Lamentable and grotesque?

One of the most frustrating aspects of divorce work is when the parties are unable to agree anything, making the proceedings a struggle all the way. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the Moore case, reported in various places over the last couple of days, and described by Lord Justice Thorpe as a "lamentable and grotesque waste of family resources". After spending £1.5 million in legal costs, "the only decision made so far in the fight between Jim and Kim Moore over their £135m fortune", says BBC News, "is that the case should be heard in London", rather than Spain.

The parties moved to Spain and were divorced by a Spanish court in 2003. Mrs Moore returned to England and wanted the English courts (which currently have a reputation for giving wives the most favourable settlements) to deal with the financial/property settlement, but Mr Moore wanted it to be dealt with by the Spanish court. The High Court found in favour of Mrs Moore, and this decision was confirmed on Friday by the Court of Appeal.

The most remarkable aspect of the case is that the Spanish court would in any event have dealt with the financial/property settlement in accordance with English law. "We do not know", said Lord Justice Thorpe, "whether this lamentable and grotesque waste of family resources is the result of the intransigence of one of the parties or because the husband hopes that the Spanish court ... will misapply English law to his benefit". According to The Times, "he had previously asked [Mr Moore's] barrister, Barry Singleton, QC, why he was so determined to have the case heard in Spain and that Mr Singleton "was unable to give any positive answer"". The Times goes on: "Neither Mr Singleton, his junior barrister on the case, nor Mr Moore’s solicitors, Withers, would tell The Times what they hoped to gain from hearing the case in Spain".

Of course, whether the lawyers involved on both sides considered their costs to be a "lamentable and grotesque waste" is another matter...