Family court judge refuses to jail ‘penniless’ businessman

Divorce|February 19th 2016

A London businessman has escaped jail after a Judge agreed he had no money to pay his ex-wife.

After a making a fortune in the mining industry, the man had agreed to support his wife “for life” when they split in 1999. He was ordered to pay a £2 million settlement but £625,000 of that sum remains outstanding.

In the latest stage of a lengthy legal dispute, his wife had taken him to court, arguing that he should be compelled to pay the remaining sum along with 17 years of interest or be committed to prison. But, despite maintaining an expensive flat in Kensington, the husband insisted he was penniless and deeply in debt, saying he had applied for housing benefit and had become reliant on the charity of friends and the congregation at his local synagogue.

His former wife argued the one-time mining tycoon had created an “elaborate façade” around a concealed fortune. But Mrs Justice Roberts accepted the husband’s plea of poverty, saying the wife had failed to prove her case and he would not be jailed.

“I am unable to say that I am sure that he has had, or currently has, the means to pay the sums which I have found to be due to his ex-wife. I can find no reliable evidence of hidden or secret funds belonging to him.”

She added:

“She is owed a significant sum of money by her former husband but, at the present time, he has no means of discharging that debt. No stone should be left unturned in the ongoing and collective efforts of the parties to find a solution to this problem which is not, in any sense, of her making.”

The Judge acknowledged concerns expressed by the wife that she could lose her home.

“I should record the sincere sympathy which I have had throughout for the wife. I accept that she is facing an extremely uncertain future.”

The husband has been diagnosed with cancer according to reports. He appeared in court as an unrepresented litigant in person.

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(7)

  1. Tony Grubb says:

    What is the name or the reference for this case, please?

  2. Andrew says:

    Only press reports. It’s in today’s Times.

  3. Nemo Momenti says:

    The man is broke but still she keeps hounding him for money and wants him sent to prison for not paying her. Sounds like he was more than well rid of her!

  4. Andrew says:

    familylaw.co.uk/news_and_comment/mann-v-mann-2016-ewhc-314-fam#.Vsi84RiWWUk

  5. Andrew says:

    In fact there is a wider issue: namely imprisonment for debt, which is a barbaric practice which has no place in any non-servile society and should be abolished lock, stock and barrel. I am well aware that some tax and maintenance debt would go unpaid and it is JTB.
    .
    It is particularly obnoxious that it only applies to taxes, national and local, and certain family debts where in most cases the state is the fallback. Other creditors are thereby pushed down the queue as debtors pay the debt they can go to prison for in preference to the one they can’t.
    .
    And it is absurd that debts such as this one are not discharged on bankruptcy. They should be provable, discharged – but postponed to the debts of outside creditors.
    .
    If I am wrong, why am I wrong?

    • spinner says:

      I think your wrong also, I have a joint lives maintenance award against me for a three year marriage in my early twenties. To me this is nothing but state authorised indentured labour with threat of prison. I feel that I am imprisoned for the rest of my life as in I do not have free choice in my life.

  6. Stitchedup says:

    You’re wrong Andrew because we live in a servile society. I never thought I would ever think such a thing, but my personal experience over recent years has opened my eyes to just how dysfunctional many of our systems and institutions have become in the UK.

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