Ros Bever has had yet another successful year since the landmark Supreme Court decisions of Sharland and Gohil, the 2015 cases which saw wives winning against dishonest husbands. Enquiries have streamed in ever since, many from clients of rival law firms seeking second opinions. Since Bever assumed the role of head of the family law team in Manchester in July 2017, the last two years have seen its revenue increase by circa £1 million per year.
One recent case involved a client who was writing off a ‘substantial debt of millions’ to her husband, represented by Withers’ Diana Parker on the other side, which might set a precedent for future cases involving changing the terms of a loan. ‘It’s interesting as it ties in with Brexit, and reduction in property values in the South East, and stamp duty as a consequence,’ says Bever.
The head of Irwin Mitchell’s national family law department is one for creative solutions. She’s seen a recent hike in arbitrations and says the efficiency of such alternative resolutions can sometimes trump the fees. She adds that clients have the advantage of choosing from a healthy crop of experienced FDR judges who can ‘align objective with reality’. Manchester and London-based Bever has two Supreme Court cases and a Citywealth Inspirational Woman of the Year award under her belt. The firm’s recent ‘one-stop shop’ offering under private wealth has been the year’s highlight. ‘We’ve probably got the broadest geographical reach for a specialist family team,’ she enthuses.
In the last few years, Bever and her colleagues have seen an increase in the use of protective measures, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, and pre-conception agreements (‘not to mention modern families work generally, surrogacy, private adoption and advice if arrangements break down’). In addition, she says that fast moving technology is constantly changing the landscape: for example, consideration and valuation of digital assets, crypto currencies, surveillance and the use of social media.
‘It feels like old news to mention Brexit, but the reality is that it has created huge uncertainty and the impact for international clients could be significant,’ says Bever. ‘We have worked hard to thoroughly prepare ourselves so that, whatever and whenever the outcome, we are in a strong position to ensure our clients best interests are protected.’
On Irwin Mitchell, she says, ‘It has a hugely strong reputation for its complex injury work, but is a full service law firm – and we have a dedicated offering for our private clients with real strength and depth.’