Family Lawyers
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An industry heavyweight who ‘radiates confidence’, according to a client, it was Stephen Foster who masterminded Stewarts’ ascent from small beginnings (‘just me and a paralegal on day one!’ he recalls) to its present supremacy in family law. ‘At a time when most of our competitors are contracting we are expanding… We have recruited and developed the strongest associate assistant cohort in London by a country mile,’ he says. Foster remains active: he recently acted on ‘a cluster of cases where assets exceeded £250 million’. He is currently acting for a husband who owned a worldwide luxury fashion brand, where the assets had been in the region of £1 billion. He has recently acted on several cases involving what he calls ‘the nuptialisation of cohabitation’. He criticises the courts’ approach: ‘The statute very specifically refers to the length of marriage and does not mention cohabitation,’ he says, ‘yet the court’s default position is to treat cohabitation that runs seamlessly into marriage as elongating the length of marriage. Another ‘theme of the year’ is that ‘business people are not encouraged by the lack of consistency by the family law judges’. Stewarts is now developing its arbitration capability, as an alternative to formal court proceedings: ‘Clients are attracted by the guaranteed anonymity, control of process, speed, and the ability TOP TEN to choose the identity of the judge.’

Stephen Foster
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