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Scot Young jailed for ‘flagrant’ contempt of court

Failure to disclose evidence of loss of assets amounts to contempt

Mr Justice Moor has jailed Scot Young for a 'flagrant' contempt of court in the long-running financial remedy proceedings with his former wife, Michelle Young. The judgment is here.

In earlier proceedings concerning Mr Young's application for the return of his passport – Young v Young [2012] EWHC 138 (Fam) – Mr Justice Mostyn had said:

"[The husband] is grossly in contempt in relation to his maintenance obligations. ....The finding of Parker J that H is in contempt of court in relation to his disclosure obligations remains extant. It is for him to show that he has fully complied with his disclosure obligations, not for W to show that he has not. A mantra that "I believe I have complied" does not amount to a clear demonstration of compliance."

In the current proceedings Mr Justice Moor described one explanation Mr Young had given for not complying with orders as "absurd" and said another response was "next to useless".

In 2009, Mrs Justice Black (as she then was) ordered Mr Young to pay Mrs Young rent, school fees for the children and maintenance at £27,500 per month. He did not appeal that order. Mr Young has paid nothing under that order to date. Maintenance arrears now amount to almost £1 million.

Mrs Young says Mr Young has "secreted enormous assets". Mr Young, who represented himself in court, claims that he is penniless.  Moor J said that it was "vitally important" that Mr Young provide "full and frank disclosure" of evidence to support claims that he had no money. He claimed to have  "done everything in [his] power" to comply with orders for disclosure. He asked for another 28 days to comply with those orders.

Elizabeth Hicks, a specialist family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, commented:

"The jailing of errant husband Scott Young for contempt of court, following his failure to provide financial information to his wife as ordered, should serve as a warning to spouses that the courts, which for so long have sat back in the face of wilful lack of co-operation, may be getting tougher. 

"Mr Justice Moor, one of the new breed of no-nonsense Family Division judges, has made it plain that feeble excuses will not wash, and the penalty for not co-operating fully may be rather more serious than a verbal rap across the knuckles in the courtroom, or even a fine or costs order against the guilty party.

"It remains to be seen whether a fairly brief spell in prison will persuade Mr Young to produce what numerous more commonplace orders of the court have failed to achieve."

For more details of the current proceedings, see the report in The Independent.