Looking back to this time last year, we were looking forward to the recovery from the turmoil the pandemic had caused. Russia’s invasion on Ukraine then brought another layer of complexity and our thoughts are with everyone affected by the conflict.
Since starting our annual round-up in 2018, I am overcome with tremendous pride for everyone in our firm as I look back to take stock of all we’ve achieved. It is a privilege to share these with you, our esteemed colleagues. In our endeavour to support British expats worldwide navigate the landscape of international divorce, we firmly believe that sharing knowledge and expertise is a vital part of achieving this.
The Abu Dhabi family courts, and subsequently all of the UAE courts, announced in 2022 a number of changes to their laws which hugely impact all British expatriates based in the region. In the spirit of knowledge sharing, we have organised a conference in Abu Dhabi (27-28 April 2023) to discuss the latest international family law landscape and you are warmly invited to join us. The cost has been kept to a minimum at just £325 with the support of the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau. This is to allow as many attendees to benefit from the insights of some of the leading experts in international family law. Fantastic rates at local hotels have also been secured. Find out more about the conference or book your place on Eventbrite.
Sonny Patel has also published an eBook Divorce Journey for British Expats in Singapore. The collection of articles distil essential guidance and wisdom and are authored by a wide variety of credible professionals who are (or have been) expats themselves and who advise British expats in Singapore on a regular basis.
As if the legal changes in UAE weren’t enough to keep him busy, Byron James, who heads up our UAE office, continues to astound. 2022 marked his admission to the International Academy of Family Law, being awarded International Family Lawyer of the Year by the Family Law Awards, being top-ranked in Chambers & Partners, and his first case in Supreme Court. All the while, his clients continually praise him for his vast knowledge, pragmatism and calm approach.
Also noteworthy, Hero Lomas was made Partner in 2022. Hero is regularly instructed in cases in the High Court concerning child abduction matters, Hague and non-Hague cases and cases involving the inherent jurisdiction. Clients value Hero’s calm approach and her ability to achieve out-of-court settlements where possible. Hero is also co-producer and co-host of Family Law Live!, a topical chat show which has broadcast over 30 episodes since its launch in 2020, which was also shortlisted in the category of Commentator of the Year in the 2022 Family Law Awards. It takes the format of a permanent panel interviewing guests and is hosted by Hero Lomas, Fiona Lyon, Partner at Anthony Gold LLP, and Hannah Jones, Counsel at 36 Family.
We have published a number of videos, articles and podcast. Interviews with family lawyers from Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Sweden provide an insight into the legal process around divorce in these countries as a foreign national, including considerations around division of assets, spousal maintenance, child arrangements in these countries.
I am thrilled to introduce our latest members of the Expatriate Law team. Ambar Bharwani, Antonia Church and Beatrice Ermolin joined our firm this year and in their short time, have already firmly settled into the team, supporting on a variety of complex and interesting cases. Welcome to the team! We are also delighted to welcome back Sophie Capo-Bianco as she returned from maternity leave.
As ever, thank you for taking the time to read our annual round-up. If you are ever interested in collaborating, such as an eBook, interview, seminar, conference, podcast – you name it – please do reach out to me.
Warmest wishes for the New Year,
Ranked in Chambers High Net Worth Guide 2022
Expatriate Law has again been recognised by Chambers & Partners High Net Worth guide.
Alexandra Tribe also ranked individually, being particularly commended for her strong reputation in advising high net worth clients in the UAE on family law matters. A local peer describes her as
one of the best lawyers I have ever seen. She knows the local laws better than anyone else.”
Another source added:
I can vouch for Alexandra as she is excellent at whatever she undertakes. Her sincerity to her work is the best quality about her.”
Ranked in Chambers and Partners’ High Net Worth Guide: Band 1 for Family/Matrimonial in United Arab Emirates
This year, Byron James was ‘top-ranked’ in the category of Family and Matrimonial: High Net Worth (Band 1) in the United Arab Emirates by Chambers & Partners. Interviewees said of him:
Byron James is extremely intelligent, and very much on top of the changing international family law landscape. He knows lots about regulation and is at the cutting edge of the legal world.”
Family Law Awards 2022
We had not one, not two, but three finalists at this year’s Family Law Awards 2022.
Byron James and Sonny Patel, both Partners at Expatriate Law, were shortlisted in the International Family Lawyer of the Year category at the prestigious award which recognises the important work of family lawyers. Hero Lomas, also Partner at Expatriate Law, was shortlisted in the ‘Family Law Commentator of the Year’ category for her work with Family Law Live! along with collaborators at 36 Family and Anthony Gold.
There was much excitement and anticipation at the awards ceremony which took place on 28 November. Byron James was awarded the International Family Lawyer of the Year and we couldn’t be more proud. Alexandra Tribe accepted the award on his behalf on the evening.
Tatler’s Address Book
Alexandra Tribe was featured in Tatler’s Address Book, with the review stating:
The firm [Expatriate Law] has branch offices in Abu Dhabi and Singapore and is widely regarded as the top English family law firm in the world for Middle East family law matters. The firm’s expertise is unrivalled due to their presence in the region and their work, which is exclusively focused on the children and financial remedy issues which arise for English expatriates based abroad and international families with links to England.”
Sonny Patel and Byron James have been newly included in Spear’s 500 Family Lawyers index, an annual listing of the lawyers and family practitioners who are tackling the most complex, high value divorces in the UK.
Sonny Patel was recommended for his work in Singapore and Asia; you can view his review and profile on Spear’s here.
Byron James was also recommended and the only family lawyer to be included based in the Middle East.
Coram Chambers and Expatriate Law presented the first webinar in a new series. Speakers took a deep dive into the world of TOLATA, sharing tips and practical hints for managing beneficial ownership issues.
Greg Williams, Family Law Barrister at Coram Chambers
Oscar Smith, Senior Associate at Expatriate Law
Melanie Bataillard-Samuel, former Senior Associate at Expatriate Law
This session was aimed at junior family law practitioners looking to build up their knowledge of TOLATA or for more senior practitioners looking for a refresher.
At the Clarks Attorneys 9th Annual Family law Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2022, Lauren Carmichael discussed the tips and traps faced by expats moving between South Africa and the UAE, particularly how the laws differ in the UAE and how this impacts the advice lawyers give clients who may or have immigrated.
David Truex, Consultant Solicitor at Expatriate Law, is a qualified solicitor in both England and Australia. In his presentation at the Clarks Attorneys conference, he outlines useful facts surrounding family law for South African expats based in England or Australia. Watch his presentation in full below and please feel free to contact David directly should you have any questions.
At the IAFL annual meeting in Marrakech, Alexandra Tribe spoke on a panel with Mr Justice Coleman, Véronique Chauveau, Nancy Zalusky Berg and the brilliant chair Amy Rowe on Non-Hague Conventions Child Abductions.
What a joy to be back at IAFL conferences again and see so many wonderful family lawyer friends from around the world.
In November, Byron James spoke to the American Bar Association with Diana Hamade and William Tyler KC.
They discussed child law in the UAE and addressed some commonly held misconceptions to the American audience. Great attendance and great event brilliantly hosted by Melissa Kucinski and Jessica Flint.
You can watch the talk here https://lnkd.in/dCu43i4P
Sonny Patel published an eBook Divorce Journey for British Expats in Singapore. The collection of articles distil essential guidance and wisdom and are authored by a wide variety of credible professionals who are (or have been) expats themselves and who advise British expats in Singapore on a regular basis.
Chapter 1 – Couples therapist – Patricia Evans
Chapter 2 – Child psychology – Ronina Stevens and Priyanka Utama
Chapter 3 – English family law – Sonny Patel
Chapter 4 – Singapore family law – Linda Ong
Chapter 5 – Singapore visa considerations – Hilary Rupawalla
Chapter 6 – Litigation funding – Nigel Shepherd
Chapter 7 – Mediation – Hero Lomas
Chapter 8 – FDRs PFDRs and Arbitration – Alexander Knight
Chapter 9 – Divorce Abroad and UK Taxation – Martin Rimmer and Christine Teo
Chapter 10 – Forensic Accountants – Jerome McDonagh and Eddy Lee
Chapter 11 – Wealth Advisory – Max Keeling
Chapter 12 – The challenges of repatriation – Carole Hallett Mobbs
Chapter 13 – Estate and Wealth planning – Alfred Lieu
Read the eBook Divorce Journey for British Expats in Singapore
Our team’s expertise was drawn on several times throughout last year and featured in national newspapers in the UK and UAE. Alexandra Tribe and Byron James have been quoted in several articles covering the many changes in UAE laws announced in 2022.
We also supported British expats seeking legal advice by sharing our expertise through numerous articles and podcasts. We’ve compiled a shortlist below and encourage you to follow Expatriate Law on LinkedIn for our latest posts.
Wealthy expat couple’s divorce should be heard in Abu Dhabi court, British judge rules
Byron James commented to The National News on a judgement that an expatriate couple seeking a divorce should have their case heard in Abu Dhabi, and not in London.
It’s the first time that the English family court has come to consider whether or not the Abu Dhabi non-Muslim family court should be considered ‘forum conveniens’ over the English courts…
It’s the first international recognition, as far as I’m aware, and endorsement of the no-Muslim family court of Abu Dhabi. And to have a country like England saying we will defer to this other contry, for our own citizens to get divorced, is a real mark of respect.”
Lawyers urge high-powered expat women to get prenups to avoid paying alimony to husbands
Byron spoke with the National Newspaper in the UAE discussing some of the specific problems for HNW women on divorce.
We interviewed a number of family lawyers from other European jurisdictions around multi-national divorce in their countries, and considerations for expatriates who are considering divorce whilst based there.
- Belgium: Ferenc Ballegeer, FB-tax
- Portugal: Rita Pereira, Partner at Edge International Lawyers
- Spain: Mónica Bardají Pujadas of Bardají Avocats
- Sweden: Marisol Arellano Lundberg of Familjens Jurist
You can watch all of the above interviews in our videos section of the website.
We extend a warm welcome to family lawyers wishing to attend our conference in Abu Dhabi on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 April 2023.
The 1.5-day event will cover a range of international family law topics, and is aimed at family lawyers from all jurisdictions around the world. The conference will consist of lectures and panel sessions from over 20 top family law solicitors, barristers and Judges. The learning sessions will be interspersed with coffee breaks, lunches, drinks and dinners to enable delegates to meet each other and forge professional relationships and friendships.
You will hear about:
- the new family laws and practices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi which is essential learning for all practitioners advising on cases involving the Middle East
- family arbitration schemes around the world, with a particular focus on the new Abu Dhabi family arbitration scheme for expats; and
- asset protection schemes in the Middle East, mediation, prenuptial agreements, enforcement and jurisdiction issues
The conference will have a strong practical approach. Our aim is to give delegates practical guidance and understanding that will assist their day-to-day practices, regardless of the jurisdiction that they practise in.
The conference will culminate in an optional afternoon and evening trip to a tented camp in the Abu Dhabi desert for dune boarding, camel riding and dinner.
Abu Dhabi is a wonderful place to visit in April, when the weather is perfectly warm and pleasant. The conference is a great opportunity to visit the Louvre Museum of Art and the famous Abu Dhabi mosque, both a short taxi ride from the conference hotel. Abu Dhabi is an hour from Dubai by car (without a border), or a short flight from Oman, for those wanting to extend their trip.
We have secured fantastic rates at The Four Seasons (Al Maryah Island), Rosewood Hotel Abu Dhabi, and Le Meridien. We recommend booking early as there are limited spaces for these rates and to avoid disappointment.
Please do reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for any recommendations.
The conference is supported by the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau.
The standard conference fee is £325.
What’s included in the ticket price:
- 1.5 days of lectures and presentations with PDF notes as appropriate
- Networking opportunity
- Goodie bag
- Coffee breaks morning and afternoon on both days
- 3-course buffet lunch on both days (see below)
Dinner at the Four Seasons – £100
27 April 2022, 9-11pm in Liwa Ballroom
We warmly invite you to join us for the conference dinner which will be held at the elegant Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi on Al Maryah Island. Tickets for the Conference Dinner may be added to your chosen package during the registration process and the cost per ticket is £100. The dinner buffet will consist of 10 starters, 8 main courses including 3 vegetarian options, and 12 dessert options. The ticket also includes half a bottle of wine with your meal.
The Conference Dinner will be held in a private function space and offers you an excellent chance to make connections with other conference participants from around the world over delicious food.
This is a ticketed event and there are a limited number of places, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Extra tickets may be purchased for guests if desired.
Desert excursion – £45
28 April 2022, 3:30-9:30pm
When in Abu Dhabi, you don’t want to miss the opportunity for a memorable desert excursion. This is a ticketed event and there are a limited number of places, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Extra tickets may be purchased for guests if desired.
- Pickup by 4×4
- 4×4 Dune Drive (Desert Safari)
- Camel farm visit
- Sand boarding
- Camel ride
- Henna painting
- Arabic costume for taking photos
- Tea, coffee, Arabic coffee
- Water, soft drinks
- Henna tattoo
- Desert sunset
- Belly dance
- Tanourah dance
- BBQ buffet dinner
- Drop off
- Quad bike (AED 50/USD 13.62 For 10 Minutes, payable on site)