Efficient conduct of financial remedy hearings allocated to a High Court judge

Efficient conduct of financial remedy hearings allocated to a High Court judge

A revised statement on the efficient conduct of financial remedy hearings allocated to a High Court judge whether sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, or elsewhere, has been issued by Mr Justice Mostyn. The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has authorised the release of the statement.

Financial criteria

The revised statement includes the following guidance on the criteria for allocation to a High Court judge:

  • the governing principle is that a case should only be allocated for hearing by a High Court judge if it is exceptionally complex or there is another substantial ground for the case being heard at that level and that allocation to that level is proportionate
  • such allocation is rarely likely to be proportionate unless the net assets exceed £7.5m
  • in determining whether the governing principle is satisfied the following are relevant considerations:
    • the overall net assets exceed £15m; and/or
    • the overall net earned annual income exceeds £1m

In a case falling within the above financial criteria the governing principle will likely, but not necessarily, be satisfied. There will be some relatively straightforward cases falling within that criteria where a transfer to High Court judge level will nevertheless not be proportionate.

Where a case does not fall within the specified financial criteria, but where the net assets are said to exceed £7.5m the following may justify allocation to a High Court judge:

  • there is a serious case advanced of non-disclosure of assets
  • substantial assets are held offshore either directly or through the medium of trust or corporate entities and there may be issues as to the enforceability of any award
  • substantial assets are held in trusts which are said to be variable nuptial settlements
  • substantial assets are held through the medium of unquoted corporate entities and detailed expert valuation evidence will be required
  • a serious, carefully considered and potentially influential argument is being advanced of (i) compensation, (ii) non-matrimonial property, or (iii) conduct
  • there are serious, substantial third party claims to the assets otherwise subject to the dispositive powers of the court
  • there is a serious, carefully considered and potentially influential issue as to the effect of a nuptial agreement
  • the application involves a novel and important point of law.

Where the net assets do not exceed £7.5m, allocation to a High Court judge is only likely to be proportionate where the application involves a novel and important point of law.

Allocation

Allocation will be undertaken as follows:

  • if the case is at High Court j

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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).