King J delivers withering criticism of Husband’s litigation misconduct and orders award worth £54 million to wife
The long awaited judgment in M v M  EWHC 2534 (Fam) has been published and the full text of this extraordinary judgment is now available on the Family Law Week site. Click here for the full judgment .
There has been enormous interest and speculation about this unusual case. The combination of the substantial sums involved (the traced assets amount to £107 million) and uncertainty as to how those assets, held by companies of which the husband was shareholder, would be dealt with in the light of Prest v Petrodel and others, has generated great anticipation amongst family lawyers.
Another extraordinary feature of the case was that the husband did not even attend the final hearing.
In a forthright and detailed judgment, Mrs Justice King condemned the husband’s “appalling litigation misconduct”. The husband had flouted a number of court orders and had failed to provide anything approaching full financial disclosure.
The judge rejected the notion that some of the properties had been registered in the names of offshore structures as part of a scheme to mitigate tax and concluded that the properties were held beneficially by the husband.
Furthermore, her Ladyship concluded that the husband was a shadow director and a “puppet master”. Referring to the husband, she said that he was
“at all times the directing mind and will of each of the companies. I am satisfied that the husband and the husband alone made each and every decision in relation to the purchase and operation of the companies, and that the directors who from time to time were put in place, were acquiescent employees or family members who would have had neither the skill nor knowledge to carry out any of the duties of a company director.”
The judge made it clear that adverse inferences could be drawn against the husband by virtue of his:
i) failure to comply with orders to provide disclosure.
ii) failure to come to court and give evidence.
iii) silence in the face of the case against him.
Her Ladyship made it clear that contrary to assertions made by the husband, the family wealth had been accumulated during the parties’ 17 year marriage. She also found that this was the case where the applicant had been a “fully contributing wife”.
For the full text of the judgment (and a brief summary of the final order) click here
SOURCE: Family Law Week