Family Law Hub

Young v Young: The Outcome

Philip Cayford QC and Anthony Geadah, both of 29 Bedford Row, consider the outcome of the Young saga and identify some of the legal issues highlighted by Mr Justice Moor in his judgment.

  • Philip Cayford QC 29 Bedford Row  Anthony Geadah Barrister 29 Bedford Row 
    Philip Cayford QC, 29 Bedford Row Anthony Geadah, 29 Bedford Row

    Headlines

    • Judgment in Young v Young has been handed down. Mr Justice Moor describes the conduct of the case as about as bad an example of how not to litigate as he has ever encountered and expresses his sympathy for the parties’ children.
    • Michelle Young seeks £400 million and spends £6.4 million in litigation costs, of which £2.3 million goes towards expert accountancy evidence without a final report being produced. Scot Young contends that he is bankrupt with debts of £28 million. 
    • 65 preliminary hearings and experts’ costs render Michelle Young unable to pay her legal team for the final hearing unless she succeeds in obtaining a significant lump sum from Scot Young in due course.
    • Mr Justice Moor calls for rigorous control on the amount spent on expert evidence and questions the value of OS/DS preliminary hearings.
    • Sir Philip Green and Richard Caring’s evidence that they had loaned Scot Young sums of money is accepted in its entirety and unreservedly. The judge considers that neither gentleman should have been required to attend court to give evidence.
    • Fox Williams, for whom Philip Cayford QC was instructed, was found by the judge not to have acted in any way improperly in their conduct of the affairs of Mr Young.
    • The judge finds that Scot Young had assets of approximately £45 million in 2006 and still has £45 million hidden less £5 million of debts.
    • Michelle Young is awarded a lump sum of £20 million payable within 28 days representing half of the assets and a sum, which also equates with the court’s view of her reasonable needs generously assessed. Scot Young is also ordered to pay arrears of interim maintenance of £1,265,000 within 28 days. However, is it all a Pyrrhic victory for Mrs Young? Mr Justice Moor concludes that his findings have all been made on the balance of probabilities such that unless she is able to find further evidence in the future to prove to the criminal standard that he has the money, enforcement against Scot Young by Judgment Summons will not be available to her.

    Comment

    Mrs Scot Young has been awarded £20 million plus some of her costs by Moor J in a case which he described "as complex as any this Division has ever encountered". Rejecting the wife's claims that Scot Young was worth "a few billion at least", Moor J found that the husband had moved assets from one of his solicitors in March 2006 worth around £20 million at the time and that he also had other undisclosed assets at that time of around £25 million – i.e. total assets in March 2006 of £45 million. 

    "The wife is entitled to half, namely a lump sum of £20 million. This happens to equate with my view of her reasonable needs, generously assessed. I can see no reason why the husband should not pay the lump sum quickly, given that half the money he had in 2006 was held in shares which would have been readily realisable. I will therefore order him to pay in 28 days...with interest at the High Court judgment rate of 8%, which amounts to £1.6 million per annum. I entirely accept this is a penal rate in the current economic climate. It gives a huge incentive to the husband to pay quickly".

    The judge described the case as extraordinary, even by the standards of the most bitter matrimonial breakdowns. 

    "Extremely serious allegations have been bandied about like confetti. Some of these allegations can only be described as 'wild'...I have decided that I have to be highly critical of the way in which the case has been conducted at various times by both parties. In many respects this is about as bad an example of how not to litigate as any I have ever encountered".

    The wife's costs of litigating (mostly borrowed) were about £6.4 million, a figure Moor J described as "completely unacceptable". He also said that he realised the wife will have difficulties in enforcing the order. As to that he reminded the husband that this judgment will exist for all time and it would be very much in his interests to discharge it in order to move on with rebuilding his life. Secondly, said Moor J,

    "I have rejected all the more fanciful allegations made against (the husband). I cannot see how he would have complied with an order for a lump sum of £300 million, let alone £400 million. I hope that he will take the view that he is better off paying the lower sum of £20 million so that he can concentrate on rebuilding his life". 

    The judge indicated his provisional view was that the husband should pay the wife's indemnity costs of "what I consider this case should have cost if it had been properly conducted". He acknowledged the "enormity of the case...as a result of the husband's approach... and his non-disclosure" and paid tribute to Rex Howling QC and Miss Suki Johal for taking on the case at the last minute and becoming entirely conversant with the huge volume of paperwork. "The case was presented to me with great ability."

    In his judgment Moor J cast doubt on the usefulness of OS/DS hearings, particularly where they amounted to an "unfocussed wide ranging trawl through the evidence without findings of fact being made at the conclusion of the hearing, as happened in this case". Moor J suggested that a preliminary hearing was likely to be valuable only in two scenarios:

    (i) Where it leads to specific findings of fact that become res judicata, negating the need to revisit those issues at the final hearing and / or

    (ii) Where it is part of an exercise in obtaining pre-trial discovery by way of explanation of the document or how it came into his or her possession.   

    Moor J also considered the role of Hadkinson applications in Family Division proceedings, accepting that the Hadkinson jurisdiction does apply in family cases and that there will be occasions in which it is proportionate and not in breach of the litigant's Article 6 rights to make a restriction on the litigation. But, he said, 

    "I was concerned about extending the Hadkinson jurisdiction to contested hearings for Financial Remedies...The court has to get to the bottom of the financial affairs of the parties...I consider that restricting the right of one party to participate in that exercise is difficult, and at times has the potential to lead to injustice".

    Mrs Young was represented by Vardags, instructing Rex Howling QC and Miss Suki Joval. Mr Young appeared in person. Philip Cayford QC of 29 Bedford Row appeared for Mr Young's former commercial solicitors, Fox Williams, of whom the judge said in his judgment, "I make it quite clear that Mr Osborne (the senior partner) and Fox Williams have not acted improperly in any way in relation to the affairs of the husband".

Article, published: 22/11/2013

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Published: 22/11/2013

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