(Family Division; Moylan J; 26 March 2008)
In a case in which the marriage had lasted 14 years but the husband's business had been running for over 33 years, the judge awarded the wife £1.5 million, only 32% of the total assets but 67% of the non-business wealth, plus periodical payments of £60,000 pa for herself and £20,000 pa for the children, expressing concern at the forensic approach of the parties. The court was engaged in a broad analysis not a detailed accounting exercise. The purpose of valuations was to assist the court in testing the fairness of the proposed outcome, not to ensure mathematical/accounting accuracy, invariably no more than a chimera. Further, to seek to construct the whole edifice of an award on a business valuation, which was no more than a broad or even very broad guide, was to risk creating an edifice that was unsound and hence likely to be unfair. The parties had adopted extreme positions; this did not assist the court, or the parties themselves, in seeking to achieve a result that was fair both in outcome and in the manner in which it had been achieved. This was not a clean break case; both parties had been seeking to achieve an unrealistic outcome. Where there was both a capital award and a continuing order for periodical payments, the assessmet of the fairness of the capital award became more complex.