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G v W [2022] EWHC 1101 (Fam)

Appeal of the lower court’s decision not to award the wife monies to meet her liabilities and child care costs

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This appeal concerned financial proceedings between W (an influencer) and H (a successful sportsman). At the final hearing in the first instance court, the parties were able to agree the majority of the larger issues, including periodical payments and funds for housing. Recorder Chandler QC adjudicated the remaining issues, namely: (i) whether there should be a lump sum for the wife's liabilities; (ii) whether there should be periodical payments for a nanny; (iii) whether the court should grant a lump sum for the wife's medical procedures; (iv) whether the father should fund security and moving costs in respect of the wife's new home; and (v) when the agreed periodical payments should start [5].

The first instance Recorder decided the following: (i) the wife's legal costs were all to be paid by the husband but were subject to a potential clawback in respect of the approximate sum of £130,000; (ii) the Recorder declined to make any separate provision for a nanny or a childcare fund; (iii) no provision was made for the wife's medical treatment; iv) no additional security provision for the wife's new home was provided; and (v) the Recorder backdated the periodical payments order to the start of proceedings so as to provide a sum of £60,000 which was sufficient to clear the wife's commercial borrowings, and declined to make provision for payment of any of her other debts. The wife sought permission to appeal all five decisions. She was granted permission for issues (ii) and (v) but denied permission on all other matters, albeit she sought to renew her application for permission at the appeal hearing.

In respect of issue (ii), Sir Justice Cohen held that Recorder Chandler QC was wrong to dismiss the wife's need for a nanny and to direct that her childcare costs be paid out of the awarded periodical payments, though he considered the amounts sought by the wife to be excessive. Instead, he made provision for the husband to pay towards a nanny for 16 hours a week, reducing in 2025, and ending in September 2031 [25]. Any childcare fees incurred beyond the amount provided by the husband would need to be met by the wife.

In respect of issue (v), the court accepted that the wife had incurred costs of nearly £49,000. Sir Justice Cohen refused to direct the husband to refund the sums paid by the wife to the maternal grandmother for childcare. However, he agreed to backdate the allowance that he had made for childcare costs to the time when the professional nanny was hired, minus an amount of £9,400 to reflect that the wife's decision to fund a nanny was in breach of the court's intention.

Finally, Sir Justice Cohen rejected the wife's renewed application to appeal issues (i), (iii) and (iv). In respect of issue (i), the Judge refused the wife's argument that Record Chandler's "clawback" provision was "an unreasonable fetter on her access to justice" [32], and held that it was within the Judge's discretion. He also held that the first instance judge was within his discretion to refuse to direct the husband to pay for the wife's medical treatments [34]. Finally, the husband agreed to pay for new gates for the wife and child's property and agreed that any surplus from the housing fund could be used for CCTV and an intruder alarm. As such, Sir Justice Cohen did not make a further order on the same.

Case summary by Dr Bianca Jackson, Barrister, Coram Chambers

For full case, please see BAILII