The internet has enabled people to conduct their own pre-divorce research — a mixed blessing, says Collins: ‘People will come in and tell you twenty points and three of them are relevant from a legal point of view.’ Without professional detachment, it can all lead to a ‘terrible mess’: ‘You’ve got people cross-examining partners — that’s madness, isn’t it?’
An experienced cross-border operator, Collins advises on all aspects of family law, including divorce, separation agreements and financial matters. He advises cohabiting couples and civil partners and is experienced in relocation cases and claims against offshore trusts (speaking fluent French and German helps). He also has niche knowledge of pet custody issues, which is important as some relationship breakdowns hinge ‘more on the pet than on the money’, he says.
Clients laud the ‘absolute professionalism and authoritative approach’ of Collins, a former advertising man who joined Charles Russell in 1994. He is ‘above all a compassionate, caring, friendly and sympathetic human being’, says one peer. Another praises his ‘wisdom and sense of humour’. It helps to be a natural: ‘You are a family lawyer, or you’re not — I think it’s genetic.’
Away from work, Collins is a keen painter who also enjoys skiing, doing up houses and
‘all things Italian’.