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Financial Provision

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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
  • The application of the former wife for a financial remedy order arising from her marriage to her former husband. Both were UK nationals, who had met in 2005, married in 2011 and separated in 2019. They had lived in the United Arab Emirates for the duration of the marriage, and their child had been born there in 2015. The overall position was a joint deficit approaching £60,000; the only significant asset was a flat in Wales vested in the husband’s name. As well as the relevant factors in s 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, Mr Recorder Salter bore in mind that the court's overall objective was to achieve a fair outcome. There was no place for discrimination between the husband and the wife and their respective roles. However, there were two primary factors which justified a departure from equality in this case: that it was a needs case, and the prior agreement reached between the parties. Over and above the amounts contained in the prior agreement – including an annual lump sum he reduced to £5,000 in view of the wife's move to England, where living costs were lower – he ordered that the husband should pay the wife a lump sum of £12,500 within 56 days: £8,750 for six months’ rent, £2,250 for furniture, £1,500 towards the transportation of their pets to England. He would also have to pay £7,000 towards a car and driving lessons, and periodical payments in relation to the child of £1,000 per month. Mr Recorder Salter described the level of costs in the proceedings as "ruinous to the parties" and "utterly disproportionate to the assets involved". Issues had been pursued which did not merit any significant expenditure of costs, and warnings had gone ignored. He concluded that the wife should make a contribution of £10,000 towards the husband’s costs. Judgment, 19/04/2021, free
  • The father had sought an order for the American mother to return their 16-year-old daughter from the USA. A residence order had been made in his favour and he had been her primary carer for many years. The mother had arranged a plane ticket and American passport for the daughter without telling him. He had found out when the girl phoned him from the plane. The Hague Convention did not apply because of her age, so an application for wardship and return orders had been made under the inherent jurisdiction. Although the parties subsequently reached agreement, and now presented a consent order, Peel J considered it appropriate in this case to deliver a judgment, partly because jurisdictional issues arose and partly because he was of the clear view that it would assist the parties and their daughter to achieve a degree of closure. He concluded that the child had not acquired habitual residence in the USA at the relevant time, and he sympathised with the father's profound concern about the way in which the daughter had left the UK. However, the wishes of a nearly 17-year-old were likely to be determinative, absent powerful or compelling welfare interest to the contrary, and the daughter had quite simply decided that her future was in the USA. A return order would be an exercise in futility. Peel J granted the consent order sought. Judgment, 29/03/2021, free
  • Two barristers had separated in January 2019. The husband wished an immediate order for sale of the family home to be made, to enable him to enforce his entitlement to £250,000 plus statutory interest. The wife hoped for a finding that the entire order approving a previous agreement should be set aside, with the effect of putting the case back to square one with all arguments re-opened. HHJ Edward Hess reached a clear view that the facts of this case did not pass the "setting aside" test from Walkden v Walkden [2010] 1 FLR 174: "given the importance attached to finality in settlements of this nature, the circumstances must be truly exceptional before a capital settlement can be re-opened". After considering the fairness of the parties' suggested scenarios, he decided in the end that making an order for sale, but delaying its implementation, would be the scenario most likely to give both parties some prospect of a reasonable financial future. Judgment, 18/03/2021, free
  • The latest stage in a protracted piece of financial remedies litigation. The matter listed had been whether a stay should be granted to the wife to allow her not to transfer certain monies from a Swiss account pursuant to the order under appeal, but in the event Lieven J was able to consider both the stay and the outstanding points on appeal. The wife argued for the husband to provide an indemnity that covered her potential liability to a firm of solicitors. Lieven J found that the risk the wife perceived could not be considered fanciful. There had been a significant change of circumstances, and it had been inequitable not to vary the order. The clean break settlement would have left her unable to recover the money needed to cover the contingent liability to which she was potentially now exposed. Judgment, 06/03/2021, free

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