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ZA v AS [2014] EWHC 2630 (Fam)

Judgment arising from cross-applications for financial orders brought under the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, although both parties agreed that the case should be dealt with as if it were brought under the Matrimonial Causes Act.

These were cross-applications for financial orders which, unusually, were brought under the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 as the parties had divorced overseas, although both parties agreed that the case should be dealt with in the same way as if it were brought under the Matrimonial Causes Act. The applicant wife (W) was from Qatar and the husband (H) from Pakistan.  The parties were both qualified doctors and had met during postgraduate studies in Edinburgh.  Both parties made allegations of serious financial impropriety against the other.

During the course of the marriage, the parties had purchased a number of properties in both the UK and abroad.  The judgment sets out in some detail the circumstances in which each property was acquired and the source of the funds used.

An important aspect of the case related to a property that the couple were building on land purchased in Qatar.  W's case was that she called a family meeting in 2004 because she was concerned that H might withdraw his financial support and that her sister, N, agreed to take over the loan repayments and finance the remaining building works.  She said it was agreed that W would transfer the property to N for QAR 1 million (including the sister's payment for the loan and building works), and that this was the market value of the property at the time.  However, the property was not transferred to N at that stage.  It was noted that W had not told the court in Qatar about this agreement during an application for maintenance.

The parties separated in June 2005, H having remarried in February 2004, although W and the children did not become aware of this until later.  There were further disputes between the parties about whether H had paid W maintenance.

In 2007 W executed a contract to transfer the property in Doha to her sister, although the court found that H was not told about this until 2012.

H admitted forging W's signature in order to cash in two endowment policies.  The judge also found that he had misled the court in respect of the proceeds.
A crucial issue in these proceedings was ownership of the Doha property.

W's case was that her sister, N, had turned against her and would not cooperate with a valuation of that property.  It also came to light that the property had been rented out to a school shortly before the trial.  The judge, however, detected no animosity between the sisters during the hearing.

The judgment then goes on to detail the values of assets that were agreed, the open offers, the parties' respective cases and the applicable law as well as a description of the evidence (written and oral) in the case.

The judgment finds that neither party, nor the key witnesses, were particularly truthful.  Of the parties, H was slightly more truthful but only because the majority of his misdemeanours had been uncovered long before he went in the witness box and he had no choice but to admit them. 

The judge then details his findings in relation to the Doha property (Building X), commenting that W faced a number of difficulties in her contention that she had transferred a property now worth over £1million to her sister for £160,000 and a life interest, which was worthless in any event now that her sister had decided to exclude her and keep the property for herself.  He details eleven different aspects of the case in relation to this property (at para 74) which lead him to conclude that the court was being "seriously misled as to the true position" (para. 73).

The judge concluded that although the family meeting in 2004 had taken place, W had not sold the Doha property to her sister at this time.  There was no reason why she would have done so.  He found that, as they were a family who clearly had the means to help each other out, it was more likely that another family member had been paying the loan on the property and this is why the sister had not produced her bank statements.   Whilst the judge found that the transfer document had been drawn up in May 2007, this was to defeat H's claim for half of the value of the property.   In essence, Moor J concludes that W's case in relation to this property was fabricated and that it remained a resource that was available to W.

The judgment also details the judge's findings on other matters in dispute.  His overall conclusion was that W had the Qatar property which she could either live in or use to generate an income.  She also had a generous pension that would provide for her income needs and which would also enable her to borrow money to discharge a mortgage if required.  H did not have this capacity. W also had significant debts and no other substantial resources.  H had no pension provision but good earning capacity at present.  He intended to work until he was 70 as he had a new wife and three young children.  He needed a property in this country which could be achieved by transfer of the parties' property in Putney to him.  The judge concluded that the house in St John's Wood would be sold when the parties' youngest child finished university.   Until then W and the children could live there.  The property was valued at £735,000 of which approx £500,000 (68%) would go to H to provide him with a pension.    The balance would go to W which she could use as a deposit on a London flat which she could supplement with a mortgage.  This would leave her with debts but she had the Doha property at her disposal.  The existing child maintenance was reduced to £1,000 per month for the youngest child until she finished her undergraduate degree.  Although the court had made serious findings, both parties had approached the litigation on the basis that there should be no order for costs.

Summary by Sally Gore, barrister, Fenners Chambers
____________________________
IMPORTANT NOTICE
This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment no person other than the advocates or the solicitors instructing them and other persons named in this version of the judgment may be identified by name or location and that in particular the anonymity of the children and members of their family must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWHC 2630 (Fam)
Case No: FD12F00751

IN THE FAMILY COURT


Sitting at
the Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 31st July 2014

Before :

Mr Justice Moor
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Between :

ZA  Applicant
- and - 
AS Respondent
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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Miss Deborah Bangay QC for the Applicant
Mr Roger Bull for the Respondent

Hearing dates:  9th to 16th June 2014 
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JUDGMENT

MR JUSTICE MOOR:-
1. These are cross-applications for financial remedies.  Unusually, they are brought, by consent, pursuant to Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 ("the 1984 Act"), although both parties are agreed that I should approach the case in exactly the same way as if I was hearing a normal application for financial provision.  Both parties make very serious allegations of financial impropriety against the other.  I will have to determine where the truth lies.  Some of the allegations are admitted by the Respondent, although he had no realistic alternative other than to do so.  Others are emphatically denied by both parties.   I will have to make some serious findings of fact.
 
2. As will become clear in due course, I am satisfied that both have misled the other, at various times, and have misled this court in their evidence to me both written and oral.  I therefore have to try to piece together the actual truth.  Given that this is the case, if I do at any point, make a finding that is unfair to one or the other, they will only have themselves to blame.

The parties  
3. The Applicant, ZA (hereafter "the Wife") was born in Qatar on 10th October 1955.  She is therefore aged 58.  She is a qualified medical practitioner.  She was employed by the PC but retired during 2012.  She is in receipt of a valuable tax free pension from the Qatar Government, equivalent to £105,830 pa.  She has suffered from ill health of late but, fortunately, has shown considerable improvement following changes of medication.  She is currently living in a flat held in the name of the Respondent  in St John's Wood, London, NW8 ("the SJW property) with the younger child of the family.
 
4. The Respondent, AS, (hereafter "the Husband") was born in Pakistan on 9th February 1953.  He is therefore aged 61.  He is also a qualified medical practitioner.  He remains employed by the GPC on a tax free salary, including benefits, of approximately £150,000 pa.  One of the issues I will have to decide is the security of this employment and its likely future duration.  At present, he is on a short term contract that has recently been extended to February 2015.  He lives in Qatar in rented accommodation with his second wife, their three relatively young children (aged 9, 7 and 6) and his second wife's daughter from her first marriage (aged 17).  There is no dispute that he is not entitled to a pension from the Government of Qatar because he is not a Qatari National.

The history of the marriage 
5. The parties met in Scotland when they were both post-graduate medical students in 1986.  They married in Edinburgh on 29th July 1987.  Subsequently, they bought a property there in their joint names.

6. They have two children.  Both are British citizens.  Their elder daughter, JJ was born on 7th May 1990.  She is therefore aged 24.  She has recently completed a post-graduate business degree at a London University but is now undertaking work experience in Qatar for Qatar Petroleum.  I was told that she intends to return to London thereafter to work.  Their younger daughter, SS was born on 2nd January 1994.  She is therefore aged 20.   She is at a London University studying for a degree in business and management.  She would like to undertake a Masters Degree at the London Business School.  I am told that she too sees her future in the United Kingdom. 

7. In 1993, the Wife moved to London with J from Edinburgh.  She worked as a paediatrician at Lambeth Hospital.  The Husband joined her subsequently and worked at a GP's surgery in Gray's Inn Road.  In May 1993, they purchased a property in Putney ("the Putney property) in their joint names.  The property is now valued at £835,000 but is subject to a mortgage of £103,652.  It is rented out. 

8. In September 1995, the Wife and children moved to Qatar.  The Wife took a post working for the Qatar Ministry of Health.  The Husband left the UK to join the family in March 1996 and joined Qatar Petroleum as a medical officer.  He has worked there ever since. 

9. On 11th April 1998, the Wife purchased a piece of land in Doha pursuant to a Government scheme, intending to build a home on the site.  The land had to be purchased in her sole name as, at the time, non-Qatari Nationals could not acquire property there.  The plot was in Building X, Doha, Qatar ("Building X").  The purchase price was Qatari Riyals ("QAR") 200,000, which was equivalent to about £36,000.  There is a dispute as to how this was funded.  It is clear a loan was taken from Qatar Investment Bank.  I reject the Husband's case that he provided QAR 55,000 as his half of the deposit.  His evidence for that was a debit to his account but that was a year later. 

10. During the year 2000, the parties re-mortgaged the Putney property for £340,000.  The existing mortgage, which was £179,985 at the time, was redeemed.  This left a cash sum of just over £160,000.  The Wife signed all the documents to permit this re-mortgage.  The letters from the solicitors, Morgan Cole, were addressed to them jointly.

11. On 2nd November 2000, contracts were exchanged to buy the St John's Wood property for £340,000.  A mortgage was taken of £272,000.  A deposit was paid of £15,000 and £58,208 was contributed from the re-mortgage money.  The property was acquired in the sole name of the Husband.  The Wife says that she was totally unaware that this was the case and had thought the property had been purchased in joint names.  The Husband says she was fully aware.  He admits, however, that they had a significant argument at a Café when she made it clear she wanted the property in joint names.  Whilst I accept that it is odd that the Wife did not question why she had not signed any documents relating to the purchase, I have come to the conclusion that, on the balance of probabilities, she wanted the property in joint names and did not know until much later that it had been purchased in the Husband's sole name.  I also find that he did this as he was upset that Building X was in the Wife's sole name.

12. I am fortified in my findings by the fact that the Husband then opened a bank account in his sole name in the Isle of Man with the Bradford & Bingley.  He transferred the balance of the re-mortgage money, namely £89,985 from a joint account in the UK to this account in the Isle of Man.  He also transferred a further £24,985 from the same joint account to the Isle of Man, making a total of £114,970.  I am quite satisfied that the Wife did not know about this. 

13. It is a complete mystery as to what happened to the amount in the Bradford & Bingley.  The account was closed on 10th February 2004 when the remaining balance of £12,961 was transferred to an account in Pakistan.  The Husband said in his answers to Questionnaire that he spent the money on property purchases in Pakistan but the only one that he has been able to identify is the purchase in 2003 of the J Road flat in Hyderabad for around £10,000.  Although a long time ago, this was a significant amount of money.  I reject the Husband's claim that he does not remember what happened to the money.

14. In early 2001, the Wife entered into a contract to fund the cost of building a property on the Doha land with a company called FF.  The building work was undertaken by a company, SM, that was owned by her brothers and which they had inherited from their father.  The loan was for QAR 811,080.  Including the profit element (as interest cannot be charged on a Qatari loan), the total was QAR 961,127.  The first instalment appears to have been QAR 11,265.  I reject the Wife's case that the Husband did not contribute to this loan.  It is tolerably clear that the Husband set up a standing order for QAR 6,000 per month immediately before the first instalment on the loan was due.  A bank statement of the Wife's for the year 2000 did not show a standing order, whereas one appears from 28th April 2001.  Moreover, I am satisfied that the Wife would not have been able to pay the instalments without such a contribution.  It follows that the Husband did make a contribution to the purchase of the property.

15. The family moved into the property at the end of 2002.  There is a dispute as to the extent to which the staff quarters and other external works remained outstanding.  I have found it very difficult to resolve this dispute as there is very limited documentary evidence indeed.  I will have to return to this later.
 
16. By now, it is clear that the marriage was getting into difficulties.  The Husband moved into a spare bedroom in early 2003.  Quite remarkably, he went to Pakistan in early 2004 and married again on 4th February 2004.  Whilst that may well be permitted by his religion, the simple fact of the matter is that he did not tell the Wife or the children.  The Wife eventually found out when she came across a document in the Husband's possession after he returned to the Doha home.  Inevitably, this caused the Wife and children enormous distress.  I consider it is the main reason for what has subsequently happened in relation to Building X.  On 19th June 2005, all of the Husband's clothing was destroyed.  In one sense, he has only himself to blame, although that is not to condone what happened.

17. The Wife says that she called a family meeting in May 2004.  She says that she was concerned that she might default on the loan on the Qatar property.  She now says that the Husband was threatening to withdraw his financial support. At an earlier stage of these proceedings, she said that he had not given her any financial support since he remarried although that was clearly incorrect.  For example, I have seen evidence of his loan contribution of QAR 6,000 being paid on 28th April.  The Wife's case is that her sister, N, agreed to take over the loan repayments and finance the remaining building works.  She says that it was agreed that the Wife would transfer the property to N for consideration of QAR 1 million (including the sister's payment for the loan and building works).  It is further said that this was the market value of the property at the time.  I will have to return to this in due course as it is the most important aspect of this case.  There is, however, no doubt that the property was not transferred to N at that stage.  

18. In June 2005, the Husband vacated the home in Doha when his second wife and her child arrived in Qatar.  At the same time, the Wife commenced proceedings in Qatar for maintenance and money towards the cost of the Doha property and, in particular, the loan repayments.   On 8th September 2005, the Doha Court made an emergency order for QAR 5,000 pm.  The Wife says the Husband refused to pay, although his bank statements show that he was still making the loan payments of QAR 6,000 per month into her bank account throughout this period.  He had previously stopped, he says by agreement, for a few months when he discovered that the Wife had used his credit card and bank card in June 2004 to spend the equivalent of just over £8,000 on jewellery and watches for herself and J.

19. In May 2006, the Qatar Court awarded the Wife maintenance of QAR 8,200 pm.  The judgment is an impressive document that considers the claim in exactly the same way that this court would consider an application for maintenance pending suit.  Moreover, it is tolerably clear from the judgment that the Husband had tried to argue that his basic salary was QAR 22,205 per month without disclosing his benefits.  When documentation was obtained from Qatar Petroleum, at the insistence of the court, the true figure of QAR 39,485 pm was revealed. 

20. The judgment is, however, notable in other respects.  It makes it clear that the Wife had not told the Qatar Court anything about the alleged agreement with her sister, N.  The judgment refers to the Wife's claim for a housing allowance and says that she has "acknowledged that she resides in the marital home and, whether the home is wholly owned by (her), as she claims, or owned jointly with the (Husband) as he claims, her presence in the marital home negates any need for a housing allowance."  Indeed, it goes further than that as it is clear from the judgment that the Husband had brought a claim in that court to require the Wife to declare the joint ownership of the property.  The Wife's response was not to say that the property was owned by her sister.  Rather, she argued that the court lacked jurisdiction as it was a civil matter. I assume she meant it was a private matter. The court rejected this argument but considered more evidence was required and deemed that the best course would be "to present the dispute before the pertinent civil circuit". 

21. The Wife alleged that the Husband did not pay.  An Attachment of Earnings Order was made.  Approximately QAR 50,000 was paid into court.  The Husband says that the reason he did not pay was that he was already paying more than QAR 8,200 pm (namely his loan payments of QAR 6,000 pm and a further sum of around QAR 3,000 pm for general maintenance).  He says that the Wife therefore withdrew the proceedings.  She did not seem to dissent from that.  There is a dispute as to what happened to the sum of QAR 50,000.  He says that the Wife withdrew it and paid it towards the loan on the Doha property.  

22. In March 2007, the Husband purchased two properties in his sole name.  The first was Apartment Xin Doha for the equivalent of £395,000 with a loan of £267,000 as well as an "off-plan" flat in Dubai for the equivalent of £31,900. 

23. On 7th May 2007, the Wife attended at the offices of the family's Qatari lawyer, Mr B with her sister, N.  Mr B had acted for her in the Qatar maintenance proceedings.  The contract transferred Building X to N, saying that the total price was QAR 1,000,000.  The contract further says the consideration was paid "in its entirety at the time of this contract directly from (N) to (the Wife)".  Clause 6 of the contract is of great importance.  It reads as follows:-

"The Second Party (N) declares that she has no right to dispose in any manner of the purchased property during the life of the First Party (the Wife).  This includes conveyance by sale or gift. Also, she may not rent the property to any person.  The First Party has the right to use the property during her lifetime without any objection from the Second Party."

24. It is clear that this transfer was not registered at the Qatar Land Registry until 17th October 2012.  As will be seen in due course, this was shortly after litigation had been commenced in this jurisdiction.  Moreover, it is accepted that the Husband was not told about this transfer until 2012.  The Wife says she told him in August but I reject that.  He discovered the position for the first time at court in this country on 2nd October 2012 when the Wife raised the matter in response to the Husband saying she owned Building X.
 
25. On 19th July 2011, the Husband commenced divorce proceedings in Qatar.  It appears that, at that stage, he did not pronounce talaq but was relying on behaviour type allegations. 

26. The parties held two joint endowment policies with Scottish Widows and Friends Provident. Both were due to mature.  The Husband wrote to both companies in December 2011 asking them to pay the proceeds into an account in his sole name at National Westminster Bank in Edinburgh.  In the case of Friends Provident, he had to ask for the policy to be surrendered slightly early.  On both application forms, he forged the Wife's signature.  Scottish Widows paid up quite happily.  Friends Provident queried the instructions and demanded documentary evidence of the Wife's identity.  The Husband was therefore forced to contact the Wife, who duly provided the identification and signed the form.  She expected the proceeds to be paid into a joint account at the Halifax.  They were not.  They were paid into the Husband's sole account as per his original request.  He did not tell the Wife.  He did not account to her for the proceeds.  She discovered about a year later when preparing her Form E.  This was a ridiculous fraud as he was bound to be discovered.

27. The Husband accepts the fraud and apologises but claims that he had always intended to account to the Wife for her share.  The two policies produced £107,204.  The Wife was therefore entitled to £53,602.  Yet the Husband's Form E was completely misleading in this regard. He claimed that she was only entitled to £44,496 saying that he had paid £18,212 to the Halifax in relation to the expenses (including the mortgage) on the Putney property.  This was completely misleading as it ignored entirely the rent received on Putney. 

28. He has not paid the money over.  In fact, he has used £65,000 of it to reduce the amount owing on the property he owns in Doha as part of a re-mortgage of that property.  Whilst I accept that this has increased the equity in that flat, it does not in any way ameliorate his behaviour in relation to these policies.

29. In the early part of April 2012, the Wife sold a number of shares she had been given by the Qatar Government in various privatised utility companies in Qatar.  The total proceeds of sale amounted to £69,155.  This is not an insignificant sum of money.  On 8th April, the Wife sent this money to an orphanage in the Yemen.  She says that she had been supporting a number of orphans there for some time and she wanted to guarantee their future well-being before she moved to this country.  

30. Following an intervention by the Wife's family, it was agreed that the Qatar divorce proceedings would proceed on the basis of a Talaq that would subsequently be registered in the Qatar Court by means of proceedings.  As I understand it, the Talaq was pronounced by the Husband on 16th April 2012 and ratified by the Qatar Court on 17th July 2012, at which point it became final.

31. In June 2012, W gave notice to her employers and applied for her pension.  On 25th June 2012, the Wife invested QAR 600,000 (nearly £100,000) in four separate funds on behalf of the children.  She says it was like an ISA investment.  I have now seen documents that make it clear that the majority of this money came from accounts held by her for the children.   There is therefore no significant dissipation argument in relation to this money.

32. On 24th August 2012, the Husband's father died.  He claims that, a few days thereafter, he transferred five shops in J, Hyderabad (below the flat he had purchased in 2003) out of his name in accordance with his father's wishes.  His written evidence in this regard was all over the place.  He first said he transferred the shops to his siblings.  He then said he transferred them to his brother to sell on behalf of his siblings.  Finally, he produced a document showing that he had granted his brother a General Power of Attorney to sell the shops on 26th August 2012.

33. His oral evidence on this point was equally confusing.  He told me that his father had transferred the shops to him in 1989.  However the General Power of Attorney indicated that he had bought them in 2002/2003.  At first sight, this might appear to provide an explanation as to how a significant part of the Bradford & Bingley money had been used but that would be far too simple.  His oral evidence had been that he had only paid approximately the equivalent of £10,000 out of total consideration of the equivalent of £60,000 (6 million rupees).  He then suddenly said that he had a document that dealt with this.  After lunch, he produced a document headed "Agreement of Family Settlement" that appeared to support the thrust of what he had told me orally.  The Agreement indicates that his father had transferred the shops to his brother, AS, in December 1989 and the Husband had indeed contracted to buy the shops from his brother in 2002/2003 for the equivalent of £60,000.  The document implies that he has not paid although even that is not clear.  I have been unable to get to the bottom of exactly what occurred but, in any event, it does not help the Husband in that it does not provide an obvious explanation as to what happened to the Bradford & Bingley money.
 
34. In September 2012, the Wife and children came to England.  I am satisfied that the primary purpose was for the two children to commence their respective higher education courses here.  I have not heard evidence as to what then transpired.  It would therefore be wrong for me to make findings as to contentious matters.  There is no doubt, however, that the Wife and children were expecting to reside in the St John's Wood flat.  The Husband did not want them to do so.  An application for an occupation order was made, which by coincidence came before me on three separate occasions in very quick succession. It transpired that the Husband was not served with the application by mistake.  In any event, I granted the Wife permission to enter and occupy the St John's Wood property.  The Husband applied to set that order aside.  Very expensive litigation ensued.  Eventually, a compromise was reached at the very last minute by which the Husband agreed to allow the Wife and children to occupy the property provided the Wife paid the mortgage instalments and other outgoings.   He agreed to continue to pay general maintenance for the two girls of £2,000 per month in total.  Subsequently, HHJ O'Dwyer ordered him to pay £48,000 towards the Wife's costs of that part of the litigation.

These proceedings
35. On 11th February 2013, the Wife applied for permission to make an application for financial remedies after an overseas divorce pursuant to Part III of the 1984 Act.  Unusually, the application went by consent.  The reason for this was that both parties wanted the English Court to decide as to the ownership of the two English properties. 
 
36. As a result of the agreement, Eleanor King J gave permission to make the claim on 20th February 2013.  Since then, the application has progressed relatively normally although numerous further issues have arisen. 

37. In particular, the issue as to the ownership of Building X in Doha has taken centre stage.  Very recently, the Husband filed Points of Claim and the Wife filed a Response.  It is the Husband's case that the transfer to N was a sham.  In the alternative, he says, in effect, that it was a transfer at a significant undervalue.  He asks me to add the value back into the Wife's assets.  It is his case that the payments of QAR 1 million said to have been made by N were never made. 

38. Both the Wife's sister, N and her elder brother, MS  had filed statements in the occupation order proceedings, which centred on this issue and stood as their statements in the Part III proceedings.   Both came over from Qatar and gave evidence before me via interpreters.  They both stayed with the Wife in the St John's Wood flat whilst here.

39. In essence, the Wife's case is that N has turned against her.  On three separate occasions, orders were made by consent for a valuation of the Doha property.  The Wife's case has been that N has adamantly refused, on the basis that it is her property and has nothing to do with this court.  Given the life interest provision in the transfer document, this was a bold position to adopt.  The Wife says she has pleaded with her sister but to no avail.  The Husband said, not surprisingly, that the Wife should exercise her rights to obtain the valuation anyway.  The Wife and N responded that it would be a criminal offence in Qatar to value someone else's property.  When the relevant parts of the Qatari law were produced, it was clear that the only criminal offence was that of trespass.  The Wife, however, persisted in her case that no valuation was therefore possible, given her sister's refusal of consent, notwithstanding the Wife's exclusive right of occupation.   
 
40. The Husband then proposed a drive by valuation.  Again, the Wife refused to countenance this on the basis that it was illegal but the Husband found a Doha valuer, Mr K .  Mr K clearly took a different view of Qatari law and produced, with the help of two of his assistants, a detailed Valuation Report dated 5th June 2014.  This is significant for two reasons.  First, the valuation entirely supported the Husband's case, namely that the property is worth over £1 million.  The drive-by valuation is QAR 6.9 million which is approximately £1.1 million.  Second, the valuer said that the property was rented out to a school in Doha for its administrative offices.  This was, of course, the first that the court or the Husband had heard of this.  The Wife's case is that it was the first that she had heard of it as well.  Miss Bangay QC, who appears on her behalf, repeatedly told me that her solicitor had witnessed the Wife's shock when she learned of this.

41. Enquiries were made by the Wife's lawyers and it was discovered that the tenancy contract was dated 28th April 2014.  The tenancy was to run from 1st June 2014 for two years at a monthly rent of QAR 22,000 pm.  This amounts to just over £3,500 pm.  Given the terms of the sale contract, which specifically prevented N from renting out the property, this was a staggering development.  It was said, with some force, that leaving the property empty was a security risk.  The timing, however, was highly suspicious, coming so shortly before the trial.  Moreover, the terms of the transfer contract seem absolutely clear, namely that the Wife is entitled to any such rent, given her life interest. 

42. Again, to the surprise of the Husband's legal team, Mr B came back into the picture.  Even though he had previously been acting for the Wife, he now sent a letter saying that he had met with N on several occasions.  He had advised her that nobody was entitled to value her (N's) property without her consent.  He said that, as the Wife had left Doha permanently to reside in the UK on 13th September 2012 and would only return sporadically for a holiday, the legal effect was to relinquish her life interest and N was free to do whatever she wanted with her property.  On the very last day of the trial, the Wife attempted to put in an opinion from another Qatari lawyer to the same effect. 

43. At this point, I only make three observations.  First, the contract does not say anything about this life interest being conditional on the Wife residing in Doha.  Indeed, if that was the case, the provision preventing N from renting it out would be largely otiose as the Wife would be in occupation.  Second, what would happen if the Wife returned to Doha tomorrow?  Surely she would be entitled to occupy the property again.  Third, I was told by both the Wife and N that they are a close family.  I accept that evidence.  If there is any truth whatsoever in this development, it is a monstrous betrayal of a sister by her own sister.  Indeed, it is close to theft.  Yet I detected no hint of animosity between the sisters in court.  I have come to the conclusion that, if N had not told the Wife about the rental, it would have been for entirely tactical reasons.  

44. The Pre-Trial Review came before Jennifer Roberts QC (now Roberts J) on 1st May 2014.  As I will explain in due course, it is the Husband's case that numerous documents to support the Wife and N's story are missing.  A recital was made to the order which says that the Husband will be asking the court to draw adverse inferences in relation to the Doha property on the basis of the absence of these outstanding documents. 

The assets
45. Although my final assessment of the assets in the case will have to await my findings of fact, some of the assets are agreed.  In particular, it is agreed that the Putney property is valued at £835,000 but is subject to a mortgage of £103,652.  The St John's Wood property has a value of £970,000 but is subject to a mortgage of £205,445.  There are no other assets of any significance in this jurisdiction.
 
46. The Husband has a number of other properties.  The Dubai flat is worth £65,440 but an instalment of £5,187 remains outstanding.  His Qatar Flat, has a value of QAR 2 million, which is £476,974 but is subject to a loan of £185,287.  Excluding the five shops in Hyderabad, he owned three properties in Pakistan.  The flat above the shops in Hyderabad has a value of £16,666.  The other two assets are plots of land.  They are both either sold or about to be sold to cover liabilities.  They are both in the Karachi area.  The first in Gulshan Iqbal is being sold for £66,667.  The second in Gulistan has been sold for £56,000 (as against a valuation in his Form E by the Husband of £33,247).  The Husband decided to sell the latter piece of land to discharge the costs liability of £48,000 made against him in the occupation proceedings.

47. The Husband has funds of his own amounting to just under £40,000 but he claims to have very significant liabilities primarily relating to his costs.  He says he owes his brother, AS the sum of £66,817 and his brother-in-law, Dr FA an amount of £212,468.  The Wife says there is no evidence for some of these loans.  She adds that she does not believe that either gentleman has the resources to make these loans.  As there is no doubt that the Husband has incurred very considerable costs in connection with these proceedings, the only real issue is whether this money came from his relatives or from undisclosed assets of his own.  He also has outstanding costs of £77,300 and credit card debts of £22,840.  Finally, in this regard, Miss Bangay urges me to add back into his assets not just the costs he was ordered to pay to the Wife in relation to the occupation proceedings but also his own costs of those proceedings.  She seeks an add-back of £106,000.

48. So far as the Wife is concerned, I will leave to one side the issue of the ownership of Building X, Doha.  She has funds of £46,094 after making a recent costs payment.  She also has very significant liabilities to her relatives in connection with costs.  She owes her brother, M, the sum of £95,298.  She owes another sister, Zaser, an amount of £79,419.  She owes a total of £61,000 to C and D.  She owes £16,000 each to J and S and a further £20,000 in costs to her solicitors. 

49. In addition, she has her Qatari pension.  The Husband obtained a valuation of the pension from George Mathieson of Mathieson Consulting in a report dated 7th December 2012.  He accepted that the pension does not have a formal CETV or CEV as with a UK pension but he valued the income stream.  On the basis that the pension is a level pension that does not increase with inflation, he used an annuity rate of £22.24 to fund £1 of pension.  This gave a capitalised value of £2,529,221.  The Wife did not produce her own valuation but instructed Mr Peter Moore of BDM to provide a critique of Mr Mathieson's document.  He made a number of valid points but I note that he himself recommended a professional actuarial valuation of such a high value asset.  It is, of course, increasingly rare to buy an annuity given the ability to resort to income drawdown.  Nevertheless, I accept the Husband's case that this pension is a very valuable resource to the Wife that is not available to the Husband.  There is, of course, a difference in their ages and life expectancies but, broadly speaking, the Husband would require a capital sum similar to that postulated by Mr Mathieson if he was to generate such a pension for himself. 

50. In the same way that the Wife seeks add-backs in relation to the Husband, he seeks add-backs in relation to her.  The most significant of his claims for an add-back relates to the gift of nearly £70,000 made to the orphanage in the Yemen. 

The Open Offers  
51. Both parties have made Open Offers.  The Wife's proposal is that the Putney property should be transferred to the Husband and the St John's Wood flat should be transferred to her. She should receive a lump sum of £53,000, being her half share of the two endowment policies.  Miss Bangay QC, for the Wife, produced a schedule of assets in her closing submissions, showing that the Husband would receive £1,032,000 whilst her client would get £547,683.  She calculates that this amounts to a division of the assets 65% to the Husband and 35% to the Wife.  The point does have to be made that this calculation does not include Building X, Doha nor any valuation for the Wife's Qatari pension.
 
52. The Husband's proposal is that he should retain the St John's Wood flat and the Putney property should be transferred to him.  He proposes paying a lump sum to the Wife of £22,081.  This is on the basis that his capital contribution of £65,027 to his Doha flat should be deducted to avoid double counting as it is included in the Assets Schedule.  He says that the Wife and S should be allowed to remain living in the St John's Wood property until either S completes her course or until 15th July 2015, whichever is the earlier.  The proposals are to be in full and final settlement of all claims in this jurisdiction and in Qatar.  Miss Bangay says that, if ordered by the court, it would leave her client insolvent to the tune of (£218,691) and the Husband would have 114% of the assets, although this is again without any consideration of her pension or Building X. 

Their respective cases
53. There is very little that these parties agree upon.  One striking example relates to their future intentions.  The Wife says she will be living in London but the Husband, after his employment in Qatar comes to an end, intends to live in Pakistan.  The Husband says the polar opposite.  His case is that he will be living in London (or at least in the UK) but the Wife will be returning to Qatar. 

The law
54. I am being asked to make orders pursuant to Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.  There is no dispute that I have jurisdiction to do so and both counsel are agreed that I should apply the law as if this was an application for financial remedies pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.  Indeed, pursuant to section 18 of the 1984 Act, I must have regard to all the circumstances of the case.  I must then come to a fair result.  Whilst I am directed to give first consideration to the welfare of any minor under the age of 18, both girls in this case are now over that age, although they remain a highly relevant circumstance of the case.
 
55. Moreover, section 18(3) requires me to have particular regard to the matters in section 25(2) of the 1973 Act section 25.   Section 25(2) requires me to have particular regard to:-

(a) The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;

(b) The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(c) The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;

(d) The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;

(e) Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;

(f) The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;

(g) The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it; and

(h) The value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution …of the marriage, that party will  lose the chance of acquiring.  

56. I will return to many of these sub-sections hereafter.  At this point, I only need mention two.  First, it is accepted that conduct is not relevant in this case, other than the allegation that both parties have been hiding and/or dissipating their assets.  Second, the contributions of both parties to the marriage have been equal.  It was made clear in the seminal House of Lords decision of White v White [2001] 1 AC 596 that there is to be no discrimination in financial remedy cases between spouses.  In this case, in fact, both have worked throughout the marriage and made a full and proper contribution.  Indeed, White goes on to decide that, in the absence of good reason to the contrary, the fruits of the marriage are to be divided equally.   However, this presumption always yields to the needs of the parties.  Both accept that their respective needs are at the heart of this case.  In essence, I must determine what the assets are and then distribute them fairly in accordance with both parties' needs.
 
57. Both allege that the other is hiding assets.  I remind myself that the burden of proof is on he or she who seeks to assert a positive case as to disputed facts, although both have a duty to provide to the court all the relevant information.  This has been described as the duty to provide full and frank disclosure.

58. The standard of proof is the civil standard, namely the balance of probabilities.  There have been a number of authorities over the years as to how the court should deal with cases involving alleged non-disclosure.  In J v J [1955] P 215, Sachs J said at p227:-

"In cases of this kind, where the duty of disclosure comes to lie upon the husband; where a husband has – and his wife has not – detailed knowledge of his complex affairs; where a husband is fully capable of explaining, and has the opportunity to explain, those affairs, and where he seeks to minimise the wife's claim, that husband can hardly complain if when he leaves gaps in the court's knowledge, the court does not draw inferences in his favour.  On the contrary, when he leaves a gap in such a state that two alternative inferences may be drawn, the court will normally draw the less favourable inference – especially where it seems likely that his able legal advisers would have hastened to put forward affirmatively any facts, had they existed, establishing the more favourable alternative." 

59.  And at p229, he said:-

"…it is as well to state expressly something which underlies the procedure by which husbands are required in such proceedings to disclose their means to the court.  Whether that disclosure is by affidavit of facts, by affidavit of documents or by evidence on oath (not least when that evidence is led by those representing the husband), the obligation of the husband is to be full, frank and clear in that disclosure. Any shortcomings of the husband from the requisite standard can and normally should be visited at least by the court drawing inferences against the husband on matters the subject of the shortcomings – insofar as such inferences can be properly drawn."

60. These passages were approved in Baker v Baker [1995] 2 FLR 829, where Butler-Sloss LJ said that the principle had been accepted for over forty years where a spouse was found to have lied and to have been guilty of material non-disclosure of relevant financial information.  It continues to apply.  It has been said that it is up to the respondent to open the cupboard door and show that the cupboard is bare.  If he does not do so, the court can draw the inference that the cupboard is not bare.  As explained in Baker, this is not an improper reversal of the burden of proof.  It remains for the applicant to prove her case.  A failure by the respondent to discharge the duty of providing full and frank disclosure can, however, lead the court to draw inferences that are appropriate.   
 
61. There are issues in the case as to the extent to which both parties (and the Wife's witnesses) have lied to this court and/or to others.  First, I must decide whether or not a witness has deliberately told lies.  If I find that he or she did, I have to ask myself why that person lied.  The mere fact that someone tells a lie is not in itself evidence that the person concerned has undisclosed assets or that the case of the other party is well founded.  An individual may lie for many reasons.  They may possibly be "innocent" ones in the sense that they do not denote a false presentation of his or her current financial position.  They may be lies to bolster a true case; or to protect someone else; or to conceal some other disreputable conduct or out of panic, distress or confusion.  

62. It follows that, if I find that anyone has lied to me, I must assess whether or not there is an "innocent" explanation for those lies that does not support the case of the other party.  However, if I am satisfied that there is no such explanation, I can take the lies into account in my assessment of the respective cases.

63. It is also right to note that English is not the first language of any of the witnesses.  Whilst both the Husband and the Wife have an excellent grasp of the language, it was, at times, difficult to follow exactly what was being said and what they were trying to convey.  It is undoubtedly right that I should take this into account in my assessment of both of them.  I must give full weight to the possibility of misunderstanding or a breakdown in communication.  If I disbelieve any part of their evidence, I have to be satisfied that I am justified in doing so and that alleged inconsistencies are not the product of either language difficulties or memory difficulties, given that so many of these events took place so many years ago.  The same undoubtedly applies to N and M.  They both gave their evidence through interpreters, thus making it difficult for the court to appreciate nuances in what they were saying.  There is also the added difficulty that interpretation may not convey entirely the thrust of what a witness was intending to say.  I have taken this all fully into account. 

64. In relation to Building X, Doha, I must consider the law of sham.  I can set out the law briefly because the facts of this case do not require subtle consideration of the finer points of the law.  This is a case where the Wife and her sister are either perpetrating a fraud on the Husband and the court, or they are not.  
 
65. The classic definition of a sham was given by Diplock LJ in Snook v London and West Riding Investments Ltd [1967] 2 QB 786 at 802, namely acts or documents executed by the parties to the sham which were intended by them to give to the third parties or to the court the appearance of creating between the parties legal rights and obligations different from the actual legal rights and obligations (if any) which the parties intended to create.  For acts or documents to be a sham, all the parties thereto had to have a common intention that the acts or documents were not to create the legal rights and obligations which they gave the appearance of creating.  The need for a common intention applied not only to bilateral transactions but equally to transactions such as a settlement of property or the creation of a trust.  What was required was common intention but reckless indifference would be taken to constitute the necessary intention. 

66. Mostyn J considered the law in Bhura v Bhura [2014] EWHC 727 (Fam).  The test is subjective.  The court may examine external evidence.  This will include the parties' explanations and circumstantial evidence, such as evidence of the subsequent conduct of the parties.  The fact that the act or document is uncommercial, or even artificial, does not mean that it is a sham.   A distinction is to be drawn between the situation where parties make an agreement which is unfavourable to one of them, or artificial, and a situation where they intend some other arrangement to bind them.  Because a degree of dishonesty is involved in a sham, there is a very strong presumption that parties intend to be bound by the provisions of agreements into which they enter, and intend the agreements they enter to take effect.  However, this does not elevate the standard of proof, which remains the balance of probability.  Nonetheless, the test is a stiff one and there is a requirement of very clear evidence given the seriousness of the allegation.

67. Finally, I need to deal with the respective arguments as to "add-backs".  I have considered carefully the law on "add-backs".  The case of Vaughan v Vaughan [2008]1 FLR 1108 makes it clear that the court is to approach such matters with great caution.  There has to be wanton dissipation before a court should reattribute assets to a party.  The court has to remember, however, that in most cases, the money cannot be recovered.  Sum reattributed cannot be deployed in meeting needs, such as to purchase accommodation. 

The witnesses and the documents 
68. I have already directed myself as to the need for caution given that English is not the first language of any of the four witnesses and two, N and M, gave their evidence with the benefit of an interpreter.  I equally accept that I need to be cautious before finding deliberate dishonesty given that many of the events that took place occurred many years ago and memory can undoubtedly play tricks upon you.   
 
69. Nevertheless, even taking all that into account, I did not find the evidence of either party to be at all convincing.  The same applies to the evidence of N and M.  Given that this is my assessment, I must look for corroboration for what they now say in the contemporaneous documents.  Moreover, subject to the fact that it can be difficult to obtain documents many years after the events took place, I consider that I am entitled to take into consideration the absence of documents to support a case.  It would not be unreasonable for a few documents to be missing and I accept that I must consider individually the reason advanced for documents being missing.  If, however, I come to the conclusion that the reasons given for documents not being to hand are not adequate or that the sheer number of missing documents militates against the explanations given, I am entitled to take the fact that there is no corroborating evidence into account and, if appropriate, draw adverse inferences against the person concerned.  I do accept that I must take even more care where the documents that are missing are not within the direct control of the parties.  

70. Ironically, I find that the Husband's evidence was more truthful but, largely, that was because the majority of his misdemeanours had been uncovered long before he went into the witness box. For example, he had no alternative other than to admit to forging the Wife's signature in relation to the endowment policies or to the fact that he married his second wife without telling his first wife.  I do not, however, find his explanation for why the St John's Wood property was conveyed into his sole name to be either truthful or accurate.  Equally, his evidence in relation to the Bradford & Bingley account was extremely unimpressive and I reject it.  I will return to both these aspects in due course. 

71. There is only one issue on which the Wife has misled me but it is an extremely important one given the value of the asset.  I have come to the clear conclusion that I have been seriously misled as to the true position regarding Building X, Doha by the Wife, N and, to a lesser extent, M.  

My findings on Building X, Doha
72. The Wife's contentions as to the Doha property only have to be recited to show the difficulty that she faces.  Her case is that she transferred an asset that now appears to be worth over £1 million to her sister for consideration of, in round terms, £160,000 and a life interest.  She is then forced to submit that the life interest is now worthless because the sister, to whom she tells me she is close, has decided to exclude her from all benefit and keep the property entirely for herself. 
 
73. I have considered the position very carefully.  I have come to the conclusion that there are eleven separate aspects that cast very considerable doubt on this scenario.  One or two such matters might not be surprising but, taken together, they form an overwhelming case that this court is being seriously misled as to the true position.

74. The eleven aspects are as follows:-

(a) The May 2004 Meeting
The Wife's case is that she called a family meeting in early May 2004.  She said in her second statement dated 20th November 2012 that she told the meeting that the Husband had not provided "any form of financial support since his marriage..." N says that the Wife said "since (the marriage) he had not provided her with any financial support whatsoever." M's statement, also dated 20th November 2012 says "she was now struggling with her finances and he was refusing to provide her with any maintenance at all." This was simply not correct.  On 28th April 2012, he had paid his QAR 6,000 payment into the Wife's account.  At the very least, she still had access to his credit card and the joint account.  After all, she used them to spend over £8,000 on jewellery the following month.  It was clear that, by the time the three witnesses came to give their oral evidence, they had discussed this between themselves.  All three gave exactly the same answer when asked about this by Mr Bull for the Husband.  They all changed their account to say that the Husband had "threatened" to cut off her financial support.  I entirely accept that this was a very long time ago and that it would be unfair to place too much reliance on exact words used but there is considerable significance to this.  It shows the three acting in concert in relation to their evidence before me, notwithstanding the fact that the Wife's case is that she has been cheated by N.   More importantly, the Wife's stated case was that she "now had to find an extra QAR 6000 pm when I had already been struggling." This was untrue.  There was, therefore, no reason for her to sell the property to N.  

(b) The financial reality
The family told me they are close.  They have provided very considerable financial support by way of loans to the Wife to pay the costs of this case.  These loans total over £235,000.  The amount N is alleged to have paid to the finance company was the equivalent of £61,200.  Although I recognise that this was paid nearly ten years ago, I find it almost impossible to accept that this prosperous Qatari family would not have somehow found £61,200 to help their sister in her hour of need.  A loan would have been the obvious solution rather than taking her property away from her. N's only response to this in cross-examination was to say that the Wife might not have paid the money back.  This simply does not add up when the home could have been used as security.  In her witness statement, she added that it was "too much money for me to deprive my own children the benefit of." This was thoroughly disingenuous.  She does not have any children.  Whilst she might have had children in the future (she was then aged 42), she does not say this.  The effect of the transaction was to deprive J and S of their inheritance.  The second reason given was the costs of finishing the staff quarters.  I am not at all clear exactly how much was required to complete this work.  It was certainly not urgent as it had already been two years since the family moved in.  The real point, however, is that the building works were done by the family company, SM Company.  This was definitely not made clear in the witness statements.  N's says "we agreed the further work with the builder who completed the decoration of the property and built an extension which would serve as the staff quarters.  The total cost was QAR 370,000.  I made this payment direct to the builder on 1st December 2006, who provided me with a receipt".  There is not a mention that this payment was made to her brothers.  They could clearly have waited for payment or arranged a further loan, even if they did do the work.  Indeed, on 10th June 2012, M borrowed a considerable sum of money from the Wife and children when he faced cash flow difficulties.  He repaid them the sum of QAR 1,185,443 (nearly £190,000) the following day.  This does not suggest a family averse to helping each other out in a crisis.

(c) The F Finance Loan
N's case is that she paid QAR 1,000,000 to purchase the property in three ways, namely paying off the loan, paying for the building works and making a balancing payment to the Wife.  There is, in effect, no evidence at all for any of these payments, other than some manuscript entries on cheque book stubs.  Indeed, there is evidence to cast doubt on some of what is said.  N says she made three payments to F Finance, the loan company.  The first was on 1st June 2004 in the sum of QAR 90,000.  The second was on 1st January 2005 in the sum of QAR 67,500 and the final payment was on 1st July 2005 in the sum of QAR 225,000.  She produced nothing from the loan company to confirm this.  The Husband, on the other hand, produced a document from F Finance showing that the debt was settled by the Wife on 3rd December 2006.  This is flatly contradictory to what N said.  The only explanation N could give was that F Finance had held the money in some sort of an escrow account and used it to discharge the instalments when they fell due but, if so, the last one would have been made in February 2007.  A letter was produced from F Finance complaining that the Husband had obtained the first letter by claiming still to be married to the Wife when he was by then divorced.  The letter did not set out what payments had been made, when and by whom.  Moreover, I am satisfied that it does not cast any doubt as to what was alleged in the earlier letter.  It would have been so easy to get confirmation of the true position if it was different.  The Husband had no such difficulty, even if he had to mislead F Finance.
 
(d) The other alleged payments
It does not end there. I accept that N has produced a document from SaadCo showing that an amount of QAR 370,000 was received from N on 1st December 2006 for construction of annexes and serving rooms.  It does not show which property it related to.  I remind myself that N's own property is Building 10, very close to Building X.  She also built a villa on her plot, although she said it was later. It does not explain why it took two and a half years after the May 2004 meeting to do this work.  In addition, N and the Wife say that a balancing payment of QAR 257,500 was required to make the payment up to QAR 1 million.  Their case is that this was not paid until 7th May 2007.  There is, however, absolutely no evidence that N made this latter payment other than the manuscript entry in N's cheque book.  Even this is odd in that the cheque stubs are for cheques 942101 to 942104 plus 942106, notwithstanding that there is allegedly three years between the various payments.  The balancing payment of QAR 257,500 (or £41,200) is the most striking.  There is no entry for this amount in any of the Wife's bank statements.  She is therefore forced to claim that she presented the cheque for cash.  The idea that this sophisticated woman, with full access to banking facilities, would take such a large sum of money from a bank in notes is very difficult to accept.  I have come to the clear conclusion that this evidence was given just because receipt of the cheque could not be proved.  

In the same way, N has failed entirely to produce her bank statements from Doha International Bank to show any of these payments at all.  Her case is that she has tried but the bank branch closed and the records have been lost.  The Husband has been able to produce bank statements from the same bank (albeit not the same branch) going back over ten years.  He has also produced a letter from the bank confirming that it is a legal requirement that they keep the statements for fifteen years.  N and the Wife have not even produced a letter from the Bank dealing with this in writing.   It is said that the Bank is not prepared to do so because they are in breach of their legal obligation and the Bank does not wish to admit this fact.  I reject this explanation as being absurd.  The Wife and N are Qatari citizens yet they can get nothing.  The Husband is not a Qatari citizen yet he has no difficulty.  It is all far too convenient.

(e) The Wife's case in the Qatari litigation
The Wife's case to me is clear, namely that the agreement to transfer was concluded at the May 2004 meeting.  Not only was the Qatar court not informed of this during the 2006 litigation, the Wife told the court the opposite.  She said the property was "wholly owned" by her.  There was not a mention of N or the May 2004 agreement, let alone the alleged payments on the F Finance loan.  Moreover, she was seeking a contribution from the Husband of QAR 10,000 pm as a housing allowance.  Indeed, the F Finance loan was submitted to the court.  The Husband responded to the claim for a housing allowance by claiming he paid the instalments on the loan. 

(f) The Transfer of the property
It is also pertinent to note that the transfer document for the property from the Wife to N was only dated 7th May 2007, almost exactly three years after the alleged agreement.  There is absolutely no explanation for this delay.  I note that the Husband was claiming in the Qatar proceedings in 2006 that the court should declare joint ownership.  The Wife's response was not to say that she did not own the property.  She argued the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.  The court rejected this argument and considered it should be presented before the pertinent civil circuit. The matter was still therefore potentially live at the time of the transfer.

(g) The Registration of the property
Even then, the property was not registered in the name of N until 17th October 2012, over five years after the transfer document.  If N was genuinely concerned to protect her financial position, I consider registration would have been the first thing she would have done.  Pending registration, the property was clearly vulnerable both to creditors (given her sister's case that she was in financial difficulty) or to a claim by the Husband.  The fact that the transfer eventually takes place a few days after the Husband files a statement in this jurisdiction on 1st October 2012 in which he makes much of the fact that the Wife owns a valuable home in Doha which he, presciently, valued at £1,190,000, arguing that it could be rented out or even sold.  
 
(h) The Husband's lack of knowledge
Having heard the evidence, I am quite satisfied that the Husband had no knowledge of this purported transfer until the hearing in this court on 2nd October 2012.  I simply cannot accept that the Wife would not have told him if this had been a bona fide transaction.  Given the circumstances of his second marriage, I can understand why he was not invited to the family meeting but I am amazed that M did not say that this was very serious and he would take the matter up with the Husband urgently.  Why was the Husband not approached to pay (if the meeting was told he had stopped paying) or to guarantee payment (if he had merely threatened to stop)?  Given his disgraceful behaviour in remarrying without informing the Wife, the family was in a very strong position to insist that he comply with his obligations.  Not only was none of this done, he was not told of the transfer for eight and a half years. 
 
(i) The valuation of the property
The Court only has the word of the Wife, N and M that the property was worth QAR 1 million in 2004.  I do, of course, accept that, if the Wife was to have a genuine life interest in the property, the life interest would be very relevant to valuation.  This was not, however, their case.  It was clearly said that QAR 1 million was the open market valuation at the time.  Nothing has been produced to verify this.  Moreover, the Husband has throughout this litigation claimed the current value to be around £1.1 million.   His drive by valuation has confirmed that figure almost exactly.  I consider one aspect of M's evidence to be very telling.  He is a builder in Doha and well aware of valuations.  He was asked about the current valuation of the property.  I sensed real discomfort as he did not know how to answer.  He played for time, saying that there had been property price inflation in 2005 followed by a dip for two years.  He then valued the property at QAR 2 million.  I reject this evidence.  It was entirely self-serving of his sister's case.  He realised that too high a valuation would not look good.  He deliberately understated it significantly.

(j) N's conduct during this litigation
I now turn to the issue of N's conduct during this litigation.  She has undoubtedly been as obstructive as she possibly can.  If I had genuinely acquired a property from my sister worth QAR 6.9 million for QAR 1 million and had been able to take advantage of my sister's move abroad to cancel her life interest, I would have been thoroughly embarrassed.  Not only did N deny any embarrassment, she displayed none.  Equally, the Wife did not display any anger or bitterness.  She merely shrugged her shoulders and said that was the law and there was nothing she could do about it.  I do, of course, accept that a party to litigation cannot necessarily control their family but this is a strict Islamic family who undoubtedly have a clear moral code and compass.  I simply do not accept that one sister would cheat the other out of her rightful property.  N has obstructed a valuation.  The only reason that I can see for doing so was the knowledge that the valuation would show the huge extent of the profit N had purportedly gained.  The law relied on did not say it was illegal to obtain such a valuation.  It related to trespass.  This was no more than a device to try to prevent a valuation.  Having heard the parties, I am satisfied that the Wife was only too happy to hide behind this.  She was not even prepared to participate in a drive by valuation.  When the valuation arrived, it supported the Husband's case completely.   
 
(k) The alleged rental of the property
Whilst I can entirely understand the reason for wanting to rent an empty property out, the way in which it has allegedly been done gives real cause for concern.  The Wife said she had no knowledge of this rental, notwithstanding the transfer document giving her a life interest in the property and specifically preventing N from renting it out.  It is possible that N and M did not tell the Wife what they were up to.  If so, this can only have been for tactical reasons. Why would they not tell her if they were legally entitled to do this?  The rent is just over £3,500 per month.  The sale contract is clear that this is the Wife's money.  It is just possible that, pursuant to Qatar law, N might be entitled to the cancellation of that life interest on the basis of the Wife's move to London, although it would be surprising that such an unfair arrangement would be acceptable to a Qatari court.  The contract itself permits no such cancellation.  However, even if correct, to do so would be completely unfair.  I described it in argument as theft.  I stand by that.  The effect would be one sister stealing a life interest from another.  Such conduct would be very dishonourable and, morally, entirely wrong.  How can N justify pocketing £3,500 pm in rent just because her sister is living in London?  I do not believe a word of it.  It was dreamt up to try to influence the English court.  It has had entirely the opposite effect.   Indeed, if N was so dishonourable as to try to do this, I am sure that M, as head of the family, would put an end to it immediately.   It is highly improbable that one sister would behave so unscrupulously to another.  I have come to the clear conclusion that it is only being suggested because of these divorce proceedings.

75. It was quite clear to me that the Wife was extremely angry when she discovered that the Husband had married again without her knowledge.  Such anger was, in many respects, entirely understandable.  I consider it likely that she did call a family meeting and not at all surprising that the Husband was not told of the meeting, let alone invited.  The question is what happened at that meeting.  It seems likely that the Wife was worried about her financial position, even though there had been no significant change by the time of the meeting.  During the trial, I expressed my surprise on more than one occasion that she had not produced any of her bank statements to verify her case.  On the very last day of evidence, I was told that J had been searching her grandmother's family home in Doha and had found some bank statements.  I do not believe the Wife had seen the statements at that point.  Miss Bangay immediately said that her client wished to admit them into evidence to show that she had not been paying the F Finance loan.  I consider it would be extremely unlikely that the Wife would instruct her leading counsel to make that submission if she had been paying the loan, as she would not have been sure what the statements showed.  
 
76. I permitted the statements to be adduced in evidence.  I had, after all, allowed the Husband to produce a very late document in support of his case as to the Hyderabad shops. Four statements were produced, each running to at least a couple of months, for the Wife's QIB account.  The statement for April 2001 showed a payment of QAR 11,265 on 30th April which certainly appears to be the first instalment on the F Finance loan.   I have already noted that QAR 6,000 was deposited in the account by the Husband two days before.  Unfortunately, there are then no statements until February 2005.  The two statements covering the period between February and May 2005 do not appear to show any payments to F Finance.

77. I make all my findings on the balance of probabilities.   Given the matters referred to in Paragraph 74 above, I am quite satisfied that I am entitled to make inferences adverse to the case of  the Wife and her family, provided such inferences are justified on the evidence.  I find that the family meeting took place but I reject any suggestion that, at the meeting, the Wife sold the Doha property to her sister.  I simply cannot understand why she would do so or why her family would let her.  I find she asked for help in paying the loan, as she was nervous about her position.  Her family certainly appear to be a family with financial means who help each other when necessary.  I find that it is inherently improbable that the only family member available to help her was her sister.  I think it is far more likely that it was another family member who paid the F Finance loan.  That is the reason that N cannot produce her bank statements to prove the payments.  It also explains why the manuscript cheque stubs do not correspond with the evidence from F Finance as to the repayment date.  I reject any suggestion that the payments were made as consideration for the transfer of the property.  They would have been a loan as I am sure this family would arrange to help a relative in difficulty, just as they have arranged to fund this case.  They would not insist on the onerous condition of a transfer of their sister's substantial family home.  This explains why the Qatar Court was told that the Wife owned the property.  She said she owned it because she did.
 
78. I reject as fiction the claim that N paid QAR 257,500 (some £44,000) in cash to the Wife on 7th May 2007.  This story has been concocted to support the stated sale for QAR 1 million, it being appreciated that neither the Wife nor N's bank accounts would show such a transaction.  I cannot see why N would wait until 2007 to make this payment if it was genuinely due as a result of a 2004 agreement.  It is inherently unlikely that the Wife would wander around Doha with such a large sum in cash, when there was no need for her to do so.  I am equally not satisfied that N paid for works to the annexe in the sum of QAR 370,000 on 1st December 2006.  I do not understand why it would take another two and a half years to do these works if it was agreed that N would pay for them in May 2004, let alone the fact that this was well over four years since the family moved in.  I remind myself that these works were done by the family building company, not a third party contractor.  The receipt does not mention the Wife's property.  Although a small point, the manuscript entry on the Wife's cheque stubs refers to QAR 360,000 not QAR 370,000.  On the balance of probabilities, I consider this payment was for N's property, not the Wife's.
 
79. I am satisfied that a transfer document was drawn up and signed in May 2007.  I find that this was due to the Husband's claim in the Qatar Court for a half interest in the property.  Contrary to the Wife's case the claim had not been dismissed the previous year.  I think the transfer was an insurance policy to be used as a defence mechanism if the Husband reinstated that claim.  This was the reason why the transfer was not registered in 2007.  It was unnecessary to do so unless the Husband made a claim.  As soon as the matter was raised in the English proceedings, the agreement was taken out of the cupboard, dusted down and registered. 

80. It is, of course, entirely right that the transfer contract gives the Wife a life interest in the property.  I consider this was done to protect the family against the claim that the property had just been given away.  It is possible that I would have given weight to this life interest in assessing the merits of the Wife's case but the Wife's case is that this life interest has been entirely extinguished by her move from Qatar, as a result of the aggressive behaviour of her sister.  I do not know whether or not it is right as a matter of Qatari law.  Whilst it seems inherently improbable to me, I do not need to consider it further.  I reject any suggestion that N is genuinely defrauding her sister of her rightful life interest.  The position taken is entirely tactical.  Moreover, even if I was wrong about that, the Wife would only have herself to blame for concocting, with N, a plan to get rid of this substantial asset to keep it out of the clutches of the Husband. 

81. My overall finding is that this property remains a resource of the Wife.  It is a significant resource.  At the very least, she is entitled to occupy it as and when she returns to Qatar.  In the interim, she is entitled to the rent of QAR 22,000 pm, or some £3,500 pm.  I do not know if the Wife was told about the rental agreement in advance.  If she was not, it was a tactical decision.  Whilst I recognise that it may have been a good idea to rent the property out, I am sure the timing just before this hearing is no coincidence.  It is another attempt to portray the Wife as being powerless. 

82. I do accept that the Wife has had to borrow very considerably from her family to fund the litigation, although it is noticeable that N has not assisted.  Given my findings, it seems likely that she also owes to her family the sums they paid to discharge the F Finance Loan.  I was told that the Wife has to repay £3,000 pm towards the costs loans.  This figure is extremely close to the monthly rental.  On the balance of probabilities, I find that the family are using the rent to discharge these debts.

My other findings
83. There are a number of other important matters on which I need to make findings.  These are as follows:-

(a) The Wife's future home 
I do not believe that the Wife is wedded to the concept of living here for the rest of her life.  She came here for the higher education of her daughters, having lived and worked in Qatar for many years previously without showing any desire to return here permanently.  I consider that there is a tactical element to her stated wish to remain here indefinitely.  First, she wishes to retain the St John's Wood flat.  Second, it helps her put as much distance as possible between her and Building X.  Nevertheless, the children are British and may well make their homes here.  I consider that she will live primarily in Qatar but return here regularly and, to that end, she needs to have a home in London. 

(b) The Husband's employment
The Husband's contract in Qatar has twice been extended since he reached the age of 60.  The most recent extension was until February 2015.  On the balance of probabilities, I find that it is likely that this contract will be extended further although I do not know for how long.  It is possible that, even if he loses his employment with Qatar Petroleum, he would be able to find other work as a doctor in Qatar.   Although he has applied for jobs in the UK, he did not seem to have done so with great conviction.  Indeed, he might have difficulty in finding work here, apart perhaps from locum work.  As he has no pension, he needs to continue to work as long as he can.  He was frank in evidence in accepting that he could work until he is 70.  I consider that he will need to do so and that it is likely that he will take a job wherever it is offered. I accept though that his age is against him and that he has a maximum of nine further years of work ahead of him.  Moreover, he may find it difficult to have remunerative employment throughout that time.  

(c) The Husband's future home
The Wife's case is that the Husband has always intended to retire to Pakistan.  I am sure that this was his original intention but I accept his evidence that the situation there is dangerous.  He reminded me of a terrorist attack at Karachi Airport that happened around the time of the hearing.   I find that, following retirement, he is likely to live primarily in the United Kingdom whilst wishing to return regularly to Pakistan.  It follows that, in an ideal world, he has a need for a home in both the UK and Pakistan.  I do, however, consider that the cost of a home for him in Pakistan will be far less than the cost in either Qatar or London. 

(d) The Bradford & Bingley account
I have not been given a proper explanation as to what happened to just over £100,000 in the Bradford & Bingley account, after allowing for £10,000 being spent on the J Road flat.  I accept that this all happened over ten years ago and I must make some allowance for that.  Nevertheless, I am driven to the conclusion that there has been non-disclosure on the part of the Husband.  The Wife did not know about this account.  Over £100,000 has vanished from it without explanation.  It is, however, very difficult to know how to factor this into my assessment of the Husband's current wealth. 

(e) The Husband's costs liabilities
The Wife argues that the Husband has not proved that he has borrowed sums of money from his brother and brother-in-law to discharge his costs of these proceedings.  She says that neither man is in a financial position to make these payments.  I reject that submission.  The brother-in-law, FA is a doctor, also practising in Qatar.  The Husband told me that his brother, AS, inherited his father's business, involved in the distribution of medicines.  I have absolutely no reason to doubt that either man could loan such sums.  The documentation, moreover, suggests that they did.  I accept that some of the credits into the bank accounts do not specifically refer to them by name but many do.  On the balance of probabilities, I find that these debts are genuine.
 
(f) Wife's transfer to the Yemeni orphans
The Wife transferred a significant sum of money (£69,155) to the orphans in the Yemen.  She did so shortly before she came to the United Kingdom at a time when she claims she did not know the likely value of her pension.  She had limited capital resources.   She had transferred, on her case, her main asset to her sister.  I simply do not accept her explanation for transferring the money to the orphans, namely to give them financial security.  She could easily have continued to make annual payments to the orphans, notwithstanding that she was living in the UK.  The sum involved must have been an enormous one for an orphanage in the Yemen.  I find that she deliberately divested herself of this money as another tactical manoeuvre.  In that sense, it was wanton dissipation.  If the assets were being divided equally, it is difficult to see why the Husband should, in effect, have to contribute one-half of this payment, even though he knew absolutely nothing about it.  

(g) Costs add-back
I have formed the clear conclusion that Miss Bangay is right as to the notional add-back of the costs wasted on the occupation proceedings.  This extends to both the costs order made against the Husband (£48,000) and an allowance for his own wasted costs in relation to those proceedings.  

As it is, I am not sharing the assets.  I am dealing with the case on the basis of need.  Both the Yemeni money and the costs have gone and cannot be recovered.  Fortunately, they broadly cancel each other out.  I propose therefore to ignore both matters in assessing the parties' respective needs.

My overall conclusions 
84. The non-disclosure of both parties has made it very difficult indeed to assess the true position in this case.  Leaving to one side the two UK properties, the Wife has the availability of the Qatar property.  On my findings, she can either reside there or use it to provide her with an income.  In addition, she has a very generous pension that will undoubtedly cater for her income needs.  The pension also gives her the ability to borrow money to discharge a mortgage.  The Husband simply does not have this ability.  Other than that, however, she has limited resources and significant debts to her family, which, on my findings, include the debt for the repayment of the F Finance Loan on Building X.   Moreover, she undoubtedly has a need for capital to enable her to acquire a property in London. 
 
85. In contrast, the Husband has no pension provision.  Although he has a good earning capacity at present, he is unlikely to continue to work for more than another nine years.  Whilst even that requires him to work until he is 70, his evidence to me was to the effect that that was his intention.  He has a dependant wife and three young children now aged 9, 7 and 6.  Even in nine years time, it is likely they will still be dependant upon him for some time to come. 

86. His capital position is very difficult to assess given my findings as to his unreliability and, in particular, my finding as to non-disclosure.  There was approximately £100,000 in the Bradford & Bingley account that disappeared over ten years ago.  I am going to ascribe a current value to that of £200,000 to take account of price inflation.  If that is too much, he only has himself to blame.  In addition, he has his property and other assets.  I take them from a schedule of assets provided in closing to me by Miss Bangay.  They total some £519,000.  He has discharged the costs liability of £48,000 to the Wife from the sale proceeds of the Gulistan property.  He then has his own debts of £377,000.  Including my notional add-back of £200,000, he will have £342,000. 

87. He needs accommodation in this country.  It can be readily provided by a transfer of the Putney property to him.  He can discharge the mortgage from the surplus sum of £342,000, leaving him with £238,000 odd in free capital.  

88. He then needs a pension.  I have had no figures put to me but it is abundantly clear that there is not sufficient money available for him to be able to match the very generous pension paid to the Wife by the Qatar Government. 

89. I have come to the conclusion that the right order is for me to order a sale of the St John's Wood property following S completing her degree in July 2015.  Until then, the Wife and children can occupy the property.  The net equity on sale will be approximately £735,000.  I consider that the Husband should receive £500,000 of this to put towards a pension.  Combined with his surplus of £238,000 (after allowing for the add-back), he will have just under £750,000. 

90. If he ceases work at the age of 70, it will give him a pension of just over £55,000 pa net index linked, extrapolating the Duxbury Tables. 

91. The Wife will receive the balance of around £235,000.  This will give her a significant deposit for a London flat, which she can supplement by taking a mortgage utilising her pension.  She is currently easily funding a mortgage of £205,000.  I can see no reason why she cannot fund one of £300,000 which would give her sufficient for a reasonable flat, albeit not in so desirable an area as St John's Wood.  

92. It is right that she will be left with debts totalling some £287,000, excluding the financial help her family gave her relating to the F Finance loan.  On my findings, she has available to her Building X.  I do not for one moment believe that the family will require her to sell that property to fund these debts but, if they do, she could easily do so.  The Husband's apartment in Doha is worth just under £500,000 so she could re-house herself without any difficulty.  Alternatively, she can use the rent to repay the loans and reside with her mother in the family compound when she is in Qatar.  

93. The correct way to divide the proceeds of St John's Wood, however, is on a percentage basis.  The Husband will receive 68% of the net proceeds and the Wife will get 32%.

94. The Putney property will be transferred to the Husband on his giving an undertaking to use his best endeavours to secure the release of the Wife from the mortgage and, in any event, to indemnify her in relation thereto.  There will be no additional lump sum related to the two endowment policies as I have taken all that into account in my determination.

95. There will be a clean break in life and death on implementation of both orders.

96. Finally, I turn to the issue of child maintenance.  The Husband has been paying £2,000 per month.  I am satisfied that this was supposed to be £1,000 per month per child.  J has ceased full-time education so the order cannot continue for her.  S has one more year as an undergraduate.  In general, English court orders for periodical payments during tertiary education are to the end of a first degree.  Although J was supported until the end of her post-graduate studies, I consider the order should forthwith be reduced to £1,000 per month for S for one more year, namely until she completes her undergraduate degree.  Any further provision thereafter should be by agreement between S and her respective parents. 

97. Although I have made some serious findings of fact, both parties approached this litigation on the basis that there should be no order as to costs.  I have taken into full account their respective cost liabilities.  My eventual order has not entirely vindicated the position of either party.  I therefore make no order as to costs. 

98. It is a tragedy for this family that this litigation was not settled before they had both run up such high costs liabilities that neither could afford. It is yet another example of how important it is to settle litigation like this at an early stage, even if it means both parties making significant compromises.

99. I propose to give permission to report this decision but on a fully anonymised basis.