Family and shared property
(Including financial remedies ancillary to divorce)
Financially complex cases
Stephen’s practice has a strong emphasis on complex financial matters. Many solicitors regard him as counsel of choice for dealing with TOLATA cases or financial remedies cases with complicated intervenor or trust issues.
He is an associate member of the Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants, and is relentless in getting to the bottom of cases where income has been diverted or assets hidden.
He is often asked to give seminars in financial aspects of family law. His clients have included a number household names from the news and the worlds of sport and business.
Land registration tribunal and land law matters
Inevitably in an area of law involving ownership of property, there is often cross-over between the financial remedies/cohabitation/inheritance work and wider landlaw issues. Stephen has been instructed to appear and advise in a full range of Land Registration Tribunal matters, including quantification of beneficial interests and equitable accounting, adverse possession, easements/rights of way and landlord/tenant issues.
Children and family matters
He also routinely appears in difficult cases on behalf of children, parents and family members, including those with an international element. His cases have included cases where a parent has killed a child or another parent, where serious injury has been caused to a child, and where a child or parent has to struggle with serious mental health difficulties or addiction issues.
Where possible, he takes a constructive approach which can often persuade local authorities to view parents more fairly: if support structures can be built up around children while still in their parents’ care, removal into foster care can often be avoided or reversed. Where required, however, he is dogged cross-examiner, good at exposing both factual inconsistencies and flaws in experts’ or social workers’ reasoning.
Stephen has in the past spent time shadowing a social worker at LB Hillingdon to gain a better understanding of social work practice “on the ground”.
Domestic violence (including forced marriage and FGM protection injunctions, and orders to prevent radicalisation)
Stephen’s combined background in criminal and family law makes him a perfect choice for domestic violence cases. He was junior counsel for Refuge in relation to the judicial review of the pilot domestic violence homicide review (into the Pemberton Murders), and was a researcher for Blackstone’s Guide to the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 for Elizabeth Lawson QC. He has appeared in numerous fact-finding hearings at County and High Court levels, including where there are allegations of attempted murder and sexual misconduct, as well as appeals from them.
He was instructed on one of the first forced marriage injunction cases at the High Court, and is sensitive to the difficulties and tensions involved in both bringing and defending applications in this area. His long experience of working with Muslim communities in London make him a suitable advocate to deal with FGM and radicalisation cases. He advised on the setting up of the East London Mosque’s legal advice service (“Pro Bono in the London Muslim Centre”).
Mental health/Court of protection
In addition to guardian work in children cases and cases in which the Official Solicitor is acting on behalf of a part without capacity, Stephen’s practice extends to court of protection matters.
Cases with an international element
Stephen has a strong interest in the international aspects of family law. He is often instructed in cases involving foreign divorces or assets, where forum is in issue, or in child abduction/leave to remove cases. Singher J put his submissions on the “Owusu problem” (which was much later resolved by the authorities of JKN v JCN and Mittal) before the Family Justice Council’s International Family Law Committee to assist it in considering the ramifications of Brussels II Article 3 on non-convention cases.
He has a particularly deep knowledge about the jurisdictions of the South Asian Subcontinent, to which a great many of his clients have been connected. He has appeared in court in South Africa and attended court as part of legal teams in Trinidad, France and the US. He has witnessed court proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights, Belize, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, India (Maharashtra). He has advised on cases relating to Jamaica (at Privy Council level), Russia (at ECHR level) and Southern Cyprus. He is on the panel of legal advisors to Falklands Islanders.
Although no longer the main focus of Stephen’s practice, he has an extensive background in criminal cases. He appeared in a number of the well-publicised Parliament Square Protester cases, has been junior counsel in relation to a murder and has been sole counsel on many serious violence offences. His familiarity with financial work makes him especially effective in dealing with frauds in both a criminal and civil context, including where the Crown seeks confiscation orders.
Stephen has appeared in employment cases on behalf of charities and pro bono clients since before he came to the bar, and has experience of group litigation such as the ET and EAT case of O’Reilly v Williams Lea which led to a record protective award following the collective redundancy of the 29 claimants for whom he acted. He has been involved in high profile cases, such as the litigation arising out of BBC Whistleblower’s 8 month investigation into Foxton’s Estate Agents and a racial discrimination claim against the NCA. He has also been in cases setting important legal precedents, such as the leading case of Arthur v L.E.R. He continues to accept instructions in the Employment Tribunal and all levels of appeal from it.
Seminars and teaching
Stephen regularly gives practitioner seminars on financial remedies, cohabitation, inheritance and childcare matters. He accepts commissions from firms, local authorities and other organisations to do in-house CPD-accredited training.
He has given lectures and seminars at LLB level, as well as lecturing to forensic science and Ilex students. He has even twice stood in for a grammar school’s head of classics!
He enjoys being involved in legal education. He is a Sponsor (mentor) for Lincoln’s Inn and has sat as a mooting judge at both the Supreme Court, House of Lords, Guildford Guildhall, the Inns of Court and various universities/BPTC providers.
He is in fact himself studying for an MSc in Forensic Accounting to compliment his financial remedies practice.
Cross-over areas and charitable/pro bono commitment
The breadth of Stephen’s practice comes from his long commitment to charity and pro bono work, which has often required him to familiarise himself with new areas of law quickly and thoroughly. This makes him an ideal advocate to instruct in cases which do not fit neatly into a defined area of law, or with substantial cross-over between areas.
He has previously been a Linklaters Residential Volunteer and subsequently Assistant Co-ordinator at Toynbee Hall in East London, as well as having volunteered at St Hilda’s East Community Centre. He continues to volunteer at Waterloo Legal Advice Service and is a trustee is Waterloo Action Centre. Stephen is also a member of the Bar Council IT panel.