The Legal 500

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United Kingdom > London > Private client > Family

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Leading individuals

Farrer & Co has ‘great depth of expertise'. Simon Bruce ‘has a genuine commitment to mediation between divorcing couples, and works round the clock on behalf of his clients'; Richard Parry is ‘an elder statesman' and ‘an outstanding adviser'; William Massey and Claire Gordon are ‘calm, civilised and practical'; Sarah Hutchinson ‘has a superb manner, and is very down to earth'; and Eliza Hebditch ‘goes above and beyond the call of duty'. In 2013, the widely respected Jeremy Posnansky QC continued to act for Mrs Prest in the high-profile case Prest v Prest and others. Caroline Holley and Christina Scotland were promoted to the partnership.

The ‘terrific' Hughes Fowler Carruthers is ‘a top-notch niche family law practice', with recent high-profile cases including Imerman v Tchenguiz; Luckwell v Luckwell, concerning the enforceability of prenuptial documents; Evans v Evans; and A v A. Frances Hughes is ‘a grandee of the family law world who commands utmost respect'; Pauline Fowler ‘calmly manoeuvres her way through a case'; and Alex Carruthers is ‘highly able: a modern lawyer at the top of his game'. Joe Vaitilingam left to set up his own firm in 2014. Mark Harper, currently at Withers LLP, is planning to join the firm in September 2014.

At the ‘stellar' Payne Hicks Beach, Fiona Shackleton is ‘extremely astute' and ‘accessible, with a reassuring manner', and is ‘a demon negotiator'; she is particularly noted for very high-profile matters, recently representing clients such as Liam Gallagher and Joanne McCue. Team head Ian Airey and Philip McGuirk are both ‘hugely able and experienced, and are served by a battery of excellent assistants'. Rebecca Cockcroft joined the firm as a consultant in 2014 from Penningtons Manches LLP, while Fiona Brown left practice in 2014.

Stewarts Law LLP’s practice head Stephen Foster is ‘calm, strategic and tough' and his team’s ‘general approach is one of firmness but fairness. The firm sticks up well for its clients but never pushes the boundaries beyond acceptability and is happy to recommend a reasonable settlement for both sides'. The firm also ‘clearly has a reputation as a growing practice', and its hire of ‘formidable practitioner' Helen Ward ‘has raised its profile considerably'. Debbie Chism and Emma Hatley are also prominent individuals.

Withers LLP’s team is ‘ten out of ten in every respect and in every detail'. With a large team of 12 partners and 16 other lawyers, it handles the full range of high-end and complex work. Katharine Landells is ‘exceptional, and a true professional'; Gill Doran ‘reigns supreme - she is the maestro'; James Copson and Michael Gouriet are both ‘first-class lawyers'; and associate Richard Handel has ‘a fantastic eye for detail'. Mark Harper and Julian Lipson also have superb reputations. Mark Harper is planning on joining Hughes Fowler Carruthers in September 2014.

Alexiou Fisher Philipps is ‘highly competent', and its ‘partner-led approach is surprisingly good value'. Its recent work includes acting for Michael Prest in the Supreme Court case Prest v Petrodel Resources & Ors, and acting for the respondent in Evans v Evans. Douglas Alexiou ‘knows his subject intimately'; and Tom Amlot is ‘a very good technical lawyer but does not lose sight of the bigger picture'.

Charles Russell LLP has ‘a number of star players as well as numerous well-respected practitioners'. William Longrigg is ‘one of the best financial lawyers in the country'; Sarah Higgins is ‘equally good for children and money cases'; Sarah Whitten is ‘a tough negotiator who specialises in relocation cases'; Miranda Fisher has ‘an excellent practice'; Tanya Roberts is ‘an outstanding children lawyer who specialises in complex international cases'; Grant Howell ‘combines extensive legal knowledge with charm'; and David Thompson is ‘straight to the point and thick-skinned'. Since publication, Charles Russell LLP and Speechly Bircham LLP have merged to form Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

Family Law in Partnership Ltd is ‘a client-focused firm' noted for its ‘holistic solutions for clients across the board', and is recognised as having ‘led the way in numerous initiatives including collaborative law and parenting after parting'. Gillian Bishop is ‘a star of her generation'; James Pirrie is ‘a real innovator, and has been a real leader in moving the field of family law forwards'; and Bradley Williams is ‘a rising star', and particularly well regarded for his international expertise. Overall the practice is ‘a unique offering' which ‘other firms underestimate at their peril'.

Kingsley Napley LLP has ‘a top-class matrimonial department'. Charlotte Bradley is ‘excellent with clients, and tenacious'; William Healing has ‘particular expertise in cases involving French speakers'; and Michael Rowlands is ‘highly able, with good tactical antennae'. The firm has a niche acting for sports personalities, in the past year representing a Premier League footballer, a British Olympic gold medallist and a professional jockey.

Levison Meltzer Pigott’s ‘advice is well judged and grounded in reality whilst being brave, sensitive and unambiguously on the client’s side. The firm has a strong family feel to it, with a clear sense that the whole firm is at your disposal'. The team is regularly involved in financial remedy matters in the tens of millions. The ‘first-class' Jeremy Levison is ‘without question a man you want at your side'.

At the ‘excellent' Penningtons Manches LLP, James Stewart has ‘an ability to remain focused on what matters despite the surrounding levels of acrimony, and an ability to quickly adjust positions as new information emerges'. The firm recently acted for a Russian national in F v Y, an abduction case in which the firm successfully ensured that the client and her daughter were able to remain in Russia. Gillian Rivers is ‘charming and extraordinarily good at what she does'. Rebecca Cockcroft recently left for Payne Hicks Beach.

Mishcon de Reya ‘in a complex situation demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the factual matrix and a sound appreciation of the legal principles involved in the dispute. The firm’s lawyers also add significant value in terms of their appreciation of the tactical aspects of the case'. Team head Sandra Davis ‘goes beyond the call of duty'; Barbara Reeves is ‘completely excellent'; David Lister is ‘a very solid practitioner'; and associate Claire-Marie Cornford, a specialist in family trusts, is ‘a very safe pair of hands'.

Sears Tooth’s Ray Tooth has ‘a legendary reputation in the family law world', and remains ‘immensely active on the high-end work'. Susan Apthorp was instructed in a range of reported cases in 2013, including Sharbatly v Shagroon, Ray v Sekhri, and Nightingale v Nightingale.

While Bindmans LLP is ‘traditionally known for its children work, particularly in the public law arena, it has a growing reputation in matrimonial finance and other private law work, and because of its reputation it attracts some of the most interesting and challenging cases'. Farhana Shahzady is ‘outstanding' and ‘fights hard for her clients'; Flora Grossman is ‘a compassionate public law children specialist'; and Amy Rowe is ‘exceptionally hardworking'.

Boodle Hatfield LLP is ‘a boutique firm with a well-established and well-deserved reputation in family law. It has great strength in depth, with a very good blend of experienced partners and bright and enthusiastic young solicitors. They have an impressive caseload and their client service is excellent'. The firm successfully represented the husband in B v B, the leading private equity financial remedy case. James Ferguson is ‘an excellent family lawyer and one of the best letter writers in the field'; Barbara Simpson ‘remains one of the great names of London family law'; and Christopher Butler ‘remains a very reassuring presence in any case'.

Camilla Baldwin provides ‘excellent and timely advice, and efficiently utilises its network of specialist firms for tax and estate planning'. In the past year it has acted in a slew of major financial remedy proceedings, as well as a complex matter involving an ex parte application for occupation, non-molestation and prohibited steps orders. Camilla Baldwin ‘gets right to the heart of each case'; Rosie Schumm is ‘devoted to her clients'; and Henrietta Thomas is ‘a detail merchant'.

Clintons ‘combines high expertise with extremely good value and a common-sense approach'. It is regularly instructed in financial remedy cases with assets in the tens of millions. Maggie Rae is ‘one of the leading individuals in the London market'; Elizabeth Vernon is ‘a very capable litigator'; Catherine Bell has a solid reputation; and Paul Newton is ‘easy to work with'.

Collyer Bristow LLP ‘provides an extremely high level of client care; the experience and knowledge of the practitioners is very impressive and their ability to relate to lay clients with a sympathetic and practical ear ensures that the service received is of the highest quality'. Toby Yerburgh is ‘extremely client friendly', and ‘a calming influence'. Sue Breen is ‘a talented advocate', and Philippa Dolan joined from Ashfords LLP. Michael Drake 'is very well respected as one of the senior practioners in the family law world'.

Dawson Cornwell is ‘a powerful firm', and Kate Allen is ‘a superb all-round family lawyer'. Recent reported cases for the team include Mittal v Mittal, in which it represented the abandoned spouse, and H v W, representing the husband. Colin Rogerson is ‘a go-to lawyer for surrogacy work'; Anne-Marie Hutchinson is ‘the premier player in the field of international children law'; and Rhiannon Lewis is ‘firm and fair'.

Forsters LLP is ‘a leading firm, and able to hold its own against any opposing London practice'. In 2013 it acted in several cases involving assets exceeding £100m. Ann Northover is ‘a good lateral thinker and popular with clients'; and Shona Alexander is ‘excellent with complex financial cases and clients'.

The ‘excellent' team at Irwin Mitchell ‘always returns calls in a timely manner', and gives ‘professional and calm advice'. John Nicholson is ‘extremely knowledgeable in high-net-worth cases and complicated cases involving pre-nuptial agreements in various European countries'. Elizabeth Hicks also has a superb reputation for financial remedy cases.

Russell-Cooke LLP’s lawyers ‘know their stuff and approach cases in a collaborative way'. Fiona Read is ‘noted for financial matters, often with an international element'; pre-nuptial agreement expert Kate Hamilton’s ‘knowledge of the black-letter law is excellent'; Sarah Richardson is ‘fantastic'; Samantha Little is praised for her ‘empathy and intellectual rigour'; James Carroll displays ‘attention to detail'; Therese Nichols is ‘an innovator and enthusiast'; and Camilla Thornton is ‘the perfect support for the difficult case'.

Although it may be a controversial firm, Vardags ‘is not stuffy or stiff but appropriately compassionate and insightful on the trauma of divorce', and the team is noted for its ‘sheer intellect'. Ayesha Vardag is ‘outstanding', and Catherine Thomas and Georgina Hamblin are ‘superb'.

At Anthony Gold, Kim Beatson is a standout figure, and ‘can be a major match for any Magic Circle lawyer'. This firm ‘occupies the privileged position of both having a reputation for undertaking outstanding work, and at the same time being good value for money, constructive and efficient'. In a recent highlight, it acted for the wife in the £80m case AH v PH. Margaret Hatwood ‘is constructive and friendly, and genuinely seems to care'.

Trudi Featherstone’s financial practice at Goodman Ray is ‘one of the best in the field'. Hilka Hollmann is ‘a dedicated, hardworking lawyer who goes the extra mile for her clients'; child abduction expert Ann Thompson is ‘passionate and eloquent'; and Natalie Friday ‘really cares about her clients ’ cases'. The widely respected Peggy Ray heads up the children and public law side, and Kevin Skinner is ‘a rising star'.

Gordon Dadds ‘looks after its clients ’ interests, which includes being realistic about the limitations of the client’s position'. David Ruck is a ‘highly competent practitioners'. The firm recently acted for the wife of a hedge fund manager in EA v AP, a case involving issues of maintenance under EU law. Anna Wagstaff left for Bross Bennett LLP in September 2014.

At Harcus Sinclair, Kathryn Peat is ‘highly recommended', and is very active in children matters including Schedule 1 financial applications. Roger Cobden-Ramsay handles high-value, often multi-jurisdictional work.

Toby Hales heads a three-partner team at Hodge Jones & Allen LLP, with Emma Hall noted for public law children work and Sally Parsloe recommended on the matrimonial finance side. The firm acted for the wife in CPS and another v Gohil, and also for the wife in Solomon v Solomon and others.

At Hunters, Henry Hood has ‘natural authority and the ability to see the whole picture'; Graeme Fraser is ‘always a pleasure to work with'; Richard Kershaw, who recently led in the high-profile B v B case, is ‘clever'; and Hetty Gleave ‘works tirelessly'. Hazel Wright has been ‘a great addition to the team'.

Lee & Thompson LLP’s Catherine Bedford is ‘brilliant with clients, tough with opponents and a great strategist'. Recent highlights include acting for a high-net-worth individual in Thailand on a number of matters, and representing a well-known interior designer in relation to a range of care and financial issues. Nicholas Westley is ‘an all-round superstar, and destined to go far'.

Miles Preston & Co is a niche practice built on the reputation of Miles Preston. Julia Stanczyk is another name to note.

Osbornes fields a sizeable team with many standout lawyers. Mark Freedman ‘fights his cases hard and has an excellent relationship with his clients', and Bridget Thompson is ‘tenacious, hardworking, pragmatic and sensible'. Lisa Pepper is a noted collaborative lawyer, and recently acted successfully on a client’s leave to remove application to Australia. The ‘highly competent' Julian Beard handles financial remedy cases; Andrew Watson is a name for confiscation and non-disclosure work; and Naomi Angell is an expert in adoption issues.

Schillings’ Davina Katz has a strong reputation and an impressive client roster, with a particular niche representing individuals in the banking, private equity and hedge fund sectors. Its recent work includes representing Dale Vince OBE in Vince v Wyatt.

Seddons is ‘very prompt'. Recent highlights include a prenuptial agreement matter involving assets of £100m, and numerous overseas matters in jurisdictions including Qatar, Spain and Russia. Deborah Jeff is ‘very sympathetic and understanding', and associate Sonny Patel is ‘always on hand to help'.

Speechly Bircham LLP is ‘a practice on the rise' under the leadership of James Freeman, who ‘wears his learning lightly but is one of the cleverest lawyers about'. The firm regularly handles high-value work, often with intricate trust elements. Victoria Francis is ‘scarily bright'. Since publication, Charles Russell LLP and Speechly Bircham LLP have merged to form Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

Sian Jones is a key figure at Bircham Dyson Bell, which can now also call on the services of ‘excellent all-round lawyer' Lisa Bolgar-Smith following its merger with Ambrose Appelbe, whose practice pre-merger was ‘very good: now merged it will excel'.

Bross Bennett LLP is ‘an excellent firm with some very good lawyers who fight hard for their clients'. Ruth Bross ‘always tries to be conciliatory'; Sharon Bennett has ‘an immense amount of knowledge and skill'; and Caroline Falkus ‘is intuitive to people’s needs from a legal perspective but also interprets emotional needs in delicate matters'. Anna Wagstaff joined from Gordon Dadds in September 2014.

Covent Garden Family Law’s team now includes Lynn Vernon, who joined from T V Edwards LLP, while Alison Burt moved into a consultancy role in 2014. Haema Sundram has a strong reputation.

Fisher Meredith LLP ‘consistently performs at a high level, offering detailed expert advice to a divorcing spouse or indeed to anyone involved in family litigation'. Louise Barretto ‘takes a wide, strategic view of a case', and Eileen Pembridge is ‘particularly strong against a party seemingly hiding assets'.

Harbottle & Lewis LLP is ‘a modern, dynamic, innovative firm going from strength to strength in the London family law practice area - a really impressive outfit with A-list clients and A-list client service'. Tom Farley-Hills ‘is quietly building an excellent reputation for himself'. Linzi Bull is deservedly very popular with clients, and Lidia Cantele ‘has a good grasp of what matters in a case'.

Alan Kaufman’s team at HowardKennedyFsi is ‘very good at what it does, with excellent client care skills'. The firm merged with CKFT in 2014, and can now draw on the expertise of the highly rated Pam Collis. Lois Langton is 'knowledgeable and details-focused' and a 'strong negotiator, while polite and courteous'.

Pinsent Masons LLP is ‘efficient and effective', with Michael Pulford having ‘quickly and deservedly built himself a reputation'. In a recent highlight, he represented Adnan Sharbatly, an ultra-high-net-worth Saudi Arabian husband, in a case in which the Court of Appeal ruled that there had never been a successful marriage ceremony.

Caroline Penfold’s team at RadcliffesLeBrasseur is active in high-value cases and has recent experience in cases involving assets located in Thailand, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, the US, and Russia, among other jurisdictions.

Recent standout work for The International Family Law Group LLP includes Mittal v Mittal in the Court of Appeal and Re L in the Supreme Court. David Hodson is ‘a very learned and experienced solicitor'.

Ashfords LLP (incorporating Rochman Landau) has ‘an increasingly high-net-worth client base'. Recent highlights include acting in a specific issue application concerning the MMR vaccination, and acting in UK-Russia divorce proceedings. Philippa Dolan left for Collyer Bristow LLP.

Brookman Solicitors is ‘a forward-looking, entrepreneurial practice whose clientele includes many high-net-worth individuals from different parts of the globe'. Henry Brookman is ‘shrewd, savvy, sagacious and highly experienced'.

DWF delivers ‘a Magic Circle service at an affordable price'; Mary Ann Wright ‘offers real value for money in the world of London family lawyers'.

Sofia Dionissiou-Moussaoui is ‘the star' at DWFM Beckman: ‘in any litigation you would want her on your side. She fights her cases hard but also has great judgement and knows which points to take and which not'.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors has acted in some 44 reported cases in the past 12 months across all jurisdictions, including S.H.H v UK in the European Court of Human Rights, and the high-profile family cases Re Y (A Child) and G (A Child). Laila Bhunnoo and Aina Khan are the names to note.

Freemans Solicitors is regularly instructed in complex care proceedings, private law disputes and financial cases, as well as in international children cases. Nina Hansen, Mark Kosmin and solicitor Karan Chadha are all significant figures in the team.

Ketley Miller Joels LLP is ‘a very good, small niche family firm', with Mary Ketley and Clayton Miller the key figures. Ketley is ‘a brilliant team player whom clients trust implicitly' . Miller is noted for his ability to ‘assimilate and master the details of complex financial cases and keep on top of them'.

Miles & Partners LLP is ‘one of the few central London firms to undertake publicly funded work to a very high level; it has expertise across all areas of family law in particular ancillary relief as well as international family law'. Michelle Uppal, Amanda Dench, and solicitors Maria James and Stephen Talbot are ‘people of high commitment, integrity and expertise'.

Mills & Reeve LLP ‘has a particular strength in farming cases. It has in-depth knowledge of land and company structures, which is a very great strength in divorce cases'. Roger Bamber is ‘a fantastic lawyer', and Caitlin Jenkins ‘brings excellent legal knowledge together with an eye for detail and a sense of humour'.

Natalie Gamble Associates fields ‘a small but efficient team who work very well together'. Natalie Gamble is an expert in surrogacy, same-sex parenting and assisted reproduction law, and ‘demonstrates great professionalism, depth of knowledge and sensitivity'.

Simons Muirhead & Burton is ‘excellent in all respects' in complex financial cases and cases with a shari’ah law element. Jane McDonagh and Juliette Shaw are ‘tough but realistic in their prosecution of cases'.

T V Edwards LLP is ‘rated highly'. Alison Leivesley, Maud Davis and David Emmerson are recommended.

Vaitilingam Kay is a new firm built around the reputations of Joe Vaitilingam and Anne Kay, formerly of Hughes Fowler Carruthers and Mishcon de Reya respectively. Kay is ‘the best of her generation'.

Venters Solicitors is ‘solid, organised and dedicated to its clients'. June Venters QC has a specialism in criminal and family matters. Denise Hoilette is ‘highly intelligent', and ‘does a lot of her own advocacy'.

Charmaine Hast heads the team at Wedlake Bell LLP, which also includes collaborative specialist Conrad Adam, shari’ah law guru Trisha Siddique and children law practitioner Gemma Vines.

At Winckworth Sherwood, Emily Brand is ‘sensitive to the client’s needs', and recently represented the wife in Young v Young. Carol Ellinas is ‘direct and clear at all times', and Jacqueline Major ‘gives supportive and compassionate advice'.

Press releases

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Legal Developments in London for Family

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 


    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Home Office announces extension of support service for SMEs

    An online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) which need to recruit skilled overseas workers has been extended until 28 February 2014. The pilot was launched by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and provides a step by step guide to sponsoring an overseas worker. This service is available via the GLA website.
  • Penningtons Manches' immigration team considers new changes to the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

    The Home Office has recently published new Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance, version 12/13. This guidance is to be used by all prospective and existing Tier 4 sponsors from 11 December 2013.
  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

  • Behind the corporate veil: is that all there is?

    That companies have an existence entirely separate to that of their shareholders and directors is a foundational principle of English law and commerce.

  • Playing fair with penalty clauses

    It is often difficult to predict what will be recoverable as damages for breach of contract. To provide some certainty, parties will often seek to agree the sum that will be payable in the event of specified breaches. 

  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

  • The role of arbitrators in EU antitrust law

    In May 2014, it will be ten years since Regulation No 1/2003 entered into force. When the legislator of the European Union adopted this Regulation on 16 December 2002, its main objective was to decentralise the enforcement of the two main provisions of EU antitrust law, Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Where do the arbitrators fit in this picture?

  • New Immigration Bill, October 2013: cause for concern or appeasing public sentiment?

    The year 2013 has seen a string of reforms to the immigration system by the current coalition government. On 10 October, the government published a Bill aimed at continuing its drive to reduce net migration figures. 

  • New Schengen EU Regulations: impact on short-stay visa visitors

    The publication on 26 June 2013 of the European Union Regulation EU 610/2013 modified the incumbent Regulation EU 562/2006 in relation to third country nationals (ie non-EU citizens) and those travelling on a short-stay visitor visa, as well as those who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria. Exceptions include EU and EEA nationals travelling to other EU/EEA states within the Schengen area together with foreign nationals holding either long-stay or residence permits for their destination Schengen countries.

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

Press Releases in the UK

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to