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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

10 AUG 2009

COSTS/ANCILLARY RELIEF: KSO v MJO and JMO (PSO Intervening) (Freezing Order) [2009] EWHC 2152 (Fam)

(Family Division; Munby J; 10 August 2009)

In KSO v MJO and JMO (PSO Intervening) [2009] 1 FLR 1036, a case in which the wife had joined her father-in-law as a party to the ancillary relief proceedings, but had eventually abandoned her claims, the judge had ordered the wife to pay the father-in-law's costs. A different judge subsequently sanctioned a compromise between the husband and wife, which provided for the sale of the matrimonial home, and the distribution of the proceeds of sale. Before the sale took place the father-in-law asked the wife to sign an undertaking that she would pay the sum of £50,000 from the proceeds of sale. The wife's solicitors, referring to a note in Family Law [2009] 185 questioning whether the father-in-law would in fact enforce the costs order, as this would deprive his grandchildren of family assets, asked the father-in-law to reconsider. The father-in-law confirmed that he did wish the wife to pay his costs, and asked various questions about the forthcoming sale of the matrimonial property. The wife did not sign the requested undertaking, and failed to provide any of the information sought. Eventually the father-in-law obtained an ex parte freezing order to restrain the wife from dealing with her share of proceeds of sale. The wife sought the discharge of the order and her costs.

The wife's application was dismissed. The father-in-law had been entitled to fear, and the judge to infer, that unless the wife was injuncted there was a real risk that she would dispose of her share of the proceeds of sale in such a way as to thwart or frustrate the judgment in the father-in-law's favour. The fact that the husband had been able to inform the father-in-law about the sale was neither here nor there given the pointed and repeated failure of the wife's solicitors to supply the father-in-law with the requested information. There had been no material non-disclosure at the ex parte hearing. The costs were to follow the event, and were summarily assessed at £5,000 (£117.50 less than the father-in-law's solicitor was actually charging).

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