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Family Law

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17 JAN 2012

FINANCIAL REMEDIES: Gowers v Gowers [2011] EWHC 3485 (Fam)

(Family Division; Holman J; 9 November 2011)

The couple were married for 12 years and had 5 children. The husband was in a new relationship and had another child. The husband was closely connected to a company but was not the owner, he had been the founder and chairman and main driving force but was now an employee. The husband had borrowed £370,000 from the company. The husband was declared bankrupt. Shares owned by company were sold for $10m, as major shareholder, husband would be likely to receive a share of the profits but actual amount unclear.

The judge made a freezing order with the proviso that if £500,000 was paid into court by the company the freezing order would cease to have effect. The company paid the £500,000 into court on the understanding it would only be tied up for a few weeks when matters were resolved as security. The judge, finding that the husband retained ownership and control of the company, ordered the £500,000 to be paid to the wife in part payment of a £900,000 lump sum. The husband and the company appealed.

The court did not have jurisdiction to order the company to pay £500,000 to the wife. The husband had not been the sole owner of the company, significant third party interests would be affected by the order, the company was a trading company which employed 80 people including a non-shareholding director.

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