A woman engaged in financial remedy (settlement) proceedings with her estranged husband has successfully appealed after the original legal order was set aside.
In Duncan v Duncan, the wife’s legal representative discovered the day before the final financial hearing was due to take place that he had represented the husband during his first divorce five years previously, thereby creating a potential conflict of interest. However, the wife insisted that he continue to represent her and the husband agreed to this.
Later, the husband decided that he was not happy with the financial order and appealed, claiming that he had not fully consented to the lawyer continuing to represent his wife and saying the cross-examination had dealt with matters which created an unavoidable conflict of interest.
The judge allowed the appeal, sending the case back for rehearing and ordering the wife to pay costs. She appealed.
Lady Justice Macur and Lord Justices Ryder and Sullivan considered her case. They concluded that the husband had principally been objecting to the nature of the cross-examination, which had surprised him, rather than to the use of any specific information from his previous divorce. Written summaries from that earlier divorce had been used but these had not had any special bearing or advanced the case and the husband’s appeal was “patently opportunistic”.. The original financial order was restored.