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James Stewart, Partner at Penningtons Manches
Areas of expertise: Family law, Private wealth


In the words of a leading KC, ‘James Stewart is undoubtedly one of the leaders in family law globally. Not only is he highly respected by his peers, he is loved by his clients and has amazing interpersonal skills in the most difficult of situations’.

James is an international family lawyer, arbitrator and collaborative lawyer. He is top ranked in family law: band 1 in Chambers UK and Chambers HNW, and admitted to The Legal 500’s Hall of Fame. He is also featured in the Tatler Address Book, and Spear’s Magazine describes him as ’one of the most visible faces in UK family law’.

Dual-qualified in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and a Resolution-accredited specialist family lawyer, James is a recognised authority in complex international high net worth cases and has a significant reputation in the entertainment and music industries, having acted in a number of high-profile celebrity divorces.

A Fellow, former Governor, and Parliamentarian of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), since 2011 he has been general editor of the definitive comparative guide to international family law, Family Law: A Global Guide (Thomson Reuters, 6th edition, 2023). In September 2021, Ulster University recognised James’ commitment to international family law, inviting him to become a visiting professor. He is one of a small group of leading family lawyers, KCs and senior judges who serve on the family law consultation board of Practical Law.

James has acted in many ground-breaking family law cases including Clibbery v Allan [2002], to date the only family case to go to the Court of Appeal on the issue of privacy and press reporting. He is a former Times ‘Lawyer of the Week’ following what was the first case in British legal history where a judge was persuaded to refer a family law dispute to a religious court. He ‘shines in complex cases that need strategic vision, diligent execution and a motivated, able team’.

James co-chairs the Annual Legal Dinner which has become one of the leading social events in London’s legal calendar and which raises funds for the leading peace building charity, Co-operation Ireland.

Recent work highlights

  • Successfully acting for the husband in a significant international case, IR v OR [2022] EWHC 20, involving family wealth and complex trusts and business structures.
  • Successfully acting for a Middle Eastern family office in the widely reported case of NN v AS and Others (Part III MFPA: financial remedies: family wealth: joinder of third parties) [2018] EWHC 2973, where family property worth in excess of £8 million was recovered.
  • Acting for the wife in negotiating a successful outcome to a complex Anglo-Malaysian case which involved assets in numerous jurisdictions and where the primary asset was an internationally known corporation. This was settled on a confidential basis without the need for a final court hearing.
  • In May 2022 James co-chaired a three-day IAFL European Chapter education programme in Athens. In June 2023, James presented at IAFL’s Asia-Pacific Chapter meeting in Bangkok on ‘Marriage-like relationships in the Asia-Pacific and beyond’. He has previously chaired family law conferences in Stuttgart and Moscow.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP