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Criminal consequences

I wrote here just yesterday about the possibility of criminal sanctions being imposed upon a person who fails to tell the truth to a family court. By coincidence, a law report has since appeared in which that very circumstance arose.

The facts in Kaur v Randhawa are quite remarkable. The judgment concerned the wife’s attempts to enforce a lump sum order made in October 2013, which required her husband to pay her a lump sum of £80,000, by the 5th of February 2014. The order went onto state that if the payment was not made by that date a property belonging to the husband should be sold and the wife’s lump sum, plus interest, should be paid from the net proceeds.

The wife claimed that by the 5th of February 2014 the husband had not paid any part of the lump sum. However, the husband claimed that in December 2013 he had met the wife at a Pizza Express in Slough where he paid her £40,000 in cash, she having earlier agreed with him to accept that sum in satisfaction of her entitlement under the order. The wife flatly denied this.

The husband claimed that he had borrowed the £40,000 from his brother, who accompanied him to the Pizza Express. The brother confirmed this, but said he did not see the husband hand over the money. There was no other evidence of the payment having been made and, strangely, on the 12th of February 2014 the husband had a conversation with the wife’s solicitor, in which he stated that he had no intention of complying with the order, and made no mention of the £40,000 payment.

Hearing the case, Mr Justice Mostyn had “no hesitation” in rejecting the evidence of the husband and his brother.

After the 12th of February 2014 the wife’s solicitors took steps to enforce the order for sale of the property. However, on the 22nd of May the property was secretly sold by the husband, in breach of the order. On that day the sum of £281,295.75 was paid into the brother’s bank account, which previously had a nil balance. Various sums of money were then paid out of the account (at least some of which found its way to the husband, who claimed to have spent it, largely on gambling), but on the 24th of September the account was frozen by an order of the court. The brother stated that there was then about £110,000 in the account, but both he and the husband claimed that this belonged to him, rather than the husband, because when the property was sold the husband owed various sums to the brother.

Mr Justice Mostyn was certain that he had been told “flat lies” by the husband and the brother about what he called “this so-called debt”. Accordingly, the money in the frozen account unquestionably belonged to the husband.

In the circumstances Mr Justice Mostyn made a third party debt order (see this post) against the bank in the sum of £108,854.28, being the original £80,000 lump sum, plus interest and costs. Further, in the light of what he called the “disgraceful conduct” of the husband and the brother he also made an order for indemnity costs against them.

But he did not leave matters there. At the end of his judgment Mr Justice Mostyn directed that the judgment and court bundle should be sent to the DPP, for her to consider whether proceedings for perjury should be brought against the husband and the brother.

So there can be criminal consequences for failing to tell the truth to a family court.

The full judgment in the case can be read here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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