16 April, 2019
Unfortunately we are seeing more and more cases where one party is either not complying with a Court Order in its entirety or, is picking and choosing which parts of the Order they will adhere to. This can be a very expensive risk to take.
In a recent Judgement of CM and CM 2019 EWSC 16, the parties were not able to agree on the wording of a letter to be sent to an accountant who was going to value the families company. This resulted in the judge making an order for costs against, in this case the wife, for not complying with the order. The judge had set out quite a standard direction for the husband's solicitors to draft a letter of instruction to the accountants, by a set date, and this was done. The wife's solicitors were to agree or seek some amendments to the same document seven days later. This did not happen.
The husband's solicitors chased the wife's solicitors on several occasions over the next nine days before finally receiving a response. At that stage, the wife's solicitors were seeking significant amendments to the letter, which the husband's solicitors did not agree to. As both parties could not then agree what should be in the letter, an application was made to the court to resolve the issue.
The district judge had originally been quite clear as to what questions should be put to the accountant and no other issues were raised at the hearing stage, which were subsequently raised within the amendments to the letter of instruction. The judge therefore took the view that responsibility for the further applications to court laid with the wife and her solicitors and he therefore made an order that she pay the husband's costs of that application.
In recent weeks, Judith Wright has been involved in the enforcement of a consent order. The actual order was made well over five years ago and both parties entered into it by consent at the time. There was a trigger within that order that after a certain date, either the family home will be sold and the husband would get his share set out in the order, or, the wife could purchase the husband's share if she did not wish to sell the house and could afford to do so. Despite repeated correspondence by the husband to the wife, she refused to take any action at all to ensure he received his share.
Unfortunately, enforcement proceedings had to be issued and after two separate hearings the judge made an order for costs against the wife of almost £4,000. If she does not comply with the most recent directions then the court is going to make an order that she has to vacate the property, so that the husband can market it.
The husband does not want the wife to go to prison and he does not want the wife to have all these penalties. He just wants what is rightfully his out of the court order, which was agreed over five years ago.
By the time the sale goes ahead, the share the wife should have got would be substantially reduced as a large proportion will be paid to the husband instead, to reimburse him for all the costs he has had to pay out.
Court Orders are not there to be ignored. Non-compliance of them can prove to be very costly.
For more information contact Judith O'Brien in our Family/Divorce department via email or phone on 01772 220022. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.