Tunbridge Wells lawyers open a French connection
26th July 2019
A LOCAL law firm has set up shop in the South of France to help British ex-pats cope with the country’s archaic divorce laws.
Family lawyers Thomas Mansfield, based both in Calverley Road and on Mount Pleasant, opened the French office because the laws of divorce in the two countries differ so wildly.
Managing Partner Neill Thomas explained: “There’s a big difference between UK and French divorce law.
To begin with, in France children are automatically entitled to inherit property, so this brings up problems if a divorcing couple want to sell their house.”
He continued: “There’s also no right to spousal maintenance in France, which is why many people choose to file their divorce in English courts. But French lawyers do not know English law so they end up hiring a UK solicitor anyway. We are just making this process much simpler for people.”
He said the company began their South of France operation after they hired Kent family lawyer Anthony Kiernan, one of a handful of English lawyers who is a member of the French Bar Association.
“Anthony had an office already in the South of France,” explained Mr Thomas. “When he came to work for us he said he had had some good cases from ex-pats and suggested we take over the office.”
Mr Thomas said the company began a process of research and discovered there were more than 250,000 British ex-pats living in the South of France.
“Mainly, these people are fairly affluent and own their own property, so they are our target market, and this convinced us to take over the practice,” he explained.
The office space is rented from French advocates Alvarez & Arlabosse, with whom Anthony Kiernan has had a long association, but it is run by Neill Thomas and his team in Tunbridge Wells.
The practice, which is located in Frejus, opened earlier this month and is already proving popular with British people living in the region who face the unhappy prospect of a marriage breakdown.
“It is going so well that we are planning on opening a similar practice in Spain next year, and the year after that we are looking to Dubai,” Mr Thomas added.