What is Litigation Misconduct and How Does It Affect a Case?

Part of the process of separating from your spouse or civil partner is dividing your assets between you within the divorce or dissolution proceedings. It is possible to do this amicably if you co-operate with each other. However, if one party does not engage or you are unable to reach an agreement either directly, via mediation, or via negotiations between solicitors, your only option to compel the other party to engage is to begin financial remedy proceedings. This means that a judge will decide about how the assets should be shared between you.

Disclosure of financial information

To make this decision, the judge will require sight of each party’s financial information and evidence in support. There is an obligation on each party to co-operate with the court proceedings which includes complying with court deadlines and court orders and providing all required information as each party has a duty to provide full, frank, and accurate financial disclosure.

In the case of Xo vs Yo [2022] EWFC 114, the husband did not engage with the proceedings or appear at the court hearings. For example, he did not respond to the wife’s questionnaire which included questions about his assets, which he had an obligation to respond to, and he did not engage in valuations such as of his business.

Within the court proceedings, several other court orders were made against the husband in respect of payments to the wife which he did not pay. The husband was ordered to pay maintenance pending suit, which are interim maintenance payments to the other party until the court proceedings come to an end, of £15,000/month and two legal services payment orders of £180,000 which meant he was ordered to pay the wife’s legal fees, and a school fee order in respect of their two children.

Paying legal costs

Amongst other awards as part of the financial settlement, because of the husband’s failure to co-operate, he was ordered to pay c. £400,000 in respect of the unpaid orders against him.

The court has a discretion to order that a party pays some or all the other party’s legal fees in situations such as this where they do not co-operate or their conduct means that the court proceedings cannot take place properly, as there is missing evidence, so the judge cannot decide about dividing the assets, which is known as litigation misconduct.

In this case, because of the husband’s poor conduct, the court also made an order for the husband to pay £150,000 of the wife’s legal costs to reflect his litigation misconduct.

This case is a reminder of the importance of complying with court directions fully and properly and demonstrates that the court will deal with parties who do not comply with court orders by making them pay the other party’s legal fees.

As part of the separation process, dividing assets between spouses or civil partners can be done amicably through cooperation but this is not always viable. At Thursfields Solicitors, our team of skilled Family lawyers is ready to help you with various issues including litigation misconduct, divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships, and asset division after separation. Reach out to our family law solicitors for assistance at 0345 20 73 728 or email us at info@thursfields.co.uk. To find out more about how assets are divided during a divorce, please visit: How Are Assets Divided in a Divorce? | Insights | Thursfields Law Firm.

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