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Latest judgment in long-running financial remedy dispute over £54 million assets

Wife awarded 80% of her costs

Sir Peter Singer, sitting in the High Court, has given a further judgment in long-running financial remedies proceedings concerning matrimonial assets claimed by the wife to amount to £54 million.

In Joy v Joy-Morancho & Others [2015] EWHC 2507 (Fam), the court was concerned as to "whether or not the situation described by Mr Joy is accurate so that he is in truth and in fact able for the foreseeable future to pay only modest periodical payments to W and their three children, but nothing whatever by way of capital award. That proposition and that outcome depend upon whether H really faces the financial ruin he maintains overwhelmed him as a result of what he describes as the day of reckoning imposed on him by the trustees of the New Huerto Trust (NHT). Those trustees now pursue him and all those assets to which he can lay claim (and more), so he will be left without substance. His debts therefore exceed by far any assets available or likely to become available to him. His case is moreover that he has been permanently and irrevocably excluded from any potential future benefits from NHT."

Sir Peter Singer said that he had to determine whether "H's plight is genuine or a contrived facade".

The wife sought a lump sum pitched at £27m for a clean break, on the basis that the matrimonial acquest was at least £54m.

In a judgment running to 245 paragraphs Sir Peter Singer concluded:

"[The wife] has certainly failed at this point to achieve a substantive capital award; but has for the time being achieved a periodical payments award of £120,000 more than the nominal order for which H contended, plus an adjournment of her outstanding capital claims. In my book the correct analysis is that neither party has won."

The husband's solicitors, DWFM Beckman, commented:

"I believe this to be a unique decision in British family law. I do not know of any other case to date where a wife who was claiming many millions of pounds was given nothing because the husband has been able to show that he does not have any assets available to him despite the tens of millions being attributed to him.

"I am extremely pleased with the main thrust of the judgment which demonstrates that it is possible to refute what now seems to have become the presumption in high-net-worth family cases that a husband who claims that certain assets do not belong to him and are not available to him and the court for division, must be making a false presentation."

However, the court awarded to the wife, as a 'stern warning' against aberrant conduct,  80% of her costs of £417,829 which amounted to £334,263.

The judgment is here.