Hughes Fowler Carruthers > London, England > Firm Profile

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Private client > Family Tier 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers is one of the leading niche family law firms in London that is led by the 'phenomenal' Frances Hughes. It is 'always at the top of its game' and consists of eight excellent partners who continue to be involved in a very high number of reported cases - they are 'ferocious opponents and fearless litigators '. It receives a steady flow of instructions in the huge money cases (in excess of £1bn) and pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements where there is a significant cross-jurisdictional dimension. It also boasts substantial expertise in the legal issues surrounding same sex relationships and contested children cases. Pauline Fowler who is 'brilliant at resolving the trickiest of cases' had another busy year attracting a range of new instructions from the internationally wealthy. Alex Carruthers (a 'master tactician') continues to impress with his work for ultra-high-net-worth individuals on a wide range of matters. Mark Harper also garners praise along with the other key members of the team who include Renato Labi and Caroline Park . It remains 'one of the strongest finance litigation teams in the country'. Clients get a '6 star experience'.

Practice head(s):

Frances Hughes


‘HFC is a first class boutique family law firm, especially focused on high value and complex financial remedy cases. Alex Carruthers is a stand-out litigator of immense experience and superior instincts‘.

‘Mark Harper is fantastic and I would highly recommend him (in fact I have already) to anyone getting a divorce. He has so much experience and is very calm, sensible, fair, detail orientated, clever and humorous. Mark was very, very strong when I needed him to be, and could see what was happening on both sides all the time. But he also was very aware of the intense personal trauma that this divorce was having on me, and was extremely sensitive to that. He guided me very well when I needed it. He was extremely well aware of the costs, and never wasted my time or money‘.

The best boutique family law firm bar none. The lawyers are also the best toe-to-toe litigators doing family work. Utterly unafraid of court, and using it to maximum advantage, they have been in every UHNW or legally complex divorce in recent times, often leaving changes in the law in their wake. Their size means nimbleness and flexibility, and an ability to turn on a sixpence when the case requires it. Wholly unfazed by any problem, it is either dismantled, diverted around or simply turned to their advantage. A hugely pragmatic yet creative approach, means they get results few would try to reach for, and even fewer would achieve. Feared by opponents, but capable of the most low key settlements rather than fighting when appropriate. You want them on your side, not against you‘.

Frances Hughes has rightly bestrode the family law world like a colossus. She achieves unlikely outcomes by pure force of personality when required. The most tactically astute mind in planning and executing a case, and loved by clients who feel utterly protected, and never led down the garden path. Alex Carruthers is a feared litigator, with an astute and brave approach to any problem. He never takes a step backwards and leaves no angle unexplored or unexploited. Renato Labi is greatly liked by all those who are on the other side, an utterly straightforward approach gains the respect of all, whilst knowing that he is a fine tactician and carefully thinker, who can take a case through to trial with relish. His advice is clear, cogent, creative and realistic, his manner charming and his understanding of legal nuances erudite. Caroline Park is a quiet star, to be underestimated at one’s peril. Supremely bright, super organised and calm and devout in the furthering of her client’s best case. Highly emotionally intelligent she can read a client, a judge or the other side to maximum effect’.

‘Huge strength in depth. Frances Hughes has a reputation which is second to none. She has achieved countless victories against the odds. She has an extraordinary drive and will to win which brings success where others would look to cut her their losses‘.

Alex Carruthers is a top choice for difficult finance cases. Renato Labi combines great charm with tenacity and tactical nous. He is especially good at dealing with complex financial remedies claims. Caroline Park is one of the best lawyers of her generation. She has a phenomenal legal brain and outstanding knowledge of the caselaw. She is very tactically astute‘.

‘I worked with Pauline Fowler in a complex cross-border marital property and inheritance matter last year. I found her extremely professional, admired her communication skills and vast experience, which led to a very fruitful collaboration and happy clients. I will certainly seek her advice again in future on cross-border matters‘.

‘Frances Hughes, Alex Carruthers and Pauline Fowler have stellar reputations which are entirely deserved. They are not only gifted lawyers but bring years of experience to each case and always approach litigation in a sensible and commercially minded way. The support they offer clients is second to none. Kate Brett is an excellent choice for both finance and children cases. She fights hard but knows when to settle’.

Key clients




Re Q


Work highlights

  • The firm is acting in this landmark, multi-billion pound case on the application of Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (Potanin v Potanina [2019] EWHC 2956 (Fam)) .
  • In this unusual, high value case (AF v SF [2019] EWHC 1224 (Fam)), the firm was instructed by the Official Solicitor less than two months before a five-day trial to act for a husband who had been held to lack the relevant capacity to litigate, and achieved an excellent result for the client.
  • The wife obtained the largest reported award on any divorce in the English courts and her efforts to enforce the judgement have been widely covered in the press. The firm has been instructed by the parties’ son, against whom his mother is seeking orders for disclosure and to recover funds paid to him by his father. The son is challenging the funding arrangements of the wife.

This leading niche family law practice is based in Chancery Lane in central London and specialises in all aspects of matrimonial and family law.

The firm: Hughes Fowler Carruthers was established in July 2001. The firm is led by Frances Hughes, who has been consistently rated as a leading individual in this publication over many years. All partners are internationally acclaimed for the exceptional standard of their work. The other partners are Pauline Fowler, Alex Carruthers, Mark Harper, Renato Labi, Caroline Park, Bryan Jones and Kate Brett. All the partners share a considerable breadth of experience which enables them to offer a wide range of skills from skillful negotiation to complex litigation to suit the individual demands of each client.

Work is conducted with a high degree of professionalism and dedication. All solicitors in the practice are members of Resolution. The firm is part of an extensive international family law network through memberships of the International Academy of Family Lawyers and the International Bar Association. This means Hughes Fowler Carruthers can provide a full international service, through the partners’ close connections worldwide.

Types of work undertaken: The firm handles all kinds of family law work, but puts a strong emphasis on work with financial complexity and international aspects. Fields of expertise include defending and attacking trust structures, tracing hidden assets, jurisdictional disputes and complex pension issues. The firm handles a large volume of very high-value prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements. The partners also have special expertise in complex children and child abduction work.

Chair of board Frances
Matrimonial and family law Frances
Matrimonial and family law Pauline
Matrimonial and family law Alex
Matrimonial and family law Mark
Matrimonial and family law Renato
Matrimonial and family law Caroline
Matrimonial and family law Bryan
Matrimonial and family law Kate
Kate Brett  photo Kate Brett Partner specialising in high net worth and complex matrimonial finance work, including…
Alex Carruthers  photo Alex Carruthers Partner dealing with matrimonial finance and children’s work. Most of his work…
Pauline Fowler  photo Pauline Fowler Partner in top ranked niche family law practice; work includes complex financial…
Mark Harper  photo Mark Harper Partner specialising in family law matters including financial matters with an international…
Frances Hughes  photo Frances Hughes Chair of board of family law niche practice and leading figure in…
Bryan Jones  photo Bryan Jones Partner focusing on high net worth and high complexity matrimonial finance, including…
Renato Labi  photo Renato Labi Partner in leading niche practice dealing with complex, high-value matrimonial finance often…
Caroline Park  photo Caroline Park Partner dealing with matrimonial finance including complex and high-net-worth cases, pre- and…
Number of UK partners : 8
Number of other UK solicitors : 13