Mr Justice Moor of the High Court has given judgment in the final hearing of the long running case of Young v Young. The case, in which Mrs Young claimed that Mr Young had hidden billions of pounds from the court, had hit the news earlier this year when Mr Young was sentenced to 6 months in prison for contempt of court. In his judgment the judge described the proceedings as about as bad an example of how not to litigate as any he had ever encountered, and both parties were highly criticised.
At the 20-day final hearing in the financial relief proceedings the court heard evidence from 22 witnesses, including Sir Philip Green. The judge found that Mr Young was dishonest. Along with finding numerous examples of Mr Young's dishonesty the court held that Mr Young had removed share certificates worth approximately £20m from a solicitor's office and then denied they ever existed.
In summary, the court held that Mr Young had assets of around £45m in total hidden from the court. Deducting £5m for his debts, the net total was £40m.
Mrs Young was found to be entitled to half - a lump sum of £20m. This also happened to equate with the court's view of her reasonable needs, generously assessed. The judge ordered Mr Young to pay this sum in 28 days. The judge also ordered Mr Young to pay the arrears of a maintenance pending suit order within 28 days, and rejected Mr Young's application to remit the arrears.
The judge recognised that enforcement of this order would be difficult for the wife, and noted that a judgment summons would not be possible, as the judge had made findings on a balance of probabilities, rather than the criminal standard of proof. The court observed that Mr Young had anyway already been sentenced to 6 months in jail for contempt of court, and the maximum term of imprisonment on a judgment summons is 6 weeks.
The wife's costs in this case, which had taken 6 years to final hearing and in which there had been around 65 separate hearings, totalled £6.4m, a sum the judge called ‘eye watering‘. The judge's provisional view about costs was that Mr Young's non-disclosure had been so great, that Mrs Young should be entitled to her costs on an indemnity basis, but only to the extent of what he considered the case should have cost if it had been properly conducted.
The full judgment of Young v Young can be found on the court's website here.