Copson is a "very reliable lawyer, and great to deal with. He's very much a safe pair of hands," comments a source. He has a strong practice acting on high-profile divorce matters and is adept at handling cross-border cases involving EU jurisdictions, and especially Italy. "He is very bright. On the mathematical tax side he's very good," says an interviewee.

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Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "fantastic" Miranda Fisher is "good, sensible and cooperative," according to interviewees. Her broad practice includes pre-nuptial agreements, financial settlements and child arrangements following divorce or separation. Fisher regularly tackles international cases and assists clients with financial settlement applications made to English courts following overseas divorce proceedings. 

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Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Claire Gordon maintains a notable family law practice. She regularly acts for entrepreneurs, professionals, and established families on domestic and international financial matters involving trusts, while she also handles issues relating to pre- and post-nuptial agreements and cases involving children. A source highlights her "good strategic approach," adding: "She is a good tactician and is really good at mapping it out for the clients. She instils confidence."

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Band 3

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Emma Harte "is very good, extremely nice and has a kind and gentle manner about her," says a source, adding: "She does a lot of collaborative law so you would go to her if you want to settle before litigation, she is very good at that, she is a very safe pair of hands,"  Harte is identified by interviewees as a "very good mediator" and is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

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Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Alison Hayes is praised by sources as "a real all-rounder." She splits her practice between financial remedy cases and the full range of matters concerning children. Hayes is a Resolution-accredited member and regularly helps clients create relationship agreements. Sources praise her "brilliant client care skills," adding: "She is brilliant with everybody. She's fantastically organised which is really important."

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Band 3

Hunters Incorporating May, May & Merrimans

From the Chambers HNW guide

Henry Hood is described by sources as "empathetic, pragmatic, straightforward and gently persuasive." He is adept at tackling complex litigation but is also regularly involved mediations and collaborative law matters. His work includes financial provision and cases relating to children. "He has a very good and strong practice. He has a very nice manner with clients," observes one interviewee, while another market commentator says: "He is very affable and very supportive. He is brilliant with high-profile private clients."

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Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Grant Howell "is a good, strong lawyer" who is well regarded by sources for his "big-ticket work." Advising both married and unmarried high net worth individuals on all aspects of family law, Howell is able to assist on marital agreements, divorce, civil partnerships, property matters and arrangements for children. A source comments: "I would describe him as measured and very thorough. He is an all-round nice guy as well."

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Stewarts Law LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "very sensible and pragmatic" Matthew Humphries maintains a broad family law practice with a focus on financial disputes. He is praised for his "sensitive and reassuring" approach and is notable for his interest in cohabitation claims, especially those involving the property rights of unmarried families. "He's good and clever," comments an interviewee: "He has been doing complicated cases and handling them really well. He is very good with clients and has a good sense of humour."

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Band 3

Schillings

From the Chambers HNW guide

Davina Katz of Schillings leads the family practice at the firm. "Davina Katz has an excellent client manner," says a source, adding: "She is very accomplished, diplomatic and very good to work with - particularly in complex legal and emotive matters." She represents wealthy and notable clients in financial matters arising from relationship breakdown and handles cases related to children. Interviewees highlight Katz for her "excellent instinctive judgement as to the merits and likely outcome of any case she's involved with."

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Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

David Lister is described by a source as "an excellent lawyer who gets the best results for his client without being aggressive." He tackles sophisticated financial and property cases and regularly works with clients involved in international divorce and enforcement matters. "He grasps hugely complex cases very quickly," observes an interviewee.

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Band 3

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Julian Ribet is praised by a source as "a dedicated and committed family lawyer who gives his clients everything. He always knows when to fight and when to settle." He is instructed on significant high net worth matters involving multiple jurisdictions, and is particularly well versed in complex financial cases involving acquiring freezing injunctions and asset tracing. "He will always put clients' interests first. I think he has got a very good strategic approach to litigation," remarks an observer.

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Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Michael Rowlands "is an exceptional man and my first point of contact for any family law matter," states a source, adding: "I greatly admire how he takes a client carefully and gently through the difficult process of matrimonial dispute, and I trust him." He maintains a broad family practice with specific expertise in claims on divorce or separation of unmarried couples with children. He is experienced in handling cases relating to the USA and Middle East. "He is an incredible champion for the client. He won't pull any punches and won't leave a stone unturned in making sure that his client gets a good deal," says a market insider.

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Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "superb" Suzanne Todd is described by sources as "pragmatic and fun, with phenomenal energy." She balances a strong financial practice with her leading private law children's work. She is also adept at handling pre- and post-nuptial agreements for domestic and international clients, and regularly advises and represents Italians living in the UK. Sources note that she "gives 110% for her clients, is always available and provides very sound advice."

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Clintons

From the Chambers HNW guide

Elizabeth Vernon "is well respected" by sources and praised for her "shrewd and excellent judgement." Her practice encompasses financial cases alongside matters relating to children. An interviewee commends her as "extremely sympathetic. All of the clients have found her to be outstanding." She is a notable litigator in addition to being a collaboratively trained lawyer.

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Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Anna Worwood is praised by sources as "very bright," "very good and very able." She balances a notable high net worth financial practice with her considerable expertise in private children's law. One source regards her as "a lovely person and a good lawyer," noting: "She is particularly strong on the children's law side." 

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