Sydney MItchell Yorkshire 3 Peaks ChallengeOn the 6 July a team of four intrepid climbers from Sydney Mitchell Solicitors will take on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. 12 hours, 3 Peaks, 64 pairs of socks and an abundance of plasters, is in between them and victory.

They are taking on this gruelling challenge to raise funds for two worthy causes, Age UK Solihull and The Buddy Bag Foundation.

Age UK Solihull is a charity with a mission to improve the lives of older people within the Solihull Borough. Age UK Solihull provides many services including social clubs and befriending programmes to tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness many within the older generation are going through.

Please click on the following link to learn more: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/solihull/about-us/

The Buddy Bag Foundation provides comfort to children who enter emergency care after fleeing violent situations at home. Buddy bags help to restore a sense of safety and security into a child’s life during a traumatic time.

To learn more about The Buddy Bag Foundation click on the following link: https://buddybagfoundation.co.uk/our-mission/

To sponsor our “Peaky climbers” in their aim to raise money for these two charites please click on the link below and donate, all donations are welcome.

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/PeakyClimbers-Sydneymitchell

Watch out for more information. Hour by hour coverage will be posted on the 6 July on our Facebook page @SydneyMitchellSolicitors

Sydney Mitchell is recognised in the Top Tier of the Legal 500 and is ‘very strong’ and ‘probably the best in central Birmingham outside the large National and International Firms’ for dispute resolution and commercial litigation matters.

Sydney Mitchell has again been recognised as a Tier 1 firm for its Contentious Wills and Probate work; with a ‘driven professional team’ led by Kamal Majevadia handling a variety of high-value complex cases.

In total the firm has obtained recommendations in 13 areas of legal practice; Contentious Probate, Commercial Litigation, Debt Recovery, Insolvency and Corporate Recovery, Employment, Clinical Negligence, Personal Injury, Professional Negligence, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate, Health, Commercial Property and Property Litigation.

Sydney Mitchell’s clients have made some excellent comments on the work undertaken by the legal teams.

Div Singh, Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell commented:


“What an excellent result again this year for Sydney Mitchell, with the firm maintaining its ranking in Tier 1 for our Contentious Probate work and in particular Kamal Majevadia being singled out as a ‘leading individual’”.


Many of our talented solicitors have been named throughout for their hard work with our ‘client care second to none’.


It is great to see new team members being recognised, David Lydon, Adam Hodson, Samantha Glynn, Hayley-Jo and Gemma especially have shone through this year. Our clients and referrers have made fantastic comments on the work we have undertaken including…


‘solid, well respected team’, ‘can-do attitude’ ‘an approach to client care that is second to none’, ‘caring straight-to-the-point’ and ‘manages expectations’.

What more can you ask for than recommendations from your clients for the excellent service received for work undertaken by our legal teams.

Dean Parnell is recognised as “very experienced and sensible; ...calm and reassuring, firm but not aggressive and tactically astute negotiator who secures good deals for his client’ and  ‘…strong on shareholder disputes and claims relating to directors’.

Karen Moores, Head of the Family Team, is recognised for her ‘compassionate’ and ‘understanding’ manner.

Leading Midlands Law firm Sydney Mitchell is ranked in 13 Legal 500 categories and won Birmingham Law Firm of the Year 2018.

END

Legal 500 information links are included below:

West Midlands: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Birmingham - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘very strong’, and for some ‘probably the best in central Birmingham outside the large national and international firms’. The practice handles a range of matters, many of which with fraud elements, with clients ranging from international businesses, trade bodies, regional businesses and individual executives. Dean Parnell, whose expertise includes acting as a supervising solicitor for court-ordered searches, on top of being ‘very experienced and sensible: he is calm and reassuring, firm but not aggressive, and a tactically astute negotiator who secures good deals for his clients’, is ‘particularly strong on shareholder disputes and claims relating to directors’ – he represented a foreign company on recovery of losses from director-level frauds. Kamal Majevadia acted for an engineering company concerning unpaid invoices for engine components – he also handles cases concerning alleged fraud.

Debt recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP ’s workload includes a number of matters acting for finance providers concerning lending secured on residential property, plus matters concerning social care fees, vehicle finance and unpaid invoices. Kam Majevadia  heads the practice, with solicitor Hayley-Jo Lockley  a name of note below partner level. Gemma Parker is a key legal executive. Clients include West Bromwich Commercial.

West Midlands: Finance

Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP's Leanne Schneider-Rose  advised an insolvency practitioner on gaining access to and possession of a sports and leisure club, and handled several cases concerning the sales of care homes from administration. Section 216 cases and personal bankruptcy are also areas of expertise.

West Midlands: Human resources

Employment - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP  is 'a solid, well respected team' that is 'a very popular locally' with 'a reputation that is growing nationally'. Dean Parnell  leads the team and is 'very popular with clients', and has 'a "can-do" attitude'.  He has a broad expertise in employment, and acts on behalf of employers and very senior employees. Also recommended is solicitor Samantha Glynn, who specialises in contentious issues.

West Midlands: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP  handle a range of clinical negligence claims, with 'an approach to client care that is second to none'. Mike Sutton  heads up the team and 'very well respected locally'. He is assisted by senior personal injury executive David Lydon, Adam Hodson  and  Stephen Jesson.

Personal injury: claimant
Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP is 'a small team that has built up considerable experience', whose 'approach to client care is second to none'. Mike Sutton  leads the team and is 'very well respected locally within the profession'. He specialises in handling road and work accidents, and recently represented a client who suffered from complex regional pain syndrome due to falling from a ladder. David Lydon recently joined the firm from Pearson Rowe Incorporating Springthorpes and has a similar focus on work and road accidents. He recently acted for an individual who required amputation to due to injuries suffered by his fingers while at work. Also recommended is solicitor Adam Hodson.

Professional negligence - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP 's litigation team is highly active in professional negligence cases, most notable against in the areas of legal services and construction. Sundeep Bilkhu is a key figure with extensive experience in negligence relating to property transactions.

West Midlands: Private client

Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Sydney Mitchell LLP

The 'driven' and 'professional' Sydney Mitchell LLP is led by Kamal Majevadia who is a 'caring, straight-to-the-point person' who 'tells it like it is' and 'manages your expectations'. He is particularly known for disputes on estates with a cross-border or commercial aspect. Shirley-based Tracy Creed  is also a key figure, with notable strengths in probate, trusts and estate planning.

Family: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP

The 'excellent' Sydney Mitchell LLP  focuses on complex matrimonial disputes and childcare arrangements. Karen Moores is a key contact and is known for her 'compassionate' and 'understanding'  manner. Mauro Vinti is also recommended and advises on all aspects on relationship breakdowns.  

Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

The 'excellent' Sydney Mitchell LLP  is particularly strong in dealing with elderly client issues, with additional expertise in wills and estate planning, powers of attorney and administration work. Tracy Creed leads the team and has extensive experience in probate and trust matters.  Also recommended is Shirley based solicitor Nicholas Bennett , who focuses on will and probate issues, and solicitor Ravinder Sandhu, who is experienced in wills, trusts and probate issues.

West Midlands: Public sector

Health - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP focuses on GP mergers, disputes, leasing and tax issues. Fahmida Ismail leads the team and is heavily involved in property and finance matters pertaining to GPs and medical practices. Consultant solicitor Tony Harris is active on Primary Care Commissioning and extending existing GP premises. Consultant solicitor Dean Parnell works on commercial disputes and employment issues.

West Midlands: Real estate

Commercial property: Birmingham - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team handles a range of multimillion-pound deals. Consultant Georgina Walsh in Shirley handles work concerning purchases and sales of development sites... At partner level Div Singh , who is based in Birmingham, also handles buy-side deals, often involving title issues. Fahmida Ismail is also a key contact.

Property litigation - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, associate Sundeep Bilkhu handles a range of commercial property disputes, frequently acting for landlords. Highlights include representation of a landlord in a dispute over the unauthorised removal of a stud wall, which was initially thought to have caused £30,000 of damage but triggered a subsequent order from the local authority to demolish and replace the buildings. Other work concerns boundary restrictive covenant disputes and Party Wall Act matters. In Shirley, Kam Majevadia handles trespass to land matters concerning residential developments, including Court of Appeal cases.


Our lawyers are recommended in The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2018 editorial (listed below)

WEST MIDLANDS
Dispute resolution - Commercial litigation - Birmingham
- Dean Parnell
- Kamal Majevadia

Dispute resolution - Debt recovery
- Kamal Majevadia
- Hayley-Jo Lockley
- Gemma Parker

Finance - Insolvency and corporate recovery
- Leanne Schneider-Rose

Human resources - Employment
- Dean Parnell
- Samantha Glynn

Insurance - Clinical negligence - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- David Lydon
- Adam Hodson
-Stephen Jesson

Insurance - Personal injury - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- David Lydon
- Adam Hodson

Insurance - Professional negligence
- Sundeep Bilkhu

Private client - Contentious trusts and probate
- Kamal Majevadia (leading individual)
- Tracy Creed

Private client - Family - Birmingham
- Karen Moores
- Mauro Vinti

Private client - Personal tax, trusts and probate
-Tracy Creed ~
- Nicholas Bennett
- Ravinder Sandhu

Public sector - Health
- Dean Parnell
- Fahmida Ismail
- Tony Harris (Deceased)

Real estate - Commercial property - Birmingham
- Georgina Walsh
- Div Singh
- Fahmida Ismail

Real estate - Property litigation
- Sundeep Bilkhu
- Kamal Majevadia

Divorcees who seek to hide the true extent of their wealth can expect to be dealt with firmly by family judges and often end up facing bigger bills than those who are frank from the outset. The Court of Appeal made that point in rejecting an uncooperative husband’s challenge to an order requiring him to pay his ex-wife a seven-figure lump sum.

Divorce following the acrimonious end of the couple’s 20-year marriage, which yielded three children, a judge found that a clean break was imperative, not least because the wife was in fear of the husband, who had been convicted of assaulting and harassing her. The husband had refused to dissolve the marriage by means of a Get, a religious requirement in certain sections of the Jewish community.

The judge found that the husband had added to the complexity of the case by comprehensively failing to comply with court orders or to accurately disclose the extent of his financial resources. With a view to providing for the wife’s fair needs, the husband was ordered to pay her a £1.4 million lump sum. He was also required to pay interest on that sum, and £22,000 a year in maintenance to the wife until he both satisfied the debt and granted her a Get.

In dismissing the husband’s appeal against those orders, the Court rejected his plea that the judge had erred in failing to make even a broad brush evaluation of his undisclosed assets. The judge was entitled to find that such an assessment had been rendered impossible by the husband’s lack of cooperation.

Giving guidance for the future, the Court emphasised that judges must not jump to conclusions as to the extent of undisclosed wealth. However, if the lump sum order was unfair to the husband, that was his own fault and better than any unfairness to the wife. The judge was rightly astute to ensure that the husband did not obtain a better outcome due to his failure to comply with his disclosure obligations and was entitled to conclude that his assets were sufficient to meet both his own and the wife’s reasonable needs.

For help and advice on family law matters please contact Jayne Gregg on 0808 166 5638.

Cohabiting couples are the fastest-growing family type in the UK, according to newly released figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS reports that the number of cohabiting couple families continues to grow faster than the number of married couple and lone parent families, with an increase of 25.8 per cent over the decade 2008-2018. It highlights the fact that more and more people are choosing to live together before, or without, getting married.

These changing demographics mean that an increasing number of people may be at financial risk in the instance of a cohabitation relationship break-up or the death of a partner. Currently, there is no such thing as a common law marriage in the UK and cohabiting couples are not afforded the same legal rights and protections as married couples.

The House of Lords is seeking to address this imbalance with the Cohabitation Rights Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament. The Bill proposes to establish a framework of rights for cohabiting couples following the end of the relationship or the death of one of the cohabitants.

The Bill's provisions would only apply to cohabiting couples who had either been living together as a couple for a minimum period of three years or had a dependant child. It is intended to provide the right for either cohabitant, when a relationship breaks down, to apply to a court for a financial settlement order to redress a financial benefit or an economic disadvantage resulting from the period of cohabitation. It is also designed to make provision regarding the property of deceased persons who are survived by a cohabitant.

Says Emma Gray:

With any proposed changes to the law still some distance away, it is always advisable to seek professional advice on matters relating to cohabitation.

For help and advice on cohabitation matters or any other family law matter please contact Emma Gray on 0808 166 8860 or email her on e.wileman@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

Public confidence in the civil justice system would collapse if court orders were not rigorously enforced – however agonising complying with them may be. The point was made by a case in which a divorcee who refused to move out of her home of 25 years came within an ace of being sent to prison for her defiance.

Following lengthy and bitter divorce proceedings, the woman had been ordered to quit the home where she brought up her children so that it could be sold and the proceeds divided between her and her ex-husband. A writ of possession was eventually issued and she was compelled to leave by bailiffs. However, she returned to the property a few weeks later and had remained there since.

As a last resort, the husband launched committal proceedings against her. He said that he had no wish to see her jailed, but the High Court noted that more than just his private concerns were in play. Those who choose the court process to resolve their differences are entitled to expect that obedience to judicial orders will be enforced to the hilt and, if necessary, by imprisonment.

The Court noted that the wife, aged in her 50s, had never previously been in trouble with the law. She was suffering from stress and was clearly struggling to move on from her divorce. The Court imposed a six-week jail term but was prepared to suspend the sentence for 15 months. That would afford her sufficient time to clear the house of her possessions and ready it for the market.

We can advise you on any family law matter. For help and advice please contact Amanda Holland on 0808 166 8827. Or email her on a.holland@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

Going abroad on holiday or to live is becoming a common occurrence for many children. Parents may be offered positions abroad, either for a specific time or with endless possibilities of a permanent move. Likewise, grandparents may have chosen to move to a warm climate with a more relaxed way of life and promises of frequent long holidays for their family.

Although these changes can be viewed with a mixture of excitement and fear, if both parents agree, then their children can explore new vistas.

However, if the parents are no longer residing together there are many issues which may arise that need to be addressed. Karen Moores, family law solicitor explains the legal implications of taking your children abroad if you are divorced or separated.

Taking a child on holiday

The necessity to obtain permission to take a child out of the UK is not commonly known. It often depends on what Children Act Orders have been made, if any, and applies whether it is a day trip to France, a fortnight to Florida or the whole of the school holidays with relatives in Pakistan.

Consideration should first of all be given as to who has parental responsibility. If both parents have parental responsibility and there are no Child Arrangements orders (residence orders) or other restrictions in place, then neither can take the child on holiday outside the United Kingdom without the written consent of the other parent or any other party with parental responsibility. If consent is refused, an application to the Court will need to be made for permission.

The situation is different where one parent has a Child Arrangements Order. A person with a Child Arrangements Order that provides for a child to live with them (Residence Order) can take a child abroad for up to a month without the written consent of the other parent. However, it is good parenting to endeavour to agree the arrangements in advance; if consent is unreasonably withheld then an application may be made to the Court.

If the mother alone has parental responsibility and there are no child arrangement orders concerning the child, permission is not strictly needed by her to take a child abroad on holiday. However, again it is responsible parenting to consult and reach agreement with the other parent. Of course this does not stop a father without parental responsibility applying for parental responsibility and then objecting to the temporary removal of the child.

In almost all cases it is best to agree holiday or similar arrangements in advance to avoid misunderstandings, problems with contact, accusations of abduction and other applications to the Court. In the normal course of events permission for a child to go abroad on holiday is invariably given by a Court. Often details are required stating where the child will be staying, giving the date of departure, return and details of flights along with contact telephone numbers. If however there are suspicions that the child will not be returned, especially if the child is going to a non Hague Convention Country, then security will be necessary.

If grandparents and other family members want to take a child abroad, permission will be needed from both parents with parental responsibility and not just from one parent.

All of these issues may be dealt with at the local Court, however, if the approved holiday requires consideration of the law and procedures in foreign countries, then a Judge of the High Court may deal with such applications as consideration will need to be given with regard to putting in place specific orders. This may include mirror orders, notarised agreements and significant sums of money placed in a bond to be released upon the child's return. There have also been cases where family members, not just the person taking the child abroad, have been required to enter into a solemn declaration guaranteeing the safe return of the child.

The Court would also look at the risk of non return along with the magnitude of the impact on the child of any non return. It is therefore evident from previous Judge's decisions that they take account of each individual circumstance, the age of the child and detailed protective steps if there is a significant fear of non return after a trip abroad.

For further information and questions on taking your child/children abroad, contact us today.

Concerns of abduction

It is not unusual, particularly in families with international connections, for either parent to be anxious that the child will not be returned. These doubts may arise prior to the child leaving on holiday or indeed where the parent and child are returned late after a contact visit or if it has been difficult to get in touch with the other parent at any stage. If there is an immediate risk, port alert will be required. If there is time to secure an application to the Court for an order prohibiting the removal of the child from the jurisdiction without notice being given to the other parent, this should be done quickly as it can be crucially important to prevent the child leaving the UK. Any delay in an application can result in the child being taken out of the jurisdiction and may then result in great difficulty in locating the child and securing their return.

Nevertheless, if it is known that the child has been taken to a Country within the European Union there are considerable resources and facilities in place to track and locate a child in the hope of securing a return before departure to the rest of the world.

Abduction is known as a failure to return a child after an agreed period abroad. As stated above there are protective steps which can be taken if there is a fear of a non return after a trip abroad and legal advice should always be sought promptly to address anxiety about any concerns of an abduction. Information such as names, addresses, photographs and descriptions of people and places where it is likely that the child could be taken should be gathered as soon as possible. Clearly, this evidence may only be available if there is a reason to suspect that the child is being taken to other family members or friends who reside abroad.

If you have any concerns about abduction and need some legal advice on the issue, contact our family team.

Relocating abroad

A parent needs the permission of the other parent or a Court Order to take a child permanently abroad. This is known as a relocation application or leave to remove.

In some cases it is appropriate to oppose the relocation application but in others it may be wise to consider putting energies into legal representation to ensuring very good future contact before the relocation proceeds. If there are well thought out plans, with good reasons given to the Court for relocation, they will generally allow relocation. This however, does not mean that a parent opposing relocation of their child should immediately give up.

When considering opposing relocation applications it is essential to consider all aspects of a child's life. The Court will hear evidence as to the child's educational progress, family and support network, activities that they are involved in along with the impact of losing contact with the wider family. Consideration will also be given by the Court as to what more could the one parent offer the child if they continue to reside in this jurisdiction. If the child is to remain in Europe where the country has signed up to the appropriate conventions, there will be certain protection and enforceability of orders for contact. Even if a child has been permitted to go abroad, certain safeguards can be put in place to ensure that good contact continues. This may include extended staying contact during the school holidays and consideration as to travel arrangements, the use of emails and web cams.

Enforcement is another important issue that is required to be looked at before a child leaves the jurisdiction as often if there is a breach of an agreement or an Order these may have no validity abroad and may therefore not be relied upon. Therefore notarised agreements, mirror orders, bonds, religious oaths and other safeguards to ensure compliance with arrangements should be considered. Contact Orders made in England may not automatically be recognised or may require separate Court procedures and all of this must be done before departure.

A mirror order is an order made in the courts of the country of relocation.  This is identical to the order made before the UK courts. Therefore the advantage for the left behind parent is that because the order becomes an order of the foreign state, local enforcement is available.

There are therefore many issues that have to be considered as far in advance as possible. Legal advice from a Solicitor, preferably who has experience in such matters, should be taken so that due consideration may be given to all the possibilities that may arise and precautionary measures put in place.

Many children go abroad on holiday to visit family and friends or indeed to emigrate and it is a positive experience for them. Ultimately wherever the children is residing, it is usually in the best interests of that child to have regular, quality and contact with both parents. If this is an issue that you require further assistance or advice on please contact us today.

Companies are notoriously difficult to value and particular difficulties can arise when they form the principal assets to be divided in divorce proceedings. In a big money case on point, the High Court bridged a huge gulf between the value placed by a wife and a husband on the latter’s business interests.

The couple’s marriage, which yielded two children, lasted about seven years. His business interests, principally his 40 per cent shareholding in the company for which he worked, represented by far their biggest asset. There was a gaping divide of about £9.5 million between the value put on those interests by the wife and that contended for by the husband.

On the basis of accountancy evidence, the Court valued the husband’s net business assets at a little under £17.9 million. Those assets were agreed to be matrimonial property and the husband was ordered to pay the wife half of their value, a lump sum of £8,948,930. The wife, who was anxious to achieve financial independence as quickly as possible, argued that the husband should be ordered to sell his shares within 12 months and that, if he failed to do so, a receiver should be appointed to enforce their disposal.

The Court, however, noted that it was not a propitious time to sell the shares, in that the company had just experienced its two worst ever years of trading. The wife, who was from a wealthy background, was not in immediate need of funds and an early forced sale of the shares was likely to cause both her and the husband significant financial loss. The Court therefore set a date about four years in the future when the husband would be required to pay the lump sum in full.

The Court made further orders designed to equalise the couple’s other assets and to make provision for their accommodation and other needs. The husband was ordered to make annual maintenance payments to the wife pending remittance of the lump sum, when a clean break would be achieved. He was also required to pay maintenance for the children and to pay their school fees.

For help and advice on any family Law matters please contact Emma Gray on 0808 166 8860.

Just because a person is a regular visitor to the UK and has a home here does not mean they have the right to bring divorce proceedings here. That was the decision of the Family Court in a recent case.

It involved a couple of German origin who had lived in Switzerland for many years. They also kept a flat in Belgravia for the use of their student son, which the wife visited many times in order to attend the opera and similar events.

When their marriage broke down, the wife wished to have the divorce proceedings dealt with by the UK courts, as the financial settlements between divorcing couples are traditionally more evenly balanced than is common in many foreign jurisdictions.

Under a foreign pre-marital agreement, the woman had disclaimed any right to a financial settlement. That would have been difficult for her to challenge were the divorce to be dealt with in Switzerland or Germany. She therefore issued divorce proceedings in the UK, where such agreements are not legally binding although in the appropriate circumstances a party may be held to it or at the least an award reduced. In the UK usually the Court will expect, although not necessarily require, certain key features in respect of pre-nuptial agreements regarding receipt of appropriate independent legal advice and the absence of undue influence when they are signed.

The wife indicated that she should not be held to the pre-nuptial agreement because of these flaws but she would only be able to present such an argument in front of a UK court.

To succeed in her wish to bring the issue before a British court she had to be of UK domicile. She claimed she was, having been a UK resident for more than six months and having become closely integrated into English society.

However, the Court rejected her claim of UK domicile. In its view, her visits did not satisfy the test that she 'belonged' in the UK rather than being a frequent visitor to these shores.

Says  Amanda Holland "Where a marriage break-up has an international dimension, there can be many added complications. Our experts can guide you through the process with sound advice and sensitivity."

Please contact Amanda Holland on 0808 166 8827 or email a.holland@sydneymitchell.co.uk

Large family fortunes are commonly held in complicated trust structures and that can give rise to difficulties in the event of divorce. However, a big money case in which a wife was awarded a seven-figure sum showed that family judges are more than capable of untangling them and ensuring that justice is done.

The husband was a major beneficiary of a family trust with assets worth around £400 million. Together with occasional seven-figure distributions, the trust provided him with a very substantial monthly income. He enjoyed a profligate lifestyle during the marriage and none of that income was saved. After his wife launched divorce proceedings, he was assessed as lacking the mental capacity required to litigate and was represented by the Official Solicitor.

The husband had entirely failed to engage in the proceedings, instead showering the wife – and the High Court – with a series of thoroughly offensive communications. His assets were frozen after he ignored a number of orders requiring him to pay maintenance to the wife. Having previously enjoyed a highly privileged lifestyle, she had been left with modest assets worth about £200,000.

Commenting on the huge gulf between the cases put forward by the former couple, the Court noted that the wife claimed to require more than £18.6 million to meet her reasonable needs, whilst the husband contended for a figure of less than £2.9 million.

In ruling on the matter, the Court achieved a clean break by awarding the wife a lump sum of £4.25 million, enough to support an income of about £175,000 a year for the rest of her life. She also received the former matrimonial home, an eight-bedroom mansion worth £2.55 million. Together with other assets, the value of her total award came to a fraction over £7 million.

The husband, who received an annual income from the trust of almost £1.2 million, was well able to meet the award, but was permitted to pay £2.5 million of the lump sum in instalments over a five-year period. He was ordered to continue maintenance payments to the wife until the last of those instalments was paid.

For help on divorce or family matters, please speak to Teresa Mannion t.mannion@sydneymitchell.co.uk  or a member of the Family Team on 08081668860

It is sadly common for wealthy people to exhibit extreme reluctance to disclose their assets if their marriages end in divorce. However, as a case concerning a husband worth more than £300 million showed, family judges have all the powers they need to punish those who drag their feet in complying with court orders.

After celebrating their wedding in Oman, the couple were married for 12 years and had three children together. After their relationship broke down, they engaged in a race to be the first to lodge divorce proceedings. The husband obtained a divorce certificate in Oman, which was presented to the wife the day after she served him with an English divorce petition.

Following a hearing in London, the validity of the Omani certificate was upheld and the wife’s English petition was dismissed. However, as she had lived in England for some years, she was permitted to apply for financial provision from the husband under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.

The wife’s lawyers obtained an order requiring the husband to provide full details of his assets worldwide on the basis that such disclosure was necessary to ensure just resolution of the proceedings. After the deadline for compliance with that order came and went, they sought the husband’s committal to prison for contempt of court.

In ruling on the matter, the High Court was satisfied that the husband was well aware of the order despite having failed to engage in the proceedings. His deliberate disobedience had been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The Court imposed a three-month prison sentence, but suspended the term for seven days in order to encourage his belated compliance with his disclosure obligations.

For help or advice on this or other related Family Law matter, please contact Amanda Holland on 0808 166 8827 or email a.holland@sydneymitchell.co.uk

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