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About Manches LLP

Manches is highly regarded for its expertise in family law and litigation and has been visible in a number of high-profile divorce trials.  The firm is also acclaimed for its work in intellectual property, together with real estate, retail and commercial technologies in London, and publishing, life sciences and IT in Oxford and Reading.

Keeping it in the family

Founded in 1936 in London by Sidney Manches, the practice was first operated out of a single room.  Sidney began practicing with his wife, Judith, and the two were the first husband and wife to head a law firm in partnership: perhaps ironic considering the number of divorces the firm has advised on to date.  In 1982, Peter Angel opened the firm’s Oxford office, which he runs to this day, and in 1990, the firm’s London office took up its current residence in Aldwych House.  The latest office opening, in Reading, took place in May 2008.  While the firm did accelerate its growth through the acquisition of four smaller firms, it primarily sticks to organic growth in its core practice areas.

Love hurts

Manches stands out primarily for its lauded work on family and private client matters, where it frequently works on high-profile, high-value matters.  The firm has won some of the largest divorce settlements in the UK.  For example, the firm represented Beverly Charman in her divorce from insurance tycoon John Charman in 2007, which resulted in a £48 million settlement—the largest payout to a wife in a divorce case in UK history.  The partner who secured this settlement, Helen Ward (christened “the grande dame of divorce†by the Evening Standard), quickly moved on to represent pop icon Madonna’s husband, Guy Ritchie, in another celebrity divorce case.  While many thought the divorce would become another media-flayed tug-of-war over marital assets, within a matter of months Ward had secured a £50 million settlement for Ritchie.

So well regarded is Manches’ divorce capability, particularly thanks to Ward’s celebrated wins, that the firm managed to snatch what is likely to be the biggest divorce settlement in history from the hands of rival firm Withers LLP.  Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, whose fortune is estimated at £2.4 billion, switched from Withers partner Mark Harper to Manches’ Helen Ward in late 2008.

A surge in divorce enquiries in September 2008 led Manches to bolster its family practice, adding eight new associates.  Half of the group trained at Manches, while the other half were hired from other firms.

Lack of work means ... more work?

Manches took on a new head of employment in December 2008, bringing Tom Walker on board. Walker was previously a partner at litigation specialists Colemans. Specialising in sex discrimination and covenants in restraint of trade, Walker has also worked on a number of whistle-blowing claims.

Walker’s expertise may be especially welcome in this economic environment. His appointment came as unemployment figures climbed to their highest-ever levels in the UK. According to Legal Week, Walker noted, “I expect to see tougher litigation and tribunals as people who are made redundant will no longer be able to rely on finding new employment in the future.â€

Rebuilding the ranks

Manches may be doing brisk business in family law, employment law and litigation, but the global slump in corporate work has made itself felt. In March 2009, the firm laid off 10 people, primarily from the corporate practice, including fee earners and support staff.

Two weeks later, the firm suffered another blow when family partner Debbie Chism defected to the litigation boutique Stewarts Law. She was soon joined by two more Manches lawyers, including Clive Zietman, former head of the firm’s commercial litigation and arbitration group. In the wake of their departure, Manches announced that it will create a new, dedicated litigation practice, pooling the resources of its litigation teams in technology, property and commercial litigation.

Manches LLP

Aldwych House
81 Aldwych
London WC2B 4RP
Phone: +44 (0)20 7404 4433

Firm Stats

Chairperson: Jane Simpson

Major Office Locations

London, United Kingdom
Reading, United Kingdom
Oxford, United Kingdom