Court of Appeal sets aside remedy orders in divorce case after ‘procedurally unfair’ mistakes

In the case of Iqbal v Iqbal, following the final hearing in March 2015, His Honour Judge Brasse had ordered the husband to pay his former wife a lump sum of £3.22m within five weeks arrears of periodical payments of £530,000 and future periodical payments of £10,000 per month in advance by standing order.

Sir Ernest Ryder, senior president of tribunals, said that the key issues at the interim and final hearings were whether the husband was able to make payments. The husband sought to challenge the outcome of the final hearing on the basis of the extent of direct evidence available and the inferences drawn. The husband’s attendance was excused at an interim hearing in 2010 however the wife attended at this hearing and made submissions based on evidence which did not contain a statement of truth and made submissions about the husband about which he had no advance notice. Ryder said as a consequence of this the final hearing was ‘procedurally unfair’ and the order made following it should be set aside.

Ryder said that:

‘No real attempt at active case management by reference to the Family Procedure Rules and Practice Directions was attempted’
He then went on to say:

‘It is hardly surprising, therefore, that good practice was not a feature of the management of this case’.

Ryder said that the judge in the final hearing made no reference to the husband’s documents during the hearing and the wife filed her statement only eight days before the final hearing and failed to serve the statement on the husband ahead of the final hearing. Ryder was surprised that there was an absence of any analysis of the parties’ needs and the husband’s ability to make payments in the initial judgment, especially given the importance of ascertaining the wife’s needs in the context of pre-marital assets.

All financial remedy orders made were set aside by the Court of Appeal and Ryder has also directed that the application for an order be re-heard by a specialist family judge at the Central Family Court.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article please contact one of our specialist family lawyers on 0161 927 3118.