The news in September 2012 that family partner Helen Ward (scroll down for video interview) was quitting Manches with a team of lawyers and staff was one of the biggest stories to hit the world of divorce law for some time.
Ward, who had been at Manches for 18 years, is an acknowledged star and her recruitment by Stewarts was a coup for the growing litigation boutique.
A few months into the move, Ward is effusive about the new surroundings she and her team find themselves in. “It’s an invigorating and very dynamic environment, which is also very nurturing of young people and developing new talents,” she says. She adds she is confident that the combination of the expertise within her team and Stewarts’ will create a leading department in her field.
And it is a busy field at the moment. Ward picks out three key areas as being especially active – cases concerning inherited wealth, the impact of prenuptial agreements, and cases involving particularly large sums of money.
She says there is debate over how the law deals with inherited wealth and how wealth is shared when neither party in a divorce has earned the money, and that this is “becoming more exaggerated”.
Meanwhile, the number of prenuptial agreement cases is growing. “The impact of prenuptial agreements is increasingly coming into focus,” Ward says. She notes that the situation following the 2010 Supreme Court judgment in Radmacher v Granatino remains unclear. A consultation on prenuptial agreements run by the Law Commission closed last month.
Whatever the outcome of such consultations, it is clear that Ward and her colleagues at Stewarts will continue to be at the forefront of their field.