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Sir Nicholas Mostyn bids farewell to the Bench

Wednesday, 2nd August 2023, Jamie Lennox, Today's Family Lawyer

Sir Nicholas Mostyn has officially said goodbye to the Bench with last Friday marking his final day in the courtroom.

The esteemed High Court judge – who recently turned 66 and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s – also enjoyed a magnificent career as a silk, having been involved with high-profile cases such as White v White and Radmacher v Granatino.

He was also instructed in numerous high profile cases involving Sir Paul McCartney, Ray Parlour, and others. Indeed, his reputation for winning vast sums for ex-wives in divorce cases saw him nicknamed Mr Payout by the national press.

It is no surprise, therefore, that he was frequently referred to as the top divorce lawyer in the land, with his £500-per-hour rate coming to light in a wonderful 2007 Observer interview, “Mostyn Powers”. Lynn Barber wrote:

“It is a mark of his fame that ‘consulting Nicholas Mostyn’ has become almost journalistic shorthand for ‘is expecting a huge payout’.He seemed so much the champion of divorcees that Observer Woman magazine voted him number 31 in its top 50 poll of men who understand women.”

The full interview is a brilliant peak into the character of Mr Payout, which also shines through in recent coverage of the “Movers and Shakers” podcast. Here, Mostyn is joined by four others with Parkinson’s, not least Jeremy Paxman. Tim Adams wrote:

“Mostyn was telling an involved and amusing story about something that had been said after hours at a lawyerly dinner, and Paxman was punctuating this lively performance with trademark sneers. ‘Oh, Christ,’ he muttered in despair, ‘is this a legal joke?’ And then, when Mostyn was still giggling roundly at his own punchline, there was the growled rejoinder: ‘Oh, do f*ck off, judge…’.”

Of course, Mostyn also had a stellar career on the High Court Bench, shaping the development of family law through numerous high-profile decisions which displayed his exceptional understanding of family law, many of which were recently touched upon by former President of the Family Division Sir James Munby in the Financial Remedies Journal. His role in the creation of the Financial Remedies Courts, his advisory position at the Law Commission, and his Chairmanship of the Family Law Bar Association are just some of his other numerous achievements. His work will continue to influence family law, judges, and practitioners alike in years to come.

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