Ayesha Vardags, President

Precis: “Britain’s top divorce lawyer” Ayesha Vardag rose to fame for winning the landmark Supreme Court case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010, changing the law to make prenuptial agreements legally enforceable in England and Wales. The founder and President of Vardags, Ayesha specialises in very big-ticket financial and associated cases on divorce and family breakdown, often with an international or celebrity element.

Ayesha, described as “The Diva of Divorce” (coined by Easy Living Magazine), has a reputation for hard-hitting litigation, commercial savvy, fearlessness and strategic intellectual vision. This, coupled with a no-nonsense style, and a passion for her cases informed by her own experience of divorce, has won her a high-value, high-profile client base second to none, made up of clients who expect the very best.

Ayesha Vardag, President

Precis: “Britain’s top divorce lawyer” Ayesha Vardag rose to fame for winning the landmark Supreme Court case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010, changing the law to make prenuptial agreements legally enforceable in England and Wales. The founder and President of Vardags, Ayesha specialises in very big-ticket financial and associated cases on divorce and family breakdown, often with an international or celebrity element.

Ayesha, described as “The Diva of Divorce” (coined by Easy Living Magazine), has a reputation for hard-hitting litigation, commercial savvy, fearlessness and strategic intellectual vision. This, coupled with a no-nonsense style, and a passion for her cases informed by her own experience of divorce, has won her a high-value, high-profile client base second to none, made up of clients who expect the very best.

Ayesha Vardags, President

Accolades:
  • Britain’s top divorce lawyerwas Ayesha Vardag’s billing by the Law Society, the Guardian, The Telegraph and New York’s Huffington Post.
  • Ayesha is one of only a handful of family lawyers to receive The Times’ accolade “Lawyer of the Week”.
  • The Evening Standard called her “one of the star lawyers turning London into the divorce capital of the world”.
  • Easy Living Magazine featured Ayesha as “The Diva of Divorce.
  • Ayesha received the 2015 Natwest Everywoman Award, for “changing the legal landscape”, in recognition of the landmark win that ensured that prenuptial agreements could be legally enforced in the UK and her pioneering working practices which, through flexible and generous maternity packages, enable female employees to reach their highest potential in an infamously male-dominated industry.
  • In 2015, Vardags became the only law firm to feature on The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100, as the 46th fastest growing company in the United Kingdom.

Education: Ayesha read Law at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and subsequently secured a Duke of Edinburgh award for membership of the Inner Temple. She was a Cambridge Wiener Anspach scholar for a Masters in European Law at the Université Libre Brussels.

Press & publications: Ayesha regularly features in the national and international media as an expert on the leading cases and legal issues of the day, appearing on BBC News, CNN, the Today Programme and Newsnight. She has published articles in The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, Spear’s Wealth Management and the Business Quarter. Her views have been canvassed by the Law Commission.

Ayesha is also a sought-after lecturer, appearing at the Shelley Society at Eton, the White Paper conference, the inaugural session of the Law Society’s public debates, on ‘The End of Marriage As We Know It’ and at the Marriage Foundation’s inaugural conference.

Career: Ayesha, trained as both barrister and solicitor, has had a diverse and illustrious career in law. Ayesha’s negotiating skills and litigation savvy, mastered during her training at a top City law firm, make her a formidable force. A supremely versatile lawyer, Ayesha marries razor-sharp expertise on complex financial matters with the empathy and common sense afforded by her own experience of divorce.

Ayesha worked on expert research projects at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and at the UN (IAEA) Legal Division in Vienna and helped draft the nuclear energy Safety Convention. She qualified and worked initially as a finance solicitor at the global City law firm Linklaters (London, Moscow) and then at the New York law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges in London.

Ayesha is dual-qualified as a solicitor and barrister of the Inner Temple. She did pupillage at the leading professional negligence set, 4 New Square. Her training in matrimonial law was as a mini-pupil to Nicholas Mostyn (then QC), then as one of two assistants to Raymond Tooth at Sears Tooth, who hired her away from the Bar after working with her on her own divorce.

Ayesha led the family law course at the 5* law school at Queen Mary, University of London. She set up her own specialist divorce and family law firm, Ayesha Vardag Solicitors, in 2005, from the spare room in her Islington home. The firm incorporated and became Vardags in 2010, by which point it had become the go-to firm for some of the weightiest divorce cases in the country.

Ayesha has acted for and against heirs and heiresses, tycoons, international footballers and polo players, celebrities and royalty. She has been noted as acting in almost all of the biggest cases running through the family courts including:

  • Acting for Li Quan in the international tiger charity case;
  • for the Marchioness of Northampton in her high-profile settlement;
  • for Yasmin Prest in the High Court case which ran into the Supreme Court corporate veil victory of Petrodel v Prest;
  • for Michelle Young, obtaining the suspended committal of Scott Young for non-disclosure;
  • for Meshkah Tawfik, the wife of a Qatari prince and
  • for the former Miss Malaysia, in Chai v Peng, winning jurisdiction in the High Court and Court of Appeal after a battle that spanned two hemispheres.

Her firm now has more than seventy members and five offices around the country. After establishing itself as the biggest family law presence in what is described as the “magic circle”, Vardags expanded to include private client, civil litigation and criminal defence departments and can now offer a bespoke solution for all her client’s legal needs.

Languages: Ayesha is a native English-speaker, is fluent in French and Italian, has conversational Spanish, and rusty Russian, Urdu and Portuguese.

Personal: Ayesha is a Shehzadi of the Pashtun Lodhi dynasty which ruled India before the Mughals. She grew up in an Anglo-Scottish home in Oxford with her English mother who worked at New College, while being romanced with stories of her father: barrister, politician, alumnus of Magdalen College, and the youngest ever senator of Pakistan. Amnesty International campaigned for her father when he was repeatedly imprisoned and mistreated for making pro-democracy speeches under martial law. He faced down three assassination orders under a previous regime.

Ayesha’s grandfather was exiled by the British for pro-independence politics and her grandmother grew up in the old royal style, carried everywhere in a palanquin until her marriage, then became an exiled princess in a palace in the deserts of Saudi Arabia until her husband was recalled to become Mayor of Karachi.

Ayesha – (pronounced I-sha) – was named by her mother after the legendary heroine of the 19th century novels “She” and “The Return of She”, written by anthropologist and explorer Rider Haggard, dubbed “She-who-must-be-obeyed” and immortalised by Hammer films with Ursula Andress and Christopher Lee.

Ayesha enjoys opera, travel, movies and dramas, and has eleven horses, a cat, three dogs and five combined children. She is a committed amateur horsewoman, eventing and showjumping, and has a small private competition yard in West Sussex competing as Vardags Equestrian. She lives in Dubai with regular time in England and has a holiday home in Southern Italy.

Reported Cases:
  • Al-Baker v Al-Baker [2016] EWHC 2510
  • Al-Baker v Al-Baker [2015] EWHC 3725 (Fam)
  • Al-Baker v Al-Baker [2015] EWHC 3229 (Fam)
  • Quan v Bray & Anor [2015] EWCA Civ 1401
  • Quan v Bray & Anor [2015] EWCA Civ 1253
  • Quan v Bray & Ors [2014] EWHC 3340 (Fam)
  • Chai v Peng & Ors [2017] EWHC 792 (Fam)
  • Tan Sri Dr Khoo Peng v Pauline Siew Phin Chai [2015] EWCA Civ 1312
  • Chai v Peng [2014] EWHC 3518 (Fam)
  • Chai v Peng [2014] EWHC 3519
  • Chai v Peng [2014] EWHC 1519 (Fam)
  • Chai v Peng [2014] EWHC 750 (Fam)
  • AM v SS [2014] EWHC 865
  • AM v SS [2014] EWHC 2887 (Fam)
  • AM v SS [2013] EWHC 4380 (Fam)
  • Young v Young [2013] EWHC 3637 (Fam)
  • Met v Hat [2013] EWHC 4247 (Fam)
  • B v R [2009] EWHC 2026 (Fam) [2010] 1 FLR 563
  • Radmacher (formerly Granatino) v Granatino (Rev 4) [2010] UKSC 42
  • Radmacher v Granatino [2009] EWCA Civ 649 [2009] 2 FLR 1181
  • Radmacher v Granatino [2008] EWCA Civ 1304 [2009] 1 FLR 1566
  • NG v KR (Pre-Nuptial Contract) [2008] EWHC 1532 (Fam) [2009] 1 FLR 1478
  • N v R (Injunction) [2008] EWHC 1347 (Fam) [2009] 2 FLR 342
  • S v S (Non-Matrimonial Property: Conduct) [2006] EWHC 2793 (Fam) [2007] 1 FLR 1496
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