‘There appears to have been a rise in the number of cases and the proportion that litigate,’ says the impressive Richard Hogwood, one of 10 partners in the family department at the litigation-only firm, Stewarts.
‘Whether part of this has been caused by the general climate of uncertainty engendered by the protracted Brexit process is purely conjecture,’ he muses. ‘But it could well play a role.’
After qualifying as a corporate tax lawyer at Slaughter and May in 2001, Hogwood moved in 2002 to Speechly Bircham (as it was then) as a private client specialist.
Over time, he found himself doing more and more family work, and when he moved to Stewarts in 2011, he was focused only on matrimonial work.
‘My clients, and those of the department generally, cover a range of ages, backgrounds and geographies,’ he explains. ‘Many have an international connection.’
Recent examples of this kind of highly specialised work include the cases of XW v XH and HRH Prince Louis of Luxembourg (2017) where, in the latter, Hogwood acted for the Prince in the successful application for a reporting restrictions order relating to family proceedings.
In general, however, his clients cover a broad spectrum, and ‘could as easily be an aristocrat as a tech entrepreneur, a city professional or a high-profile figure in the arts and entertainment industry. What links them all is that they all want excellent service, an excellent result and utter discretion – be that relating to a divorce, a nuptial agreement or dispute concerning their children.’
Hogwood is expert at providing that, telling us that he aims in his work for ‘the perfect blend of EQ and IQ, the nerve to litigate and the willingness to compromise.’
Although Hogwood is as alive to the difficulties of Brexit and court delays as anyone, he also notes that there may be a positive flipside to the associated administrative headaches. ‘Court delays present an opportunity for those, like us, who are experienced at adopting alternative dispute resolution strategies,’ he tells Spear’s.
Hogwood is also an expert in prenups – a route he advises not just for the very wealthy. ‘Contrary to public perception, they are not just for the rich and famous, and they can be very effective,’ he says. ‘It would be more helpful for them also to be viewed as litigation avoidance insurance – rather than merely as a way of protecting the assets of the wealthier party.’