I qualified as a Scrivener notary of the City of London in 1970 and practised as such until retirement from full time professional practice on 30 April 2008. I was a partner at De Pinna, a leading and very well-known and respected firm of Scrivener Notaries from 1972 to 2008.  I retain my practising certificate as a notary.

I was instrumental in founding the French law group at De Pinna in 1976 to advise and assist British subjects with their secondary home purchases in France, a trend that was then in its early stages of expansion.  The De Pinna French law group was developed into a leader in the field of French residential property acquisitions by British residents and I am now a consultant lawyer to De Pinna.

I was admitted to the Paris Bar (avocat à la Cour de Paris) in 1994 and am a member of a French firm of lawyers in Paris, which permits me to practise French law.

During my career as a Partner at De Pinna, I acted for a large number of high net worth individuals, and some companies, who were buying, selling, mortgaging French villas and chalets, advising them on efficient purchasing structures, French conveyancing, planning, procedural and tax issues, French tax planning, Anglo-French estate planning, the winding up of Anglo-French estates, borrowing from French and non-French banks, advising on taking of French legal charges. I advised on and formed approximately 200 SCI entities to buy and hold property in France; I assisted in and advised on the compliance and administration requirements of SCI entities and have been at the forefront in dealing with issues arising from potential taxation in the UK of SCI and their members on benefit in kind and opacity matters (culminating in section 45 of the Finance Act 2008); I have acted  for  banks in France, the UK, Channel Islands, Switzerland and elsewhere in providing loan facilities to French property owners and the creation of French legal charges; I pioneered the adaptation and use of a French community marriage regime in 1987, to be used by UK residents in French residential property purchases - a decade later this technique had become more or less routine for qualifying couples; and I identified, advised on and found Anglo-French solutions for various anomalies, pitfalls and difficulties arising from Anglo-French cross-border activities.  As an example, in the early 1990s I identified the legal risks and difficulties which arose when minor children of British nationality inherited French property, consulted with leading French authorities and instructed English Counsel to advise on English aspects and developed a solution to the difficulty; I wrote articles, in French, on the subject, which were published by the leading French legal journal Repertoire Defrenois in 1995 and 2004, which have since become reference works on the subject (an English translation of the 2004 article can be found on the publications page of this website).

I am well known to the French notarial profession, having attended eight of their annual Congresses and have spoken in plenum session at three such Congresses; I know personally perhaps 50 French notaires and have worked with at least 500 notaires, geographically distributed throughout France; I have worked with perhaps 30 firms of French lawyers and dealt with a wide, demanding and complex series of French legal issues over many years; I have written articles on a variety of Anglo-French legal topics, in English and in French, which have been widely published in the Law Society Gazette, Taxation, Defrenois, Notarius International, Semaine Juridique, etc.

I now advise on specific points of French law, including French contracts, conveyancing, tax issues, tax and estate planning, purchasing and holding structures, compliance requirements, opinions on French law, including private international law etc.

When I receive written instructions to act, I will produce a client care letter, estimate of professional fees, state my chargeout rate per hour for the job and identify the scope and extent of instructions given.

I do not hold Client moneys nor do I offer or give investment advice. I am insured for professional negligence, as is required by French law, through the Ordre des Avocats de Paris.

Telephone: ++(0) 1962_ 779579 Fax: ++(0) 1962 779793 Mobile: 07515_ 281891 Email: robert-urquhart[at]btconnect.com
© Robert Urquhart 2010