Top Five Barristers
Peers attest that the bar’s ‘go-to children silk’ is quick to put clients at ease with his ‘down-to-earth and diplomatic’ approach. Alex Verdan’s ‘powerful and eloquent’ advocacy skills have also won him praise from a celebrity client base: he achieved a successful result for Guy Ritchie after a tough nine-month custody battle with Madonna to keep their son Rocco in London.
Relocation cases are the most difficult to settle, the amiable Verdan tells Spear’s, as there’s no possible compromise: ‘Either they go to New York or they don’t go to New York — you can’t really say, “Well, why don’t you go as far as the Azores or Madeira.” It doesn’t really work like that.’
His clients’ biggest concern is being excluded after separation. But Verdan notes a move towards shared care in judgements, when the best a husband could hope for previously was ‘alternative weekends’ with the child.
‘The courts are much more willing now to look creatively at the sharing of arrangements,’ he says. ‘That’s something that obviously fathers are very keen on, and sometimes mothers are less keen on — that’s what we’re often fighting about now.’
The head of chambers at 4PB, who is the only children law arbitrator who also sits as a judge in the High Court, is pleased that children arbitrations have now taken off in England. ‘It’s a slow take-up but it’s a real option in the future,’ he says.