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The last 12 months have been the busiest of Mark Harper’s career, with several career-defining cases. He acted for the Norwegian businessman Torstein Hagen in ‘the largest contested divorce for years’, involving assets worth billions, which was settled ‘on very favourable terms mid-trial’. He also acted for the wealthy Russian father in the S v S case, where ‘the first decision was the first reported case in which there was relocation of children abroad and the change of primary carer from mother to father’. Harper has co-authored the leading textbook on the treatment of trusts on divorce, which Sir James Munby, president of the family division, said ‘needs to be in the bookcase and in the briefcase of everyone involved on a divorce case with a trust element’. Commenting on the uncertainty surrounding interpreting the law in view of Brexit, Harper asserts that if ‘the “first to file wins” rule in Brussels II no longer applies, that will lead to further forum disputes’ and might result in an expensive ‘fight as to where the real fight about the money should take place’. Only after this, and assuming proceedings can continue, is it possible to ‘fight about how the assets are divided’. During his time as the European Chapter president of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, Harper was able to connect with family lawyers across the globe and deepen his knowledge of family law in specific countries. He regards London’s appeal to the internationally wealthy as the reason for ‘fascinating international cases’.

Mark Harper
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