An interesting case was recently reported involving an appeal by a husband who basically thought the result was unfair because the judge did not specifically say in numbers the value of the assets that the husband had failed to disclose.
Yes, you read that right. The husband did not disclose his assets to the court – as he should have done – and then complained about the outcome. I can hear the voice of my Welsh Nana (may she rest in peace) reciting a nursery rhyme about playing on the train tracks and getting run over by the train which serves you right because you shouldn’t have been there in the first place. (A 1970’s childhood was filled with a lot of these ‘hard knock’ lessons).
Anyway, back to the case in hand. The husband was aged 53 and the wife 45. The married in 1995, separated in 2016 and had four children ranging from age 10 to 21, all of whom were financially dependent. The husband was a businessman, importing goods. The wife worked part time but since separation, was working more substantively.
So, onward to court proceedings. There was a four day court hearing – which says a lot in itself. The judge said that the financial court proceedings were ‘far more complex than they need have been, largely due to the failure of the husband to provide adequate disclosure and his lack of adherence to court orders’. The husband has also been convicted of assault and harassment of the wife after separation and the judge also found that he interfered with the sale of the former matrimonial home by contacting the purchasers. (WELL, as Welsh Nana would say, pursing her lips.)
The court made an order that the husband would pay to the wife:
- A lump sum of £1.4 million
- £22,000.00 per annum as maintenance – until there was a Get (Jewish divorce decree) or the lump sum was paid (clearly the judge was foreseeing problems….)
- And lastly, £52,000 to the wife’s legal costs (which is really not usually done so the judge must have been very unimpressed by the conduct of the husband).
The husband really did not impress with the judge saying:
- For example, the judge found that the “husband has undoubtedly provided misleading and incomplete information in his Form E”; that the “difficulties in ascertaining the precise level of capital and of the husband’s income are manifest”; that the husband’s evidence was “unreliable for a number of reasons” which included that his litigation conduct had been “appalling” and that “he was generally obstructive in order to obfuscate and to prevent an accurate evaluation of the parties’ true financial position”; and that the husband’s evidence “did not stand up to scrutiny”.
Ouch. So why the appeal?
The husband said that the court HAD TO give a figure or bracket of the value of the assets he had not disclosed as part of the exercise in balancing the factors of the case. Was he successful? No. He also complained that he judge was too generous in the order. He didn’t succeed there either.
There is a nice run through of some of the older case law about dealing with failure to disclose financial assets. The overwhelming majority show the lack of benefit to the person who did the messing about and did not behave openly.
I particularly like the paragraph quoted from a 1955 case (involving a bit of tax evasion):
“… if (the husband) has conducted his affairs throughout the marriage in such a covert fashion as to relieve him of the ordinary obligations of citizenship to support the State through tax contribution, if he has conducted these proceedings in a vain endeavour to maintain that camouflage, if in consequence the obscurity of my final vision results in an order that is unfair to him it is better that than that I should be drawn into making an order that is unfair to the wife. If at the end of this case he feels that the lump sum that I order is unfair in reflection of his present retrenchment then he should remember that he has brought that consequences upon himself by the fashion in which he has chosen to arrange his affairs over the course of the last decade, coupled with the fashion in which he has chosen to conduct these proceedings.”
Welsh Nana would have approved.
The full case link is HERE