Head of Chambers
MA (Cantab) Christ’s College, Cambridge
George Coates specialises in financial remedies in divorce proceedings and related family financial disputes. He deals with cases involving substantial assets; valuation of businesses and minority shareholdings in private companies; partnerships and LLP’s; family trusts; pensions; undisclosed assets and conduct (eg serious violence or dissipation of assets).
George deals with disputes over company valuations and has a good working relationship with several forensic accountants to assist him on more thorny issues, whether as shadow or expert witnesses. He is well acquainted with the need to consider all the possible options when the Court is dealing with illiquid assets and to find a commercial solution: see his article “Sharing the Golden Goose”.
His practice is in both the Central Family Court and local Family Courts county courts with some cases in the High Court. Recent cases in which he has been led by a QC have involved: assets worth up to £25m; serious violence/conduct dispute; variation of offshore trusts. Other cases involved shareholdings/options in companies engaged in a merger or takeover; an inter-generational family business run as an LLP; family trusts with discretionary beneficiaries; difficult valuations of commercial and private properties.
He has appeared in proceedings in the Cayman Islands. Other recent cases include offshore trusts and companies in Gibraltar and The Seychelles. He is able to produce detailed Duxbury calculations for use in large money cases and a particular area of practice is financial claims under sch.1 of the Children Act 1989 (claims between unmarried parents). He has written articles and lectured on this topic which often involves parallel disputes as to ownership under TOLATA.
George is happy to undertake cases in which the assets are more modest and the question of the parties’ needs dominate the agenda, providing detailed and practical guidance so that the case stands the very best chance of resolution at an early stage before legal costs eat into the precious resources.
George frequently advises on the Child Support Act 1991 and has conducted a number of cases before the Appeal Tribunal as well as lecturing in this area. He sits as a judge of the Social Security and Child Support Appeal Tribunal and also acts in care proceedings and private law children disputes, including non-accidental injury, shaken baby syndrome, serious mental illness, child/adult rape and drug dealing/abuse. Often these involve extensive medical as well as legal research.
He has substantial experience in property matters extending to co-ownership disputes under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, misrepresentation, fraud and estoppel. He is a member of Chambers’ Education Law team and has advised parents and schools on school admissions issues, and on challenging Local Authority policies in this area.
- Re B (children) (expert evidence)  All ER (D) 244;  EWCA Civ 464; LTL 15/3/2005 CA – guidance on appointment of experts in children cases.
- Re M (Minors) (2001) EWCA 1314 – residential assessments in care proceedings.
- R v Nelson & Rose (1998) 2 Cr App R 399 CA – breaches of PACE during interview in serious drugs importation case.
- Hellyer v Hellyer (1996) 2 FLR 579 CA (preliminary stages) – leading case on bankruptcy in ancillary relief proceedings.
- South Eastern Circuit
- Family Law Bar Association
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