Family Lawyers
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Head of family law at Collyer Bristow, Toby Yerburgh, concentrates on international, high value and complex domestic divorce litigation including jurisdiction disputes, pre- and post-nuptial contracts and disputes regarding children. Over the last 12 months, he has seen an increase in cases involving pre-nups. ‘One of the monetarily largest cases I had was one where I had previously protected in excess of a billion pounds worth of assets by drafting a pre-nuptial agreement some four years ago,’ he says. ‘On the divorce it was agreed that the pre-nuptial agreement would stand and no further claims would be made above and beyond what was set out.’ While the majority of his cases involve HNWs and UHNWs, he says that it is often the smaller estates which are most hotly contested. Yerburgh tells the story of one husband, worth about £10 million, who had a pre-nup which stated that his wife and child were only entitled to £50,000. These ‘very unfair’ pre-nups are often based on one party being taken advantage of in some way. In this case, the client said she ‘trusted her husband would never want to leave her penniless’. She was wrong, but Yerburgh was able to persuade her husband at the door of the court to settle her claims fairly. These agreements are constantly being tested in court, but ‘to the extent that they are not manifestly unfair, so far they seem to have withstood challenge’.

Toby Yerburgh