This year Levison Meltzer Pigott celebrates its 20th anniversary, and when Spear’s catches up with Jeremy Levison, one of the founding partners, he is in celebratory mood. ‘I can’t imagine we won’t have a little wine with lunch,’ he says. ‘We may have doubled in size from three to six partners but importantly we have remained true to the values and firm ethos first established back in 1998.’
Levison has been very busy with a number of UHNW divorces with ‘significant international trust issues’. He’s also wise about the course of family law. He refers to the Owens case as ‘an unedifying spectacle’ and is sympathetic about the need for ‘greater recognition for cohabiting couples’. ‘Family law needs to reflect modern reality.’
He agrees that pre-nuptial agreements, although still not legally binding, are ever more taken into account even when made on marriage in a foreign jurisdiction. ‘It’s a common misconception that a pre-nuptial agreement is not worth the paper it is written on. They are becoming ever more powerful, although we still spend a lot of time trying to convince the system that they should be invaded, or even ignored!’ he says.
He is further of the view that ‘The recent Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Waggott v Waggott , supports my feeling that over the last few years the courts have become less willing to hand down long-term maintenance awards. Whilst there are pros and cons, this is likely to be another trend that continues to grow.’
On the question of divorce, Levison agrees that a fault based system is anachronistic. On the other hand he is not an advocate of divorce on demand. ‘Surely marriage is too precious a status simply to be cast aside on a whim?’
‘The main differentiating advantage for HNWs working with us, as opposed to working with some other firms is that we really do run a tight and efficient ship’, Levison tells Spear’s. ‘It is partner-led service which utilises excellent leverage. This is clearly not generally the case for larger Family departments or indeed firms. LMP clients deal directly with one partner with the help in most cases of one named solicitor and an Executive Assistant who provides administrative support. There is available back-up within the wider team if required but in practice there is little doubling up of effort or of costs..’