Young v Young - a cautionary tale

Young v Young - a cautionary tale

Most practitioners will be familiar with the long running case of Young v Young [2013] EWHC 3637 (Fam) and the wife’s efforts to prove that the husband was not insolvent but rather that he had hidden substantial assets in order to defeat her claims.

As summarised by Moor J (at para 3):

‘This case has been quite extraordinary even by the standards of the most bitter of matrimonial breakdowns.  It has been conducted in the full glare of the media.  Extremely serious allegations have been bandied around like confetti.  Some of these allegations can only be described as “wild”.  The case has cost the wife millions of pounds in litigation fees.  It has taken some six and a half years to come to trial.  There have been around 65 separate hearings.’

The wife’s position in summary was that the husband is worth a very great amount of money and that he was hiding assets from the court and his trustee in bankruptcy, specifically:

  • that the husband’s assets are at the very least hundreds of millions of pounds
  • that she should be awarded a lump sum of half the sum the court finds the husband to be worth
  • expert reports submitted by the wife referred to sums varying from £400 to £779 million and were criticised by Moor J
  • that the husband had previously offered, on an open basis, to settle her claim for the sum of £300 million (which the husband stated was not a ‘serious’ offer)

The husband’s case was that he is penniless and bankrupt to the tune of at least £28 million.  He therefore contended that, as there are no assets, the wife’s claims should be dismissed.

What comments did Moor J make in relation to the costs of the parties and the conduct of the case?

Moor J makes his views clear early in his judgment (at para 3) saying ‘In many respects, this is about as bad an example of how not to litigate as any I have ever encountered’

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About the author:

Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.

Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.

When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).