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Danjuma v Danjuma [2005] EWCA Civ 1134

Permission to appeal against a freezing order and a maintenance pending suit order refused.

Danjuma v Danjuma [2005] EWCA Civ 1134

Court of Appeal: Ward and Moore-Bick LJJ (15 September 2005)

Permission to appeal against a freezing order and a maintenance pending suit order refused.

The husband was Nigerian and the wife was Zambian. The wife was currently living in the UK with the two children of the family, although much of their married life appeared to have been lived in Nigeria. The husband had taken divorce proceedings in Nigeria and, on the day before he obtained a decree absolute, the wife said that she first learnt of the proceedings and started her own divorce proceedings in the UK.

The principal issue to be determined was whether or not the Nigerian divorce should be recognised, or whether the lack of service would enable the UK court to refuse to recognise it, and a date was set for a hearing to determine that issue. In the meantime, the wife, who alleged that she had been left without much means of support by her husband who had considerable wealth, sought various forms of interim relief. The judge made various orders, including (1) a freezing order, restraining the husband from removing from the jurisdiction assets up to the value of £20 million or from disposing of any of those assets, and (2) a maintenance pending suit order that the husband pay the wife £5,000 a month. Both orders were made with liberty to the husband to apply for their discharge.

The husband sought permission to appeal against these orders, on the basis that there was a paucity of evidence to justify the judge's exercise of discretion. While conceding there was jurisdiction to make an order for maintenance pending suit, counsel for the husband also contended that the court should exercise caution in granting a remedy to the wife which, if she did not succeed in her argument that the Nigerian divorce should not be recognised, would cause a possible injustice to the husband.

Held, refusing permission to appeal, that, although the evidence was limited, there was a basis upon which discretion could be exercised; accordingly, the judge was entitled to find as he did in making such a pragmatic order of short duration.

The court also drew attention to the fact that both orders had been made with liberty to apply; and, if the husband felt aggrieved, the proper approach was to apply for a full consideration of the evidence in the Family Division, which would in any event take place at the hearing of the principal issue; furthermore, permission to appeal had previously been refused by the Court of Appeal, on the basis that the orders complained of were merely orders of transient duration in circumstances with which the judge had been confronted at the original hearing.

Read the full text of the judgment here