(Court of Appeal, Sir Terence Etherton MR, King, Moylan LJJ, 11 April 2017)
Financial remedies – Special contribution
The husband’s appeal from a financial remedies order was dismissed.
The husband and wife were married in 1995. Two years later the husband started working for a private equity firm and he moved to Japan where he was later joined by the wife. During their time living in Japan they had two children. The husband left the private equity firm in 2008 and the family returned to the UK.
When the marriage broke down in 2013 the wife petitioned for divorce and sought financial remedies. In assessing the husband’s claim that he had made a special contribution, the judge found that although he had performed very well in his job, there was no evidence to demonstrate that it could not have been performed by someone else. There had also been an element of being in the right place at the right time. The wife moving to live in Japan had been a very significant contribution. The judge concluded that the husband had not made an unmatched special contribution of the kind that warranted an unequal division of the matrimonial property.
The husband appealed seeking an unequal division of the matrimonial property of 61% in his favour.
The appeal was dismissed.
The Court of Appeal made it clear that in determining whether a party had made a special contribution fairness had to be considered and the need to ensure that there was no discrimination between the husband and wife and their respective roles. A case of special contribution should not be advanced unless the contribution was so marked that to disregard it would be inequitable.In this case the judge had correctly stated the law and approach to be applied in cases of special contribution and had not erred. The decision to reject the husband’s assertion of a special contribution was one the judge was entitled to reach and had been fully reasoned.