Advocate Ralph Vibert’s father-in-law, Advocate Charles Sydney Le Gros (who was Viscount and later became the Lieutenant-Bailiff) had been in private practice from the early years of the 20th century until his appointment in public office in 1930. A number of clients eventually transferred from Advocate Le Gros to Advocate Ralph Vibert.
In the pre-second world war period, legal practice in Jersey consisted mainly of conveyancing, will-making and the administration of estates, with some litigation. In the post-second world war period Jersey’s economy began to diversify, and the finance industry began to develop. The emphasis of legal work began to shift more to litigation which accompanied the expansion of the economy, and the introduction of a law in 1949 which for the first time permitted divorce and led to the development of this branch of litigation. Advocate Ralph Vibert, who was joined by his brother Advocate Vivian (Bob) Vibert, [known as Bob] in 1947, and Advocate Valpy, began to specialise in matrimonial law and for many years they were the principal practitioners in the Island in matrimonial law related litigation. The traditional conveyancing and probate work also continued, and the post-second world war property boom resulted in the conveyancing section of the practice in particular becoming increasingly busy. Advocate Valpy was defence counsel in many of the most notable criminal trials of the 1950s and 1960s, while Advocate Ralph Vibert served as Solicitor General in the 1950s, and was involved in the same trials on behalf of the prosecution.
Advocate Ralph Vibert retired from practice in the 1970s to concentrate on his political career, and led the negotiations which established Jersey’s relationship with the European Community. His brother, Advocate Bob Vibert was the architect of the procedure of the sale of flats by share transfer, which at the time was the only legal method available of sub-dividing the ownership of blocks of flats.
Advocate Bob Vibert died in 1983, and following this the Viberts practice was continued by Advocate Charles Thacker and Advocate David Le Quesne. Advocate Valpy retired in 1989, his successors being Advocate Christopher Scholefield and Advocate Ashley Hoy. In 1992 the two firms, K Hooper Valpy & Company and Viberts, merged forming Viberts Jersey Lawyers.
The firm has since then become the Island’s leading matrimonial practice. Family law is a department in its own right, and the largest on the island. Its development has been driven by Advocate Rose Colley, the pre-eminent Family lawyer in Jersey who has headed the department since its inception. The firm has also increased its Commercial/Corporate Law which has been led by Advocate Christopher Scholefield, and continues to expand. The traditional work of conveyancing, probate and litigation has continued.
Led by Advocate Zoe Blomfield, the firm has in recent years developed a significant Trade Union client base and now works for all of the major unions active in Jersey. In addition, the probate department is now part of a larger private client department.
Having started in two rooms in 6 Hill Street in the 1930s, Viberts gradually acquired the tenancies of several floors of that building, and then when more space was required moved to premises in Pier Road, and a few years later to Duhamel Place. The firm’s most recent move was in 2013, to its present premises at Viberts House in Don Street.