60-second interview with Frances Hughes, senior partner at Hughes Fowler Carruthers
Tell me about your role at Hughes Fowler Carruthers
I am senior partner at Hughes Fowler Carruthers and have been since we set up our niche practice in 2001. We are a collegiate partnership, though and all share in the management.
Has the private client industry changed?
The private client industry has changed dramatically over the last fifteen years because of the extraordinary increase in wealth of the super-rich and the serious beginnings of tax crackdowns by HMRC.
Can you tell us about any interesting client instructions?
Yes I had a case involving an African customary marriage which means it is negotiated according to indigenous African law which ended up going to the House of Lords. It involved a range of financial complications, polygamous marriages and the workings of the customary court itself which were extremely efficient. I have always enjoyed my cases that have changed the law or the practise of it, even if they have been stressful at the time.
What changes to family law and private client work do you expect after Brexit?
There are all sorts of possibilities of dramatic changes to family law, which include the fact that the Lugano Convention, which governs European member states civil and commercial law matters, may not apply. It will make a dramatic difference to divorce law given that we will no longer be abiding by European regulations on forum shopping. London may become a very different place economically.
What are the main challenges your clients face?
All clients find the prospect of divorce extremely stressful. I think the most common request is to resolve matters without distress on either side, straightforwardly and quickly and without great legal costs. That can only be achieved in certain circumstances but it is extremely satisfying for lawyers and clients when it can be achieved.
What are you most proud of?
My international child abduction achievements and also of very big money cases settled quickly.
What was the last book you’ve read?
Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, which is his best book ever. It concerns and Irishman who leaves famine in Sligo in the north of Ireland for the US serving in the military in the Indian Wars and then the civil war. It is an exhilarating read.
How do you relax?
I play string quartets and swim in cold ponds, seas and rivers.