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  • An application by the former husband for permission to appeal out of time against the order for him to pay to the wife a lump sum of £3.09m, as well as periodical payments of £4,750 per calendar month and other amounts. The husband argued that he could not afford to meet the terms of the order, and that the judge had taken half the value of the husband’s shareholdings in two private companies with no evidence-based indication as to how the husband would be able to raise the required lump sum. The wife's position was that the appeal was not just out of time, but hopelessly so, and that the evidence at trial had indicated that the husband had been planning to sell his business interests in order to satisfy the lump sum payment, rather than relying upon dividends. In Mr Recorder Salter's judgment, the delay here was "serious and lacking in any good explanation". He had no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that he was unable to grant relief from sanctions and that accordingly the application for permission to appeal had to be dismissed. Judgment, 21/11/2020, free
  • The former husband applied for a legal services payment order pursuant to section 22ZA of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. As matters currently stood, neither party owned assets of any significant value. The former wife had been engaged in offshore litigation, which so far had proved unsuccessful, reducing but not eliminating the likelihood of recovery from that source. Roberts J was satisfied that legal services funding was not an option open to the former husband, nor was he a candidate for a commercial litigation funding arrangement. Focused legal advice could serve to narrow the issues which were currently preventing a settlement. The question then was whether the former wife was in a position to satisfy a legal services provision order. After considering the criteria in section 22ZB(1)(a)–(g), Roberts J decided that she would be able to procure the funding to meet such an order, and would not thereby be exposed to undue hardship or prevented from obtaining her own legal advice. The former wife was ordered to pay the former husband £95,000. Judgment, 21/11/2020, free
  • A hearing at which Cobb J considered the appropriate sanction for breaches of a freezing injunction. The parties had never married, but lived together for about 20 years and had five children. The female partner had asserted that there had been 562 withdrawals from the account, and the vast majority had been proven. Cobb J took into account that it was not the female partner's wish to see the male partner imprisoned, and that the breaches had been deliberate, repeated, and over an extended period of time, leaving the account materially depleted, and that the male partner had at no time admitted his wrongdoing or accepted responsibilty for the breach. A six-month sentence of imprisonment would be the appropriate sanction, suspended for twelve months, to ensure his compliance with the extant final orders. Judgment, 18/11/2020, free
  • The plan looks at how the civil and family courts are increasing capacity. News, 11/11/2020, free
  • The mother was a Bulgarian national with indefinite leave to remain, and was currently in Bulgaria with the two-year-old daughter. She was prevented from bringing the daughter back to England by an order of the Bulgarian court. The father had dual Bulgarian and British nationality and was in London. The central issue before the court, in what was described as "somewhat chaotic litigation", was whether a passport order should be discharged, but the court also considered the mother's application for committal of the father, and the issue of whether the English court or the Bulgarian court had jurisdiction regarding the daughter. Cobb J directed that the father's British passport should be returned to him forthwith. The father was directed to execute all necessary documents and travel consents to ensure that the mother was forthwith able to return the daughter to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. The committal order was dismissed; in Cobb J's view it was destined to fail. The case would be listed for further directions on the issue of habitual residence and jurisdiction once the International Family Justice Office had indicated whether it was able to establish the status of the proceedings in the Bulgarian courts. Judgment, 11/11/2020, free

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