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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
  • The mother's application for an extension of time to appeal, and for permission to appeal, against a child arrangements order. The mother said that the delay had been due to the shock caused by the order, and by her being physically unwell. The five grounds of appeal included that the judge had placed undue weight of the views of the child, and insufficient weight on factors such as the need for balance in the child's life, the views of the former caseworker, the risk of harm, and the fairness of the hearing. Williams J found that the explanation given by the mother for the delay was unsatisfactory. In his view, the judge's conclusion that the daughter's views were her own and should be given significant weight appeared to be unassailable. The criticism regarding the daughter's alleged need for greater balance was not supported. The Recorder was justified in departing from the caseworker's recommendations. The history of the case did not suggest an obvious risk of the child becoming estranged from the mother. Williams J was unable to discern anything which impinged upon the fairness of the process. He refused to grant an extension of time to appeal, and he refused to grant permission to appeal. Judgment, 16/06/2020, free
  • In proceedings for the enforcement of an ancillary relief award, the wife had made an application for disclosure by the tenth respondent, her son, to whom she claimed monetary assets had been transferred by the husband, and the son had applied for disclosure of her funding arrangements and various documents upon which she relied. Knowles J concluded that the son's counterclaim should be struck out. He had no entitlement to seek any relief in respect of the wife's funding arrangements and had failed to demonstrate that there were legally recognisable grounds for challenging their legality. It was decided that the son should disclose documents containing receipts of $100,000 or more, and various other requests were also to be answered. As to the son's application for disclosure, it did not breach Article 6 for the wife to hold on to irrelevant documents. The son had no need to see documents which the wife's solicitors were satisfied did not contain any personal or financial information relating to him. The son also made an application, unsupported by any witness statement, for a reporting restriction order, with the goal of preventing his personal finances from being made public. The case had generated a good deal of media interest. Knowles J decided that the draft order as it stood would inhibit responsible reporting of the proceedings, but he was persuaded that there should be an order to prevent the son's address and other personal information being included in reports. Judgment, 13/06/2020, free
  • 'The Road Ahead' has been published by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, fo the Family Court in England and Wales. News, 10/06/2020, free

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