Family Law Hub

Haskell v Haskell [2021] EWCA Civ 1295

The former husband appealed against an order committing him to prison for six weeks unless he paid the sum of £50,000 to his former wife, as previously ordered by Mostyn J, by way of maintenance. The order was made under s 5 of the Debtors Act 1869 and the judgment summons procedure in Order 28 of the County Court Rules 1984. Underhill LJ noted that a judgment debtor can only be committed if the creditor proves to the criminal standard that the debtor had the means to pay the sum in question at the relevant date, but had refused or neglected to do so. The former husband appealed on the ground that the judge could not have been satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that he had the sum in question. Underhill LJ did not accept that submission. There was no rule that the only way in which the judge could be sure of that point was by explicit evidence given at the time of the committal hearing. What was required would depend on all the circumstances of the case, including such inferences as it was proper for the judge to draw from the evidence that he did hear, which might include an inference that unless there were some reason to believe to the contrary the original default was continuing. In the circumstances of the present case, the judge had been fully entitled to conclude to the criminal standard that the money was still outstanding. Nugee LJ agreed. The appeal had been lodged seven days out of time; the extension was allowed, and the appeal dismissed on the merits.

Judgment, published: 23/08/2021

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Published: 23/08/2021

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