We believe it is of utmost importance to provide you with as much useful information as possible to assist you through the divorce process in Hong Kong. This includes information on the matrimonial experts in Hong Kong and the services they provide to support you through your divorce.
It is for this reason we are starting a new feature series called Spotlight Feature. In Spotlight Feature, we will be interviewing key individuals and law firms with experience and expert knowledge in matrimonial law in Hong Kong. We hope these feature articles will provide you with useful information and excellent resources for your divorce journey.
In our first Spotlight Feature, we focus on Oldham, Li and Nie (“OLN”), a well-known Hong Kong law firm established in 1987 by Founder Gordon Oldham. The firm is located in St. George’s Building in Hong Kong’s central business district and has a team of nearly 40 lawyers.
OLN services range from corporate and commercial law, to employment and intellectual property law. OLN also has a highly regarded divorce and family law practice headed by Partner Stephen Peaker. Stephen’s team focuses on matrimonial disputes, children issues, ancillary relief and pre and post-nuptial agreements.
To discuss the firm’s matrimonial practice, we met with Gordon Oldham the Senior Partner and Founder of OLN, who besides having a heavy commercial practice also deals extensively on matrimonial matters, especially on their financial aspects.
Q: Mr. Oldham, thank you for taking the time to speak with hongkongdivorce.com. Can you tell me more about yourself and your background?
A: I am British and have been practicing law in Hong Kong for 40 years. I was originally with a larger firm but subsequently established OLN in 1987. In the past 30 years OLN has carved out a space in litigation practice which of course includes matrimonial law. It also has its focus on commercial aspects which of course for people living in Hong Kong is a very real consideration. Regretfully the main focus of divorce proceedings is on the financial and commercial aspects. We have created what I believe is rather unique in Hong Kong i.e. a business department where we have a number of qualified accountants and lawyers, who have showed themselves invaluable when considering the parties’ finances and unlocking value and location of assets. Regretfully most lawyers still have trouble reading a balance sheet and a lot of this forensic work in the past has been farmed out (at great expense to clients) to outside accountants). We believe in keeping it in-house and developing expertise within our own team.
Q: You have such a unique set of skills and expertise which you bring to your firm. So let’s talk about OLN. Why do you think your firm is considered to be one of the leading matrimonial law firms in Hong Kong?
A: As I mentioned above, we do have a unique set of skills in so far as the commercial aspects are concerned. We would like to think that no other matrimonial team possesses such in-house expertise. The matrimonial department is headed by Partner Stephen Peaker who has been practicing matrimonial law for almost 30 years. Stephen has a great deal of experience in cross-border matrimonial issues which is of course very often the case in Hong Kong since there are so many expatriates. The first question is always – do I divorce here in Hong Kong or in my own country? Stephen is also a member of the Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers which means that the matrimonial department works with family law experts across the world and has developed a strong reputation in such regard. I believe it is our work ethic and our values. We also believe that life is complicated enough when it comes to divorce with the emotional baggage, stress and worry that this brings, the last thing that a wife or husband needs is a pedantic academic lawyer with little or no empathy, who regards the matter as just another case. This attitude is endemic in Hong Kong especially with lawyers who have been doing it all their life, and so acknowledging and working on this empathy and relating to the parties is all important. Lawyers need to be strong for their clients but they also need to be aware of the human side.
OLN’s matrimonial team is uniquely dedicated to each and every client. Each case is tailored to an individual’s unique circumstances and each member of our team is sensitive to the struggles each client is going through yet also understanding the need to be aggressive when necessary to achieve the desired result for our clients.
Q: What do you think makes OLN stand out from the other matrimonial law firms in Hong Kong?
A: The matrimonial team spirit is in line with OLN’s vision and dedication to service which for us means, on time and no excuses. This means that our matrimonial team is dedicated to an individual’s case as if it were the only one at our firm. This is especially important in matrimonial law because the clients are individuals going through a very difficult and challenging time and these individuals need attention and assistance in walking through each step of the divorce process. The individual care and concern our partners and associates have for their clients is what makes us stand out, not to mention the expertise and experience our partners and associates bring to each and every case.
Q: What advice would you give to an individual going through a divorce in Hong Kong?
A: First and foremost, don’t panic. The whole divorce process can be rather challenging so keep your lawyer informed of everything throughout the divorce process so they are not caught by surprise. There are no dumb questions so don’t be afraid to ask these questions of your lawyer and get precise and clear answers. Always know what this is going to cost. Too many lawyers are happy to just roll on working for a wife or a husband and then at the end present a big whopping bill. Others when acting for the wife sometimes suggest that – it doesn’t matter; your husband is paying for this. The problem is that all of these legal costs come out of the matrimonial pot, so keep costs at the forefront of your mind at all times and do not be shy about it.
Don’t forget that the whole process is rather daunting and calls for staying power because there will be times when you just want to give up and get it over with. That is only human and this is the time when you need to lean on your lawyer. I used to do a lot of marathons and the divorce process is more or less the same, it will be tiring but more importantly it will come to an end. Moving house, a death in the family and divorce are certainly some of the more emotional experiences but thankfully they come and occur very rarely so find a lawyer whose hand you can hold and rely on to get the job done.
Q: What are the common difficulties your clients have faced in the past in divorce proceedings?
A: As I have said a divorce is emotionally draining but I have to say it is more or less like a commercial transaction. By that I mean that it’s a step by step process of separating finances and figuring out new arrangements with respect to children, access, financial support and other key issues in a divorce . As we know, all decisions are based on emotion. It is only afterwards that we find some other justification for our actions. Humans are great at finding reasons for any of their decisions! We will never separate these emotions, but what we can do is get to a place where we treat the whole process as a job and focus on the individual steps that need to be taken to resolve issues without too much scarring on the heart or long-term emotional damage.
Well it is often the case that wives have absolutely no idea about the financial background to the marriage and have no idea as to what can be expected in the future. I believe that is where OLN lead because of our ability to rationally assess the financial picture and make recommendations which are economically justifiable.
Q: What is the best way for someone interested in your services to get in touch with you?
A: If someone is interested in our services, they can easily call us at +852 2868 0696 and set up an appointment for a consultation with one of the leading matrimonial solicitors from our matrimonial department. Individuals can also stop by our offices. We are located at Suite 503, 5/F, St. George’s Building, 2 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong. Enquiries can also be sent to [email protected] and we will point you to the right solicitor for your individual needs.
Q: Thank you again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to us!
A: My pleasure- I love what you are doing-bringing the law to us all and getting rid of the mystery!