UK - Family/Matrimonial: High Net Worth Lawyers & Law Firms - HNW - Chambers and Partners
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HNW Guide

Family/Matrimonial: High Net Worth — UK

Overview

UK: An Introduction to Family/Matrimonial: High Net Worth Contributed by Penningtons Manches LLP

The reputation of England & Wales as the most generous jurisdiction to the less wealthy spouse continues.

Asset-holding structures under scrutiny
Family courts remain inquisitorial when making orders in relation to assets both on- and offshore, finding ways to get beyond the form of structures to understand the reality on the ground.

Despite the confirmation in Prest v Petrodel Resources [2013] UKSC 34 that there is no special power to pierce the corporate veil in divorce situations, judges remain robust in probing issues of control, the purpose of wealth-holding structures and true beneficial ownership.

The non-family case of Mezhprom v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 1972 (Ch) provides a warning to those seeking to put assets beyond a divorcing spouse's reach that the court will examine where control of trust assets lies.

The hard-fought multi-jurisdictional case of Akhmedova, the latest instalment of which is Akhmedova v Akhmedova [2018] All ER (D) 213 (Mar), continues. The husband is evading payment of a final order made by Baker J through non-participation as well as moving and hiding assets between various Panamanian and Liechtenstein corporate offshore entities. In March 2018, the wife applied for various orders to put her in the best possible position to be able to recover a £350m capital and property award as well as to extend a worldwide freezing order which the court allowed. Her battle to find and claim what she is entitled to receive continues with a focus for now on the Isle of Man and Dubai.

Special contributions
The concept of special contribution as a reason to depart from an equal division of the matrimonial assets has been tested again in the Court of Appeal. In Work v Gray [2017] EWCA Civ 270, Mr Work tried to argue that he had made an unmatched contribution to the marriage. The couple had no wealth when they met and had a fortune of some $225m at the time of separation in 2013. Mrs Gray had brought up two children and moved the family to Japan to facilitate the husband’s wealth creation. The court decided that Mr Work had been lucky to be in the right place at the right time and that it was this, rather than any unique quality, which had allowed him to amass his wealth. His contribution was not unmatched by his wife. The decision signals that it is not just financial contributions that count when surveying how marital assets should be split.

However, the case of XW v XH 2017 EWFC 76 is proof that the concept can be argued successfully. Here the businessman husband had increased the value of the company in which he had shares from £3.8m to £500m during the near seven years of the marriage. The court found that the contribution of the husband was of a character to justify departing from the sharing principle so that the '…nature of his contribution is such that it is very obviously inconsistent with the objective of achieving fairness for it to be ignored.'

The limits of joint lives spousal maintenance
In Waggott v Waggott [2018] EWCA Civ 727, the Court of Appeal decided that one party’s earning capacity cannot be considered a matrimonial asset to which the sharing principle can apply. The Court of Appeal said that one spouse does not have an entitlement to share in the future income of the other. The court was also asked to consider the extent to which it is fair for the less wealthy applicant to use the capital they receive as their share of the matrimonial wealth to meet their needs when the other party can meet their needs from earned income. The Court of Appeal decided that whilst it would not be fair for one party’s capital to be depleted and the other left entirely intact, the clean break principle must be considered by the court and, if appropriate, the question of undue hardship in the adjustment to independent living. Moylan LJ stated that if there are no assets available (other than those being shared) then it would be fair for the capital awarded to be fully amortised. If, conversely, one party’s earnings are significant, it might be fair for the other party to have a greater level of security than that provided by an amortised amount.

Mills v Mills [2018] UKSC 38, featured heavily in the popular press, characterised as a battle between angry ex-husbands and greedy ex-wives fighting about the extent to which they should expect to pay or receive funding for their lives post-divorce. There is increasing focus in the courts upon financial dependence post-divorce and whether the less well-off spouse can be expected to support themselves either immediately or in the future. The Supreme Court agreed that the court was entitled to decline to increase the maintenance obligation that Mr Mills was already paying to Mrs Mills to fund her rent. Mrs Mills had received the majority of the capital when the finances were settled in 2002, but had frittered it away on unwise property investments. The message is clear: do not expect your ex-spouse to be an insurance policy against all future eventualities.

Prenuptial agreements
The case of Versteegh v Versteegh [2018] EWCA Civ 1050 has provided helpful clarity regarding the status of prenuptial agreements and matrimonial property regimes entered into by international parties in their home countries. The court refused an attempt by the wife to challenge the validity of a Swedish prenuptial agreement because she had not had legal advice before signing it, and had not understood the implications of the agreement in the event she moved to, and later divorced in, England. The Court of Appeal followed the precedent established by the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino, by finding that whilst it is ‘desirable’ for a wife to take legal advice in such circumstances, it is not ‘essential’. The agreement was a part of the marriage 'metaphorically taken with them wherever they went, reflecting an autonomous decision made by them as to how they wished to govern their affairs'.

In KA v MA [2018] EWHC 499 (Fam) the terms of the prenuptial agreement meant that the starting point for the division of capital and any income order was based upon the wife’s needs. The court found that although the husband had made it clear that entering into the agreement was a pre-condition to marriage, the wife had intended to be bound by its terms and had been advised that she would be better off if she did not sign it. The wife received a more generous capital award and a higher level of spousal support (capitalised) than that provided for in the agreement, but the case demonstrates that a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement can be a powerful tool to limit claims on divorce.

Privacy
Privacy (and the loss of it) can be costly in terms of reputational as well as financial damage. There continues to be judicial divergence as to the discretion afforded by the rules governing which family proceedings are private. In the face of such confusion, and in light of the continuing squeeze on court resources, parties are taking their disputes outside of the reported court arena to be determined on a bespoke basis. Clients are employing arbitration, private financial dispute resolution hearings and a range of other methods to resolve both financial and children issues away from prying eyes.

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Band 1

From the HNW guide

Farrer & Co provides HNW individuals and families with a comprehensive service in complex family law cases, with extensive expertise in international matters. The team enjoys a fine reputation and is noted by sources for its "excellent personal service."

A market commentator reports: "They are an excellent firm, an interesting firm. The younger generation are very much on the ball – they are a good example of a firm moving with the times."

Notable practitioners

Richard Parry acts as a consultant at the firm, boasting expertise in a range of family law and contentious trust matters. Market insiders describe him as "tough and astute."

Jeremy Posnansky QC advises wealthy individuals and families on complex family disputes. "He has a very good brain," says one interviewee; "he has something special which stands him apart." Another describes him as "a very good technical lawyer, tough but fair."

Simon Bruce regularly handles high-value, international family law cases, with additional experience acting as a mediator. Clients described him as "very experienced, level-headed, smart and always willing to make himself available outside of office hours if required. He places himself in the client’s shoes and provides very well thought-out advice with clear strategic goals."

William Massey "is very, very good," says a source; "I really rate him – I’ve had cases against him and he is a brilliant lawyer." Massey particularly excels in advising affluent clients on finance aspects of family disputes and heads up the firm’s broader disputes team. A peer enthuses that "I’m a fan of his. He is dynamic and doesn’t throw his weight around, and that says a lot about him."

The "excellent" Claire Gordon's high net worth family expertise focuses largely on international cases, including those involving trusts. "She gives concise and helpful answers to complex, and often emotional issues," says a client; "She is always calm, an authentic listener and works efficiently with counsel. She is a delight to work with."

Eliza Hebditch has particular expertise in handling cross-border divorces for high net worth clients, particularly those that have a US dimension. "She has extremely good technical knowledge," says a source. "She is excellent; very empathetic, very caring and very professional. She dealt with everything marvellously. I like her manner hugely, she can put clients at ease while remaining thoroughly professional. I would thoroughly recommend her."

Nick Bennett "is coming up the ranks and is a credit to the team," says a source. He has extensive expertise in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for affluent individuals. An interviewee enthuses: "He is excellent. He is clearly a very bright man, he is very clever in what he does and is collaborative. I had him on a case recently and it was all incredibly civilised; he was able to keep everyone on board and it was very positive for the clients."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the HNW guide

Family law boutique Hughes Fowler Carruthers assists high net worth clients with relationship breakdown and children disputes, such as relocation and abduction. Lawyers at the firm also have expertise in cases involving same-sex relationships.

" They are certainly a top-band firm," says one source, adding that "they have some excellent people." Another observes that "their reputation is very good and I think they are an excellent firm, excellent at what they do."

Notable practitioners

Frances Hughes has particular expertise in family matters that have trust or international elements. "She is a good litigator and she fights hard," says a market commentator, adding: "She is a phenomenal lawyer and she has had an extremely successful practice."

High net worth family specialist Alex Carruthers "is sublime and there's no fuss or nonsense about him," says a source; "he's hugely bright - saying he is clever doesn't quite capture him. When he has emotional clients he's able to keep a calm ship and steer them through any stormy waters." A client reports that "he is hugely experienced and I trust his judgement implicitly. He has not got it wrong once in all the time I have worked with him, including some tricky issues. The fact that he is so calm and relaxed about everything is an added bonus."

Pauline Fowler is well-regarded in the family law market, both as a litigator and in her frequent role as a mediator. Her practice includes children law, divorce and adoption and surrogacy cases. "She is pleasant in the courtroom and someone you can work with," says one source; "she knows what she is doing and can really span the full spectrum." Another describes her as "an excellent person to deal with, very sensible and someone you can settle matters with."

Mark Harper's "intellect impressed me hugely," reports a client; "he was able to grasp the details quickly, including thorny issues. He was always looking for the best angle from which to take the initiative and get on the front foot. He’s very clearly respected for his experience and knowledge." He regularly handles cross-border issues and is well respected for this part of his practice, with sources noting his "enormous knowledge of international law and trusts."

Renato Labi is "very easy to deal with," say market commentators, with one enthusing: "I really respect him, I think he is brilliant." He regularly represents affluent individuals and families in litigation proceedings. A source notes that "he is very good and energetic, I think he has a good combination between litigating, and being bright and clued up enough to soften up a bit."

Caroline Park counsels wealthy individuals on high-value divorces and financial remedy cases, also regularly representing clients in children’s disputes and marital agreements. "Her reputation has really come up over the last few years," says a source. "She is very much one to watch for the future; easy to deal with but by no means a pushover."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

From the HNW guide

Payne Hicks Beach's family department has an "outstanding reputation" and vast experience in representing UHNW clients in high-profile family law cases, including domestic and international financial remedy proceedings. Lawyers in the team also advise on marital agreements and child relocation disputes.

Sources praise the firm’s full-service capabilities: "They are a big operation, both in terms of their family department and having other departments offering a much broader service. If a client had a problem, they can switch to another department and pick up another area of expertise, which is a definite advantage. They still manage to operate a very personal service and clients feel very comfortable there; they are extremely well equipped to service high net worth individuals."

Notable practitioners

Fiona Shackleton is one of the best-known family law specialists in the market, and has extensive experience in representing UHNW individuals in divorces with cross-border elements. One family lawyer enthuses: "She is a fantastic lawyer, one of the greatest family lawyers that ever lived."

Ian Airey is a qualified arbitrator and his practice focuses on high-value financial disputes arising from divorce. "He has huge experience - he has been doing this job a very long time," says a source; "I am sure his clients have a lot of confidence in his stability."

Philip McGuirk focuses on financial remedy work for affluent clients, and he also has expertise in cohabitation, marital agreements and children disputes. One barrister notes: "He is vastly experienced and extremely conscientious," while another legal professional remarks: "McGuirk is an absolute class act. He is a really intelligent guy and very impressive."

Fiona Brown as "a terrific lawyer," with many highlighting her attention to detail and technical prowess. Brown's practice focuses on ancillary relief and associated matters, often handling those with an international or offshore element.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

From the HNW guide

The team assists clients with high-value financial remedy work on relationship breakdown, which often involves trusts and other complex structures. Clients also benefit from the firm's expertise in mediation and arbitration.

"They are a force to be reckoned with," says one family lawyer; "they have a whole host of people doing great work." Another notes that "it is a strong department, very knowledgeable and helpful to work with."

Notable practitioners

Emma Hatley focuses her practice on financial matters related to divorce proceedings. "She is a complete delight and a complete star; elegant, honest, shrewd and successful," say peers. One notes that "she is fantastic, one of the top family lawyers around, she is very capable, has a lovely manner and gets on with all kinds of lawyers. She has good experience with complex finance trusts."

Helen Ward is well regarded by market commentators for her family law practice, regularly working with high net worth clients. "She’s probably the best family solicitor in London," says one market commentator: "her attention to detail and work-rate are ridiculous." Another says: "She knows everything. She’s very clever and capable, she does amazingly, she is a very talented person and a big character."

Debbie Chism is described as "absolutely excellent" by her fellow family law practitioners and advises affluent individuals and families with matrimonial financial matters. Peers enjoy dealing with her on cases, noting that "you can just pick up the phone to her – she will fight for her client, is open and gives clients very sensible advice." One remarks: "I like her an awful lot. She is friendly, sensible and a good person."

Stephen Foster leads the team at Stewarts and is highly regarded by peers for his high net worth family law practice. "He is a brilliant lawyer, very diplomatic," says a peer; "he took a department that didn’t exist and, in ten years, made it the top team – he deserves praise." Another notes that "Stephen is just incredibly impressive, he has the gravitas of someone who knows exactly what he’s on about."

Peers say that Richard Hogwood "really is a problem solver. He doesn't just think about the law, he thinks about how to solve the problem and does the client well." His financially focused family law practice includes handling high-value prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with international elements.

Matthew Humphries counsels high net worth clients on financial matters arising from family breakdown, often with an international dimension. Fellow lawyers call him "a good performer, he’s hard-working, has a good sense of the law and the cases, and is definitely someone to respect when on the other side."

Sam Longworth "has a tremendous future ahead of him," says one peer, adding that "he is top drawer." Another notes that "he’s good, I rate him; when I hear he’s on the other side, it means we will have a sensible conversation and find the right result." Longworth advises wealthy clients on matrimonial issues, Schedule 1 proceedings and nuptial agreements.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

From the HNW guide

Withers offers high net worth individuals a broad range of services in family law. The team has particular experience in assisting with complex international matters, such as cross-border marital agreements and child relocation. "They have some outstanding lawyers," notes one interviewee. Another agrees: "I think their reputation is wholly deserved, they have an excellent team."

"They're terrific, we respect their technical ability above everyone else. They have a very strong team, you can't get stuff past them," says a market insider, adding that "they are a really successful bunch who should be properly respected."

Notable practitioners

Julian Lipson "is one of the best out there, he's fantastic," enthuses one commentator. Another reports that "he is still very much a star. The exterior charm is on top of a sound intellect and he really knows his law and attracts a lot of work." Lipson has particular expertise in cross-border work with the US and France. "He's a person of the most enormous intellect and superb judgement," says an interviewee, adding: "He's adored by his clients and 100% well prepared."

Diana Parker "is a super star with vast experience, intelligence, judgement and style," reports an interviewee. "She's a very impressive and cool practitioner – she's seen and done it all. She's very charming and deals with cases impeccably," notes a market insider. Parker is also praised as "extremely talented" and "really pragmatic about her work." "She's one of the best lawyers in this field," says a barrister.

Michael Gouriet advises international clients on a range of family law matters, including cohabitation and marital agreements. "He is a true gentleman, he's never riled and very clever. He glides along effortlessly," comments an interviewee. "He's impressive - he's so calm and meticulous, and a good draftsman," reports one source. Another describes him as "very charming" and "a very safe pair of hands."

Suzanne Kingston is recognised as the "queen of arbitration" for her development of mediation and arbitration in the family law field. "She is a tough negotiator, but constructive and unfailingly pleasant to deal with. She is always extremely well prepared in terms of paperwork and for meetings," reports an interviewee, adding: "As a mediator she is endlessly patient, taking the time to explain the issues clearly to the lay clients and willing to try over and over again to get them to agree rather than litigate."

James Copson concentrates his practice on high-value financial disputes, often with international considerations. He also advises clients on marital agreements and cohabitation claims. A barrister comments that "he's a real tactician with a great technical understanding of the law." "He's an absolute delight to work with," says a market insider, explaining that "he knows what he's doing and you know he's taking the solid point, you can rely on him to hold a reasonable line."

Suzanne Todd heads the firm's divorce and family team in London and is an experienced adviser to wealthy clients on a range of family law matters. Market insiders highlight her expertise in cross-border work with Italy, with one describing her as "one of the main players in the market for Italian work."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the HNW guide

This boutique firm advises wealthy clients on a wide array of family law matters, which includes settling divorces through litigation, dispute resolution and mediation. The team has particular expertise in protecting the image of high-profile clients during divorce proceedings.

"The firm is solid, reliable, and efficient," comments one solicitor. Another legal professional remarks: "The team is firm but fair."

Notable practitioners

William Healing is well known for his international family law practice. He wins praise from across the market for his French practice and frequently advises on international prenuptial agreements. A fellow lawyer comments that "he is an impressive individual and he has an impressive Anglo-French practice."

Susan Philipps has extensive experience assisting wealthy clients with family law matters and is a trained mediator. "She's one of the strongest family law solicitors in London," comments a barrister. Philipps is also praised as a "star" and "exceptionally talented."

Tom Amlot is well regarded for his family law practice, winning particular praise for his client-handling skills. "Clients adore Tom," comments a fellow solicitor, explaining: "He's energetic and fun to be around. He does attract really good clients and he's very loyal." "Tom is a star performer and he is particularly good with international cases and clients," reports a market insider, adding: "He's been involved in privacy issues too and so he is very attractive to celebrities and big business clients."

The "impressive" Emma Harte is noted for her expertise in resolving marital disputes. "She has a really good reputation for her mediation and collaborative approach. She's a very sensible and knowledgeable advocate," comments a market insider. A barrister reports: "She's very bright, a safe pair of hands and she provides a very good service to her clients."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the HNW guide

Charles Russell Speechlys has a strong international offering in family law for high net worth clients. The team advises individuals on financial remedy proceedings after divorce, marital agreements and civil partnerships. Lawyers at the firm have experience in arbitration and mediation.

"They are a great firm, they are excellent in terms of expertise," reports one interviewee. "They are exceptionally good,” says another source, adding: "I know things will be done sensibly when acting against them."

Notable practitioners

James Freeman "has an excellent reputation and is exceptionally bright," remarks an interviewee. He has a particular focus on multi-jurisdictional complex financial disputes and children work, and he is also a trained mediator. Freeman is also described as "very switched on and really sensible." "He is a tenacious litigator and really fights the fight for his clients," comments one peer. Another notes that "he's just super bright."

William Longrigg has extensive experience in complex family law matters, including divorce and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. "He's a very good technical lawyer. He knows international law inside out, he's a guru of it," reports one fellow family lawyer. Another says that "he is just a very kind gent and it must be wonderful to be his client." "He's certainly one of the finest matrimonial lawyers in London," enthuses an interviewee, adding: "He is extraordinary and a pleasure to deal with because he will not make a mountain out of a molehill and he will try to resolve matters in the clients' interests."

Sarah Anticoni concentrates her practice on complex financial claims following divorce and custody agreements. She also advises clients on prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Anticoni wins praise for her mediation skills, with one market insider commenting: "She's a very good mediator: she's robust, no-nonsense and is able to engage with clients to make the process understandable and straightforward."

Sarah Higgins heads the family group at the firm and is experienced in a wide range of family law matters. She advises clients on cohabitation, marital agreements and civil partnership agreements. "She is very strong technically, she knows exactly what she's talking about. She's very impressive," reports an interviewee.

Erica Shelton has an "excellent reputation" for her family law expertise. "She's very pleasant to deal with, she's very sensible and takes the pragmatic line," comments an interviewee. Shelton has particular experience in cross-border matters, regularly acting for clients with offshore tax and trust structures.

Shona Alexander assists high net worth individuals with complex financial divorce proceedings and children matters. She is also an experienced mediator. A fellow lawyer says: "She's very sensible and very easy to deal with."

Miranda Fisher handles financial disputes and children cases for wealthy clients, as well as advising on prenuptial agreements. She also heads the Middle East family practice at the firm and has particular expertise in Islamic family law matters. Fisher is praised by peers as "excellent" and "very clever."

Grant Howell "is very well known in family law" and has a broad practice, including advising on prenuptial agreements and on the recognition of foreign marriages and divorces. He is also a trained arbitrator. "He's nice, able, sensible and very knowledgeable; he's one you can do business with," comments a fellow lawyer.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the HNW guide

Family Law in Partnership has a wide-ranging family law practice, spanning divorce, cohabitation, marital agreements and children matters. The team also handles same-sex marriage and civil partnership work. The firm is noted for its focus on mediation and arbitration.

"They are very solution-focused and very nice to deal with," notes an interviewee, adding that "they are protective of their clients and they have their backs." A source reports that "They have a kindness and a quiet determination to get the best possible results for their client, amicably and staying out of court if possible, but they won't back away from a fight if that is what it takes; they are unshakeable in defence of their clients. They are subtle and shrewd operators."

Notable practitioners

David Allison focuses his practice on financial claims upon divorce as well as advising on cohabitation and civil partnership matters. "He's really constructive and finds a solution, he doesn't just litigate the hell out of everything," comments one interviewee. Another remarks that "he's no-nonsense, but also very friendly and sensible. He focuses in on issues quickly and he's good with clients, he's very personable."

Gillian Bishop assists wealthy clients with a range of family law matters and is experienced in cross-border work. She is also a trained mediator and arbitrator. "She's excellent on complex children work," notes a market insider. An interviewee comments that "she's obviously bright and she knows her stuff, which helps to get to the bottom of things more quickly."

Ann Northover is an experienced family lawyer and a consultant at the firm. "She is very down-to-earth and quite easy to work with," reports a legal practitioner.

James Pirrie wins praise for his family law expertise and his collaborative approach to complex problems. "He's fantastic, he's one of the leaders in the field in terms of ADR and collaborative law. He's qualified as every type of ADR person under the sun. He combines a facilitative anti-confrontation stance with an amazing knowledge of the law but he can fight when necessary," reports a market insider. A barrister comments that "he tries to get rid of all the noise and focus on a solution," adding that "he's unbelievable with detail." An interviewee notes that "his understanding of what makes people tick is profound and he is thus able to stay several moves ahead."

Pamela Collis concentrates her practice on domestic and cross-border family law issues. She assists clients with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, financial matters upon divorce and private law children matters.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the HNW guide

Levison Meltzer Pigott assists affluent clients with separation and disputes involving paternity and co-habitation, and the team also has expertise in domestic and cross-border children matters and marital agreements.

"It is great working with them," says a solicitor, adding: "I did a big international prenup with them. They were great and responded quickly."

Notable practitioners

Jeremy Levison continues to receive high praise from market sources for his family law expertise. "He's very experienced, his brain is tuned into strategic thinking, which is fundamental to matrimonial finance," says a source, adding: "He's an extremely safe pair of hands. You get a depth of experience, and with that experience comes wisdom." Another interviewee states: "He's highly intelligent and entertaining. He always has an interesting and impressive approach to a case."

Simon Pigott is a well-known and respected family law practitioner who also earns praise for his handling of mediations. "He is a very good lawyer and he is a very good mediator," says one interviewee, while another reports: "He is a very popular mediator. His name is always in the mix. He has a down-to-earth and grounded manner, especially in sophisticated financial matters." A fellow solicitor states: "I like him. He is a good lawyer, he will run a case fairly, you can have a jolly good fight and settle a case."

Alison Hayes advises wealthy individuals on significant financial remedy matters and also handles children cases. "She is excellent on children matters," observes a source; "she is formidable - she is fearless at times." Another interviewee says: "She is a very good solicitor and she provides a bit of backbone for her clients," adding: "She holds her clients together and provides them with that element of emotional support necessary in this context."

Julian Ribet "is tenacious - he really gets stuck in," says an interviewee. He regularly represents wealthy clients in complex financial disputes and children cases, and is also a trained mediator. "Julian's got a fantastic eye for cases from the very beginning," according to a commentator, who adds: "He can pick it up, read it through and have a broad view of where it's going and how to get it there. He's very prepared to drill down into the detail."

Alistair Myles focuses on high-value financial disputes which have cross-border and trust elements. "He has a very nice way about him and he puts clients at ease," says a source, adding: "He keeps the case in shape and pushes in the right direction." A fellow solicitor says that he is "fantastic" and that "he's got a very confident ability to look at detail and understand it forensically."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the HNW guide

The "talented people" at Mishcon de Reya are known among sources for handling "great work." The team regularly represents high net worth individuals in high-value matrimonial finance cases and also handles children matters. Many of the cases handled by the family team involve cross-border elements.

"The associates there are pretty much across the board extremely good," reveals an interviewee, adding: "You're always getting a really good service. They provide a very good wrap-around service to their clients and are extremely responsive. Strategically, they are excellent in cases."

Notable practitioners

Sandra Davis "is excellent, tenacious and a highly regarded head of department," says a fellow family lawyer. She frequently advises wealthy clients on high-stakes, cross-border divorce cases that involve significant trusts, business assets and partnerships. "She is incredibly good," observes a commentator.

Barbara Reeves "is excellent" and "is a great champion for her clients," according to interviewees. Her work includes advising international and domestic clients on matrimonial finance matters, including cases concerning financial provision for children of unmarried parents. Reeves is also an experienced mediator and assists clients with the creation of marital and cohabitation agreements.

Miles Geffin assists clients with contentious and non-contentious family matters, including cross-border financial disputes. He also advises on related areas, such as family governance and wealth structuring. "I like him an awful lot. He has got a really attractive and engaging personality, you can have a really interesting chat with him," says an interviewee, adding: "He has good contacts and good technical abilities. I am a fan."

David Lister brings a huge amount of experience to his work advising affluent individuals on complex financial matters, including those involving asset tracing. "He has fantastic litigation experience," observes a fellow solicitor, adding: "He has that breadth of knowledge."

Claire Yorke is an expert in matrimonial finance cases and advises clients on cross-border family matters. She also assists with marital agreements. "Claire is personable, intelligent, reassuring, friendly and approachable," says an interviewee. "I think she is excellent," comments a source, adding: "She is very hard-working and really has a devotion to making sure her clients are properly served in a case. She is a pleasure to deal with."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the HNW guide

Penningtons Manches offers a comprehensive family law service to wealthy clients, which includes advising on financial remedy cases and children disputes, such as applications to return and relocation. The team has a particular expertise in cross-border matters involving clients from Russia and the CIS, and regularly advises on multi-jurisdictional cohabitation and marital agreements.

"They are a great firm. We have worked with them lots and lots over the years and have never had a bad word to say about them," reports an interviewee, adding: "For my part, I think that marital agreements, post- and pre-nups, are something they specialise in. They deal with things very constructively, they don't take silly points and are solution-focused."

Notable practitioners

Jane Craig "is first-rate and she is empathetic," according to an interviewee. Another source says: "What's impressive about Jane in particular is that she's like the gloved hand and the iron fist - she's so calming and reassuring for clients, she's got a very laid-back approach. She's absolutely brilliant - there's not a single thing she isn't totally on top of in cases or the law. She has a nice subtlety of approach." Craig is head of the family department at the firm.

James Stewart regularly handles high-value family matters on behalf of domestic and international clients, including those with links to Russia and the CIS. "He brings in international work and he isn't fazed by complexity," observes an interviewee. A source says: "I have found him very easy to deal with, very much on the client's side, but capable of having a proper discussion to sort out complicated issues."

Anna Worwood assists clients with significant matrimonial finance matters, but is especially well known among commentators for her work on private children cases. A source says: "She has a very good reputation. I think she is more focused on private child matters and I think she has an absolutely first-class reputation for that work."

Edward Floyd "is very much a star in the ascent," according to an impressed interviewee. He concentrates on financial remedy work and marital agreements for affluent individuals, and as a Russian speaker he has particular interest in Anglo-Russian disputes. "I think he is absolutely excellent," says a commentator, adding: "He is so intelligent and thorough. He wins cases because he is just so on top of the details."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the HNW guide

Boodle Hatfield provides domestic and international clients with a range of family law services. Lawyers in the department assist with complex financial remedy matters and advise on marital agreements. The group also handles international children disputes.

"I think they're a very solid team," remarks an observer, adding: "It's a really good blend of partners within their team." Another interviewee reports that family team "is just very calm and civilised."

Notable practitioners

Emily Brand has particular expertise in high-value cross-border financial proceedings and child disputes concerning relocation and paternity. "She is a clever woman, very sparky and imaginative," commends a barrister, while another commentator says: "She is very hard-working and assiduous on her cases."

James Ferguson "is an absolute delight to deal with and is very experienced in high net worth work," observes a fellow solicitor. "Calmness and experience are what he brings to the table. What he is able to do extremely well is balance the upsides with the downsides," according to an interviewee, who adds: "There is something quite authoritative about him, a manner which clients respect." Ferguson's work includes multimillion-pound divorces and prenuptial agreements.

Harriet Errington advises affluent individuals on financial remedy and children matters, and she also has expertise in marital agreements. "She is very good indeed," remarks a fellow solicitor, adding: "She is organised, on the ball, efficient, friendly, and collaborative."

According to an impressed source, Katie O'Callaghan is "absolutely outstanding in every degree of her work." She assists HNW individuals and families with cross-border financial remedy proceedings and marital agreements.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

Brodies has a fine reputation among market commentators for advising on high-value financial matters. The firm's family lawyers also assist clients with asset protection measures, including marital and cohabitation agreements. "They are the market leader in Scotland," according to a commentator, while another says: "They are my firm of choice when it comes to Scotland. They have been superior in their client service and knowledge."

"They are an interesting firm - they have a good family team," observes a London-based family lawyer, adding: "If it was a high net worth matter, they would be our first port of call. They are a good firm for a high net worth individual; you would be confident that a client's interests would be well looked after."

Notable practitioners

Scott Cochrane "is a go-to lawyer for any matter with a Scottish element - everyone in London will say they know him if you ask about Scotland," states a commentator. "Internationally, his reputation precedes him - he does a lot of international work. He is certainly someone I would refer the right case to. He has been practising for a long time," says an interviewee. Cochrane regularly handles complex matrimonial finance matters.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

Burges Salmon advises high net worth individuals on divorce and complex financial settlements from its offices in Bristol and London. Lawyers in the team work with domestic and international clients and often assist with wealth protection measures, including marital agreements.

"They are without doubt the strongest family team in Bristol," says an interviewee. "I see quite a lot of how they work - it is very impressive. They are major players in London these days, as well. They do some really good stuff," observes a commentator.

Notable practitioners

Sarah Hoskinson advises affluent individuals in both London and Bristol on divorce and related wealth protection measures. "She is a fantastic lawyer," enthuses a source, adding: "She is excellent and I have a lot of time for her." Another interviewee observes: "She is excellent. She has a great manner with her clients, she is no-nonsense and she gets the job done."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

Boutique firm Dawson Cornwell is especially well known for handling children law matters. "I think their biggest strength is in international children work. They are arguably the leading firm," observes an interviewee, and another source says: "They have such a powerful practice in the child work."

"They are unusually broad as a department, with an excellent financial offering, and it's also backed up by their children department, which is one of the top three in London," says a fellow family lawyer, adding: "It's a very, very good firm. Their whole ethos is to do a very good job for their clients, but not be pointlessly aggressive."

Notable practitioners

Kate Allen handles cross-border and domestic family matters, including matrimonial finance cases and children disputes. "I always find Kate very straightforward to work with, collaborative in her approach, always looking to do a sensible deal. Kate is excellent," reports an interviewee. "She is very, very bright and very constructive. She is quite wily, she knows how to litigate. As opponent she is very tough and very constructive - you can have a row with her but in a constructive and good-humoured way," says a source.

Rhiannon Lewis tackles complex divorce matters, including financial settlements. She is a trained mediator and is also a mediation trainer. A source describes Lewis as an "experienced advocate" who is "clever empathetic."

Russell Bywater "has loads of experience. He's clever and will pursue points that need pursuing," says an interviewee. He advises wealthy clients on financial proceedings and has expertise in cases with an international dimension. "He gives very to-the-point and pragmatic advice on the likely structure of a settlement," reports a source, who adds that he has "a good grasp of the technical and financial details."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

Forsters provides HNW individuals and families with a broad range of services in family law, including multi-jurisdictional prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and resolving family disputes through mediation and arbitration. The lawyers at the firm also regularly represent clients in surrogacy matters, adoption, conception agreements and international child abduction.

"I just think they are an elite-level firm," says a source; "they're based in Mayfair and provide a Mayfair service. They punch above their level. What they do is really, really impressive. They are involved in some really big cases. They focus on not going to court, which means clients love them, but they aren't always in the law reports." Another reports: "They are very amicable; you can just pick up the phone and discuss the issues. I like them hugely, and if I was going to recommend a friend to a firm, I would recommend Forsters to them to have a friendly and amicable divorce."

Notable practitioners

Head of department Joanne Edwards handles high-value divorce cases and is particularly well known for her expertise in alternative dispute resolution. "She is incredible," says a fellow family lawyer; "it is rare that you find a mediator that can do these high-end international cases. You need someone that does this every day, and she is the one for that." Edwards is a former chair of Resolution. Further sources say Edwards "is just known for being resolution-friendly and dealing with things in a sensible way."

Rosie Schumm assists with domestic and international prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, divorces and financial remedies matters, and she also has experience in international surrogacy. A source notes: "She has had a fabulous career already, she is a force of nature, is a hard-working and charismatic person and just seems to have incredible high net worth clients from the City all the time. She's a hard negotiator and very tough, but she is also a very warm and friendly person – that's a very good balance to have."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

This firm provides affluent clients with a full range of services in family law for domestic and cross-border matters. The lawyers at Hunters have expertise in complex and high-value financial remedy work and children disputes, such as abduction and wardships.

"They have done really well, they have a good offering, and a good reputation in the market," says an interviewee, adding: "They have really come up and they will carry on growing. Good all-round family firm."

Notable practitioners

Henry Hood leads the family department. He advises on high-value financial matters and children law issues, and he is also an experienced mediator. A client says Hood "provides pragmatic advice and is good at getting tough when required. You don't want to mess with Henry and he isn't at all intimidated by a litigious opponent. His wealth of experience provides a superb backbone to any divorce case and you simply feel that you are in a strong pair of hands when he is dealing with your affairs. Ultimately he gives you the confidence that he will do everything to get the right settlement for you."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the HNW guide

Kingsley Napley provides a wide range of services in family law to HNW clients, which includes representing individuals in domestic and multi-jurisdictional marital agreements and contested financial proceedings. Lawyers at the firm also have expertise in child relocation and surrogacy issues.

"I think they are excellent if cases involve an international element," says a source; "very efficient, provide comprehensive advice – sensible lawyers and a trusted set of hands." Another interviewee enthuses: "They are just a really nice firm, and do a very good job and have very good clients. They are good at cross-over complexity. It probably helps that they have lots of departments that deal with those areas and a criminal team. They are really good solicitors and good to work with, they engage on a human level and clients like them as a result. It's a proper all-round service."

Notable practitioners

Jane Keir's practice concentrates on negotiating settlements for high-value financial proceedings. "I think she is excellent," enthuses an interviewee; "she is robust, she is tough, easy to deal with, sensible, doesn't make bad points." Another source says Keir has "excellent client management skills – clients feel highly supported as she is very patient – looks at a situation very humanely."

Charlotte Bradley is head of department. "At that level, it's a given that her technical skills are the best," says a family law barrister, "but it's more the fact that she approaches things in such a way that makes her stand out: constructive but also being able to take a complex case and sort through the issues." Bradley is "a really nice person, and a really good technical lawyer," says a source; "she is really good at mediations. I really rate her."

Michael Rowlands has expertise in high-value financial claims and children disputes, and he also advises on marital agreements and international child relocation. A client praises Rowlands' "very professional thoroughness and follow-up, and good support when going through difficult times," explaining that he "dealt with issues very efficiently and effectively, always fair and explained very clearly what was going on," and adding that he is "always approachable and contactable."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

Lawyers at Miles Preston & Co advise HNW clients on divorce, relationship breakdown and marital agreements, and the team also has expertise in children matters. One solicitor says: "We have dealt with them quite a lot, they always take a pragmatic line. They are sensible and they don't take silly points and drag things out for no reason."

A client enthuses: "Miles Preston makes you feel in safe hands, providing clear explanation, guiding clients effortlessly through the legal jargon and unfamiliar landscape of matrimonial law. The team was very good at organising the information provided, going the extra mile in drawing up clear explanations and road-maps for the judge in my case; and in selecting the perfect barrister for the situation required."

Notable practitioners

Julia Stanczyk is a key contact.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

This full-service national firm represents affluent individuals in financial remedy proceedings, cohabitation law and alternative dispute resolution procedures such as private FDR, mediation and arbitration.

"They are a very impressive firm, and have fantastic training," says a peer; "they had alternative dispute resolution approach, and they are a really professional outfit." Another adds: "Their offering in London is very much on the up. They have a good private client practice which they can use and are definitely one to watch in the future."

Notable practitioners

Joanna Grandfield leads the firm's London family team, and her practice focuses on high-value financial disputes. Grandfield is a trained mediator. "She is probably one of my favourite lawyers to work with," enthuses an interviewee, adding: "She has done extremely well to build the practice in London. She is very much one to watch. She is bright, easy to deal with and ambitious. I think she gets lots of high-value instructions."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

Newton Kearns is a new family law boutique in London. One family lawyer says the firm is "the most exciting thing that has happened to the industry this year," adding: "They have gravitas; it is probably the firm that will be a really big development."

Its founding partners all have long-term reputations for high-value family work. Another interviewee describes them as "really, really impressive individuals," before adding, for emphasis: "They are really impressive."

Notable practitioners

Maggie Rae is a consultant at the firm. One interviewee describes Rae as a "very safe pair of hands," and another adds that "she gives the firm such gravitas, I would always want to work with them." Another fellow family lawyer says: "I always work with her on really complicated children issues, and she does really well on them. She is the first person I think of, she has seen it all, done it all, and will just pull up her sleeves and get on with it."

Patrick Kearns has extensive experience in complex HNW financial remedy disputes. One lawyer says: "It's very rare to find someone who isn't just intensely bright, but also intensely practical. Patrick has a unique ability to not insinuate his ego into the process whatsoever, and he's intensely practical."

Paul Newton concentrates his practice on complex financial disputes for HNW clients, and he also has expertise in marital agreements. "I worked with him at Clintons on a lot of prenups in a really sensible way," says another family lawyer, adding that Newton has "has the right knowledge and understanding and does it all in a sensible way."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

From the HNW guide

Russell-Cooke advises HNW individuals on surrogacy, family property disputes, and children law, and the lawyers at the firm have experience in mediation, arbitration and cross-border financial proceedings.

"They are an extremely competent firm," says a fellow lawyer, adding: "If a case needs to be referred to them, you can think of a number of practitioners who could take it up and do it well. It's a well-run, well-organised place, and as a whole, the firm is a safe pair hands."

Notable practitioners

James Carroll is "a genuinely nice man and has a good alternative dispute resolution practice," says a peer, adding: "He's a strong proponent of that. He's quite thoughtful – he definitely fights his cases, but in quite a low-key way. He doesn't inflame matters for the sake of it." Carroll handles in financial remedy proceedings and prenuptial agreements, and interviewees note his specialism in matters involving same-sex relationships and civil partnership law. Another source describes Carroll as "a bloody good lawyer, and a really nice guy; you know he will work on it constructively. He will fight hard, but he won't pick silly points – he won't fight unnecessarily."

Kate Hamilton has particular expertise in marital agreements, financial provision and cohabitation, and she is also an experienced mediator. One interviewee describes her as "thoroughly constructive – she's no push-over, she defends clients' interests, but she's not a game-player; she gets to the end point efficiently and with good grace. She has a sensible approach to time-scales, and a very good manner to deal with."

Fiona Read specialises in international divorces, children law and prenuptial agreements. One source reports: "Fiona Read is really bright, a great lawyer, easy to work with, firm, but open to sensible negotiation, and had the client's interest at heart all the time. She is clear and the clients like the way she helps them to fully understand their options." Multiple sources highlight Read's expertise as a part-time District Judge in the family courts. "She sits as a judge, she is very even-handed and has a nice, personable approach," says one family lawyer, adding: "I think she 'gets' people quite quickly." Another peer adds: "She is exceptionally good, she sits as a judge and really knows her stuff. She is very good, and works cohesively with other members of the team."

^ See whole ranking table

Overview

UK: An Introduction to Family/Matrimonial: High Net Worth Contributed by Penningtons Manches LLP

The reputation of England & Wales as the most generous jurisdiction to the less wealthy spouse continues.

Asset-holding structures under scrutiny
Family courts remain inquisitorial when making orders in relation to assets both on- and offshore, finding ways to get beyond the form of structures to understand the reality on the ground.

Despite the confirmation in Prest v Petrodel Resources [2013] UKSC 34 that there is no special power to pierce the corporate veil in divorce situations, judges remain robust in probing issues of control, the purpose of wealth-holding structures and true beneficial ownership.

The non-family case of Mezhprom v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 1972 (Ch) provides a warning to those seeking to put assets beyond a divorcing spouse's reach that the court will examine where control of trust assets lies.

The hard-fought multi-jurisdictional case of Akhmedova, the latest instalment of which is Akhmedova v Akhmedova [2018] All ER (D) 213 (Mar), continues. The husband is evading payment of a final order made by Baker J through non-participation as well as moving and hiding assets between various Panamanian and Liechtenstein corporate offshore entities. In March 2018, the wife applied for various orders to put her in the best possible position to be able to recover a £350m capital and property award as well as to extend a worldwide freezing order which the court allowed. Her battle to find and claim what she is entitled to receive continues with a focus for now on the Isle of Man and Dubai.

Special contributions
The concept of special contribution as a reason to depart from an equal division of the matrimonial assets has been tested again in the Court of Appeal. In Work v Gray [2017] EWCA Civ 270, Mr Work tried to argue that he had made an unmatched contribution to the marriage. The couple had no wealth when they met and had a fortune of some $225m at the time of separation in 2013. Mrs Gray had brought up two children and moved the family to Japan to facilitate the husband’s wealth creation. The court decided that Mr Work had been lucky to be in the right place at the right time and that it was this, rather than any unique quality, which had allowed him to amass his wealth. His contribution was not unmatched by his wife. The decision signals that it is not just financial contributions that count when surveying how marital assets should be split.

However, the case of XW v XH 2017 EWFC 76 is proof that the concept can be argued successfully. Here the businessman husband had increased the value of the company in which he had shares from £3.8m to £500m during the near seven years of the marriage. The court found that the contribution of the husband was of a character to justify departing from the sharing principle so that the '…nature of his contribution is such that it is very obviously inconsistent with the objective of achieving fairness for it to be ignored.'

The limits of joint lives spousal maintenance
In Waggott v Waggott [2018] EWCA Civ 727, the Court of Appeal decided that one party’s earning capacity cannot be considered a matrimonial asset to which the sharing principle can apply. The Court of Appeal said that one spouse does not have an entitlement to share in the future income of the other. The court was also asked to consider the extent to which it is fair for the less wealthy applicant to use the capital they receive as their share of the matrimonial wealth to meet their needs when the other party can meet their needs from earned income. The Court of Appeal decided that whilst it would not be fair for one party’s capital to be depleted and the other left entirely intact, the clean break principle must be considered by the court and, if appropriate, the question of undue hardship in the adjustment to independent living. Moylan LJ stated that if there are no assets available (other than those being shared) then it would be fair for the capital awarded to be fully amortised. If, conversely, one party’s earnings are significant, it might be fair for the other party to have a greater level of security than that provided by an amortised amount.

Mills v Mills [2018] UKSC 38, featured heavily in the popular press, characterised as a battle between angry ex-husbands and greedy ex-wives fighting about the extent to which they should expect to pay or receive funding for their lives post-divorce. There is increasing focus in the courts upon financial dependence post-divorce and whether the less well-off spouse can be expected to support themselves either immediately or in the future. The Supreme Court agreed that the court was entitled to decline to increase the maintenance obligation that Mr Mills was already paying to Mrs Mills to fund her rent. Mrs Mills had received the majority of the capital when the finances were settled in 2002, but had frittered it away on unwise property investments. The message is clear: do not expect your ex-spouse to be an insurance policy against all future eventualities.

Prenuptial agreements
The case of Versteegh v Versteegh [2018] EWCA Civ 1050 has provided helpful clarity regarding the status of prenuptial agreements and matrimonial property regimes entered into by international parties in their home countries. The court refused an attempt by the wife to challenge the validity of a Swedish prenuptial agreement because she had not had legal advice before signing it, and had not understood the implications of the agreement in the event she moved to, and later divorced in, England. The Court of Appeal followed the precedent established by the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino, by finding that whilst it is ‘desirable’ for a wife to take legal advice in such circumstances, it is not ‘essential’. The agreement was a part of the marriage 'metaphorically taken with them wherever they went, reflecting an autonomous decision made by them as to how they wished to govern their affairs'.

In KA v MA [2018] EWHC 499 (Fam) the terms of the prenuptial agreement meant that the starting point for the division of capital and any income order was based upon the wife’s needs. The court found that although the husband had made it clear that entering into the agreement was a pre-condition to marriage, the wife had intended to be bound by its terms and had been advised that she would be better off if she did not sign it. The wife received a more generous capital award and a higher level of spousal support (capitalised) than that provided for in the agreement, but the case demonstrates that a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement can be a powerful tool to limit claims on divorce.

Privacy
Privacy (and the loss of it) can be costly in terms of reputational as well as financial damage. There continues to be judicial divergence as to the discretion afforded by the rules governing which family proceedings are private. In the face of such confusion, and in light of the continuing squeeze on court resources, parties are taking their disputes outside of the reported court arena to be determined on a bespoke basis. Clients are employing arbitration, private financial dispute resolution hearings and a range of other methods to resolve both financial and children issues away from prying eyes.

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Senior Statesperson

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jeremy Levison continues to receive high praise from market sources for his family law expertise. "He's very experienced, his brain is tuned into strategic thinking, which is fundamental to matrimonial finance," says a source, adding: "He's an extremely safe pair of hands. You get a depth of experience, and with that experience comes wisdom." Another interviewee states: "He's highly intelligent and entertaining. He always has an interesting and impressive approach to a case."

^ See whole ranking table

Senior Statesperson

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Richard Parry acts as a consultant at the firm, boasting expertise in a range of family law and contentious trust matters. Market insiders describe him as "tough and astute."

^ See whole ranking table

Senior Statesperson

Jeremy Posnansky QC

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jeremy Posnansky QC advises wealthy individuals and families on complex family disputes. "He has a very good brain," says one interviewee; "he has something special which stands him apart." Another describes him as "a very good technical lawyer, tough but fair."

^ See whole ranking table

Senior Statesperson

Newton Kearns

From the Chambers HNW guide

Maggie Rae is a consultant at the firm. One interviewee describes Rae as a "very safe pair of hands," and another adds that "she gives the firm such gravitas, I would always want to work with them." Another fellow family lawyer says: "I always work with her on really complicated children issues, and she does really well on them. She is the first person I think of, she has seen it all, done it all, and will just pull up her sleeves and get on with it."

^ See whole ranking table

Senior Statesperson

Sears Tooth

From the Chambers HNW guide

Raymond Tooth of Sears Tooth is a senior statesman of the ultra-high net worth family law practice in London, and has a fearsome reputation for his work on some of the most contentious family litigation. He advises on complex and high-value divorce matters and also has expertise in international children law matters.

^ See whole ranking table

Eminent Practitioner

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jane Keir's practice concentrates on negotiating settlements for high-value financial proceedings. "I think she is excellent," enthuses an interviewee; "she is robust, she is tough, easy to deal with, sensible, doesn't make bad points." Another source says Keir has "excellent client management skills – clients feel highly supported as she is very patient – looks at a situation very humanely."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Emma Hatley focuses her practice on financial matters related to divorce proceedings. "She is a complete delight and a complete star; elegant, honest, shrewd and successful," say peers. One notes that "she is fantastic, one of the top family lawyers around, she is very capable, has a lovely manner and gets on with all kinds of lawyers. She has good experience with complex finance trusts."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Frances Hughes has particular expertise in family matters that have trust or international elements. "She is a good litigator and she fights hard," says a market commentator, adding: "She is a phenomenal lawyer and she has had an extremely successful practice."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Julian Lipson"is one of the best out there, he's fantastic," enthuses one commentator. Another reports that "he is still very much a star. The exterior charm is on top of a sound intellect and he really knows his law and attracts a lot of work." Lipson has particular expertise in cross-border work with the US and France. "He's a person of the most enormous intellect and superb judgement," says an interviewee, adding: "He's adored by his clients and 100% well prepared."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Diana Parker"is a super star with vast experience, intelligence, judgement and style," reports an interviewee. "She's a very impressive and cool practitioner – she's seen and done it all. She's very charming and deals with cases impeccably," notes a market insider. Parker is also praised as "extremely talented" and "really pragmatic about her work.""She's one of the best lawyers in this field," says a barrister.

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Fiona Shackleton is one of the best-known family law specialists in the market, and has extensive experience in representing UHNW individuals in divorces with cross-border elements. One family lawyer enthuses: "She is a fantastic lawyer, one of the greatest family lawyers that ever lived."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Helen Ward is well regarded by market commentators for her family law practice, regularly working with high net worth clients. "She’s probably the best family solicitor in London," says one market commentator: "her attention to detail and work-rate are ridiculous." Another says: "She knows everything. She’s very clever and capable, she does amazingly, she is a very talented person and a big character."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Simon Bruce regularly handles high-value, international family law cases, with additional experience acting as a mediator. Clients described him as "very experienced, level-headed, smart and always willing to make himself available outside of office hours if required. He places himself in the client’s shoes and provides very well thought-out advice with clear strategic goals."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

High net worth family specialist Alex Carruthers"is sublime and there's no fuss or nonsense about him," says a source; "he's hugely bright - saying he is clever doesn't quite capture him. When he has emotional clients he's able to keep a calm ship and steer them through any stormy waters." A client reports that "he is hugely experienced and I trust his judgement implicitly. He has not got it wrong once in all the time I have worked with him, including some tricky issues. The fact that he is so calm and relaxed about everything is an added bonus."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Debbie Chism is described as "absolutely excellent" by her fellow family law practitioners and advises affluent individuals and families with matrimonial financial matters. Peers enjoy dealing with her on cases, noting that "you can just pick up the phone to her – she will fight for her client, is open and gives clients very sensible advice." One remarks: "I like her an awful lot. She is friendly, sensible and a good person."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sandra Davis"is excellent, tenacious and a highly regarded head of department," says a fellow family lawyer. She frequently advises wealthy clients on high-stakes, cross-border divorce cases that involve significant trusts, business assets and partnerships. "She is incredibly good," observes a commentator.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Stephen Foster leads the team at Stewarts and is highly regarded by peers for his high net worth family law practice. "He is a brilliant lawyer, very diplomatic," says a peer; "he took a department that didn’t exist and, in ten years, made it the top team – he deserves praise." Another notes that "Stephen is just incredibly impressive, he has the gravitas of someone who knows exactly what he’s on about."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Pauline Fowler is well-regarded in the family law market, both as a litigator and in her frequent role as a mediator. Her practice includes children law, divorce and adoption and surrogacy cases. "She is pleasant in the courtroom and someone you can work with," says one source; "she knows what she is doing and can really span the full spectrum." Another describes her as "an excellent person to deal with, very sensible and someone you can settle matters with."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Freeman"has an excellent reputation and is exceptionally bright," remarks an interviewee. He has a particular focus on multi-jurisdictional complex financial disputes and children work, and he is also a trained mediator. Freeman is also described as "very switched on and really sensible." "He is a tenacious litigator and really fights the fight for his clients," comments one peer. Another notes that "he's just super bright."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Michael Gouriet advises international clients on a range of family law matters, including cohabitation and marital agreements. "He is a true gentleman, he's never riled and very clever. He glides along effortlessly," comments an interviewee. "He's impressive - he's so calm and meticulous, and a good draftsman," reports one source. Another describes him as "very charming" and "a very safe pair of hands."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Mark Harper's"intellect impressed me hugely," reports a client; "he was able to grasp the details quickly, including thorny issues. He was always looking for the best angle from which to take the initiative and get on the front foot. He’s very clearly respected for his experience and knowledge." He regularly handles cross-border issues and is well respected for this part of his practice, with sources noting his "enormous knowledge of international law and trusts."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Suzanne Kingston is recognised as the "queen of arbitration" for her development of mediation and arbitration in the family law field. "She is a tough negotiator, but constructive and unfailingly pleasant to deal with. She is always extremely well prepared in terms of paperwork and for meetings," reports an interviewee, adding: "As a mediator she is endlessly patient, taking the time to explain the issues clearly to the lay clients and willing to try over and over again to get them to agree rather than litigate."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

William Longrigg has extensive experience in complex family law matters, including divorce and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. "He's a very good technical lawyer. He knows international law inside out, he's a guru of it," reports one fellow family lawyer. Another says that "he is just a very kind gent and it must be wonderful to be his client." "He's certainly one of the finest matrimonial lawyers in London," enthuses an interviewee, adding: "He is extraordinary and a pleasure to deal with because he will not make a mountain out of a molehill and he will try to resolve matters in the clients' interests."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

William Massey"is very, very good," says a source; "I really rate him – I’ve had cases against him and he is a brilliant lawyer." Massey particularly excels in advising affluent clients on finance aspects of family disputes and heads up the firm’s broader disputes team. A peer enthuses that "I’m a fan of his. He is dynamic and doesn’t throw his weight around, and that says a lot about him."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Simon Pigott is a well-known and respected family law practitioner who also earns praise for his handling of mediations. "He is a very good lawyer and he is a very good mediator," says one interviewee, while another reports: "He is a very popular mediator. His name is always in the mix. He has a down-to-earth and grounded manner, especially in sophisticated financial matters." A fellow solicitor states: "I like him. He is a good lawyer, he will run a case fairly, you can have a jolly good fight and settle a case."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Ian Airey is a qualified arbitrator and his practice focuses on high-value financial disputes arising from divorce. "He has huge experience - he has been doing this job a very long time," says a source; "I am sure his clients have a lot of confidence in his stability."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Dawson Cornwell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Kate Allen handles cross-border and domestic family matters, including matrimonial finance cases and children disputes. "I always find Kate very straightforward to work with, collaborative in her approach, always looking to do a sensible deal. Kate is excellent," reports an interviewee. "She is very, very bright and very constructive. She is quite wily, she knows how to litigate. As opponent she is very tough and very constructive - you can have a row with her but in a constructive and good-humoured way," says a source.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

David Allison focuses his practice on financial claims upon divorce as well as advising on cohabitation and civil partnership matters. "He's really constructive and finds a solution, he doesn't just litigate the hell out of everything," comments one interviewee. Another remarks that "he's no-nonsense, but also very friendly and sensible. He focuses in on issues quickly and he's good with clients, he's very personable."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sarah Anticoni concentrates her practice on complex financial claims following divorce and custody agreements. She also advises clients on prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Anticoni wins praise for her mediation skills, with one market insider commenting: "She's a very good mediator: she's robust, no-nonsense and is able to engage with clients to make the process understandable and straightforward."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Catherine Bedford

Harbottle & Lewis LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Catherine Bedford of Harbottle & Lewis LLP advises wealthy clients on a wide range of family law matters. She is known for working with high-profile media clients, and also acts for entrepreneurs and business owners. "She is just a ball of energy and amazing," enthuses a fellow family lawyer; "she has some very high-profile clients." Another says Bedford has "an incredibly loyal band of clients."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Gillian Bishop assists wealthy clients with a range of family law matters and is experienced in cross-border work. She is also a trained mediator and arbitrator. "She's excellent on complex children work," notes a market insider. An interviewee comments that "she's obviously bright and she knows her stuff, which helps to get to the bottom of things more quickly."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Charlotte Bradley

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Charlotte Bradley is head of department. "At that level, it's a given that her technical skills are the best," says a family law barrister, "but it's more the fact that she approaches things in such a way that makes her stand out: constructive but also being able to take a complex case and sort through the issues." Bradley is "a really nice person, and a really good technical lawyer," says a source; "she is really good at mediations. I really rate her."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Christopher Butler

RadcliffesLeBrasseur

From the Chambers HNW guide

Christopher Butler advises domestic and international clients on marital agreements and the resolution of disputes arising from divorces with complex financial and trust issues. He is a consultant at the firm and he is well known among interviewees for sitting as a Deputy District Judge in the Central Family Court. He recently moved from Boodle Hatfield to RadcliffesLeBrasseur.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Russell-Cooke

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Carroll is "a genuinely nice man and has a good alternative dispute resolution practice," says a peer, adding: "He's a strong proponent of that. He's quite thoughtful – he definitely fights his cases, but in quite a low-key way. He doesn't inflame matters for the sake of it." Carroll handles in financial remedy proceedings and prenuptial agreements, and interviewees note his specialism in matters involving same-sex relationships and civil partnership law. Another source describes Carroll as "a bloody good lawyer, and a really nice guy; you know he will work on it constructively. He will fight hard, but he won't pick silly points – he won't fight unnecessarily."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jane Craig"is first-rate and she is empathetic," according to an interviewee. Another source says: "What's impressive about Jane in particular is that she's like the gloved hand and the iron fist - she's so calming and reassuring for clients, she's got a very laid-back approach. She's absolutely brilliant - there's not a single thing she isn't totally on top of in cases or the law. She has a nice subtlety of approach." Craig is head of the family department at the firm.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Forsters LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Head of department Joanne Edwards handles high-value divorce cases and is particularly well known for her expertise in alternative dispute resolution. "She is incredible," says a fellow family lawyer; "it is rare that you find a mediator that can do these high-end international cases. You need someone that does this every day, and she is the one for that." Edwards is a former chair of Resolution. Further sources say Edwards "is just known for being resolution-friendly and dealing with things in a sensible way."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

William Healing is well known for his international family law practice. He wins praise from across the market for his French practice and frequently advises on international prenuptial agreements. A fellow lawyer comments that "he is an impressive individual and he has an impressive Anglo-French practice."

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Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sarah Higgins heads the family group at the firm and is experienced in a wide range of family law matters. She advises clients on cohabitation, marital agreements and civil partnership agreements. "She is very strong technically, she knows exactly what she's talking about. She's very impressive," reports an interviewee.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Schillings

From the Chambers HNW guide

Davina Katz heads the family department at Schillings and advises wealthy individuals on complex, international divorce proceedings. One interviewee reports that Katz's strengths "include proactive and practical approach, hands-on style and commitment to exceptional standard of client care." Another source says: "Davina is very good at trying to handle the costs and manage lawyers on the other side to cause least distress to the client. She's trying to back off a lot of the antagonistic behaviour that creeps in on matrimonial. She's focused on the end goal and trying to make the experience as stress-free for the client as possible."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Renato Labi is "very easy to deal with," say market commentators, with one enthusing: "I really respect him, I think he is brilliant." He regularly represents affluent individuals and families in litigation proceedings.  A source notes that "he is very good and energetic, I think he has a good combination between litigating, and being bright and clued up enough to soften up a bit."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Dawson Cornwell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Rhiannon Lewis tackles complex divorce matters, including financial settlements. She is a trained mediator and is also a mediation trainer. A source describes Lewis as an "experienced advocate" who is "clever empathetic."

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Band 2

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Philip McGuirk focuses on financial remedy work for affluent clients, and he also has expertise in cohabitation, marital agreements and children disputes. One barrister notes: "He is vastly experienced and extremely conscientious," while another legal professional remarks: "McGuirk is an absolute class act. He is a really intelligent guy and very impressive."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Ann Northover is an experienced family lawyer and a consultant at the firm. "She is very down-to-earth and quite easy to work with," reports a legal practitioner.

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Band 2

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Susan Philipps has extensive experience assisting wealthy clients with family law matters and is a trained mediator. "She's one of the strongest family law solicitors in London," comments a barrister. Philipps is also praised as a "star" and "exceptionally talented."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Pirrie wins praise for his family law expertise and his collaborative approach  to complex problems. "He's fantastic, he's one of the leaders in the field in terms of ADR and collaborative law. He's qualified as every type of ADR person under the sun. He combines a facilitative anti-confrontation stance with an amazing knowledge of the law but he can fight when necessary," reports a market insider. A barrister comments that "he tries to get rid of all the noise and focus on a solution," adding that "he's unbelievable with detail." An interviewee notes that "his understanding of what makes people tick is profound and he is thus able to stay several moves ahead."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Barbara Reeves"is excellent" and "is a great champion for her clients," according to interviewees. Her work includes advising international and domestic clients on matrimonial finance matters, including cases concerning financial provision for children of unmarried parents. Reeves is also an experienced mediator and assists clients with the creation of marital and cohabitation agreements.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Michael Rowlands has expertise in high-value financial claims and children disputes, and he also advises on marital agreements and international child relocation. A client praises Rowlands' "very professional thoroughness and follow-up, and good support when going through difficult times," explaining that he "dealt with issues very efficiently and effectively, always fair and explained very clearly what was going on," and adding that he is "always approachable and contactable."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Erica Shelton has an "excellent reputation" for her family law expertise. "She's very pleasant to deal with, she's very sensible and takes the pragmatic line," comments an interviewee. Shelton has particular experience in cross-border matters, regularly acting for clients with offshore tax and trust structures.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Stewart regularly handles high-value family matters on behalf of domestic and international clients, including those with links to Russia and the CIS. "He brings in international work and he isn't fazed by complexity," observes an interviewee. A source says: "I have found him very easy to deal with, very much on the client's side, but capable of having a proper discussion to sort out complicated issues." 

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Shona Alexander assists high net worth individuals with complex financial divorce proceedings and children matters. She is also an experienced mediator. A fellow lawyer says: "She's very sensible and very easy to deal with."

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Band 3

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Tom Amlot is well regarded for his family law practice, winning particular praise for his client-handling skills. "Clients adore Tom," comments a fellow solicitor, explaining: "He's energetic and fun to be around. He does attract really good clients and he's very loyal." "Tom is a star performer and he is particularly good with international cases and clients," reports a market insider, adding: "He's been involved in privacy issues too and so he is very attractive to celebrities and big business clients."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Camilla Baldwin Solicitors

From the Chambers HNW guide

Camilla Baldwin of Camilla Baldwin Solicitors advises HNW individuals on all aspects of family law, including separation, cohabitation and civil partnerships for both domestic and foreign clients, and she also has expertise in international child abduction and leave to remove applications. "Camilla has a justified reputation as a leading specialist in this field," comments a barrister, adding: "She is charming, cunning and determined."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Emily Brand has particular expertise in high-value cross-border financial proceedings and child disputes concerning relocation and paternity. "She is a clever woman, very sparky and imaginative," commends a barrister, while another commentator says: "She is very hard-working and assiduous on her cases."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Fiona Brown as "a terrific lawyer," with many highlighting her attention to detail and technical prowess.Brown's practice focuses on ancillary relief and associated matters, often handling those with an international or offshore element.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Dawson Cornwell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Russell Bywater"has loads of experience. He's clever and will pursue points that need pursuing," says an interviewee. He advises wealthy clients on financial proceedings and has expertise in cases with an international dimension. "He gives very to-the-point and pragmatic advice on the likely structure of a settlement," reports a source, who adds that he has "a good grasp of the technical and financial details."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Brodies LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Scott Cochrane"is a go-to lawyer for any matter with a Scottish element - everyone in London will say they know him if you ask about Scotland," states a commentator. "Internationally, his reputation precedes him - he does a lot of international work. He is certainly someone I would refer the right case to. He has been practising for a long time," says an interviewee. Cochrane regularly handles complex matrimonial finance matters.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Pamela Collis concentrates her practice on domestic and cross-border family law issues. She assists clients with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, financial matters upon divorce and private law children matters.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Copson concentrates his practice on high-value financial disputes, often with international considerations. He also advises clients on marital agreements and cohabitation claims. A barrister comments that "he's a real tactician with a great technical understanding of the law." "He's an absolute delight to work with," says a market insider, explaining that "he knows what he's doing and you know he's taking the solid point, you can rely on him to hold a reasonable line."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Fladgate LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Teresa Cullen of Fladgate LLP advises on the financial aspects of family disputes and children issues, and she also has experience in cross-border marital and cohabitation agreements. "Teresa is a highly competent solicitor who has a strong knowledge of all of the areas in which she works," says an interviewee, adding: "When cases contain anything quirky she undertakes research to provide workable solutions. She has a good working relationship with both her clients and the barristers she instructs and is a team player when working with counsel. I have always found Teresa to be engaging."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Ferguson"is an absolute delight to deal with and is very experienced in high net worth work," observes a fellow solicitor. "Calmness and experience are what he brings to the table. What he is able to do extremely well is balance the upsides with the downsides," according to an interviewee, who adds: "There is something quite authoritative about him, a manner which clients respect." Ferguson's work  includes multimillion-pound divorces and prenuptial agreements.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Miranda Fisher handles financial disputes and children cases for wealthy clients, as well as advising on prenuptial agreements. She also heads the Middle East family practice at the firm and has particular expertise in Islamic family law matters. Fisher is praised by peers as "excellent" and "very clever."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Osbornes Law

From the Chambers HNW guide

Mark Freedman of Osbornes Law represents HNW clients in divorce and financial disputes and cross-border children issues. He is a trained mediator. A barrister describes Freedman as "a really good litigator – he's pugnacious and fights his client's corner." A peer says: "He is very knowledgeable on trusts and financial matters, he is a very safe pair of hands, and the clients like him a lot because he is straightforward and prepared to give the advice without waiting for counsel's opinion all the time."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Miles Geffin assists clients with contentious and non-contentious family matters, including cross-border financial disputes. He also advises on related areas, such as family governance and wealth structuring. "I like him an awful lot. He has got a really attractive and engaging personality, you can have a really interesting chat with him," says an interviewee, adding: "He has good contacts and good technical abilities. I am a fan."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "excellent" Claire Gordon's high net worth family expertise focuses largely on international cases, including those involving trusts. "She gives concise and helpful answers to complex, and often emotional issues," says a client; "She is always calm, an authentic listener and works efficiently with counsel. She is a delight to work with."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Joanna Grandfield

Mills & Reeve LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Joanna Grandfield leads the firm's London family team, and her practice focuses on high-value financial disputes. Grandfield is a trained mediator. "She is probably one of my favourite lawyers to work with," enthuses an interviewee, adding: "She has done extremely well to build the practice in London. She is very much one to watch. She is bright, easy to deal with and ambitious. I think she gets lots of high-value instructions."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Russell-Cooke

From the Chambers HNW guide

Kate Hamilton has particular expertise in marital agreements, financial provision and cohabitation, and she is also an experienced mediator. One interviewee describes her as "thoroughly constructive – she's no push-over, she defends clients' interests, but she's not a game-player; she gets to the end point efficiently and with good grace. She has a sensible approach to time-scales, and a very good manner to deal with."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "impressive" Emma Harte is noted for her expertise in resolving marital disputes. "She has a really good reputation for her mediation and collaborative approach. She's a very sensible and knowledgeable advocate," comments a market insider. A barrister reports: "She's very bright, a safe pair of hands and she provides a very good service to her clients."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Alison Hayes advises wealthy individuals on significant financial remedy matters and also handles children cases. "She is excellent on children matters," observes a source; "she is formidable - she is fearless at times." Another interviewee says: "She is a very good solicitor and she provides a bit of backbone for her clients," adding: "She holds her clients together and provides them with that element of emotional support necessary in this context."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Eliza Hebditch has particular expertise in handling cross-border divorces for high net worth clients, particularly those that have a US dimension. "She has extremely good technical knowledge," says a source. "She is excellent; very empathetic, very caring and very professional. She dealt with everything marvellously. I like her manner hugely, she can put clients at ease while remaining thoroughly professional. I would thoroughly recommend her."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Peers say that Richard Hogwood"really is a problem solver. He doesn't just think about the law, he thinks about how to solve the problem and does the client well." His financially focused family law practice includes handling high-value prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with international elements.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Hunters

From the Chambers HNW guide

Henry Hood leads the family department. He advises on high-value financial matters and children law issues, and he is also an experienced mediator. A client says Hood "provides pragmatic advice and is good at getting tough when required. You don't want to mess with Henry and he isn't at all intimidated by a litigious opponent. His wealth of experience provides a superb backbone to any divorce case and you simply feel that you are in a strong pair of hands when he is dealing with your affairs. Ultimately he gives you the confidence that he will do everything to get the right settlement for you."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Burges Salmon LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sarah Hoskinson advises affluent individuals in both London and Bristol on divorce and related wealth protection measures. "She is a fantastic lawyer," enthuses a source, adding: "She is excellent and I have a lot of time for her." Another interviewee observes: "She is excellent. She has a great manner with her clients, she is no-nonsense and she gets the job done."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Grant Howell"is very well known in family law" and has a broad practice, including advising on prenuptial agreements and on the recognition of foreign marriages and divorces. He is also a trained arbitrator. "He's nice, able, sensible and very knowledgeable; he's one you can do business with," comments a fellow lawyer.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Matthew Humphries

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Matthew Humphries counsels high net worth clients on financial matters arising from family breakdown, often with an international dimension. Fellow lawyers call him "a good performer, he’s hard-working, has a good sense of the law and the cases, and is definitely someone to respect when on the other side."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Newton Kearns

From the Chambers HNW guide

Patrick Kearns has extensive experience in complex HNW financial remedy disputes. One lawyer says: "It's very rare to find someone who isn't just intensely bright, but also intensely practical. Patrick has a unique ability to not insinuate his ego into the process whatsoever, and he's intensely practical."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

David Lister brings a huge amount of experience to his work advising affluent individuals on complex financial matters, including those involving asset tracing. "He has fantastic litigation experience," observes a fellow solicitor, adding: "He has that breadth of knowledge."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sam Longworth"has a tremendous future ahead of him," says one peer, adding that "he is top drawer." Another notes that "he’s good, I rate him; when I hear he’s on the other side, it means we will have a sensible conversation and find the right result." Longworth advises wealthy clients on matrimonial issues, Schedule 1 proceedings and nuptial agreements.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Newton Kearns

From the Chambers HNW guide

Paul Newton concentrates his practice on complex financial disputes for HNW clients, and he also has expertise in marital agreements. "I worked with him at Clintons on a lot of prenups in a really sensible way," says another family lawyer, adding that Newton has "has the right knowledge and understanding and does it all in a sensible way."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Caroline Park counsels wealthy individuals on high-value divorces and financial remedy cases, also regularly representing clients in children’s disputes and marital agreements. "Her reputation has really come up over the last few years," says a source. "She is very much one to watch for the future; easy to deal with but by no means a pushover."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Russell-Cooke

From the Chambers HNW guide

Fiona Read specialises in international divorces, children law and prenuptial agreements. One source reports: "Fiona Read is really bright, a great lawyer, easy to work with, firm, but open to sensible negotiation, and had the client's interest at heart all the time. She is clear and the clients like the way she helps them to fully understand their options." Multiple sources highlight Read's expertise as a part-time District Judge in the family courts. "She sits as a judge, she is very even-handed and has a nice, personable approach," says one family lawyer, adding: "I think she 'gets' people quite quickly." Another peer adds: "She is exceptionally good, she sits as a judge and really knows her stuff. She is very good, and works cohesively with other members of the team."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Julian Ribet"is tenacious - he really gets stuck in," says an interviewee. He regularly represents wealthy clients in complex financial disputes and children cases, and is also a trained mediator. "Julian's got a fantastic eye for cases from the very beginning," according to a commentator, who adds: "He can pick it up, read it through and have a broad view of where it's going and how to get it there. He's very prepared to drill down into the detail."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Forsters LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Rosie Schumm assists with domestic and international prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, divorces and financial remedies matters, and she also has experience in international surrogacy. A source notes: "She has had a fabulous career already, she is a force of nature, is a hard-working and charismatic person and just seems to have incredible high net worth clients from the City all the time. She's a hard negotiator and very tough, but she is also a very warm and friendly person – that's a very good balance to have."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Suzanne Todd heads the firm's divorce and family team in London and is an experienced adviser to wealthy clients on a range of family law matters. Market insiders highlight her expertise in cross-border work with Italy, with one describing her as "one of the main players in the market for Italian work."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Clintons

From the Chambers HNW guide

Elizabeth Vernon heads the family department at Clintons, and handles high-value matrimonial finance matters and children law cases. Vernon often represents high-profile clients.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Anna Worwood assists clients with significant matrimonial finance matters, but is especially well known among commentators for her work on private children cases. A source says: "She has a very good reputation. I think she is more focused on private child matters and I think she has an absolutely first-class reputation for that work."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Collyer Bristow LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Toby Yerburgh leads the family team at Collyer Bristow LLP, and specialises in international matrimonial finance matters. He also handles children law cases. One client describes him as "extraordinarily genuine, heartfelt, involved, available day and night. He understood it was a traumatic phase for me – he got involved in emotional side of things and was very understanding, he didn't just see it as a business transaction." Another client says: "Toby is the consummate professional and one of the best 'money' divorce lawyers in the country. He immediately puts you at ease, is extremely quick to pick up the facts of a case and is very commercial, which is what clients want. Nothing is too much trouble for him and he has a very good bedside manner."

^ See whole ranking table

Up and Coming

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Nick Bennett"is coming up the ranks and is a credit to the team," says a source. He has extensive expertise in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for affluent individuals. An interviewee enthuses: "He is excellent. He is clearly a very bright man, he is very clever in what he does and is collaborative. I had him on a case recently and it was all incredibly civilised; he was able to keep everyone on board and it was very positive for the clients."

^ See whole ranking table

Up and Coming

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Edward Floyd"is very much a star in the ascent," according to an impressed interviewee. He concentrates on financial remedy work and marital agreements for affluent individuals, and as a Russian speaker he has particular interest in Anglo-Russian disputes. "I think he is absolutely excellent," says a commentator, adding: "He is so intelligent and thorough. He wins cases because he is just so on top of the details."

^ See whole ranking table

Up and Coming

Howard Kennedy LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

A family law barrister says that Lois Langton of Howard Kennedy LLP is "very good tactically, very good on knowledge and she's got a great way with clients." Langton handles the full range of family law work, and has a particular specialism in surrogacy matters. Her cases are often complex, high-value and multi-jurisdictional. A client reports that "she was very supportive and I always felt she had a genuine understanding and sympathy for my situation. She was great at listening to me rant and then providing sensible but effective advice."

^ See whole ranking table

Up and Coming

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Alistair Myles focuses on high-value financial disputes which have cross-border and trust elements. "He has a very nice way about him and he puts clients at ease," says a source, adding: "He keeps the case in shape and pushes in the right direction." A fellow solicitor says that he is "fantastic" and that "he's got a very confident ability to look at detail and understand it forensically."

^ See whole ranking table

Up and Coming

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Claire Yorke is an expert in matrimonial finance cases and advises clients on cross-border family matters. She also assists with marital agreements. "Claire is personable, intelligent, reassuring, friendly and approachable," says an interviewee. "I think she is excellent," comments a source, adding: "She is very hard-working and really has a devotion to making sure her clients are properly served in a case. She is a pleasure to deal with."

^ See whole ranking table

Associates to watch

Harriet Errington

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Harriet Errington advises affluent individuals on financial remedy and children matters, and she also has expertise in marital agreements. "She is very good indeed," remarks a fellow solicitor, adding: "She is organised, on the ball, efficient, friendly, and collaborative."

^ See whole ranking table

Associates to watch

Katie O'Callaghan

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

According to an impressed source, Katie O'Callaghan is "absolutely outstanding in every degree of her work." She assists HNW individuals and families with cross-border financial remedy proceedings and marital agreements.

^ See whole ranking table