Biography

Summary

  • English solicitor (1978 and accredited 1996),
  • Mediator (1997 and accredited 1999),
  • Family arbitrator and Member Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb) (2002),
  • Deputy District Judge sitting at the Central Family Court, London (1995)
  • Australian (NSW) solicitor and barrister (2003) and mediator
  •  Visiting Professor, University of Law (2015)
  •  Honourary Professor, Leicester University (2017)

I am a highly experienced family law dispute resolution specialist, especially involving an international element or complex assets or issues.  I am joint founder (2007) and a partner at iFLG.

I was appointed OBE in Queens Birthday Honours List, June 2014, for services "to international family law".

I believe I am one of the world's leading family lawyers and I am (apparently) regarded as one of the most innovative family lawyers of my generation:

  • I was the originator and a creator of family arbitration in England and Wales, now emulated in other countries
  • I was instrumental in the 1990s in the creation of the English Family Law Accreditation Scheme
  • I was co-founder in 1995 of the world's first multi-disciplinary metropolitan family law practice, combining lawyers, mediators and counsellors, and now much copied around the world
  • I was co-founder in 2007 of the world's first law firm dedicated to international families and their children, with many law firms worldwide subsequently setting up specialist international units
  • I am author of the leading textbook on international family law, now in 5th edition (2017)
  •  I was co-creator in 2017 of the world's first arbitration scheme for family law disputes

My career history and qualifications are set out along with my personal narrative of my careeer and interests

This is a summary

After training and qualifying in Southampton,  I spent 10 years at City of London law firms; a partner in City of London firm Theodore Goddard as head of their Family Law Department and then Frere Cholmonley Bischoff (later Eversheds).  In 1995, I was joint founder of the world’s first metropolitan practice to combine family lawyers, mediators and counsellors and with an emphasis on a conciliatory and holistic approach. It was subsequently copied in many practices across the world. From 2003 to 2005 I worked in Sydney for a leading family law firm, qualifying as an Australian lawyer.  I retain my entitlement to practice as a solicitor and barrister in Australia.

I am a  co-founder with Ann Thomas and a partner  in The International Family Law Group LLP, a law firm in Covent Garden, London created in April 2007,  set up specifically  to serve the interests of  international  families and their children.  More details at www.iflg.uk.com.  Although the firm only started in 2007, the Legal 500 immediately called it “the firm to watch”. In subsequent years it has been described as the leading international family law practice.  We started with five people and now 12 years on, we have over 20.

For  most of my career , I have specialised in financial aspects of relationship breakdown in complex cases involving medium and substantial assets.  Almost all my cases now have an international element. My clients are from England and abroad, both men and women and from all walks of life although some concentrations in the IT and media/entertainment industries, the professions  and entrepreneurs.

I put no reliance on the legal directories as I am dubious of their methodology but I and my firm have had some nice comments over the years including (humilty suspended) "London's leading international family law specialist", "very sharp, very reliable and very helpful, and if anyone can get a case to settlement he can", "extremely sharp, knowledgeable and reliable", " the 'go to' firm for cases with an international element" and "an excellent niche firm"

To provide greater flexibility in my work and to keep costs down, most work is conducted by e-mail, Skype and other electronic means for international clients.

I undertake specialist advisory work for other law firms in England and  receive instructions  from many law firms abroad.  I write opinions of English law for foreign law firms for use in proceedings abroad.  I have been an expert on foreign (English) law for court proceedings abroad

I am  a qualified mediator.   I  see couples together to help them resolve their disputes. They still have lawyers for advice but mediation  can help couples to settle in a way more satisfactory to them. It is often much more cost effective. Mediation is not counselling but an alternative to lawyer negotiation or going to court. Much of my mediation is directive mediation in which I give direct legal opinions in the mediation to encourage a final settlement, taking account of what would happen if the matter were to be considered at court. These mediations are sometimes with the parties’ lawyers present, when disclosure has been given and when conventional negotiations or mediation have failed to produce a settlement.

I am also an arbitrator, a new area of family law resolution, where the dispute is heard by a qualified arbitrator but outside the court system, court rules and court timetables. The couple work out their preferred procedure and timetable for their own dispute. It has been strongly  endorsed by senior family court judges.  I was the initiator and co-creator of the English family arbitration scheme

I undertake international arbitration work, as co-creator of the International Family Law Arbitration Scheme which provides an independent, country neutral arbitrator in a forum dispute between a couple.  More details can be found here or contact me for more information.

I am a qualified Australian solicitor, barrister  and mediator. Although I am now based primarily in England, I maintain close professional links with Australian law firms, keep up to date with changes in the law and I have retained my professional qualifications and certificates to practice as an Australian lawyer and mediator.  My firm has an association with Watts McCray, one of Australia's leading family law firms

I sit as a Deputy (part time) District Judge at the Central Family Court (previously known as the Principal Registry of the Family Division) in London. This is the main central family courts in London but also hears many of the more complex cases from out of London. I sit about three or four days a month. I was appointed in 1995.  I now mostly sit in their Financial Rememdies Unit, dealing with complex finance cases

With my judicial experience, I conduct private early neutral evaluations of what may happen if a case went to court, but to save it having to do so.  These can be privileged

I am and have been a chair or member of many committees in profesional life and work and which I have separately set out

I was chair of the Family Law Review group of the Centre for Social Justice which in July 2009 produced a report, “Every Family Matters”, a ground breaking set of major reforms of all aspects of family law, in order to support families, marriage and children. It has been well received and parts have been endorsed by the political parties and others involved in family law and has prompted changes in the law.  In 2014 I was made a Fellow of the Centre for Social Justice.

I am author and editor of "The International Family Law Practice" published by Jordans and the leading textbook on the international aspects of family law work. The 5th edition was published January 2017. With Ann Thomas, I am author of “When Cupids Arrow crosses National Boundaries: A Guide for interntaional families”, a simple Q&A guide for lay persons distilling the complexities of international family law issues into an easily manageable format. Both publications are available from me.

I am also author of “Divorce Reform: a Guide for Lawyers and Mediators” (Thompson Reuters), “The Business of Family Law” (Jordans), “SFLA/Resolution Guide to International Family Law” and consulting editor of “Butterworth’s Family Law in Europe”.

I am an Accredited Family Law Specialist (with portfolios in Substantial Assets and International Cases), a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a past trustee of Marriage Resource, a Fellow of the Centre for Social Justice and a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.  I am a Fellow of the Asian Institute of ADR Professionals. I have been a member of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship since my days as a trainee solicitor.

I have been a member of the Advisory Board of the Law Commission in respect of their work on "Marital Agreements, Matrimonial Property and Needs", and of the Advisory Board of the Financial Services Authority on provision of information for separating and divorcing couples.

In November 2011  I received the prestigious inaugural Jordans Family Law Commentator of the Year award for my "outstanding contribution to commentary on family law matters", as voted by family lawyers. 

I have written and spoken extensively on family law including many conferences abroad. Copies of  my papers are on my information pages and at iFLG.

I am also a Church of England licensed occasional preacher at Hembledon Church, Surrey, and some of my sermons can be found here

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