Berwin Leighton Paisner
Berwin Leighton Paisner (Victor Dabrowa // Photographer)

The U.K.-based firm Berwin Leighton Paisner has launched a new family asset protection practice in both Hong Kong and London.

The practice is headed by Hong Kong partner Marcus Dearle, a family law litigator, and is part of the firm’s private client practice. The group advises high-net-worth clients on multijurisdictional pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cross-border matrimonial litigation and trust matters.

The team is made up of five lawyers in Hong Kong, including Dearle, and two lawyers in London, and will collaborate with private client lawyers. Dearle said they are currently looking to recruit an additional partner in London.

Dearle joined Berwin Leighton in 2016 from Withers, where he led the Asia practice from Hong Kong. He joined the private client boutique in London in 1990 and was named partner in 1995. He moved to Hong Kong in 2009.

In Hong Kong, Dearle famously represented lawyer Florence Tsang on her divorce from billionaire property heir Samathur Li. Tsang was initially awarded a $180 million settlement by the High Court of Hong Kong in 2011 but the Court of Appeal cut the award down to $53 million in 2014 after Li appealed.

Dearle said the practice would leverage on Berwin Leighton’s strength in real estate work and referred to the firm’s recent representation on the sale of the Cheesegrater as an example of marrying its high-net-worth individual practice with its real estate practice. In March, Berwin Leighton represented Hong Kong billionaire Cheung Chung-kiu’s C C Land Holdings Ltd. on its $1.5 billion acquisition of London’s Leadenhall Building, known as the Cheesegrater.

Earlier this month, U.K.’s Charles Russell Speechlys also launched its first Asian office in Hong Kong with the hire of family law litigator Jonathan Mok from Mayer Brown JSM.