Gavin Smith


A financial practitioner whose practice has a particular emphasis on cases concerning maintenance disputes and the enforcement of financial orders. Smith is further well regarded for his established arbitration practice. Strengths: "A really well-prepared, smooth advocate who is very clear in court."

Chambers and Partners 2021


Gavin Smith has nearly three decades’ experience as a specialist family law barrister, dealing with all types of financial remedy proceedings following relationship breakdown. In addition to his general practice, his main areas of expertise are: the international and domestic enforcement of maintenance orders (on which he has written widely); disputes concerning international jurisdiction and forum; financial applications for children under the Children Act 1989; drafting pre- and post-nuptial agreements, separation agreements and cohabitation agreements. He accepts Public Access instructions in suitable cases.

In parallel with his work as a barrister, Gavin has an established private dispute resolution practice as an arbitrator, private FDR judge and mediator. He was appointed a Deputy District Judge in March 2019 and has been authorised to sit in the Financial Remedies Courts in both the East and West Midlands zones, where he has been ‘ticketed’ to hear the more complex cases.

Gavin is described by Chambers and Partners as ‘well regarded for his well-established arbitration practice.’ He qualified as a family arbitrator at the outset of the IFLA family arbitration scheme in 2012. His arbitrations range from full final hearings, at which the parties are represented by counsel, to adjudications made on the basis of written evidence and submissions alone. He is co-founder of the award-winning website

Gavin was the arbitrator in three of the five cases involving the IFLA scheme to have been reported to date. In the landmark case of S v S [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam), Sir James Munby, the then President of the Family Division, endorsed the principles of the scheme and gave important guidance on how judges should deal with applications for court consent orders based on arbitration awards. After that arbitration one of the solicitors involved wrote “We agreed upon Gavin Smith as someone whose judgment and technical knowhow would deliver on [the] goals and whose personal skills would make it as benign an experience as possible.” (Resolution Review, March/April 2014).

In DB v DLJ [2016] EWHC 324 (Fam) Mostyn J rejected a challenge to Gavin’s award based on a supervening Barder event and / or mistake as to the value of a property. Mostyn J described the award as “a thorough, conscientious and clear piece of work. Its quality is a testament to the merit of opting for arbitration.”

In BC v BG [2019] EWFC 7, Deputy High Court Judge Clare Ambrose referred to Gavin as "a very experienced and respected family arbitrator" and stated: "He approached the parties’ dispute with great care, investigating the facts in an even-handed manner and applying the law with expertise, taking the same approach that a judge would have taken if the matter had gone to trial."

Gavin is available to undertake arbitrations of all kinds, from single issue disputes to those involving the full range of financial remedy claims, and from high value cases to ones where the parties’ resources are very modest. Details of his availability and fees may be obtained from his clerk James Collier at

Gavin is an experienced private FDR judge and has an established mediation practice. He is also a qualified collaborative lawyer. Gavin keeps up to date with legal change by co-editing the financial practitioners’ ‘bibles’, At A Glance and @eGlance, and co-authoring the Financial Remedies Practice (published annually). He has an excellent working knowledge of French and some German.


Financial remedies; private children work.

  • BC v BG [2019] EWFC 7: January 28, 2019 (as arbitrator)
  • DB v DLJ (financial provision: arbitral award)  [2016] EWHC 324 (Fam), [2016] 2 FLR 1308 [2016] 1 WLR 3319: February 24, 2016 (as arbitrator)
  • Vogel v Lothschütz [2014] EWHC 473 (QB), (QBD)(LTL 30/1/2014): January 24, 2014
  • S v S [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR 1257 [2014] 1 WLR 2299: January 14, 2014 (as arbitrator)
  • Gourisaria v Gourisaria [2010] EWCA Civ 1019,[2011] 1 FLR 262; August 13, 2010
  • NA v MA [2006] EWHC 2900 (Fam), [2007] 1 FLR 1760: November 24, 2006
  • TL v ML and others [2005] EWHC 2860 (Fam), [2006] 1 FLR 1263: December 09, 2005
  • Chorley v Chorley [2005] EWCA Civ 68, [2005] 2 FLR 38, CA: January 12, 2005
  • C v C (Brussels II: French conciliation and divorce proceedings) [2004] EWHC 1959 (Fam), [2005] 2 FLR 14: June 28, 2004
  • Mubarak v Mubarik [2004] EWHC 1158 (Fam), [2004] 2 FLR 932: May 14, 2004
  • Dharamshi v Dharamshi [2001] 1 FLR 736, CA: December 05, 2000
  • Roker International Properties Inc v Couvaras [2000] 2 FLR 976: August 17, 2000
  • Abdi v Jama [1996] 1 FLR 407, CA: May 25, 1995
  • At A Glance: Essential Tables for Financial Remedies (annual)
  • @eGlance
  • Financial Remedies Practice (annual)
  • Rayden and Jackson, 18th and 19th editions
  • Halsbury’s Laws of England, 4th edition reissue: Vol 29(3), Matrimonial Law
  • Enforcing Financial Orders in Family Proceedings

Family Law Bar Association; Resolution; Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; Forum of Family Arbitrators; Institute of Family Law Arbitrators.

  • Downside School
  • Oxford University

Chambers and Partners

"He's completely amazing on the detail of  a case, and his knowledge of the law is second to none."

Married with four children