Former Farrers partner taken to task as divorcee brings charges for negligence

A former partner of Farrer & Co is being sued by a woman, who claims the partner advised her negligently over the division of £5m of assets during a divorce.

Christopher Butler, who moved from Farrers to Speechly Bircham in 2004, is accused of giving advice that resulted in the claimant, Alison Warshaw, receiving a much lower financial settlement from her ex-husband than she could have hoped for.

The case comes as the House of Lords deliberates over the cases of Miller v Miller and Macfarlane v Macfarlane, which saw large divorce settlements in favour of the wives.

In Warshaw’s case, Butler’s advice led to her accepting 35 per cent of the couple’s £5m of assets, totalling £1.8m. The settlement also contained a provision for £6,000 in child maintenance each year for each of the Warshaws’ two children.

Warshaw claims that Butler should have advised her that she had a chance of obtaining up to 45 per cent of the assets, and that he should have negotiated child maintenance of £15,000 per child.

After Warshaw replaced Butler with fellow Farrers partner Simon Bruce, an increase in maintenance was negotiated successfully.

The amount of the damages Warshaw hopes to win is unspecified.

Butler’s solicitor, Guy Hodgson of Mills & Reeve, said the claim would be defended vigorously. Andrew Moylan QC of family law set Queen Elizabeth Building is counsel for Butler.

Warshaw has instructed Manches litigation partner Clive Zeitman and Jeremy Morgan QC of 39 Essex Street.