Parties involved in ancillary relief proceedings often try to raise the issue of conduct to bolster their claims. As we all know, conduct is one of the section 25 factors that the court should take into account, but only "if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it". This is a high threshold, and very few cases have been reported where the threshold has been crossed. Accordingly, I almost inevitably have to advise clients that their (former) spouse's conduct is not sufficiently serious to have a bearing on the amount of the settlement (although it often seems that the solicitor on the other side has not given such advice to their clients).
Another example of the level of conduct required has just been reported in the media. Here, the husband failed entirely in his claim against his ex-wife, despite his contribution to a 25-year marriage, as he had been convicted of 17 offences of child abuse, including molesting two of her grandchildren. Mr Justice Moylan, sitting in the High Court, said that the "circumstances of this case are such that it would be inequitable for the wife to make any financial provision for the husband". I think few would argue with that, but will the husband?