High Court Ruling Serves As Warning For Spouses

Lawyers Say Decision Shows Courts Are Getting Tougher On People Not Disclosing Financial Information In Divorce Proceedings

17.01.2013

Expert family lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say the decision by a High Court judge to send a man reported to be worth £400m to jail for six months after he disobeyed orders to disclose his financial details to his wife should act as a warning to others that courts are getting tougher on non-disclosure.

The judge, Mr Justice Moor, said 51-year-old Scot Young had been in ‘flagrant’ contempt of court during a long-running High Court battle with his estranged wife Michelle. He also described Mr Young’s excuses for not complying with court orders as ‘absurd’ and ‘next to useless’.

The hearing in London was the latest in a legal fight which has been going on for many years. The London couple separated in 2006 and have two daughters. In 2009 Mr Young was ordered to pay Mrs Young £27,500 per month maintenance but he says he is bankrupt and cannot pay.

Mrs Young says Mr Young had hidden assets and he has been described in court as a property tycoon worth £400m. Her lawyers told the judge that her husband was deliberately not co-operating while Mr Young said she was trying to commit him to prison out of malice and he asked for more time.

The judge ruled in favour of Mrs Young saying Mr Young was in contempt of court, adding that neither a fine nor a suspended sentence would be a sufficient penalty.

Elizabeth Hicks, a specialist family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The jailing of errant husband Scott Young for contempt of court, following his failure to provide financial information to his wife as ordered, should serve as a warning to spouses that the courts, which for so long have sat back in the face of wilful lack of co-operation, may be getting tougher.
 
“Mr Justice Moor, one of the new breed of no-nonsense Family Division judges has made it plain that feeble excuses will not wash, and the penalty for not co-operating fully may be rather more serious than a verbal rap across the knuckles in the courtroom, or even a fine or costs order against the guilty party.
 
“It remains to be seen whether a fairly brief spell in prison will persuade Mr Young to produce what numerous more commonplace orders of the court have failed to achieve.”