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Financial Provision

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  • The husband sought an order for the wife to produce the files of her previous legal advisors. The husband's case was that she had waived the privilege that would normally attach to communications between a client and her legal advisors on three separate occasions, for example when claiming that they had been "frankly incompetent". Cohen J found that the wife had clearly invited the husband "into the consultation room", in claiming that her instructions had been misconstrued or misquoted or not followed. It would be unfair if the husband could not challenge this statement by reference to contemporaneous notes, emails and other communications. The files would be made available to a QC selected by the parties for sifting and, if required, redacting the necessary material. Judgment, 12/07/2020, free
  • 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
  • An appeal in financial remedy proceedings, regarding pension sharing and section 28(1A) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The parties were married in 2005 and separated in 2017, with one daughter who now lived with the mother. The wife argued that the overall order was not fair to her, and that the pension share was too small. Despite his concerns about the apparent ring fencing of the pension pot, HHJ Richard Robinson concluded that the judge had been entitled to reach the conclusions that he did on the evidence that he heard, and that there were no sufficient reasons to interfere with his decision. He came to the same conclusion regarding the section 28(1A) bar. Judgment, 26/06/2020, free
  • An application for financial remedies, following divorce proceedings. The couple married in 2000 and they separated in 2017. They had two daughters, aged 8 and 3. Mr Nicholas Cusworth QC (sitting as a deputy High Court judge) stated that the single most important dispute between the parties was over the value of the husband's interest in a company focused on proprietary trading and market making. He took the husband's shares to have a gross value of £43.4m and a net value of £35.3m, assuming a realisation at CGT rates. He found that a fair spread of the husband's liability would be for him to pay £2,787,595 in 2020, £5m in 2021, a further £5m in 2022, and then a final payment of £4m in 2023. He would be able to withdraw those sums from his interest in the business with no more than proportionate disruption to the company, when balanced against the desirability of providing the wife's award to her and achieving a clean break as soon as practicable. Judgment, 25/06/2020, free
  • The unmarried couple had been in a relationship from 1995 until 2017. They had two children, aged 14 and 19, and had bought a four-bedroom home in Oxfordshire. Both parties were still residing in the property, although the mother was mostly restricted to a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. She had applied for a declaration under section 14 of ToLATA for declaration of the parties’ respective beneficial entitlement, and an order for sale. The father had made an application under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989 for the applicant’s share of the property to be held on trust for the benefit of the parties’ son until such time as he finished education. One working day before the final hearing, the father conceded that the declaration of beneficial interest should be of 50% shares in the property, leaving the issue of whether the property should be sold, and if so, when. The mother argued for a sale as soon as possible, while the father wished it to be deferred for seven or eight years. HHJ Vincent's impression was that the father did not have a good grasp of the financial implications of the situation and did not like the thought of change, and so had not let himself think about the practical consequences of having to leave the home. HHJ Vincent was also concerned that the younger child's welfare needs were not being met by the current situation. The property would be put on the open market and sold for the best price that could be obtained, although the parties could also consider whether one party might be able to buy out the other’s share. As to costs, the usual order in family cases would be no order as to costs, but this was an application made under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989, and so the unsuccessful party would pay the costs of the successful party. Judgment, 22/06/2020, free

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