The International Family Law Group LLP (iFLG) was founded by Ann Thomas and David Hodson OBE to create a distinctive service for international families with connections to England and Wales. By focusing on the family law needs of international clients, many living or working abroad, the law firm would be a leader in its field.
Ann and David had each practised as specialist family lawyers for many years, in England and abroad, acting for numerous international clients. They were keenly aware of the specialist law, practice and procedure and the distinctive requirements of these clients. Their vision was to create a law firm that provided high standards of advice and quality work for international families.
In April 2007, iFLG opened its doors in Covent Garden for worldwide business. It started small, with only four full-time partners and staff but has increased in size to 24 staff including partners, lawyers, support team and consultants. The choice of Covent Garden was deliberate. It is near the central London family courts and Counsels’ Chambers yet in an attractive and accessible, non-legal area of London.
In September 2009 the family law team of Reynolds Porter Chamberlain joined iFLG with Lucy Greenwood and Helen Blackburn becoming partners. We were privileged to work with Carolynn Usher until her retirement. In late 2009, a leading young Surrey lawyer, Lucy Loizou joined us, becoming a partner in early 2013.
In June 2014, David Hodson was made an OBE “for services to international family law”, in recognition of the importance of this work and our practice and iFLG continues to rank highly in legal directories such as The Legal 500, where several of our lawyers are ‘leading individuals’.
iFLG has outstanding links with many law firms abroad and works closely with specialist family lawyers in countries within Europe and worldwide. Many English law firms refer their clients to us on complex issues. We are particularly pleased to have an association with Watts McCray, one of Australia’s leading family law practices, which undertakes many complex international cases from their offices all over the country.
iFLG have been keen to contribute to a better understanding of international family law issues. We believe that this should encourage disputes to be resolved more quickly, more cost effectively and without unnecessary litigation. We have sponsored and run conferences in England and abroad. We write regular articles for the legal media, run radio and web programmes and brief the national media on specific issues affecting international families. Several members of the practice have written chapters for the leading textbook on international family law ‘The International Family Law Practice’ published by Lexis Nexis of which David Hodson is the editor and primary author.
Although sometimes proceedings are necessary, our Mediation and Arbitration Service has been very successful, bringing together opportunities of traditional mediation, directive mediation and arbitration. We have been at the forefront of advancing various other out of court dispute resolution methods when one party is in one country and another is elsewhere. David Hodson is a co-founder of the International Family Arbitration Scheme, the first of its kind in the world.
iFLG has a contract with the Legal Aid Agency, which is used to assist clients who are involved in child abduction proceedings. As one of the world’s leading child abduction specialists we are regularly instructed via ICACU (the operational Central Authority for England and Wales for the 1980 Hague Convention). We also undertake private children relocation and cross border contact cases and other international children cases, including the use of mediation.
Another key area of our work is the recognition of foreign marriages and divorces, and the financial consequences of relationship breakdown. This includes the choice of the best country for issuing proceedings, enforcement abroad of financial orders, locating assets and obtaining a good settlement preferably (and often) without a final court hearing. We have been involved in cases which have made new law to help international families.
We have several consultants who are amongst the world’s leading family law professionals. Denise Carter OBE heads our Mediation and Arbitration Service and was formerly Chief Executive of Reunite, the world’s leading child abduction charity. Sheela Mackintosh has run a renowned family information service and has many connections in both Westminster and in her work with Southeast Asia.
We remain as committed as ever to the crucial importance of understanding the needs and requirements of international families and their children and providing the best possible service for them.