Family Law Hub

Azarmi-Movafagh v Bassiri-Dezfouli [2021] EWCA Civ 1184

This was a second appeal in a financial remedy case described by the court as an exercise in self-destruction, the costs having become so disproportionate relative to the assets. The judge at first instance had made an order providing the husband with funds sufficient to buy a modest property and to pay most of his costs. The wife had appealed on the basis that the husband should not have been awarded anything at all and should bear his own costs. The appeal had been allowed, and the direct payment referable to the husband's costs had been substituted with a charge for the same sum to be secured on the property he would in due course purchase. The husband now appealed against the imposition of the charge. In King LJ's judgment, in cases where an order substantially in excess of the sum required to meet a party's assessed needs was sought in order to settle their outstanding costs (or debts referrable to costs), the judge should: (i) consider whether in any event the case was one in which an order for costs under FPR 28(6) and (7) in particular by reference to FPR PD 28 para 4.4 should be made; and (ii) have firmly in mind what the order they proposed to make by way of additional lump sum to meet a party's costs would represent if expressed in terms of an order for costs. This would act as a cross check of the fairness of the proposed order. In her view the order originally made by the judge, which allowed the parties to achieve a clean break, could not be regarded as being outside his wide discretion such that it was appropriate for his order to be altered on appeal. Moylan and Newey LJJ agreed. The appeal against the imposition of a charge on the property the husband hoped to buy was allowed.

Judgment, published: 31/07/2021

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Published: 31/07/2021

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