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  • A judgment that, Knowles J said, endeavoured to provide a clear context for the claims brought by the former wife against some of the eleven respondents, and to then analyse and determine those claims, having taken account of a mass of documentary and oral evidence. The wife had been the victim of a series of schemes designed to put every penny of the husband’s wealth beyond her reach, a strategy designed to render her powerless by ensuring that, if she did not settle her claim for financial relief following their divorce on the husband’s terms, there would be no assets left for her to enforce against. Knowles J's decision was as follows. To grant relief to the wife against Counselor Trust: (a) as trustee of the Genus Trust, in the sum received from Cotor, the best estimate of which was US$650 million; (b) as trustee of the Arbaj Trust, US$36,624,946, CHF 4,000,000 and £1 million ; (c) as trustee of the Ladybird Trust, US$46,752,468, CHF 1,287,078.50, €76,918 and £128,100; and (d) as trustee of the Carnation Trust, US$455,363,485, and CHF 10,000; with joint and several liability where relevant to avoid double recovery. She granted relief to the wife against Sobaldo Establishment, in its capacity as trustee of the Longlaster Trust, in the sum of US$546,735,165. The relief granted against the eldest son, Temur, was (a) US$67,500,000 in respect of the claim for transfers of the Monetary Assets to him from Cotor in 2015 and 2016; (b) US$31,499,998 in respect of the claim for receipt of Monetary Assets previously held by Counselor Trust and/or Sobaldo Establishment between 2017 and 2019; and (c) RUB 531,560,331 in respect of the claim in respect of a Moscow property. His oral evidence had been preceded by his belated admissions of having significantly breached his disclosure obligations, described by Knowles J as "lamentable litigation conduct". She also granted the wife relief against Borderedge Ltd in the sum of €27,500,021.38. Judgment, 02/05/2021, free
  • In the course of consolidated Children Act 1989 Schedule 1 enforcement proceedings and Children Act 1989 section 8 proceedings, the father appealed against an order for financial disclosure with a penal notice, and a costs allowance order in favour of the mother. He also sought to put in evidence of the mother's alleged non-disclosure and drug use. Williams J refused the father's applications to admit fresh evidence, to amend the grounds of appeal, and for disclosure of the means by which the mother's lawyers were funded through the Children Act proceedings. He had not demonstrated a realistic prospect of success in relation to any of them, nor was there any other compelling reason to grant permission to appeal. The mother sought an order for the father to pay her costs of and occasioned by the appeal and the associated applications. Williams J was satisfied that this was an appropriate case in which to make such an order. Judgment, 05/11/2020, free
  • Following a decision that the disclosure of a mother's medical records had been unnecessarily and disproportionately invasive of her right to respect for her private life, HHJ Wildblood QC wished to highlight the extent to which court lists were being filled by interim private law hearings that should not have required court involvement. He gave the example of being asked to decide at which motorway junction the handover of a child for contact should take place. Such micromanagement should only come before a court where it was genuinely necessary, and he warned that where unnecessary cases were brought, criticism and sanctions could follow. He urged parties and their lawyers to explore other ways to settle their disagreements, such as mediation. Judgment, 28/09/2020, free
  • Three applications were before the court: the wife's application for disclosure from the eighth and ninth respondents, in support of her claims under section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 and section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973; an application by five respondents to be released from their obligations under previous orders; and an application by the eighth and ninth respondents for a case management stay of the proceedings pending the outcome of proceedings in Liechtenstein. Knowles J found that the orders for disclosure directed at the eighth and ninth respondents were necessary to justly and fairly determine the wife's properly brought claim, even though those orders might be contrary to civil and criminal law in Liechtenstein. The risk of prosecution in Liechtenstein was little more than purely hypothetical. The absence of the material in question would very substantially interfere with the wife's ability to pursue her claim and would hamper the court's ability to determine the proceedings fairly. Knowles J refused the application to set aside and vary the previous orders, and refused the application for a stay of the proceedings. Judgment, 17/08/2020, free
  • The mother and the Secretary of State for the Home Department brought appeals against an order for disclosure, in private family proceedings, of redacted copies of certain documents in her asylum file, to the solicitors acting for the father and the son. In Baker LJ's view, it was clear that MacDonald J had correctly identified the applicable principles of law in his first judgment and in the second had applied them in a way which was fully within his discretion and could not be successfully challenged in the Court of Appeal. His conduct of the balancing exercise required had been "unimpeachable". Phillips LJ agreed. In Peter Jackson LJ's view, the answer to questions regarding disclosure in similar cases was "not to be found in legal generalities or contestable adjectives but in a close study of the individual circumstances". The judge had reached a decision after careful consideration. Though Peter Jackson LJ had some hesitancy about the outcome, it was not open to the Court of Appeal to say that the judge's decision had been wrong. The appeal was dismissed. Judgment, 04/08/2020, free

Latest know-how

  • In a tweet: Disclosure of husband's confidential documents ordered from copies held by wife's lawyers. Case note, 18/10/2019, members only
  • In a tweet: The courts’ poor service - which had effectively forced the parties into arbitration – did not dilute the magnetic importance of the arbitration agreement. Case note, 04/07/2019, members only
  • Florence Jones, Pupil, 1 Hare Court, writes a case summary of Vilinova v Vilinov & Anor [2019] EWHC 1107 (Fam). Case note, 31/05/2019, members only
  • In a tweet: Adverse inferences made against H resulted in an award that gave him £160K and his undisclosed assets and W £1.4million Case note, 26/10/2018, members only
  • In a tweet: Debts were a fiction created by H to defeat W’s claims Case note, 26/10/2018, members only

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