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Boris was right to sell London to legal tourists, says lawyer

London mayor Boris Johnson was right to appeal for billionaires’ wives to sue for divorce in London, according to a solicitor based in the capital.

21 November 2012

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“The justice system in this country is unequalled and we should be confident about selling it on the world stage,” said Simon Edwards, director and principal solicitor at Prolegal Solicitors.

“The UK is increasingly attractive to legal tourists because they know they can find highly specialised practitioners and expert judges in specialist courts. A decision from a UK court carries a global guarantee of impartiality, integrity and enforceability which is attractive to all parties in a dispute.”

Speaking yesterday (20 November 2012) at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, Johnson insisted the capital was the perfect place for “injured spouses” to take their wealthy other halves “to the cleaners”.

“I would never encourage anyone to sue, but if one oligarch feels defamed by another oligarch, it is London’s lawyers who apply the necessary balm to the ego,” said Johnson.

“I have no shame in saying to the injured spouses of the world’s billionaires if you want to take him to the cleaners... take him to the cleaners in London. Because London cleaners will be grateful for your business.”

Johnson focused on the wives of oligarchs because the provision on divorce for the financially weaker spouse is very generous in the English courts, believes Edwards.

“The judges in our jurisdiction have an extremely wide discretion when deciding how assets should be divided, which makes it particularly attractive to this type of client base,” he said.

“This is further strengthened by the equitable approach of our jurisdiction, where both parties must disclose documents that may favour the other party’s case, as well as supporting their own. This sends the message to the world that in our jurisdiction the playing field is fair and level.

“Despite the growth in UK legal tourism over the last decade, there is no room for complacency. The regulatory environment remains a major obstacle to the UK exporting our services to some foreign markets.

“Worldwide, competition for legal services is intensifying with New York, Stockholm, Paris, Geneva, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong all braced to compete with London and other UK jurisdictions to be the hub of legal expertise.

“It’s essential we continue to promote the messages of impartiality, integrity and enforceability as these are core to maintaining the UK’s pre-eminent status in the global market for legal services,” said Edwards.

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Legal services Family Tax & Wealth structuring