D v E & Anor: Oh Dear

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Sometimes a family law report fills one with nothing but sadness, the legal issues being mere side issues.

Such is the case with the short judgment of Mrs Justice Lieven DBE in D v E & Anor.

I'm not going to go through the judgment, set out the issues (save to say that it concerned the question of what security should be provided by the husband for the terms of an agreed settlement being fulfilled), or even explain the decision. Instead, I am simply going to pick out some of its sad details, by copying and pasting a few brief extracts, without comment:

"The parties have failed to agree the terms of the security. This is disappointing in circumstances where a very large proportion of the overall assets must already have been taken up in lawyers' and valuers' fees and the purpose of the mediated agreement was to bring to an end this difficult family dispute."

"I have a considerable suspicion that this litigation is now being driven more by the children to the marriage than by the divorcing parents. The parents are both in their 80s and the childrens' interests seem to have become overly intertwined with the dispute between Wife and Husband. It is very hard to see how this continuing litigation is in the interests of either of the main parties."

"The second and third lump sums will not be paid if Husband and Wife remain married and continue to live together. This was inserted because the Husband and Wife continue to live together in the matrimonial home and it is the Husband's case that they have both said on various occasions that they intend to continue to live together when these proceedings end. The Wife disputes this. It is not difficult to see that behind this dispute must be a very sad personal situation."

"...there has been such a serious family falling out as here between the children, and where the daughters might have their own interest in enforcing charges to remove the asset from the Husband and therefore the Interested Party (the son)."

"It seems to me that the issues around security have spiralled entirely out of control in this case. The parties agreed to the overall terms precisely to save the expense of trial, as against a valuable but not immense estate. There now appears to be a danger that the benefits of that settlement are being lost, both through increasing further legal fees and further acrimony."

"...it appears that the principal parties intend to continue to live together, which must tell its own story."

"...she [i.e. the wife] is 81 years old and in poor health."

"This appears to me to be an example of an unreasonable approach by the Wife, or at least those advising her."

And then, to lighten things a little, this:

"In relation to the terms of the security, I find the Wife's submissions somewhat ironic. She says that she is neither a solicitor nor a surveyor and will be unable to assess the impact on the security of any request for consent under the charge without professional advice. However, she has had no difficulty in seeking professional advice through this process, and I am told that one daughter is a solicitor and one a surveyor."

If you want to read the whole judgment you can find it here.