Marcus Dearle

“We can’t tell fortunes, but we can protect them.” Marcus Dearle, Partner and Head of Family Asset Protection, Private Client

Family Asset Protection

Divorce doesn’t have to be uncertain. 

The breakdown of any relationship has the potential to cause long-term financial and emotional conflict and damage. For family business owners and entrepreneurs divorce is the greatest single commercial exposure they face. But it doesn’t have to dent your family wealth seriously. Or, if the wealth is in the name of your spouse, your financial claims against those assets can be protected and preserved, too. 

Forward-thinking and responsible planning can prevent unforeseen consequences – especially damage to future family relationships. We create responsible pre and post-nuptial agreements with meticulous attention to detail - aside from protecting wealth and assets these protect something much more important: your family.

Our corporate family lawyers are experts at handling the complex, cross-jurisdictional, and potentially reputation-damaging, issues that often arise during high value, international and high-profile cases. 

The Family Asset Protection team draws in expertise not only from private client lawyers, but also from the wider corporate and fiduciary litigation teams to preserve and protect your wealth. The team only acts in high-net worth (HNW) and ultra-high-net worth (UHNW) family law and asset protection/preservation cases. Many of those cases have international aspects, particularly across the UK, US and the Far East, and often have substantial family businesses or trusts at their core. 

We embrace new technology and innovation - we have our own in-house forensic accounting and data processing, hosting and document review capability. We are leaders in the field in the use of predictive coding technology utilising Artificial Intelligence for electronic disclosure.

HNW and UHNW worth clients rely on us for responsible, pragmatic and measured advice delivered with emotional intelligence - where the human aspects of a case are not underestimated or ignored. 

Our team has experience dealing with the particular issues faced by LGBT* clients and alternative families where there is a lack of decided case law. As a firm, we are committed to LGBT* inclusion, and were recently named in Stonewall’s top 10 most LGBT* inclusive places to work.

Our Family Asset Protection team advise on all aspects of relationship breakdown and asset protection/preservation issues, including:

  • Pre and post-nuptial agreements
  • Cohabitation arrangements
  • Civil partnerships, LGBT* clients and alternative families
  • Trust and estate planning and corporate structuring of assets, including to mitigate the impact of settlor or beneficiary divorce
  • Structuring businesses and shareholdings to mitigate the consequences of shareholder/owner divorce

Case studies

  • Protecting Wealth Image

    Protecting a HK$1.56 Billion Trust

    Led the team representing HSBC Trustee International Limited up to the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong in a ground breaking divorce and trusts case of Kan Lai Kwan v Poon Lok To Otto.

    The case centred on a Jersey trust worth HK$1.56 billion and attracted significant international coverage, including in the Financial Times.

  • Family office

    Enforcing a Cross-border pre-nuptial agreement

    Representing a husband from New Jersey, USA, in an ongoing leading Hong Kong forum shopping case, involving questions over the enforceability and validity of a New Jersey Pre-Nuptial Agreement in Hong Kong.

    There are three reported judgments in the case to date, and it is likely to lead to the provision of detailed guidance on the treatment of foreign and domestically drafted Pre-Nuptial Agreements in the Hong Kong court.

  • Protecting

    Winning a record HK$1.2 Billion Hong Kong divorce settlement

    Led the international team representing a solicitor, Florence Tsang, in a landmark divorce case. This team secured the highest ever litigated divorce award in Hong Kong’s history, involving assets of almost US$1 billion.

    Most of the six week High Court trial was heard in public, and the case eventually went to the Hong Kong’s supreme court, the Court of Final Appeal. It has been the main catalyst for a heightened interest in responsible asset preservation planning in Hong Kong and Asia – and particularly in the use of Pre- and Post-nuptial agreements.

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