"Don't get even ... get Tooth"

Synonymous with divorce and family law is Raymond Tooth, who has been qualified as a solicitor in excess of 50 years. Rarely will he come across a case which causes him surprise as he has, literally, seen it all.

Raymond Tooth & Co was Mr Tooth’s prodigy from 1977, later becoming Sears Tooth in 1982. The firm continues to attract renowned legal cases to this day. However, the practice readily embraces clients from all walks of life. The firm handles a plethora of family disputes, including divorce and matrimonial finance, claims under Part III of the MFPA 1984, enforcement for non-payment of orders, private children matters, Schedule 1 claims and domestic violence protective injunctions.

Dubbed as “Jaws” owing to his tenacious approach in handling his cases, opponents will resort to extreme lengths to block him from handling their spouse’s claims, otherwise known as “beauty parading”. That was the case in ZS v FS [2017] EWHC 2660 (Fam) whereby the husband attempted to debar Mr Tooth on grounds of his having already met with his accomplice and having imparted with confidential information which would cause a conflict if acting for the wife– yet, it was found that the husband had in fact retained his then solicitors to act on his behalf before meeting with Mr Tooth, which led to the court agreeing he could continue to represent the wife.

Despite the firm’s relatively small size, their cases are often reported, including the prominent Miller v Miller House of Lords case. Sears Tooth created the deed of assignment known as the “Sears Tooth Agreement” which enabled those without financial resources to pay legal costs, to enter into a binding document protecting them and the solicitors in being represented and paid at the end of the dispute although that is no longer usually necessary in view of the legal services funding by institutions.

Early Career

Prior to his career in law, Raymond thought he might be an actor.  His aunt was Lilli Palmer who was married to Rex Harrison, and his mother was an actress. However, he became a lawyer after being invited to climb Petit Mont Blanc in Switzerland. On the way back the host said that it was normal to share the expense. He handed Raymond a bill for £29 which was far more than he had.

Raymond said he would have to arrange for payment and then wrote a very diplomatic letter saying if he had known that he would have had to politely decline his invitation but that he would sort it out very shortly.  He sent a copy to his father who said ‘You’re a born lawyer’, and so Raymond became a lawyer from simply climbing a mountain!  He attended the Dragon School in Oxford, Kings School in Canterbury and University College in Oxford. He qualified in 1966 as a solicitor.

Horse racing and fine art

Outside of work, Raymond is an avid art collector and race horse owner. Significant wins include the Champion Hurdle in 2009, Fighting Fifth Hurdle in 2008, Punchestown Champion Hurdle in 2008 and the Ballymore Properties Champion Hurdle in 2007, the Cheveley Park Stakes and the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.


Sears Tooth acted for the husband in the ‘special contributions’ case.

Read more>> XW v XH [2017] EWFC 76

Application made by husband in divorce proceedings for an order that his wife s solicitor be debarred from acting for her in the proceedings. This case concerns an application made by the husband, Mr S, for an order that his wife s solicitor be debarred from acting for her in ongoing proceedings. The wife, Mrs S, was represented by Raymond Tooth of Sears Tooth solicitors. 

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Application by father to remove his two sons to live with him in Switzerland. Application was granted but, due to the highly exceptional nature of these proceedings, a costs order was also made against the father. 

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We represented Nicole Appleton in financial remedy proceedings. Owing to the high profile nature of the parties, they were keen to exclude the press. The Press intervened and the case came before Mr Justice Mostyn to adjudicate on the ability of the press to report ancillary relief proceedings. Mr Justice Mostyn s judgement also provided a review of all of the salient authorities. 

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This case involved the legal funding for the Mother in a Schedule 1 case and the principles that are to be applied. An order was made for payment to her for both of historic and prospective costs through a Legal Service Payment Order in Schedule 1 and Section 8 Children Act 1989 Proceedings.

We acted for the Wife in relation to Financial Remedy Proceedings in which neither spouse wanted a Pension Sharing Order. Both sought equality of asset division overall with a clean break. The High Court decided that the correct approach to pension offsetting should be based upon Duxbury calculations as opposed to sums required to purchase an annuity to generate an equivalent income to a pension. This matter is currently the leading case on pensions and many experts have commented on it including the Law Gazette, Tanfield Chambers and Lexus Nexus.

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We acted for the Wife, opposing the Husband s appeal against enforcement of a 2m arrears order and committal orders and his subsequent application downwardly to vary child maintenance of 270k per annum. The Husband maintained he had few assets and no income and was under house arrest in Israel. Assets included a French property held through a company with a complex tax structure and a myriad of off-shore trusts. The Court of Appeal dismissed the Husband s appeals, heavily criticising him. We then negotiated a settlement to capitalise the child maintenance at 2m on the basis that the judgment would not be released by the Court of Appeal if the Husband paid the 2m and the other debts owed by him in full and final settlement of all of the wife s claims. This was a novel approach that required the cooperation of the Court of Appeal. The Husband did not comply with the further order and the judgment has now been released. This case is important showing as it does the importance of being creative in achieving resolution and a final settlement figure for the Wife which she can seek to enforce without concern that the Husband might reapply for a downward variation of her child s child maintenance during her minority. 

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We acted for the Wife and applied for a mandatory interlocutory injunction under CPR to require the Husband to pay 8.49m to complete the purchase of a property. The application was granted.

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 We acted for the husband in an appeal concerning the question whether Mostyn J had jurisdiction to order him to make payments to the Wife prior to the determination of the Wife s enforcement proceedings. We were successful in having Mostyn J removed from the case.

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We acted for the Wife in an international divorce. The Wife was living in Singapore when the petition was issued. The dispute included whether the Courts of England and Wales had jurisdiction. The Wife s case was that one or both of the parties was domiciled in England and Wales and not Singapore where her financial settlement would have been smaller. The Court found that both parties were domiciled in England and Wales. This received much press coverage not least because the parties spent a total of 860,000 in legal costs in three jurisdictions. This is currently considered to be the leading authority on jurisdiction disputes.

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We acted for the Wife and obtained a global freezing order. We were successful in establishing that disclosure had been tampered with. The case continues.

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We acted for the Wife who had been divorced overseas. The Wife s claims were found to extend beyond a housing fund for the child of the marriage. The Husband was ordered to pay a lump sum of 3m to include provision for housing (circa 2m) and capitalised maintenance (Circa 1m). In addition 50,000 per annum child maintenance was ordered, which was to be secured owing to the Husband s globetrotting lifestyle.

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We acted for the Wife in long running financial remedies proceedings in which the Wife sought a lump sum of 27m. Amongst the applications we made on her behalf was an application to set aside a disposition between the Husband and his solicitor, the purpose of which was to secure the Husband s costs liabilities. The Husband s solicitors were joined to proceedings.