MB v EB [2019] EWHC 3676 (Fam) (19 December 2019)

This was a Judgment made by Mr Justice Cohen on 19th December 2019, in a case which involved a wife with assets of £50 million and a husband who was a ‘struggling artist.’  The Judgment dealt with the financial provision to be made by the wife to the husband and also dealt with the husband’s claim for the wife to pay his legal costs which amounted to £650,000.

Before giving his Judgment, Mr Justice Cohen outlined the background of the case and the offers put forward by the wife in the financial proceedings, which had received no response until very late in the proceedings.  He also commented on the late filing of medical evidence of the husband, which referred to his long-standing history of depression and also to his brain injury which he had suffered when falling on his honeymoon.  Mr Justice Cohen also referred to the cases of Edgar, Radmacher, North and Wyatt v Vince and also to the Family Procedure Rule 28.3 and Practice Direction 28A.

In his Judgment, Mr Justice Cohen stated that the matter should have been a very easy case to settle, using the previous calculation of the husband’s needs and the Duxbury table.  This would have amounted to a lump sum of £325,000 (£25,000 for life for a man of 59 years of age) plus £10,000 to replace his car.  The reason the case did not settle was due to the way the husband ran his case and the incorrect or misplaced arguments that he made in relation to the marriage.  Mr Justice Cohen therefore awarded the husband the sum of £325,000 plus £10,000 as per his previous calculations.

In respect of costs, Mr Justice Cohen was very critical of the amount of the alleged costs of the husband, stating that it should not have cost each side more than £100,000.  He accepted that there may have been an additional issue that needed resolving in respect of the parties’ relationship between 2011 and 2016 but that this issue should not have cost the parties’ more than £50,000 each.  Due to the husband’s conduct of the matter and referring to the appropriate Family Procedure Rules and Practice Directions, Mr Justice Cohen concluded that there was no reason why the wife should pay the husband’s costs unreasonably incurred.  As the wife had already paid £236,000 towards the husband’s costs, the liability for costs was capped at £150,000.  The total award to the husband, inclusive of costs, was therefore to be £485,000.  Any remaining amount in respect of the husband’s costs was a matter between the husband and his Solicitor.

The full judgement can be read here

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