In B v B, the wealthy couple had divorced and come to an agreement on the majority of their £40 million in assets. However, they were unable to agree on ownership of a 16th Century castle in Scotland, as a well as a number of other financial issues.
Sitting in the Family Division, Mr Justice Coleridge said there were no legal precedents for deciding ownership of the castle and a court decision on the matter could be as random as tossing a coin. However, the judge used an existing agreement between the partners to come down on the side of the husband. He and his former wife had previously reached an understanding that the husband would keep ownership of the castle while she would get their former matrimonial home. But the wife later changed her mind.
Mr Justice Coleridge ruled that it would be unfair to reverse this earlier agreement. He noted that the couple’s former home, where the wife still lived, was worth more than twice the value of the castle. The judge ordered her to transfer her share of the castle to her husband.
Since the separation, the husband had visited the castle on several occasions and attempted to main the property.
Mr Justice Coleridge also criticised the couple for their use of expense litigation to resolve relatively small financial disputes. With court time increasingly at a premium and rigorous case management introduced in other areas of the family justice system to save precious time, private litigants should expect to an encounter an increasing refusal by the courts to participate in disputes over smaller financial matters. The judge advised such litigants to bundle smaller items under dispute and place an overall value on these for court proceedings.
Photo by flickrtickr2009 via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence