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LMP are pleased to support the work of The Forces Children’s Trust (FCT), the charity devoted to helping children whose father or mother has died, or has sustained life threatening injuries whilst serving as a member of the British Armed Forces. www.forceschildrenstrust.org

LMP are pleased to support the Tom ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust and encourage others to do likewise. Click the link below to find out more about their work or to donate to this worthy cause.
www.tomaprhyspryce.com

 
 

President of Family Division gives senior judicial endorsement of arbitration

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, handed down a judgment on 14 January 2014, which reflects a strong endorsement of family arbitration and in particular the scheme conducted under the IFLA (Institute of Family Law Arbitrators). The case in question is S v S (2014) EWHC 7 which concerned a decision (award) made through a private arbitration. The parties had been married for 26 years and had one child, aged 19. The assets were recorded as being between £1.5m and £2m. In June 2013 the parties signed up to binding arbitration and the final award was made in November 2013.

The application had been transferred up to the President at his own direction. In upholding the decision, His Lordship took the opportunity to offer some guidance as to the proper approach of the court to such applications and his words have been seen as significant encouragement to those family practitioners who have, or are completing training as Arbitrators, and to those who see Arbitration as an important development in ensuring time and cost effective dispute resolution in the Family arena.

An excellent commentary on S v S by Peter Singer can be found here.

Full judgment can be read here.

 

3rd October 2013 – MED/ARB – a Canadian concept explored

It's not often that the colonials can teach the Brits anything but maybe this once. This was LMP partner Jeremy Levison's introduction to Stephen Grant, a Canadian family lawyer, mediator/arbitrator and IAML Fellow, who whilst in London this week shared his experiences of Mediation/Arbitration, or "Med/Arb," with a group of forty London-based Family lawyers.

Med/Arb is a private alternate dispute resolution process, judicially sanctioned, entered into voluntarily by the parties with an adjudicator of their choice. Part of the theory behind this process is that the parties will take the mediation more seriously and work harder at reaching a consensual resolution when they know that the process will ultimately result in a binding decision.

Stephen's entertaining endorsement of the process, which is not practiced in the UK, sparked some lively debate at the LMP hosted event at the Vitrine Art Gallery on Bermondsey Street on the 24th September. For further details <CLICK HERE>

 

26th September 2013 - Legal 500 confirms 'Leading boutique' Levison Meltzer Pigott in London's top divorce firms

The annual legal research directory Legal 500 was launched yesterday and LMP was once again in the rankings as one of London's leading Family practices.

This is what they had to say:
'Leading boutique' Levison Meltzer Pigott 'produces high-quality work' in an atmosphere of 'infectious family spirit'. Jeremy Levison and Simon Pigott are 'not averse to giving unpalatable advice, but neither shrinks from litigation'. The firm recently advised in relation to matrimonial assets in the tens of millions, and has expertise in complex matters such as occupation order proceedings, and contested Children Act proceedings involving alcohol misuse. Alison Hayes is 'a superb divorce lawyer'.

 

24 July 2013 – All six LMP partners recognised in Citywealth Leaders List 2013

All six partners of niche Family law firm, Levison Meltzer Pigott, have been recognised as "Leading Lawyers – Family & Matrimonial " in the eighth edition of the Citywealth Leaders List. The print version of the list, which is compiled through the recommendation of industry peers, clients and other organisations within the private wealth management sector, has just been published.

Founding partners Jeremy Levison and Simon Pigott are named in the category's "Honours List". Jeremy is described as "a leader in his field ....an excellent strategic grip on a case from the outset and his client-handling skills are impeccable ....on a par with the brightest and best in his field."; Simon is highlighted as "..one of the most reliable litigators in our field ....a first rate lawyer and an excellent draftsman."

The four other partners – Amanda Andrews, Nicola Fletcher, Alison Hayes and Julian Ribet – are listed under "Prominent Figures." Nicola Fletcher is singled out as "one of the leading specialist solicitors in London. She has excellent client skills and achieves very good outcomes."

For further information visit: www.citywealthmag.com/leaders

 

04 July – Francois Dolmetsch wins top prize at The Old Carthusian Art Society (OCAS) 2013 biennial exhibition.

Levison Meltzer Pigott (LMP) sponsored The Old Carthusian Art Society (OCAS) 2013 biennial exhibition. An additional feature to the 2013 exhibition was the introduction of a number of prizes. The firm generously donated a prize fund of £1,750 with £1,000 being awarded for the winning entry. The exhibits were judged by Mike von Joel, Senior Editor of STATE/f22, a platform for informed opinion from around the world, encouraging the best in new art writing and photography. The prizes which were presented at an invitation only event in Bermondsey on Thursday 4 July were:
First: Francois Dolmetsch
Second: Margaret Olson (for her Lost Notes on a Summer Day)
Third: Helen Pinkney

There was also a special mention for Craig Lynn.

OCAS was established in 2008 to offer the alumni of Charterhouse School the potential to exhibit their work and to provide an opportunity for artists and art connoisseurs alike to enjoy art related events. The main OCAS event is the biennial exhibition. The 2013 exhibition, the third such occasion for OCAS, was open to the public from 23-29 June at Charterhouse, Godalming, Surrey GU7 2DX. The exhibition then moved from Godalming to a gallery in the Vellum Building, 183-185 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UW where it was open to the public from the 5-7 July.

The exhibition featured work from Old Carthusians spanning over sixty years; from those who left in 1944 to more recent school leavers and from internationally acclaimed professional artists to a host of gifted amateurs. There was a wide variety of media including painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking and digital media.

One of the law firm's founding partners is Jeremy Levison. Jeremy was at Charterhouse between 1965 and 1969. With no visual creative artistic ability, nobody is more surprised than Jeremy himself to find that he has become a passionate art collector with a keen interest in contemporary British art.

Jeremy explains why his firm is supporting the OCAS exhibition and the Art Prize: "2013 is the Levison Meltzer Pigott's 15th anniversary. Over that time I have managed to cram our office with works of art and successfully combine a career in family law with my passion to collect. We are looking at a number of initiatives to mark our fifteen years and so for me, particularly as I am now Chairman of OCAS, to support the exhibition with an Art Prize seemed to be particularly appropriate, to say nothing of being great fun."

 

9 May 2013 – Levison Meltzer Pigott is delighted to have won the Corporate INTL Magazine 2013 Legal Award for 'Niche – Divorce Law – Law Firm of the Year in England'.

The awards celebrate those that have shown expertise and excellence in their fields in the last twelve months. Corporate INTL is a monthly publication that provides an in-depth insight into the business world and has a global readership of over 70,000 people per month including by business leaders, investors and advisers. The winners of the awards are decided by a panel of respected professionals including Senior Partners of global law firms and Chief Executives of international businesses.

 

18 April 2013 – Spear's survey ranks Simon Pigott as one of top 25 divorce and family lawyers in London

Simon Pigott has been recognised as a leading London divorce lawyer in the 2013 Family Law Index produced by Spear's. The Index provides a guide on who the lawyers themselves rate. It comes three years after the previous survey and draws on the views of some leading divorce and family lawyers in London. Simon is particularly noted for his skills in Mediation and is viewed by peers as a 'great negotiator' who 'parks hurts and misunderstandings, and persuades clients to be commercial while seeking resolution'. Spear's is the award-winning wealth management and luxury lifestyle media brand whose flagship magazine targets the ultra-high-net- worth (UHNW) community.

 

08 March 2013 – Landmark Divorce Decision Involves Largest (£54M) “Set aside”

A team led by family law specialists Julian Ribet of Levison Meltzer Pigott and Deborah Bangay QC of 1 Hare Court, together with Dakis Hagen of Serle Court Chambers and David Ewart QC and James Rivett both of Pump Court Tax Chambers, have acted for the Wife in a divorce case (reported on an anonomised basis as AC v DC) which has resulted in two landmark decisions: the largest reported “set aside” of a disposition into trust by a Judge in family proceedings and the first ever reported decision of an “add back” against a party in divorce proceedings who did not have legal capacity. 

In the first decision Mr Justice Mostyn ‘set aside’ or annulled a complex chain of financial transactions involving the family’s assets, which were intended to prevent the wife from claiming a substantial divorce settlement. All the husband’s shares (worth £54m) in a successful company had been transferred to the Trustee of an offshore Trust which meant that once divorced, the wife would have no claims against these assets. In his historic decision, Mr Justice Mostyn found that: “On any view the wife’s claims for a financial remedy were seriously compromised by these steps.”

The second decision relates directly to the wife’s financial claims and the division of the assets. The Judge, Sir Hugh Bennett, found that the wife should not be held to the terms of a Prenuptial Agreement and awarded her 40% as a “fair and just share of the net assets of the parties”. One further twist meant that payments worth £7.8m, (awarded as incentives to the Directors of his company by the husband), were ordered to be “added back” into the asset schedule before division.

Family lawyer Julian Ribet of Levison Meltzer Pigott, the Partner who acted on behalf of the wife, concludes:
“The decisions in this case should act as clear warnings to parties who are tempted to take steps to minimise the financial claims of their spouse on divorce. They and their professional advisers should be under no illusions. The legislation in place to protect the family assets in the event of a divorce or judicial separation is alive and well. It is powerful and robust and will not allow a spouse to be subjected to Machiavellian strategies born of boardroom machinations in an attempt to minimise the family asset base prior to division. This case can be seen as a victory for s37 and a resounding affirmation of its status as one of the pillars of current family law.”

Serle Court’s Dakis Hagen (the specialist Chancery Barrister acting for the wife) commented: “At a time when the Court of Appeal has sought to re-assert, and the Supreme Court is soon to consider, the sanctity of property rights in trust and company law (Pitt v Holt, Petrodel v Prest), AC v DC shows the breadth of the statutory jurisdiction enjoyed by the Family Division to overturn transactions and the willingness of its Judges to use their powers to the greatest extent possible to protect and enforce the rights of claimant spouses.”

James Rivett (the specialist Tax Barrister acting on behalf of the Wife) added: “Prior to the judgment of the Family Division in AC v DC there was a concern that an order under s.37 could have significant adverse tax consequences, particularly in circumstances where the property which was the subject of the impugned disposition had increased in value between the date of the disposition and the date of an order to set it aside. In AC v DC the Family Division has clarified that an order under s.37 can have retrospective effect for fiscal purposes, so that a disposition set aside under s.37 is deemed never to have occurred for certain purposes of the UK tax code.” 

Both decisions will be of interest to those engaged in complicated financial proceedings on divorce.  The full judgment can be found at:
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2012/2032.html http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2012/2420.html
 

02 November 2012 – Chambers Directory – Levison Meltzer Pigott retains position in London's top twelve divorce firms

The annual legal research directory Chambers was launched last night and LMP was once again in the rankings as one of London's leading Family practices.

This is what the researchers concluded:
This "factual, direct and understanding" team advises on the full range of divorce issues, paternity disputes and children law matters. It is particularly strong when it comes to complex financial and international-related work, and has had a very active year handling numerous high-value cases. Clients comment that the group "did everything they could to help me win my case. It is very supportive and mindful of costs but always focused on the outcome."

KEY INDIVIDUALS
Jeremy Levison is praised as "an excellent practitioner" and a "civilised opponent." He offers decades of experience in high net worth and complex financial settlements.

Simon Pigott is considered to be a "very sensible and constructive" family law practitioner. He has recently handled high-value matrimonial finance and child support cases.

Amanda Andrews recently joined the firm from Cripps Harries Hall. She advises on both divorce cases and children matters, including cross-border work.

 

Jeremy joins Buzz and others for the Aerobility Challenge and a new Guinness Record October 2012

LMP partner Jeremy Levison was one of 92 Global Flight Sim challenge pilots, flying the 22,600 nautical mile circumnavigation of the globe, to create a new Guinness World Record for a flight simulator (subject to GWR ratification) and raise £100,000 for Aerobility, the UK charity that gives disabled people the chance to fly.

Also taking part was 82 year old Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. Other well-known pilots who took part in the 10-day challenge which was opened by Gerald Howarth MP and started on Friday 5 October at Blackbushe Airport, included ex-England rugby star Rory Underwood, Andy Green, the world land speed record holder, comedian Joe Pasquale, TV and radio broadcaster Chris Evans, Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company IAG, Chief of the Air Staff, Mike Ling from the Red Arrows, Brian Jones and David Hempleman-Adams.

Jeremy took part in Leg 46 of the challenge <CLICK HERE>

The non-stop, round-the-world flying mission in a flight simulator was to raise money for the flying charity, Aerobility. The simulator used in breaking the record was on loan, but the Blackbushe charity hopes to raise the money to buy it and maintain it for five years so disabled student pilots can benefit from the valuable training that it provides. The simulator also allows people with weak, missing or prosthetic limbs to acclimatise to the aircraft physical environment, without the serious expense of actual flight and allows those with severe disabilities that might be precluded from flight to experience the flying environment. The simulator has been vital in providing training for Dave Rawlins, the paralympic opening ceremony pilot and the charities' most recent success, Nathan Doidge – both of whom used the simulator extensively in their training.

To lend your support to this challenge <CLICK HERE> or visit the charity's website www.aerobility.com

Finally, the charity is holding fundraising ball at LHR T5 Sofitel Hotel on Nov 24th – great fun night with some great aviation prizes along with much much more. Please see: http://www.aviatorsball.co.uk

 

14 September 2012

Jeremy Levison was a guest of Voice of Russia's (VOR) Juliet Spare to discuss why London is the divorce capital of the world and asks if it is time the divorce laws in England and Wales should be changed? Hear Jeremy and other panel members on youtube. <CLICK HERE>

 

Jeremy v Jeremy – BBC Newsnight

On the 11th September, Jeremy Levison (LMP) joined Baroness Deech and Jeremy Paxman (BBC) on Newsnight to "debate" the three main options on divorce reform proposed by the Law Commission in their latest report.

In addition Jeremy Levison was once again highlighted as a "Leading Individual"
 

20th September 2012 – Legal 500 – Levison Meltzer Pigott retains position in London's top twelve divorce firms

The annual legal research directory Legal 500 was launched today and LMP was once again in the rankings as one of London's leading Family practices. All six partners were highlighted in the summary: "At niche firm Levison Meltzer Pigott, Nicola Fletcher represented the petitioner wife in Z v Z, a case involving premarital agreement and foreign property; and Alison Hayes advised the husband in Jones v Jones. Other highly regarded practitioners include Jeremy Levison, Simon Pigott, Julian Ribet, and Amanda Andrews."

In addition Jeremy Levison was once again highlighted as a "Leading Individual"
 

June 2012 – Further developments in Government’s plans to strengthen the likelihood of children maintaining contact with both parents after divorce.

The current plans for the family courts in England and Wales have now gone for public consultation. 
<MORE INFORMATION>

Proposals state that the courts would have to assume that it was in a child's best interest to see both parents. Ministers say this would not, however, mean both parents had the right to equal time with their children, but it would mean that divorced or separated parents who play the system to "freeze" their ex-partner out of a "meaningful relationship" with their children could face tougher penalties. The implication is that unless there were risks to indicate otherwise (potential for harm to a child), the courts will expect both parents “to be as fully engaged in the upbringing of the child as possible”.

The move comes despite a warning in last year’s Norgrove Report on family justice that the creation of a legal presumption in favour of shared parenting would create an “unacceptable risk of damage to children”.

Some see this move as a political nod to the rights of fathers.  If yes, it has had a mixed response with Fathers4Justice declaring the plans a “masterclass in obfuscation” that fell short of the pre-election promises.  Families Need Fathers, however, were cautiously optimistic that the legislation would indeed “send a clear message”.

LMP partner Simon Pigott comments:
“This development, like the devil, will be in the detail.  There is nothing new in the presumption that it is in a child’s best interest to see both their parents and so when the Government says that their proposal does not mean that parents have a right to equal time, it is difficult at this stage to see that this changes the current situation. Any effective proposal which will prevent one parent from restricting their child from seeing the other parent without good reason can only be a good thing.”

 

Rise in London “Divorce Tourism” – An article in The Times in April 2012 announced that London is the global capital for “Divorce Tourism” with marriage break-ups involving foreign nationals accounting for a sixth of cases before the courts.

The Times researchers had found:

  • a significant increase in international divorce, now estimated to involve 24,000 of the 150,000 divorces in England and Wales each year;
  • a dramatic rise in the number of commercial disputes, in which one or both parties were foreign. The percentage rose from 65 per cent in 2008 to 81 per cent in 2011;
  • a huge rise in cases involving “tug of love” disputes between parents that involve two countries, from 27 cases in 2007 to 180 last year, with numbers still climbing;
  • a 24 per cent rise between 2009 and 2010 in applications for permission to bring judicial reviews — a total of 10,500 in all, of which 1,100 were granted. The majority were asylum and immigration appeals.

    Other findings include:

  • There is also a rise in international couples seeking pre-nuptial agreements so that their wealth is protected on divorce  - a direct reaction to the Radmacher ruling;
  • As many as half of the so-called “big money” divorces involve people from abroad and as a result of a number of high profile generous payouts, particularly to wives have meant that there is an increase in potential divorceés going so far as to move to Britain in order to show that they have lived for a year, thus qualifying to use the courts.

The Partners of Levison Meltzer Pigott (LMP) acknowledge that their practices would seem to accurately reflect many of these conclusions:

" Of course it varies per partners’ individual practices but there has definitely been an increase in cases involving foreign nationals” confirms LMP partner Julian Ribet. “Just looking at my own caseload, almost a third can be classed as international and one of my colleagues acknowledges that cases with an international element now count for more than 50% of her work. Is this an increase compared with past – we most definitely think so”.

Partner Nicola Fletcher comments on the rise in prenuptial agreements: “Radmacher, and more recently, a case in which I advised for a French wife divorcing in England, has proven that pre-nuptials can be effective in this jurisdiction. It makes sense to protect assets if you can. This is particularly true where family businesses are concerned and perhaps easier to justify without being considered “unromantic” or negative about the future. I act for one such wealthy family business where pre-nups are now considered pretty well as essential as other directors’ responsibilities. Where big money and big businesses are involved – it pays to be cautious.”

Julian does however have a few words of warning to those who believe they or their spouse may have reason to take advantage of the generous divorce awards in England – think ahead! “You need to take advice and make sure that you are eligible to start divorce proceedings here. If you are it is important that if you are you issue your proceedings here before your spouse starts proceedings elsewhere as if they do they may well establish jurisdiction in another (less generous) country. If you believe your marriage may be weakening and potentially heading for the divorce courts, it is therefore very important take legal advice at an early stage.”

 

29 February 2012 – All six LMP partners recognised in Citywealth Leaders List 2012

All six partners of niche Family law firm, Levison Meltzer Pigott, have been recognised as “Leading Lawyers – Family & Matrimonial ” in the seventh edition of the  Citywealth Leaders List. The print version of the list, which is compiled through the recommendation of industry peers, clients and other organisations within the private wealth management sector, will be published in May 2012.

Founding partners Jeremy Levison and Simon Pigott are named in the category’s “Honours List”; the four others – Amanda Andrews, Nicola Fletcher , Alison Hayes and Julian Ribet – are listed under “Leading Lawyers – Family & Matrimonial – Prominent Figure.”

New to the Lists are Alison Hayes, described as  "...without doubt one of the leading practitioners..." and Nicola Fletcher who is noted for being "...used to handling cases which involve large and complex finances and clients who are used to and require nothing but the very best service. "

For further information visit: www.citywealthmag.com/leaders

 

February 2012 – Recognition of both parents’ rights to see their children

In responding to the review of the family justice system recently undertaken by David Norgrove, the Government have confirmed that the right of both mothers and fathers to see their children following the breakdown of their relationship will be set down in law. Campaigners for fathers’ rights complain that currently there is a bias in the court system towards a presumption that mothers are the children’s primary carer in circumstances where increasingly this is not the case.

In an attempt to prevent parental separation (where children end up losing contact with the non-resident parent, normally the father) from occurring, Judges will have a formalised legal duty to ensure that both fathers and mothers have an ongoing relationship with their children unless the behaviour of one or other of the parents has raised concerns over the safety or welfare of the children. Any parent who does not accept the role of the other parent could face serious penalties and even imprisonment.

What the changes will not do is establish a presumption of a shared parenting arrangement for parents after the breakdown of their relationship. In other jurisdictions where this presumption does exist it has led to judges becoming bogged down trying to share out children’s time with both parents.

What will also not change is the fact that the interests of the children always come first, as set out in the Children Act 1989.

The Government is trying to reduce the number of family law cases that proceed through the system to a fully contested hearing and has committed £10 million for mediation services to encourage more parents to settle outside of the court arena.

 

February 2012 – Law Commission to review two aspects of matrimonial finance law.

The Law Commission’s ongoing project on Marital Property Arrangements is to be extended to consider two aspects of the law on financial provision following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership: to what extent one party should meet the other’s needs and how “non-matrimonial property” (assets that were not built up during the marriage or were acquired, for example, through inheritance) should be treated.

There have been a large number of reported cases on both these points in recent months, including LMP’s case of Jones v Jones [2011] 1 FLR 1723 in respect of pre-acquired wealth. The aim is to bring clarity to these two areas that are at the moment causing particular difficulties in the world of matrimonial finance.

A consultation paper is expected later in 2012 with the full report due in 2013.

 

16 January 2012 –  Family Law specialist Amanda Andrews has joined the firm, taking the number of partners to six.

Amanda comes from leading Kent solicitors Cripps Harries Hall LLP where she was Head of its Family practice. She specialises in dealing with mid to high-net-worth individuals and with complex Children Act cases.

Amanda is recognised as a "key individual" by the annual market research directory on the legal market Chambers & Partners  with clients being "impressed by her legal knowledge and experience, intellectual and emotional intelligence, efficiency and empathy."  Legal 500, also a respected sector directory this year describes Amanda's team as delivering "an unrivalled combination of client empathy, robustness and depth of knowledge."

Amanda explains her decision to join Levison Meltzer Pigott: "London offers greater challenges in terms of complex Family work.  I have very much enjoyed working close to home, the benefits in terms of family life and of course the opportunity to grow and develop a practice and a reputation.  Now, however, I'm at a stage that I'm looking to step up a gear professionally and believe that the specialist Family Law focus of Levison Meltzer Pigott matched with the culture of this niche partnership will suit me and my future professional aspirations just perfectly."

LMP Managing Partner Simon Pigott agrees: "As with any small firm, personalities matter.  Amanda will fit well with the team and her experience and approach to her work is very much what our clients and contacts expect from a member of Levison Meltzer Pigott. We are delighted that she has joined us."

 

01 December 2011 – Levison Meltzer Pigott, is to support the work of The Forces Children’s Trust (FCT), the charity devoted to helping children whose father or mother has died, or has sustained life threatening injuries whilst serving as a member of the British Armed Forces. <MORE>

 

25th October 2011 – Chambers Directory confirms “upfront, professional and honest. "Levison Meltzer Pigott providing a "first-class service" <MORE>

 

22 September 2011 – Legal 500 declares Levison Meltzer Pigott a “Class act’ and once again a top tier for Family Law <MORE>

 

September 2011 - Plans to give financial rights to non-married couples shelved.

The idea of the “common law wife” lives large in the minds of the general public and the press but it is in fact a myth. Currently unmarried individuals have no rights for financial remedies such as maintenance or lump sums against their former partner. This can often lead to financial hardship at the end of a long relationship.

In 2005 the previous Government asked the Law Commission to look into the law in this area to consider whether unmarried couples should benefit from all, or some of, the rights that apply to married couples on a divorce (and that now also apply to Civil Partnerships). In 2007 the Law Commission recommended a new scheme giving unmarried couples such rights.

However on 6th September 2011 the Justice Minister announced that the Government does not intend to follow these recommendations in this parliamentary term. The announcement appeared in Hansard <CLICK HERE>. This announcement is despite the increasing number of couples who choose not to marry and who can often find themselves serious financial trouble at the end of a long-term relationship.

 


Nicola Fletcher acted for the wife in the recently reported case Z v Z (DIVORCE : JURISDICTION) [2010] 1 FLR 694)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE JUDGMENT

Nicola represented the wife, a French national, who had been living in London with the children since 2007. The husband, also a French national, worked for a multi-national company and was frequently away on business. The marriage broke down and the wife issued a Petition in London but the husband disputed jurisdiction on the basis that he was not habitually resident in England & Wales.

Ryder J found that the husband was habitually resident in England & Wales and that the Court therefore had jurisdiction under Article 3 of Brussels II Revised. He found that the autonomous EC interpretation of habitual residence, unlike the domestic interpretation, did not give determinative significance to the length of time a person spent out of the country. The focus instead was on the parties’ “centre of interests” and the husband had relocated to London in 2007 with the intention of being with the wife and children for as long as his job lasted. When the marriage broke down he intended to return to France when the opportunity presented itself but he did not communicate that intention and on the facts of the case it did not change his habitual residence.

 


Julian Ribet acted for the wife in the recently reported case K v B 2010 EWHC 2151 (Fam)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE JUDGMENT

For many years now the mixing of financial and children related issues in litigation and negotiations has long been regarded by those practicing family law as being wholly inappropriate. Sometimes this can be difficult for clients to understand, as there is often a connection between the level of the financial provision made for the parties and the practical arrangements for the day-to-day care of the children.

This case shows that in some rare cases the Court will consider that it is reasonable to link financial and children related issues. In this case, on an ancillary relief appeal, the Court considered a bargain struck between the spouses: the wife's Sharia Law claims to a dowry would be dismissed and in return the husband would give up his rights of custody arising on the child reaching 7 years old under Sharia Law, and provide a contingency fund in the event of abduction/wrongful retention by him.

The husband had appealed against a preamble contained in the final ancillary relief order which left the wife's dowry claims open, and at the appeal hearing a compromise was agreed by the parties once they had heard the expert evidence. Both parties then sought costs orders against the other. When coming to his decision, the judge took account of the custody issue, even though no formal applications under the Children Act were before him. He took the view that on the facts of this case a settlement would have had to cover both children and financial matters.

The Judge felt that the wife could not have given up her dowry claims which were her only bargaining chip to persuade the husband to give up his Sharia Law custody rights. If the husband had taken the child to an Islamic country, the wife would have had very serious problems recovering the child unless the husband had formally given up his custody rights. Faced with the possibility of losing her child the Court felt that it was not unreasonable for her to use her only leverage which was her dowry claim.

The judge stressed the need to take a broad view of the litigation. The Court retains a discretion and must take the conduct of the parties into account when considering the issue of costs. The Judge found that the husband's conduct in not agreeing to give up his custody rights until the appeal hearing was unreasonable. The wife had proposed an order in the terms finally agreed many months prior to the appeal hearing which the husband had declined to accept. As a result the Court felt it appropriate for his litigation conduct to be sanctioned and he was ordered to pay a substantial contribution towards the wife's costs.

 

Levison Meltzer Pigott is pleased to have received an outstanding endorsement in the 2011 edition of Chambers and Partners which stated:

The Firm: is among London’s leading family law boutiques. Recently it has been at the forefront of developments in family law. It was involved a case entitled re Child X which has helped to clarify the rules concerning media attendance at the Family Courts. According to sources ‘it runs sensible well reasoned arguments'.

The guide goes on to give Levison Meltzer Pigott a special endorsement for client service stating that the firm has the depth of expertise across the partnership to provide the client with an excellent service’.

 

LMP is pleased to have retained its top category ranking in the current edition of The Legal 500, which stated:

“Levison Meltzer Pigott is a niche, ‘highly competent’ family firm with a number of well-respected practitioners such as the ‘fantastic’ Simon Pigott, Jeremy Levison, Alison Hayes, Julian Ribet and Nicola Fletcher. The group regularly handles high-value ancillary relief work as well as children cases.”