‘A fantastic lawyer’ says a peer of Peter Burgess, who co-founded boutique family firm Burgess Mee in 2013 with Antonia Mee, a colleague from their time at Withers. He tells Spear’s that his practice is predominantly focused on financial remedy matters, many of which involve complex trusts or capacity issues. A recent divorce case included capacity issues and elderly parties. ‘People are getting married and divorcing later in life and the intersection of family law and Court of Protection work is likely to be a prevalent trend,’ he notes.
Burgess also excels when advising on private children’s cases, with relocations a common theme. He recently succeeded in resisting a mother’s relocation application for a father who was ‘deeply worried about the impact of the relocation’ on their child. Giving his client the news of the judgment ‘was a highlight’ of his past year, he says.
A trained mediator, Burgess says that mediation has become an important part of his practice. ‘The trend in general is towards less litigation, as the court service is under significant strain,’ he explains. ‘There is far greater emphasis on looking at options for clients and trying to find the right process for them,’ he adds, citing arbitration and private financial dispute resolution hearings. Burgess also mentions that there is an increasing preference for ‘different’ dispute resolution techniques, such as ‘mediation using a civil model’.
Burgess’s clients are primarily London-based, with assets between £5 million and £50 million. ‘Our whole ethos is centred around trying to provide the same expertise and service for all our clients no matter what their level of wealth’ he says. ‘We find that HNWs and UHNWs want the same thing – exceptional client service and a lawyer who can think clearly and provide a sound strategy for their case.’
For him, the best part of his job is ‘achieving brilliant outcomes for clients’. He tells Spear’s that recently meeting with a client from earlier in his career reminded him of just how much impact a family lawyer has in a client’s life. ‘He told me that without my involvement, he did not think that he would still have a relationship with his two teenagers.’
In his spare time, Burgess is a national committee member of Resolution, which works on family law reform. ‘The main areas which require further understanding and reform are no fault divorce and cohabitation issues,’ he says. In his view, how the law treats cohabiting couples ‘really needs to be considered by Parliament’ and legislation protecting the rights of long term cohabitees is ‘long overdue’.
Burgess Mee might be young, but it is an ambitious firm. It expanded in the past year from its original Clapham base to include an office in Hammersmith. Burgess is proud that the eight-strong team is growing, with expertise spanning relationship breakdowns, nuptial agreements, private children disputes and niche adoption and fertility issues.