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London-Based Law Firm Branches Out Into Gulf

Shirin Aguiar

3 December 2021

London-based specialised family law firm  has expanded into the United Arab Emirates.

With its headquarters at the Old Bailey and an office in Singapore, the firm has now set up in Abu Dhabi. It will continue to provide international family law advice to English expats and families with links to the UK who live in the UAE and across the Middle East.

The firm has been involved in a number of reported decisions this year, all of which moved the law forward for English expatriates experiencing family law issues, it said, adding that it has had to find novel ways to assist clients when other firms have been unable to do so.

Byron James, a partner, will head up the branch in the UAE capital city. He specialises in family law, from divorce and financial remedy cases to disputes involving children.  Based in the Middle East for several years, James was recently admitted to the International Academy of Family Lawyers as a fellow; he is the only English qualified fellow based in the Middle East. 

James said it can be especially difficult for expats to know where to turn for accurate and trusted advice in the event of marriage breakdown: “The effective conduct of a cross-border divorce requires technical knowledge combined with practical experience of a number of niche areas of law.  

“It is essential that clients seek out the assistance of a lawyer who is able to deliver strategic advice relating to, for example, choice of jurisdiction for divorce, domicile residence and nationality, international injunctions, recognition of foreign marriages and divorces, stays and forum disputes, cross-border enforcement and financial relief in the English courts following an overseas separation," James said.

Alexandra Tribe, the firm’s managing partner who founded it with her father David Hallam-Peel, has been recognised for her advice on cross-border matters involving the UAE, and is ranked by Chambers and Partners in band 1 for family law for high net worth individuals in the Gulf state. 

She said: “We were recently highly commended in the Excellence in International Legal Services at the Law Society Awards 2021, and the Chambers and Partners guide to professional advisors for high net worth individuals describes our firm as the go-to-people for cases involving Dubai and the UAE.”

The UAE and other Gulf jurisdictions are competing to attract inward investment and diversify away from traditional industries such as oil. For example, earlier this year the UAE announced that foreign investors and entrepreneurs had full ownership of companies from 1 June, coming six months later than the original start date to increase widening the scope of the change. The past 12 months have seen the UAE ink a major bilateral agreement with Israel under the Abraham Accords brokered via the former Trump administration in the US.