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'... the court isn't interested in who's to blame; it's more a question of quantifying the value of the cars and reaching a fair redistribution of their value.'As we all know, conduct is taken into account in ancillary relief1 only where it would be inequitable to disregard it (ie it is 'gross and obvious'2). It's difficult to conceive of the circumstances in which behaviour such as adulterous affairs, alcoholism, drug-taking and unnatural sexual demands could pass this threshold:
' ... in most cases misconduct is not relevant to the bases on which financial ancillary relief is ordered today. Where, exceptionally, the position is otherwise, so that it would be inequitable to disregard one party's conduct, the statute permits that conduct to be taken into account.' (Miller; McFarlane,  1 FLR 1186, per Lord Nicholls)But conduct which has a financial impact? That's potentially quite a different matter...
' In modern conditions, where, except in the most egregious cases when s 25(2)(g) comes into play, we no longer have regard to spousal conduct, let alone to the concept of the "guilty party", and where the court is rarely called upon to exercise its jurisdiction in relation to the traditional "marriage settlement", these now increasingly elderly authorities have to be used with very considerable care.' (Ben Hashim v Al Shayif  1 FLR 115, per Munby J (as he then was))
'... Another question which arose was whether the husband's conduct in relation to the financial matters after the separation was relevant .. [conduct] ... which has the effect of reducing the funds available to provide for the needs of both parties after divorce ... must be taken into account because a spouse cannot be allowed to fritter away the assets by extravagant living or reckless speculation and then to claim as great a share of what is left as he would have been entitled to if he had behaved reasonably.'Secondly, the case which for a period became synonymous with 'add-back' claims5 was Norris v Norris  1 FLR 1142, in which W sought to add back £322,699 H had 'overspent' in 2 years. The key section of Bennett J's judgment is as follows:
' The overspend, ie the expenditure over income of £350,000 in a little over 2 years, at a time when he was about to and then did enter into protracted litigation with the wife, can only be classified as reckless, and particularly at a time later on when the dot.com and the stock market collapsed. A modest overspend in the context of a rich man would be understandable and could not be classified as reckless. But in the circumstances of this case, as I have set them out, in my judgment, the scale and extent of the overspend was reckless. I do not think it appropriate to add back into the husband's assets the figure of £250,000. In my judgment, there is no answer that the husband can sensibly give to the question, "why should the wife be disadvantaged in the split of the assets by the husband's reckless expenditure?" A spouse can, of course, spend his or her money as he or she chooses, but it is only fair to add back into that spouse's assets the amount by which he or she recklessly depletes the assets and thus potentially disadvantages the other spouse within ancillary relief proceedings.' [Emphasis added]Thirdly, in Vaughan v Vaughan  EWCA Civ 1085,  1 FLR 1108,6 H was a pilot who, following a depressive illness, lost his pilot's licence and gambled away over £80,000. DJ Jenkins, sitting in Oxford County Court, described the conduct as 'bizarre and inexplicable and, objectively, profoundly irresponsible', but did not re-attribute any capital to H.
Au contraire, as the CA made clear: per Wilson LJ (as he then was) in the leading guidance on the law of add-backs:
'... there are, apparently, no legal principles to be applied, nor any guidance from the Court of Appeal as to how [he] might approach [it]", the district judge rejected the wife's submission.'
' ... [counsel referred us to] Norris v Norris  1 FLR 1142. Although such was a decision at first instance, it is the last in a line of authority which stretches back to the decision of this court in Martin v Martin  Fam 335 that, in the words of Cairns LJ at 342H:
I expect you're wondering: whither Mostyn J?"a spouse cannot be allowed to fritter away the assets by extravagant living or reckless speculation and then to claim as great a share of what was left as he would have been entitled to if he had behaved reasonably."The only obvious caveats are that a notional reattribution has to be conducted very cautiously, by reference only to clear evidence of dissipation (in which there is a wanton element) and that the fiction does not extend to treatment of the sums reattributed to a spouse as cash which he can deploy in meeting his needs, for example in the purchase of accommodation. At all events the district judge’s failure to despatch the issue by reference to the relevant legal principle, in my view, conferred upon the circuit judge an entitlement, at any rate in principle, to despatch it differently”
 In that re-attribution has to be conducted very cautiously and in that, following more detailed argument than we have received, the circuit judge identified the parameters of the total sum dissipated by the husband as being between £100,000 and £175,000, I propose in my calculations to adopt the minimum figure.'
'Add-backWhere there is no surplus of assets over needs, it is also worth considering the following warning expressed by Roberts J in US v SR  EWHC 175 (Fam):
 In my decision of BJ v MJ (Financial Remedy: Overseas Trusts)  EWHC 2708 (Fam),  1 FLR 667 I attempted to summarise the law concerning the technique of add-back at paras  and :" On 1 July 2009 H gifted C £18,000 and this was followed by further gifts of £57,010 on 3 July 2009, £50,010 on 10 July 2009 and £15,010 on 12 August 2009; a total of £140,030. W seeks that these sums be added back to the pool of divisible assets as a wanton dissipation. I attempted to summarise the principles applicable to this technique in my decision of N v F (Financial Orders: Pre-Acquired Wealth)  2 FLR 533 where I stated at para 39: It can, therefore, be seen that W faces a stiff climb to meet the test ...''In this country we have separate property. If a party disposes of assets with the intention of defeating the other party's claim then such a transaction can be reversed under s 37 of the MCA 1973. Similarly, where there is ‘clear evidence of dissipation (in which there is a wanton element)' then the dissipated sums can be added back or re-attributed (see Vaughan v Vaughan  1 FLR 1108 at para ). But short of this a party can do what he wants with his money. What is not acceptable is a faint criticism falling short of either of these standards. If a party seeks a set aside or a re-attribution then she must nail her colours to the mast.' Although intellectually pure, the problem with this technique is that it does not re-create any actual money. It is in truth a process of penalisation. In my judgment it should be applied very cautiously indeed and only where the dissipation is demonstrably wanton. I am not satisfied that here the gifts to C are to be characterised in this way. True, the timing is suspicious, but other than that there was no evidence that the gifts were anything other than bona fide. They would represent sensible IHT planning anyway. I therefore decline to add the gifts back. Generally speaking, I suggest that it would be altogether better where a reversal of a transaction is sought, that it is made pursuant to s 37 MCA 1973, where the disponee can be heard and where strict statutory criteria must be met."
' …In circumstances where, as I have already described, the majority of the visible assets in this case are likely to be required to meet the future needs of these parties and their children in their different circumstances, absent findings that either the Husband has a continuing and substantial income stream and/or has access to significant assets which he has yet to disclose, needs are likely to dominate the distribution process. In these circumstances, and in the light of the need for caution highlighted above, I may need to tread with care before proceedings down the road to reattribution depending on the findings I make after my analysis of the evidence.'
Formerly entitled the Ancillary Relief Handbook this is the first resort for thousands of...
' It seems to be an iron law of ancillary relief proceedings that the final difference between the parties is approximately equal to the costs that they have spent' N v F (Financial Orders: Pre-Acquired Wealth)  2 FLR 533 per Mostyn JNature of the allegations:
' … I sincerely hope that, once this divorce is behind U.K., he will be able to get rid of this problem for ever. If he does not, it will probably kill him' (my italics)
' … a spouse must take his or her partner as he or she finds them. Many very successful people are flawed … it would be wrong to allow the wife to take advantage of the husband’s great abilities that enabled him to make such a success of the company while not taking the financial hit from his personality flaw that led to his cocaine addiction and his inability to rid himself of the habit.'
' ... The first reason was that it was necessary in order to cater for the wife's needs and would still leave the husband with sufficient to meet his needs. The second reason was the husband's conduct, which the judge accepted had led to "the reckless frittering away of family money". The judge did not adopt the sort of approach adopted in Norris v Norris  1 FLR 1142 and Vaughan v Vaughan  1 FLR 1108, notionally re-attributing dissipated sums to the spouse responsible, because he did not think it was possible. However he accepted the wife's submission that it was appropriate to adjust the distribution of the assets from a 50% division in order to take account of this factor. He proceeded on the basis that in the 12 months to November 2014, the husband had received £168,000 more than the wife by way of income from the investments (in addition to the extra sum that he required to pay his rent), noting that Mr Huggins had told the wife that he believed the sums paid to the husband had been excessively large and were in part due to the husband's addiction issues. The judge calculated that if the same occurred in each of four years since separation, that alone would amount to over £600,000 and there was in addition an unquantified waste of money during the marriage. He also took into account the distress caused to the wife by the husband's conduct and concluded that "it would be inequitable to disregard the [money] wantonly expended and the distress to the wife of the husband's addictive behaviour" which, along with the need factor, he considered justified "the modest departure from equality" in his order.' (paragraph 135).
' ... It follows that even if the husband were to succeed in establishing, as he seeks to do, that the judge placed undue weight on the husband's behaviour and its consequences for the family finances, this court would not interfere with his order, because the view that he took of the addiction aspect of the case was not a necessary part of the justification for it. In these circumstances, I do not propose to consider further the interesting and challenging question (recently considered by Moor J in MAP v MFP  EWHC 627 Fam) of whether behaviour such as the husband's should be reflected in the court's ancillary relief order, and if so, how. It seems to me undesirable to engage with this issue in a case where there has not been a full exploration of it at first instance, involving evidence and submissions from both parties.'