(Court of Appeal, Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals, Beatson LJ, 28 March 2017)
Financial remedies – Hadkinson order – Procedure – Failure to pay arrears
The husband’s appeal from a Hadkinson order was dismissed.
In long running financial remedy proceedings the husband was in default of a significant sum in respect of periodical payments to the wife. Orders had been made by courts in England and the USA. The husband applied to vary or discharge the periodical payments order and to remit the arrears due.
The wife obtained a without notice order that the husband should not be able to proceed with his application until the outstanding arrears had been paid pursuant to Hadkinson v Hadkinson  2 All ER 567. The husband submitted that the Hadkinson order was procedurally unfair and was disproportionate given that his case was that he had insufficient resources to discharge the debt. He appealed.The appeal was dismissed. A Hadkinson order was draconian in effect and was a case management order of last resort. On the evidence there could be no doubt that the husband was in wilful contempt of the court orders and that his conduct was an impediment to justice. The trial judge had already found that the husband had resources to pay but had chosen not to do so. There was nothing in the evidence now available to contradict that finding. Given the husband’s abject and continuing failure to comply with the order and his knowledge of the risk he was taking there was insufficient evidence of a procedural irregularity in the process in the court below.