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Ashley Murray - Guidelines on Compensation: VP v JP

Date:28 AUG 2008

Ashley Murray, Barrister, Oriel Chambers.

Since Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] UKHL 24, [2006] 1 FLR 1186 there have been a number of High Court decisions, which have thrown further light on the 'incremental approach' to compensation upon a divorce distribution. Both CR v CR [2008] 1 FLR 323, Bodey J and P v P [2007] EWHC 2877 (Fam), [2008] FLR (forthcoming), Moylan J, have, already, received commentary at March [2008] Fam Law 198 and July [2008] Fam Law 614 respectively, so the reader will be familiar with the judgments in question. However, instructive though those cases might be, both were decided before two decisions, which are now reported and which, it is suggested, have, actually, now moved on the jurisprudence in this area - albeit to some practitioners, not in a desired direction.

In both VB v JP [2008] EWHC 112 (Fam), [2008] 1 FLR 742 and B v B (Ancillary Relief) [2008] EWCA Civ 543, [2008] 1 FCR 613 the President of the Family Division presided. In VB v JP the President laid down guidance as to the approach to claims of compensation for 'relationship generated disadvantage' and in B v B, the President sat in the Court of Appeal where Hughes and Wall LJJ gave the leading judgments with which the President, it is suggested, surprisingly concurred. In B v B, it appears that the Court of Appeal re-introduced the concept of the 'yardstick of equality' as a cross check to the court's 'fair and non discriminatory approach', rejecting in the process that there existed any overriding 'principle of equality', which had been most commentators' conclusion of the outcome of the decision of the Court of Appeal in Charman v Charman (No 4) [2007] EWCA Civ 503, [2007] 1 FLR 1246, in which, of course, the President, himself, gave the leading judgment. For the purposes of this present article, however, it is VB v JP which is now considered in the light of the President's guidance to approaching compensation claims.

For the full article, see August [2008] Family Law journal.