A High Court judge has made clear that his costs judgment against a dishonest party should act as a deterrent to others considering deceiving the court.
Sir Peter Singer said the husband in a divorce settlement case, named as Clive Joy-Morancho, should pay all of Nichola Joy’s costs for proceedings since May 2013 – amounting to around £334,000 to be paid within 14 days.
In Joy v Joy-Morancho & Ors, the judge said the husband’s conduct in trying to explain his financial circumstances amounted to ‘blatant dishonesty’ and that he had deliberately set about obscuring the true situation as to his past, present and future.
One lie about the evidence of a witness was described as ‘breathtaking’.
Singer said it would be ‘grossly unfair’ to the wife not to regard the husband’s conduct as the ‘prime touchstone’ in the case, and he characterised the husband’s case as a ‘rotten edifice founded on concealment and misrepresentation and therefore a sham, a charade, bogus, spurious and contrived’.
‘Such cases are relatively few in number but this is such a case. Such cases should be fewer in number, and may become so if the costs outcome for such reprehensible conduct is clearly in prospective focus from the off.’
The husband had proposed that a nominal maintenance award was the only financial remedy his ex-wife should receive, whereas she sought a lump sum pitched at £27m, on the basis that his total assets were at least £54m.
Part of her argument was related to a portfolio of vintage cars, valued at £20m and owned by a trust.
Singer ruled that the husband should make periodical payments of £120,000 plus an adjournment of her capital claims, although he conceded that ‘the correct analysis is that neither party has won’.
It was estimated that in total both parties, whose marital home was in the south of France, had spent £2m on costs between them in the UK, in addition to unknown amounts on proceedings in France and Switzerland.
Divorce proceedings were started in London in July 2011.