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June 22, 2016updated 05 Aug 2016 4:59pm

Charmaine Hast

By Spear's

‘Amazing,’ Hast says about the year so far, crediting a surge in high-value divorces as more Russian, American, and French clients seek her skills.

A veteran of big-money divorce for over 35 years in South Africa and London, Hast is highly regarded among peers. A QC calls her ‘an outstanding practitioner, hard as nails when it counts, soft as a feather when needed’, while another says she is ‘astute and fiercely intelligent’.

A chartered arbitrator, she was a partner at a leading law firm in Durban for fourteen years before moving to England, where she headed a leading family law unit in the South East. She joined Wedlake Bell in 2011 and now heads the family department that she established.

Gone are the days when a high-flying HNW could rely on bullish market conditions to recoup their losses: ‘They would say, “We can earn another five or ten million each year and remake the capital we’re losing,”’ she says. ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or a banker… they don’t have that [kind of money] any more. The economy is so uncertain.’

Forum shopping may still be the daily ‘bread and butter’ of family law, says Hast, but in the end the English court still provides ‘huge security and huge fairness… It’s the pinnacle of justice, really’.

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