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Supporting & protecting vulnerable clients

Mental Health and Family Breakdown

Mental Health and Family Breakdown


In the first of its kind, dozens of family lawyers have collaborated with psychologists, psychiatrists, academics and others to provide guidance for family law practitioners up and down the country on how to identify and support those involved in relationship breakdown who are struggling with their mental health.

This initiative would not have been possible without the support of Dr Jonathan Iliff (Psyke/NHS), Dr Emma Jones (Sheffield University), Sheena Cassidy Hope (Mishcon de Reya), Jonathan Edgeley (Montrose Health); together with Nick Manners, Kelly Gerrard, Luke Scarratt, Kate Edgington and the leadership of Ben Parry-Smith at Payne Hicks Beach.

The entire family department is proud to support this initiative.


We would to thank the Mindful Business Charter, Resolution members, lay clients, Independent Social Workers, mental health professionals and the following family law specialists for their support and contributions in the consultation process: Mishcon de Reya, Burness Paull, Charles Russell Speechlys, Dawson Cornwell, Farrer & Co., Forsters, Harbottle & Lewis, Peters May, Stewarts, 1GC, 1KBW,  29 Bedford Row, 1 Hare Court.

We would like to welcome our partners in joining us today: Support Through Court and Parents Promise.

With thanks to Assurety for their support towards today’s launch reception.

View our resources

Meet the Panel

Ben Parry-Smith: Partner, Payne Hicks Beach

Ben does family law because he cares about fairness, families and the children affected by relationship breakdown. He also enjoys the intellectual challenges: whether tackling trusts, difficult valuation issues or complex medical evidence. Oxford educated, Mishcon trained and Shackleton honed; Ben advises on all aspects of family law as calmly, clearly and cheerfully as possible: children, divorce/civil partnership, co-habitation, pre/post nuptial agreements, complex financial disputes and jurisdictional issues. Much of his work has an international element. Ben is described as “sharp and thoughtful, with an inventive mind which looks for and finds creative but positive solutions to the cases that he is involved in.”

He has dealt with abductions, the relocation of children and on matters involving same-sex parents. Ben has experience of dealing with cases where decision-making capacity is an issue and often acts in cases involving trusts (for beneficiaries, claimants or the trustees themselves).

Ben has worked on the leading case involving “special contribution”, as part of the team representing HRH Princess Haya and recently on a case where his client received far more than half the substantial marital pot to meet her needs. He has a broad practice and experience at all court levels. He is one of a handful of lawyers doing heavy weight financial and complex children work. He has considerable experience addressing domestic abuse of all types and in obtaining injunctions. Ben is familiar with Sharia family law concepts. Over the years, he has acted for all sorts of people in all sorts of predicaments from all over the world.


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Meet the Panel

Sir Robert Buckland KC MP: Consultant, Payne Hicks Beach.

Sir Robert Buckland KC MP was Lord Chancellor of Great Britain for over two years and served as HM Solicitor General for nearly five years prior to that.

He has over twenty-five years’ experience in practice at the Bar, both at the self-employed Bar and later as a Law Officer. As Lord Chancellor, he was responsible for landmark reforms of Sentencing Law, Domestic Abuse Law and Divorce Law in England and Wales, and has immense direct experience both as a Bill Minister and as a backbencher in the development, scrutiny and passage of legislation through Parliament, including justice, constitutional law and national security legislation. He therefore has huge experience of criminal, constitutional and public law both as practitioner and law maker.

For nearly twenty years from the early 1990s, practising in Swansea and then Cardiff, after initial practice in general common law, Robert specialised in criminal ligation, most notably drugs offences, proceeds of crime and child sexual abuse, rising to be a Grade 4 CPS Prosecutor and member of the Attorney General’s A List of Prosecuting Counsel. He was junior prosecution counsel in a wide range of cases from murder to conspiracy to defraud and health and safety. He had a busy defence practice, regularly conducting work as a Leading Defence Junior in complex drugs conspiracies. He has extensive experience in defending sexual abuse cases, including child sexual abuse and was often a led defence junior in murders and other complex cases. He took silk in 2014.

During Roberts time as HM Solicitor General he advised the Government on legal issues relating to all proposed legislation, and on issues that required Law Officer input (ie inter-departmental issues); granted consents to many CPS and SFO prosecutions and Contempt of Court proceedings, made High Court referrals for the reopening of Inquests and reviewed thousands of Crown Court sentences as part of the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme, personally conducting over 40 cases in the Court of Appeal. He was responsible for the approval or otherwise of Nolle Prosequi applications, Pardons and Royal Charters. He superintended the work of the CPS, the SFO and the Government Legal Department.

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Meet the Panel

Nick Manners: Partner, Payne Hicks Beach

Nick is a specialist family lawyer who focuses on all areas of family law, including issues arising from divorce, cohabitation and the financial consequences of a relationship breakdown. He also regularly advises on children disputes involving contact, residence and relocation (including international relocation), as well as pre and post-nuptial agreements. He works for a variety of high net worth and ultra high net worth clients on both contentious and non-contentious matters, including those with a complex international angle. He also has experience of advising clients upon the breakdown of civil partnerships and Inheritance Act claims.

Nick has been involved in a number of high profile and reported cases at both first instance and the Court of Appeal, and has been quoted in national media (The Times, Daily Mail), on family law matters.

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Meet the Panel

Dr Emma Jones: Senior Lecturer in Law & Director of Student Wellbeing for the School of Law at Sheffield University

I joined the Sheffield University Law School in January 2020. I am currently chairing the modules Remedies in Private Law, Digital Lawyering (undergraduate) and Legal Tech and Lawyering in the Digital Age (postgraduate). I also teach on the Law of Obligations. I am also Director of Student Wellbeing for the School of Law.

Prior to joining Sheffield, I worked at The Open University Law School for five years as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer. During my time there I was the director of my faculty’s scholarship centre and one of the founders of the Open Justice Centre. My last role was as Law School Teaching Director.

Before moving into academia I was a solicitor in private practice, specialising in construction law. I also taught in the further education sector.

My research interests focus on the role of emotions and wellbeing in legal education and the legal profession and I have conducted a range of empirical work on these topics, as well as writing from a theoretical perspective.

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Meet the Panel

Jonathan Edgeley: Global behavioural health expert and CEO of Montrose Health

Jonathan Edgeley, is a global behavioural health expert, speaker, and navigator, who compassionately guides individuals, and families through times of change.

Jonathan and his multi disciplinary team of doctors, clinicians, coaches, and therapeutic teachers provide a hyper personal, and discreet health and wellness service to celebrities, executives, sports professionals and medium to ultra high net worth individuals and families. Jonathan is on a mission to further reduce the stigma and negative connotation that mental health and addiction conjure up. By softening the language used ‘my team and I are moving away from traditional terms to a more compassionate and inclusive dialect’.

Through crafting, soul nourishing experiences, individual guests immerse themselves in hyper personalised programmes ‘we change one life at a time, on a cellular and spiritual level’. Through his own journey of battling addiction, Jonathan has made his passion his purpose helping transform the lives of many people to live a life without limitation.

I have been instrumental in the design and build of two UK based, bespoke mental health and addiction providers. Today, I am the founder of Montrose Health Group who provide, luxury healing retreats, sober living and health concierge. We have Eleven Recovery as our community based drug and alcohol treatment service located in Sheffield.

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Meet the Panel

Sheena Cassidy Hope: Knowledge Lawyer and Partner at Mischon de Reya

Sheena is a Partner, Knowledge Lawyer in the Family department, as part of Mishcon Private. She provides training and technical support to the department and acts as in house counsel.

Sheena practised at the independent Bar for 17 years before joining Mishcon de Reya. She has significant experience in complex financial remedy cases, private law Children Act applications, nuptial agreements and cohabitant disputes. She has further experience in cases in which there are concurrent investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Sheena has represented private individuals, receivers and government agencies.

Sheena is also a member of the Family Law Bar Association and the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association.

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Meet the Panel

Dr Jonathan Iliff: Medical doctor, Professional Public Speaker and Founder of PSYKE Wellness Consultancy

Dr Jonathan Iliff is a medical doctor in the NHS, with a background in neuroscience and mental health. Jonathan was the founder and chair of the UCL Society for the Application of Psychedelics and is specialising in psychiatry at the prestigious Maudsley Hospital and Trust in South London. His research has focused on the use of psychedelic compounds but today his focus is science communication and his clinical work – focussing on helping people, and their problems, in the here and now.

Jonathan is in his element talking about mental health and the brain. He believes that in our modern world many of our greatest pains are mental. His mission is to stoke conversation about health and mental health, change attitudes that persist in even the most tolerant parts of our society, and encourage innovation to improve the lives of the millions of people that suffer directly and indirectly from mental health disorders.

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Meet the Panel

Andy Hobbs Chief Operating Officer, Performance Psychologist, Witness Training & Preparation at Assurety

Read more about Assurety


Informal peer review document

Produced and completed by Ben Parry-Smith

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Vulnerable Clients Guide for Legal Professionals

Produced by Psyke in collaboration with Payne Hicks Beach

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Wellbeing for Legal Professionals when dealing with vulnerable clients

Produced by Dr Emma Jones of Sheffield University

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Vulnerable clients Survival Guide

Produced by Montrose Health Group in collaboration with Payne Hicks Beach

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Vulnerable clients: some considerations from a regulatory perspective

Produced by Mischon De Reya in collaboration with Payne Hicks Beach

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At Risk of Suicide: Information for professionals working within the court system

Produced by Family Justice Council

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When Parents Separate: Getting it Right for the Children

Produced by Tavistock Relationships

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Vulnerable client escalation policy

Developed by Kelly Gerrard, Legal Director at Payne Hicks Beach

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Meeting the needs of Vulnerable Clients

Written by the Law Society

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