Vardags’ president and founder, Ayesha Vardag, spoke to European CEO about London’s place at the centre of the family law world. She explained the reasons behind London’s place, saying “There’s such a concentration of wealth, of economic activity, or dynamism and life here, that that brings an awful lot of people from all over the world here. They make their homes here, and then when they come to divorce in the normal course of things, their divorce goes through the English courts. There’s usually one of the parties – if they’re living here – who wants their divorce here. Partly because it’s seen as an extremely fair, incorruptible court system. And partly because historically it’s been very generous.”
Ayesha explained that England takes a very different view from the rest of the world when it comes to the division of marital assets. “Here, we view marriage very much as a partnership, and what you build up during that partnership, absent any agreement to the contrary, gets divided up broadly equally,” she explained.
She went on to discuss the advantages to the country of being such a legal capital. “The treasury benefits immensely from this industry; it’s what’s keeping the courts actually going. And it’s the big cases going through here, generating a lot of tax revenue, that pays for the courts to run the small cases through,” she said.
The magazine also asked Ayesha about how the courts approach cases when liquidity has to be extracted from a company. She answered “They’ll try to keep their shareholdings intact, and look at what other assets are around property and other holdings, and distribute the award using those” before adding, “It could be very workable. Shareholders don’t necessarily have to like each other; they don’t have to work together actively. It’s a question of being able to hive off that part of the value to the claiming spouse, and therefore not disturbing the overall shareholding in the company. And I think that’s something the courts are going to have to be much more creative about.”