Case Studies

Dishonest party ordered to pay £334k costs bill

In the recent case of Joy v Joy-Morancho [2015] EWCH 2507 (Fam) the presiding Judge Sir Peter Singer indicated that the husband’s conduct in providing information in connection with his financial circumstances amounted to ‘blatant dishonesty’ and ordered him to pay all of his wife’s legal costs for proceedings since May 2013 which  amounted to £334,000.

Divorce proceedings were started in 2011 and the financial separation was complicated due to the substantial assets that were proven to belong to a Trust the husband had set up pre-marriage and were not assets of the husband.  The court was unable to transfer or realise the value of these assets as the Wife wished but instead provided her with a maintenance award of £120,000 per annum and confirmed that the wife could restore her capital claim.

During the course of the proceedings the husband admitted lying to the court.  The crucial factor here is that even though much of the legal  arguments made by the wife were unsuccessful  in that she could not obtain a lump sum as the assets did not  directly belong to the husband the judge felt that the husband’s conduct was such that it would be ....’ grossly unfair to [the wife] if I did not regard conduct as the prime touchstone in the very specific circumstances of this case...’ Another issue is that they ordered he pay maintenance to his wife even though at present he has no income.  The court looked at his income capacity rather than earned income.

A rather poignant reminder that dishonest conduct and anything less than full and frank disclosure will be taken very seriously by the court and could end up particularly costly!

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