The October issue of the Bloomsbury Family Law Briefing is now available for subscribers.
Re SA (Declaration of Non-Recognition of Marriage)  EWCA Civ 1003,  WLR(D) 368 (30 August 2023) – Family Law Act 1986, ss 55 and 58 does not prevent the court making a declaration of non-recognition of marriage.
Cazalet v Abu-Zalaf  EWCA Civ 1065 (22 September 2023) – W’s appeal against recission of her decree nisi allowed. The test to be applied: was it unreasonable still to expect the applicant to continue to live with the respondent (Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 1(2)(b)).
Morgan-Rowe v Woodgate  EWHC 2375 (KB) (27 September 2023), Julian Knowles J – A party to civil litigation does not breach any duty of disclosure, or any order to disclose, in relation to a spouse’s or partner’s financial documents where each partner’s accounts are kept separate. She does not have control.
Ditchfield v Ditchfield  EWHC 2303 (Fam) (20 September 2023), Peel J – H’s financial relief appeal disallowed in large part because the judge had a number of trenchant findings about his litigation misconduct, non-disclosure and general dishonesty.
HAT v LAT  EWFC 162 (29 September 2023), Peel J – Separation 30 years ago. H has supported W generously. There had been a separation agreement, but no consent order (despite H’s hopes). W now applies for a full financial relief order with interim periodical payments and a legal service payment order (both awarded by Peel J).
Simon v Simon & anor  EWCA Civ 1048 (15 September 2023) – H’s appeal against addition of W’s litigation funders to his and her financial relief proceedings. Financial relief hearing remitted for hearing by a Family Division judge.
Funding of family proceedings: an interim stage
Simon v Simon & anor  EWCA Civ 1048 (15 September 2023) (‘anor’ is the litigation funders, Level (L)) saw judgment on Mr Simon’s (PS) appeal from a financial relief order that L be added as a party to his and Mrs Simon’s (LS) financial order proceedings. He and LS had a consent order (‘the original order’) which raised collusion issues by him, LS and PS’s lawyers. The ‘original order’ made on 6 April 2021 following a private financial dispute resolution (FDR) had been set aside eventually by agreement of the parties and in the light of the involvement of L – added as a party (Family Procedure Rules 2010, (FPR 2010) r 9.26A, and common law) – who had funded LS’s original lawyers’ costs up to the original order FDR hearing. At that point, having taken their £1 million, her lawyers said they were ‘conflicted’ and withdrew.
Shorn of what King LJ described as the ‘troubling background’ and its ‘procedural quagmire’ ( and ) the essence of the parties’ positions was the original order: LS would receive a life interest in a property bought with PS’s ‘trust’ but no more; and in settlement all her financial claims. Before the Court of Appeal appeal, that order had been set aside by agreement.
The funding of LS’s former lawyers had been paid by L. This funding debt was due and payable by LS, but she was insolvent. L, a non-party but with a clear interest, had been added as a party. PS opposed this which was the main thrust of his appeal. The Court of Appeal disagreed with him. L remain parties to the re-run of the parties’ financial relief proceedings. (The Court of Appeal say nothing of the costs consequences of any of this to any of the parties, beyond the £1 million due to level from LS.)
The case raised the questions – not resolved by the Court of Appeal – as to what protection a wife and her funder (Level) are entitled to from her solicitors and the court. The article discusses some of these questions looking at the different form of legal funding: legal aid, private payments and private litigation funding.