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Mr Justice Holman makes pound for pound order

Conduct described as “frankly, intolerable and an affront to justice” by judge

Mr Justice Holman has ordered that for every pound a husband pays to his solicitors in settlement of fees, he must pay a pound to his wife's solicitors in settlement of existing arrears.

In an earlier judgment, reported as LKH v TQA AL Z (Interim maintenance and costs funding) [2018] EWHC 1214, Holman J had directed that the husband pay the wife interim maintenance at £29,500 per month in addition to a costs allowance of £40,000 per month.

The husband had not complied with these orders and there were arrears of £230,000. The husband had still not filed or served his Form E at the date of Holman J's latest judgment.

Despite this non-compliance, and during the three months between Holman J's two judgments during which the arrears had accrued, the husband had been able to pay £95,000 to his own solicitors.

As a result, the wife applied for a pound for pound order seeking £100 for every £1 the husband spends on his solicitors, in addition to a debarring order in the event of non-payment.

Holman J was willing to make the pound for pound order in addition to the interim maintenance order already in existence, commenting that it was "frankly, intolerable and an affront to justice that in the last month this man paid £95,000 to his new solicitors at the very time when he was already in arrears and getting further into arrears with his wife" [para 23].

Holman J did not direct £100 for every £1 nor accede to the debarring order however. The Judge commented that the "rationale of such an order must be that of an equal or level playing field, and it does not seem to me that the Mubarak jurisdiction can properly be applied to require a payer (usually the husband) to pay substantially more to the other party than to his own solicitors" [para 17].

As to debarring the husband from being heard, Holman J described this as a "very extreme course" [para 20], which was contrary to the principle that a court gives maximum encouragement to both parties being fully engaged and heard so that there is the maximum opportunity of arriving at a fair overall outcome.

For the judgment, prefaced by a summary by Patrick Paisley of 1 Garden Court (reproduced here), click here.