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  • An appeal by the husband against the final order made by a district judge in an application for financial remedies. The parties had married in 2013 and separated in 2018, and in the course of the marriage the wife had received a large settlement from the NHS in compensation for clinical negligence. The husband argued that the final order was unfair because it departed from equality in giving 99% of the assets to the wife, that the district judge had gone too far in making allowances for the wife being a litigant in person, that the district judge's assessment of the party's respective needs was flawed, and that the district judge should have taken into account the wife's post-separation spending. HHJ Vincent decided that the appeal should be allowed. The district judge's decision to admit at the last minute an extract from counsel’s advice in respect of the clinical negligence claim had been wrong. The damages award formed part of the matrimonial assets. The district judge had fallen into error in her assessment of the parties’ respective needs, and in concluding that the wife’s needs outweighed the consideration of the husband’s needs, leading her to make an award which was unfair. HHJ Vincent's substituted assessment differed from the district judge's in one regard: a property in Spain would be sold and the proceeds split fifty-fifty. Judgment, 02/07/2020, free
  • A judgment following the final hearing in financial remedy proceedings. The couple were married in 2017, and separated the same year according to the husband, but in 2018 according to the wife. They continued to live separately under the same roof. In the view of District Judge John Smart, the husband seemed to have spent substantially on enlarging the matrimonial home to accommodate the wife and her son, while the wife made no substantial contribution to the welfare of the family. The district judge was not convinced that the wife's indebtedness should be cleared by the husband. He did not find that the husband or his solicitors had exacerbated her Complex PTSD, and he rejected other allegations of misconduct. Although the family home was to be treated as matrimonial property, their contributions were not equal, and a significant departure from equal sharing was required in fairness. A split of 20% of the net assets would be right. The husband would have to raise the sum of £110,000 within a year or the family home would have to be sold. There would not be a pension sharing order; the parties had not sought such an order and almost all of the pension accrual was pre-marital. The husband would pay interim maintenance/periodical payments at £12,000 per year to the wife for the first year and £9,000 per year for the second year. She should leave the former matrimonial home within a month of the first payment. Judgment, 19/06/2020, free
  • An appeal against a decision in financial remedy proceedings. Leave to appeal had been granted on limited grounds: whether the husband had made contributions to the mortgage, and whether the right approach had been taken to the valuation of the wife's pension. The parties married in 2008 and separated in 2011, and had been in a relationship since 1988. HHJ Richard Robinson found that the husband was unable to show any bank statements which did not align with the judge's findings, and hence decided that there was no merit in the first ground of appeal. As to the second ground, he found that there were difficulties with the judgment. The judge had been aware of the husband's health issues but dismissed them as irrelevant to an assessment of his future needs. The judge appeared to have been "led into error by an over-emphasis on the non-matrimonial accrual of part of the pension and of contributions over needs". The correct approach would be to analyse the parties’ comparative income and needs in retirement, and thus the extent to which the wife’s pension should be apportioned. A complete rehearing would be excessive; a directions hearing would be held to decide the next steps. Judgment, 15/06/2020, free
  • A challenge to an arbitration award regarding financial arrangements after a divorce. The parties were married from 2005 to 2018. The former husband sought for the arbitration award to be set aside under section 68 or section 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996, and for the court to exercise its discretion under section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 not to approve a consent order in the terms of the award. Ms Clare Ambrose, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, found that the various criticisms of the arbitrator were unfounded and the points raised were inappropriate attempts to re-open the facts. She declined permission to appeal under section 69, and the application under section 68 also failed. She was satisfied that the award was not wrong. It reflected a fair allocation of assets and was firmly within the range of right outcomes. She approved the order attached to the award. Judgment, 08/06/2020, free
  • The wife's application for financial remedy orders following the breakdown of the marriage to the husband. Both came from wealthy families. They had married in 2010, after signing a pre-nuptial document regarding the "Separation de Biens". A religious ceremony took place in April and a legal ceremony in July. The parties had lived in London since 2015. Cohen J did not accord weight to the pre-nuptial agreement: it had not been the subject of discussion between the parties, it had been presented to the wife on the day before the wedding, she had had no chance to consider its contents, she was unfamiliar with the concept of choosing a marital regime, and she had no understanding of the implications of the agreement. Cohen J went on to deem 40% of the matrimonial home to be a matrimonial asset. When this was aggregated with the $8m found to have been received by the husband during the marriage for his work within the family business, it amounted to a matrimonial acquest of £7.9m, and a half share would thus provide the wife with just under £4m. The home would be transferred to the wife. Orders for periodical payments and child periodical payments were also made. Finally, Cohen J noted the parties had spent a "deeply regrettable" and "disastrously high" amount of money on costs, and that there had been repeated breaches of the Statement on the Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Hearings in the High Court. He suggested that the sanctions available to the court at paragraph 18 of the Statement should not be overlooked. Judgment, 06/06/2020, free

Latest know-how

Latest training

  • Joe Switalski, of 29 Bedford Row, reviews the current case law and judicial thinking surrounding 'short marriages' in financial remedy proceedings. Recorded 19 March 2018. Webcast, 21/03/2018, members only
  • Alexis Campbell QC and Charlotte Trace, of 29 Bedford Row, review the key financial remedy cases and themes from the past 12 months and look at how they will affect judicial thinking and your own cases in the year to come. Webcast, 16/03/2018, members only
  • Matthew Long, from 29 Bedford Row, reviews the caselaw regarding maintenance and variation of maintenance Webcast, 28/09/2017, members only
  • Recording of webinar first broadcast on 8 February 2017 Webcast, 10/02/2017, members only

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