Vardags > Manchester, England > Firm Profile
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Vardags > The Legal 500 Rankings
Private client > Family Tier 2Vardags often represents high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families in complex divorce work and children cases. Head of the Manchester office Emma Gill made senior director in June 2021 and is a well-regarded matrimonial lawyer, specialising in divorce and matrimonial finance. The practice scope extends to financial forensics, with Katharine Anderson in charge. The team grew in June 2021 with three new promoted associates: Kate Taylor, Reece Johnson, and Natalie Bruce. Lucy Williams, a specialist in private children issues, made director in January 2022. Vicki McLynn departed in December 2021.
‘My team headed by Emma Gill was a breath of fresh air combining energy and advice with humour thrown in. Emma was instantly accessible, providing clear strategic advice in her no-nonsense Mancunian manner. Engaging with this team made the whole process of finding a resolution almost enjoyable.’
‘Lucy Williams is a stand-out. She helped me tremendously with my very difficult divorce and was both highly technical and extremely compassionate throughout. Amazing combination of strength and empathy.’
‘Kate Taylor is an excellent individual to deal with. She is equally professional and personable. She always listened, understood and offered professional and thorough advice. No question was silly, nor was to explain or repeat the answer a chore. I cannot recommend her help in matters such as those I faced highly enough.’
‘The whole team has been exceptionally caring and professional throughout. They have always been there to reassure me of my concerns and to make sure that I was realistic in my expectations. Their genuine care for what is best for my children shines through, and so far they have been entirely accurate on the likely outcomes of each hearing/process.’
‘Kate Taylor in particular has been outstanding to work with. Her professionalism during difficult times was exceptional, and she has always been there to help me through some difficult processes. I have always felt that the whole team has been in total control and knows exactly the best way to proceed during all outcomes faced. At no time have I felt the need to question their decisions.’
‘Lucy Williams was so empathetic to my very difficult situation. She was always there when I needed to speak with her and made sure I felt reassured and comfortable with what felt like an impossible court battle throughout.’
‘A strong team in a competitive market with some very good quality work.’
‘Emma Gill is best of breed. She stands out as a value adding powerhouse who is able immediately to assess a situation and strategise accordingly. Really first class.’
Private client > Family Tier 2Vardags‘ reputation is one of big money and hard fights. What that conceals is the diligence and care that the team takes with every single one of its cases.’ The firm has extensive coverage throughout the country through its various offices and specialises in complex, challenging, high profile and international litigation for its predominantly wealthy client base. The ‘very bright‘ Ayesha Vardag is the high-profile face of the firm, while senior partner Simon McKirgan is skilled at handling high-net-worth divorces and separation that often involve complex jurisdictional issues as well as other issues such as private children proceedings. The team provides ‘very much a high-end personal service‘.
Other key lawyers:
Ayesha Vardag; Simon McKirgan; Caroline Korah; Claire Clarke; Lois Rogers; Antonia Barker; Emma Gill; Aisling O’Reilly; Megan Griffin; Sophie Groves; Rebecca Pierce
‘They are extremely professional, trustworthy and helpful, at very stressful times in their clients lives. All their advice is also very well informed and their clients are really at the centre of what they do. In my personal experience they are absolutely TOP quality and anyone can rest assured that they are in the best possible hands for their family matters‘.
‘I have worked extensively with Ms Caroline Korah, who assisted me throughout all my relocation application case last year and I cannot praise her enough. Her knowledge around all matters about children is amazing and she never gives wrong advice. Caroline is extremely knowledgeable but what makes her standout is how intelligent she is and how quickly she can understand all the important points (positive and negative) in any case’.
‘Lois Rogers – Stand-out director. Lois is truly excellent. She is a great lawyer, hard worker, totally on top of the detail, with a strong sense of case strategy. Lois gives sensible and realistic advice. Antonia Barker – real star of the future’.
‘Simon McKirgan: he has one of the best legal minds in family law. His attention to detail is second to none, he is also highly personable and gives excellent advice’.
‘Simon McKirgan is someone to have fighting your corner: he has good strategic instincts, is tenacious and asks the right questions. Lois Rogers is a first-rate solicitor. She is strategic, empathetic and dedicated’.
‘Ayesha is a force of nature who combines exceptional ability as a rainmaker with very good judgment. Simon McKirgan is outstanding, with an unparalleled grasp of detail, good client skills and good judgement. Emma Gill and Lois Rogers are excellent. They are backed up by an outstanding team of associates’.
‘Claire Clarke is an exceptionally poised lawyer. She is an unflappable presence even in the most contentious cases. She is able to think strategically well for each of her clients while also offering them high degree of support in emotionally charged situations’.
- In MG v GM (MPS LSPO) (Rev1)  EWFC 8: represented the wife in this ultra-high net worth divorce with over £100m of complex, matrimonial assets held in several highly valuable Special Purchase Acquisition Company vehicles run and invested in by the husband. The case also involved complex children matters and he team comprehensively won on both fronts.
- In CA v DR (Schedule 1 Children Act 1989: Pension Claim)  EWFC 21: it represented the mother in her application under Schedule 1 (Children Act 1989) in financial and internal relocation proceedings against the father, worth in excess of £200m. The team ran an argument on a novel point of law regarding the ability to include pension provision in the “carer’s allowance” element of the budget.
Private client > Family Tier 1Vardags is a highly regarded matrimonial and family law firm specialising in high-net-worth and complex cases, often with an international element. The firm’s Cambridge office has a small team, led by Silvia Devecchi, but is closely involved in high-value cases involving pre- and post-nuptial agreements, arbitration, child arrangements, domestic violence and divorce. It frequently handles cases involving assets in the £3-£20m range or above. Clients praise Devecchi’s ‘incredible knowledge, tactical mind and practical approach‘. Associate Ciara Delaney also plays a key role in the practice. ‘The team is very knowledgeable, always trying to find solutions to resolve the case‘, remarks one client.
Other key lawyers:
‘Vardags ability to keep me grounded and well informed throughout two separate cases was exceptional. Their level headed and professional approach was very impressive, and ultimately secured a positive ruling in both cases. I’m extremely grateful to them for their knowledge, adaptability and professional approach.’
‘Silvia Devecchi’s incredible knowledge, tactical mind and practical approach was second to none and I would happily recommend her to anyone seeking guidance on financial disputes.’
‘The practice in Cambridge is small but focused on the client’s needs. The team is very knowledgeable, always trying to find solutions to resolve the case. The use of social media with client was key to fast-track communication.’
‘Silvia Devecchi was able to connect with me, understood the complexity of the challenge, always offered potential solutions to engaje the other party and resolve the case out of the courts. Made me feel understood and kept me grounded. I was able to communicate with her without too many formalities, she was always available to talk, specially, in some very difficult moments.’
‘Firstly, the swift emotional and practical support I received from the team, how clearly understood the abusive situation i was in and where able to guide me to see what my rights were and what records I needed to keep to enforce them. Also the way that the work was passed down the chain dependent on requirements to keep costs down.’
‘I let they had an understanding of my situation as a professional woman facing emotional and financial abuse. They also had an understanding of the practical limitations of the law when it comes to a woman’s marital rights, and were able to guide me through the process. I felt comfortable with their values and they explained every step of the process.’
‘Very professional, communication between us was very friendly and matters clearly explained. I would certainly recommend their services.’
‘Silvia Devecchi was an absolute pleasure to work with last year. I was impressed by her pragmatism and she put the client first whilst not being afraid to give realistic and difficult advice where necessary.’
Other key lawyers:
Tessa McKeown; Gregory Monk
‘Alex McCready is an excellent reputation management specialist; calm, realistic and effective.’
‘Brilliant team- excellent cases, very knowledgeable, hard working and hands on.’
‘Alexandra McCready is a complete joy to work with- very clever but also practical and hands on, excellent with clients.’
‘The Vardags reputation management team is a powerful all-rounder team. From fast-paced crisis-driven work, from defamation to slander, the Vardags team is able to pull together the right advisors, put together a holistic strategy, and then drive forward impactful outcomes. They are at their best when handling multi-jurisdictional complex cases: operating across borders, pulling together different advisors, to come up with innovative solutions to never before-seen problems.’
‘Alex McCready is the sort of lawyer you want on your side in the midst of a crisis; cool, calm, collected and fun. She works hard to understand a client’s context, thinks outside the box about how to achieve a particular objective, and then pursues the desired outcome ferociously.’
‘The team was responsive, experienced and professional. They were up-to-date with all of the the new age social/professional platforms and handles, across the larger jurisdictions.’
‘The leader of the team, Alexandra McCready is an experienced professional. She was prompt and responsive and invests the time to understand the multiple perspectives and complexity involved. Is good at conceptualising & discussing Strategy, aligning tactical initiatives and has the team/bandwidth to manage the operational delivery. Others that have been referred to her team, have also had excellent feedback.’
Vardags > Firm Profile
Vardags is a leading, law-changing, blue-chip law firm, specialising in high stakes, complex, and international cases for high-net-worth individuals and their companies. ‘Britain’s top divorce lawyer’ Ayesha Vardag leads a team of the country’s best legal minds. The firm has taken City quality into the private sphere, and become one of the very few UK law firms called upon to advise heads of state, on matters of both English and international law. The firm’s lawyers are frequently called upon as experts on the biggest cases and legal issues of the day, by outlets such as BBC News, CNN, the Today Programme, and Newsnight.
Principal areas of work
Divorce: Vardags is best known as one of the country’s top divorce firms, providing a full range of matrimonial law services for high-net-worth individuals. The firm has been involved in many, if not most, of the leading ‘big money’ cases of our times. Vardags is outspoken in its support for no-fault divorce, having founded and spearheaded the Campaign for Family Law Reform, and co-parenting, consistent with its own commitment to equality and family-friendly policies. The firm is unique in having an in-house financial forensics team and its invaluable expertise in remuneration and complex corporate structures, valuations, options and derivatives, and asset tracing ensures every client gets their fair share. In the 2010 landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino, Vardags changed the law by making prenuptial agreements enforceable in England and Wales. Since then, Vardags has acted in many high profile cases heard in the English courts, including:
- Obtaining a record award against declared bankrupt Mr Young and a record costs award for Michelle Young in Young v Young
- Acting for Yasmin Prest in the High Court case which ran into the Supreme Court ‘corporate veil’ victory of Prest v Petrodel
- Acting successfully in a ground-breaking transatlantic nullity case involving Sharia, English, US and Italian law
- Obtaining what is believed to be a record interim child maintenance award against a foreign royal family member
- Acting in a case involving a head of state which was England’s first concluded family law arbitration
- Acting for Li Quan in the international tiger charity case
- Acting for the Marchioness of Northampton in her famous divorce settlement
- Securing the highest award ever award after a foreign divorce in Al-Baker v Al-Baker
- Winning the leviathan jurisdiction battle and one of the largest ever reported divorce awards for the former Miss Malaysia against her Laura Ashley tycoon husband, in Chai v Khoo
- Securing a Court of Protection order generating consent to fertility treatment for a client’s husband after a tragic road accident left him on life support in 2018, a ground-breaking legal first
- Vardags acted for the husband in FRB v DCA, a high-profile divorce case involving very complex financial proceedings relating to the divorce of the scions of two allegedly billionaire families.
Children and family: Vardags’ children and family department offers a full range of family law services, including prenuptial, postnuptial, and cohabitation agreements, fertility and surrogacy, and disputes involving children.
Vardags’ dedicated children’s team handles a wide range of matters, from fertility and surrogacy to disputes relating to family breakdown. Many of the department’s cases have an international element, such as international relocation, the registration and enforcement of foreign contact orders, and all other forms of cross-border children disputes.
Vardags is a champion of the reform of UK surrogacy laws, which often force hopeful parents to go abroad or to enter into precarious agreements. The Vardags team can help legally secure and protect families created through assisted conception, fertility treatment, donor conception, and surrogacy. Familiar with the sensitivities of modern family-building, Vardags offers specialist legal advice and representation to help high-net-worth individuals place their family life on a firm legal footing.
Commercial and civil litigation: The civil and commercial litigation department works on a wide range of commercial matters, including shareholder disputes, professional negligence, and insolvency agreements. The department advises on some of the most high-stakes, complex disputes across a range of industries, including construction, manufacturing, and international arbitration.
Criminal defence: The criminal department advises clients who are subject to investigation by the police and other investigative bodies, including the SFO and HMRC. The team provides full representation and advice from before arrest to trial and appeal, and has acted in some of the most high-profile cases in the Old Bailey over recent years. The department provides comprehensive representation in relation to assault, drugs, harassment and sexual offences as well as all aspects of white-collar crime, regulatory crime, and confiscation proceedings. It has an extraordinary record in shutting down investigations before charges are brought.
Property: Vardags’ property department acts for clients in buying, selling, mortgaging, and restructuring prime and super-prime properties in London and across the country. The team provides a discreet, meticulous, and comprehensive service to high and ultra-high-net-worth clients involved in property transactions, and works tirelessly to ensure these are completed with speed and precision. Recent cases include contract races won and deals secured in under seven hours.
Reputation and privacy: Vardags’ reputation and privacy team works to protect the best interests of high profile and high-net-worth individuals and successful companies. It represents celebrities, sports stars, entrepreneurs, and business executives on all areas of media and privacy litigation, including press management, online media issues, and defence against smear campaigns.
The department has also ensured that some of Vardags’ most high profile cases going through the English family courts are kept entirely out of the public eye. The firm handles these cases with the utmost discretion and expertise cultivated from years of experience in handling the press.
Clients: Vardags acts for high-net-worth individuals, their families, and their companies in high-stakes legal matters when a successful outcome is paramount.
Its divorce lawyers always aim to find a resolution, but are prepared to fight hard to win clients their fair share. They are also well-equipped to assist the financially weaker party by facilitating lending, tracing hidden assets and defending their best interests.
Vardags also supports its clients by providing a top-quality legal service to high-net-worth individuals in need of a children, criminal, civil litigation, property, or reputation lawyer.
Regional offices: Led by a surge in client demand, Vardags has expanded nationally and now works with clients from across the world in London, Manchester and Cambridge.
International: Vardags has unrivalled international expertise and a global clientele. Their familiarity with complex legal work spanning international jurisdictions is unparalleled and the firm is truly multi-lingual.
Recruitment: Vardags hand-picks stellar individuals who demonstrate intellect, creativity, determination and integrity and hail from the top academic and commercial institutions, including leading City firms. The firm has created a unique graduate training programme allowing the most talented young lawyers to join the firm directly on graduation from university and study through to qualification while being paid a full salary and doing real work. This leads their lawyers to qualify at a level described at the Bar as several years ahead of those of other firms.
Vardags Manchester: Vardags Manchester is a specialist divorce and family law firm for high-net-worth individuals and their families residing in the north west of England. Practising under the expert guidance of ‘Britain’s top divorce lawyer’ Ayesha Vardag and headed by ‘Manchester’s celebrity divorce lawyer’ Emma Gill, the Manchester office has brought a truly unique standard of service to the region. Since opening in 2016, Vardags Manchester’s innovative practice has earned the reputation as the region’s go-to law firm for high value, complex international divorce cases. Emma Gill is frequently sought out for commentary by the national press, including The Times and The Guardian. She is also a BBC Breakfast regular and often shares her legal expertise on Radio 5 Live.
Principal areas of work
Divorce: Vardags Manchester is best known throughout the region for its cutting-edge, top quality divorce law practice. Emma Gill and her team have represented some of the North West’s most high profile and high value clients in divorce cases involving several millions of pounds.
As a firm specialising in the most valuable cases, Vardags Manchester’s lawyers are unrivalled in their experience of handling the uniquely complex financial circumstances arising from high-net-worth divorce. The legal team works with the firm’s unique in-house forensic accountants, transforming the outcomes of divorce proceedings with expertise in remuneration, valuations, corporate structures, and asset tracing.
Vardags Manchester has represented clients in some of the most challenging and high-stakes cases in the region, including:
- Acting in an unprecedented case for the wife of a successful businessman to challenge the validity of a highly limiting post nuptial agreement. The agreement had been signed at a time when the husband had failed to disclose a diagnosis of a life threatening condition.
- Representing a nationally renowned actor in a dispute with his former wife over arrangements for their daughter, particularly around issues regarding privacy and use of the daughter’s image in national and social media.
- Acting for the wife of an entrepreneur worth millions, whose attempts at lack of disclosure and dissipation of assets were uncovered by our financial forensics work.
- Raising a powerful and innovative argument for the wife in a dispute worth over £15m in which the husband sought to retain over 80% of assets.
- Arguing that the significant assets built up by a husband through hard work and clever entrepreneurship in his youth were non-matrimonial, reducing the sum eligible for division with his younger wife.
Children and family: Vardags Manchester’s children and family department offers a full range of family law services, including prenuptial, postnuptial, and cohabitation agreements. Emma Gill and Lucy Williams are experts in children disputes, and many of the team share a background in child protection law. In every case, their primary goal is to protect the best interests of the children concerned.
Unlike many, Vardags Manchester focuses on providing advice that is not only of the highest legal merit, but also practical and pragmatic, taking into consideration the particular circumstances of both families and individuals.
In line with the firm’s commitment to families’ right to choice, the Manchester office is a champion of the reform of UK surrogacy laws, which often force hopeful parents to go abroad or to enter into insecure agreements. The team can help legally protect families created through assisted conception, fertility treatment, donor conception, and surrogacy. Familiar with the sensitivities of modern family-building, Vardags offers specialist legal advice and representation to help high-net-worth individuals place their family life on a firm footing.
Clients: Vardags Manchester represents the North West’s elite, including entrepreneurs, executives, and sports personalities. Clients instruct the firm for world-class support in high-stakes legal matters, when a successful outcome is paramount.
Clients are usually based in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Shropshire, and Merseyside, although Emma Gill has a healthy London-based practices.
Recruitment: Vardags Manchester selects the very best and brightest young lawyers who share the firm’s love for the North West. Creativity, determination, and integrity are particularly admired. The firm has created a unique graduate training programme allowing the most talented young lawyers to work while being paid a full salary, and qualify at Vardags fully financed, directly on graduation from university.
|Founder and President||Ayesha Vardagemail@example.com||02077887156|
|Regional Managing Partner, Head of Manchester||Emma Gillfirstname.lastname@example.org||0161 532 9509|
|Partner, Head of Reputation and Privacy||Alex McCreadyemail@example.com||02077887156|
|Partner, Head of Property||James Bunkerfirstname.lastname@example.org||02077887156|
|Partner, Head of Criminal Defence||Robert Conwayemail@example.com||02077887156|
|Partner, Head of Cambridge Office||Silvia Devecchifirstname.lastname@example.org||01223 631638|
|Senior Partner, Family||Simon McKirganemail@example.com||02077887156|
|Senior Partner, Family||Lois Rogersfirstname.lastname@example.org||02077887156|
|Partner, Head of Financial Forensics||Katharine Danbyemail@example.com||02077887156|
|Partner, Family||Annemarie Bradleyfirstname.lastname@example.org||02077887156|
|Partner, Family||Antonia Barkeremail@example.com||02077887156|
|Partner, Head of Children||Caroline Korahfirstname.lastname@example.org||02077887156|
|Partner, Head of Manchester Children||Lucy Williamsemail@example.com||0161 532 9509|
Meet The Team(s)
Vardags is an elite team comprising some of the UK’s leading litigation lawyers. The firm has extensive coverage across the country, with offices in London’s Old Bailey, Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford and Winchester.
Vardags specialises in complex and challenging, high-profile and international cases for an exclusively high-net-worth client base. The firm centres around the London family law practice, and is led by Ayesha Vardag, well-known as “Britain’s top divorce lawyer” (the Law
Society, the Guardian, The Telegraph, Daily Mail and HuffPost US) and the “Diva of Divorce” ( the BBC).
We have a strong focus on obtaining the best possible outcomes for our clients (either through the courts, or behind closed doors) and achieve this time again by simply outlitigating our opponents and pursuing the strongest possible intellectual arguments, leaving no stone unturned.
Our lawyers specialise in large and complex divorce cases, often featuring private companies, property empires, trusts, and international and hidden assets. We offer clients an entirely unique suite of in-house client services that complements the exemplary lawyers that we have within our family team. We are renowned for the consistent excellence of our in-house services team that offers the full suite of personal legal services tailored to their individual needs and includes:
- A company valuation and financial forensic team led by Vardags’ Director, Katharine Anderson, a feature which, as far as we are aware, no other family law department or firm offers
- An in-house Chartered Surveyor
- A high-end criminal department
- A specialist high-end property department
- A media, privacy and defamation team, together with the assistance of journalists and publicists, to support the firm as well as our clients where press assistance or prevention is required
Our specialist lawyers deliver the top-level, tailored service our clients expect. The core of our success is simple:
- Our lawyers always go the extra mile and work to find the best solution possible for our clients
- The family teamwork at the cutting edge and act on some of the largest, most high-profile cases, meaning that we are always seeking new, innovative ways to get the best result for our clients
- We provide a personalised strategy, offered by the suite of services discussed above. If you have links to more than one country, our team is experienced working across multiple jurisdictions
We often act for clients who have been placed in an unfavourable position because they waited too long to get advice. Our lawyers also take over cases from firms where clients are not happy with the outcome. Clients who have needed to go through this process have remarked that they wish that they had come to us at the start of their case.
If you are thinking about getting divorced, seeking new lawyers, or looking to re-open a case, the first steps in this process can feel daunting, so at Vardags we offer a free initial consultation for suitable clients. Our team will take the details of your case in advance and prepare a strategy which they will take you through in the meeting.
Historically, Vardags has been at the forefront of the evolution of family law, divorce law and children law in the UK, for example, changing the law on the enforceability of prenuptial agreements in England and Wales with the landmark Supreme Court case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010.
2022 brought about a major change in family law in this country with the introduction of no fault divorce. This reform was long overdue– it has been 50 years without any major changes to the law surrounding divorce. Previously, couples had to show that their marriage had broken down by relying one of five facts:
- Unreasonable Behaviour
- Separation with consent after two years
- Separation without consent after five years
There was therefore the need to “blame” one of the parties in three of the five reasons, which often made the divorce more acrimonious and unpleasant. Or the parties had to wait until they meet the timescale for separation, which may not have been desirable and could have other consequences, for example, in relation to tax.
The change in the law means that it is no longer necessary for one party to “blame” the other for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This ensures a process that is less acrimonious but also removes the right of one party to contest the divorce, sometimes resulting in trapping the other party, since the ability to contest a divorce, dissolution or separation has been removed.
Vardags championed the introduction of no-fault divorce, and Ayesha Vardag personally launched the Campaign for Family Law Reform at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in 2017, following which she organised a Parliamentary debate to mobilise political opinion. It has taken time to bring about change, with the pandemic delaying its introduction from 2021 to April this year.
The need to blame has for a long time been regarded as very controversial since it is an outdated notion that increased the desire for a more adversarial approach. Resolving difficult issues surrounding children and finances can therefore be made even harder if the parties are already at war with each other. Our specialist legal team can support clients through the difficult experience of divorce to make sure the process is as stress free as possible, whilst also ensuring we get the very best result for our clients and their families.
- Private client > Family