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Shadow directors beware: applying Prest in M v M

Date:4 DEC 2013

Olivia Buchan, Solicitor, Vardags:

The recent decision of the High Court in M v M and Others [2013] EWHC 2534 (Fam), [2014] 1 (forthcoming and reported at [2013] Fam Law 1525) saw the award of £53m to the wife, an award thought to be the highest to date in a contested divorce.  The case involved assets of over £107m and provides family lawyers with a lengthy and descriptive judgment applying the principles set out in the Supreme Court decision of Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd and Others [2013] UKSC 34, [2013] 2 FLR 732

M v M concerned an order for financial relief under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 made by the wife following an original petition, unaware that the courts of England and Wales had jurisdiction, for divorce in Russia. Throughout the judgment Mrs Justice King was unrestrained in her assessment of the husband's behaviour and character, stating that the case had 'been a fantastic charade with the husband a shady puppet master in the background'.

The issues considered in the M v M judgment include: orders for financial relief under Part III; failure to conduct full and frank disclosure; adverse inferences; assets held under a resulting trust/common intention constructive trusts; and the implied intentions of a shadow director.

The full version of this article appears in the December 2013 issue of Family Law.