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ANCILLARY RELIEF: W v H [2008] EWHC 2038 (Fam)

Date:20 AUG 2008

(Family Division; Eleanor King J; 20 August 2008)

In a case involving assets of about £78 million, the husband argued that the parties had reached an agreement, which had been implemented in its entirety, except for a modest pension sharing provision which not be implemented until the court made an order; over £34 million had been transferred to the wife or to her trusts,. The wife accepted that the parties had agreed to divide the assets 45% to the wife and 55% to the husband, but argued that the details of the agreement had not been finalised. The wife had, following the agreement, litigated in Jersey in relation to certain trust funds in which she had an interest, and a number of her concerns related to the new trust arrangements. The wife filed a notice of intention to proceed with an application for ancillary relief. The husband issued a notice to show cause why the ancillary relief order should not be made in terms of the draft order, which, although not released to the husband's solicitors, had been signed by wife.

It would be wrong to 'stay' the ancillary relief proceedings and to list the issue of the agreement as a preliminary issue isolated from a proper consideration of the s 25 factors; however, the husband's notice to show cause was a proportionate and just route by which to determine the extent to which the agreement, as a factor of magnetic importance, should be determinative of the action. The husband had very strong case that an agreement had been concluded. There was to be a listing for a final hearing, at which the husband's notice to show cause would be determined. There was to be no further disclosure and no replies to questionnaires would be ordered, except in order to ascertain whether, in regard to one specific trust, there had been a separation as opposed to an apportionment of assets.