Throughout his career, Graeme has been motivated to engage with the wider profession and public discourse on family reform.
He was recently appointed to the Family Procedure Rule Committee (FPRC). The selection process is exceptionally rigorous, as members need to demonstrate not only a solid working knowledge of Court and administrative proceesses within the family jurisdiction, but also a commitment to valuing diversity and an understanding of the impact of the Family Procedure Rules and Practice Direction amendments.
He is also Chair of Resolution’s Cohabitation Committee and am serving the Resolution National Committee (NC) for a term of 7 years, working with colleagues to improve outcomes for families and children involved with the family justice system. This includes his role on the Family Law Reform Group, a sub-committee of the National Committee, with an agenda to promote and progress family law reform. He is also an immediate past member of the London Regional Committee where policy and practice issues were regularly discussed; including regular dialogue with leading judges, barristers and solicitors.
Graeme has contributed towards formulating Resolution’s response to various government consultation papers and discussing other policy issues. His committee work has involved contributing to the strategic direction of Resolution, often in relation to highly complex matters.
Resolution (2021) : Response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the rights of cohabiting couples launched by the Women and Equalities Committee.
For Family Law Reform Group (2017 to 2019): FPRC Calderbank consultation; Private Law Children; Public Law Consultation; Review of how the Courts treat parents and children in case of domestic abuse (Ministerial Statement); Resolution response to Reducing Family Conflict (Divorce Law Reform); Approach to Private Members Bills (a) Divorce (b) Divorce Financial Provision (c) Cohabitation Rights Bill; Resolution’s role and co-ordination with other organisations ; and Domestic Violence Evidence Requirements for Legal Aid
For Cohabitation Committee (2008 to 2019 and which I have chaired since 2015): Responses to government and other consultations in relation to Law Commission report in respect of proposed financial provision on death and intestacy; Government Consultation prior to introduction of Equal Civil Marriage; Lord Lester’s Cohabitation Bill; Matters arising from the Law Commission’s Report on Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown
Graeme’s practice comprises complex divorce and cohabitation matters, including transactional and litigation work, sometimes involving assets between £10M and £20M.
Over the past year, Graeme has worked on High Court litigation involving a highly successful property developer was successful in asserting an agreement reached in 2012 should be upheld to the extent that the claim made by his wife was limited to £600,000, roughly one tenth of the amount claimed, thereby saving him approximately £5M. Mr Justice Holman complimented the attention to the case by all the lawyers, including Graeme.
He has also worked on a case instructed by the Official Solicitor concerning a high earning spouse in the Central Family Court Remedies Unit. At trial, his client was awarded a considerable capital award as well as a joint lives maintenance order in the face of strenuous attempts to cap her award.
He was very recently involved in a one day CEDR style mediation focusing on the mechanics of sale in respect of a Cohabitation TOLATA property worth around £4M which resulted in settlement on all issues. The mediator described Graeme as one of the foremost family practitioners in cohabitation law.
Graeme has seen a notable increase in nuptial agreement transactions involving offshore trusts with international dimensions. He has also observed an upsurge in cohabitation agreements, with instructions coming not only locally, but also nationally. During the Pandemic, there has been an increase in older couples living together in bubbles who wish to enter into cohabitation agreements as a matter of asset protection and creating financial certainty.
LexisNexis Family Law Commentator of the Year Award in 2018 - Winner
LexisNexis Family Law Firm of the Year (London) 2020 - Shortlisted
In 2015, Graeme helped organise and chaired a national debate on Cohabitation Reform at the Law Society. Speakers included Mr Justice Potter, past President of the Family Division, Lord Marks, Baroness Deech and Jo Miles, lecturer at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Over 150 people attended, and included contributions from the floor from notable guests including Sir Paul Coleridge and Professor Rebecca Bailey-Harris.
In 2017, Graeme helped spearhead a campaign to raise cohabitation awareness, which was adopted at national and regional level, leading to regular mentions in Parliament and the news media. In recognition of the quality of my media commentary on topics relating to family law he was named as Family Law Commentator of the Year at the Lexis Nexis Family Law Awards in 2018.
His engagement with the profession has extended to working with the Law Society of Ireland and the Chair of its Family & Child Law Committee, Keith Walsh. He was able to deliver talks on Brexit and on the Divorce and Family Law processes in England and Ireland.
In May 2021, Graeme lectured at the Chartered Institute of Taxation on the impact of the automation of family law processes, and the anticipated adoption of artificial intelligence in the coming years, and how this may reduce the sizeable court backlogs.
Graeme works with barristers to deliver focused family law webinars on Cohabitation, Divorce and the Wider Family and Private Children Law, that have attracted interest from family law professionals nationwide. He has also regularly hosted and spoken at National Conference through biennial workshops.
Graeme is consultant editor and author for LexisPSL Family on cohabitation. Additionally, he is the editor of Resolution’s Cohabitation Claims, which was published in April 2020 and which assesses the complex concepts emerging from the case law relating to property claims by cohabitants. His work has helped develop the Cohabitation Agreement Precedents as an online tool widely available to Resolution members which enables Agreements to be simply and quickly prepared and in a cost efficient way.
Most recently, Graeme wrote a Chapter on Cohabitation for the Resolution Family Law Handbook published in the autumn of 2021. In the Foreward to the Handbook, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, describes the authors as “household names in their respective areas of work”.