Managing director at Vardags, Catherine Thomas specialises in UHNW matrimonial finance cases, usually involving highly complex jurisdictional issues and corporate structures. The firm, which is best known for its big-money divorces, particularly those with an international element, provides for the full range of HNW needs, offering representation in divorce and family law; wills, trusts and probate; commercial and civil litigation; employment law; criminal defence; media, privacy and defamation; and professional negligence.
‘Our in-house financial forensic team have a wealth of experience in asset-tracing and untangling complicated corporate structures,’ says Thomas, who was made partner at Vardags at just 26. ‘Having worked on some of the most high-profile cases in the family courts, we’re also well-equipped to deal the press where our clients attract media attention.’
Thomas has acted for a wide variety of clients, including entrepreneurs, professional sportspeople and celebrities. In 2017 she secured a £64 million settlement for ex-Miss Malaysia Pauline Chai in her divorce against Laura Ashley chairman Khoo Kay Peng. The year before, another client – the wife of a hotel tycoon – was awarded what is believed to be the largest lump sum ever awarded against a spouse after a foreign divorce. She also represented Michelle Young in Young v Young, achieving what is thought to be the largest costs order ever made by the family courts.
‘Each client is unique and I therefore always tailor my approach to meet their specific needs and priorities,’ says Thomas. ‘There is a lot at stake; clients often want to know that their wealth will be protected, or they may suspect that their spouse is not honouring their disclosure duties and lying about the true extent of their wealth. Many of my clients enjoy a jet-setting lifestyle, but living across several countries can cause complications when it comes to divorce. These clients require a lawyer adept at dealing with complex assets and multiple jurisdictions.’