Court refuses appeal between Rothschild and De Souza

Decision has today been handed down by the Court of Appeal in the Appeal of “Rothschild and De Souza”, a case concerning the division of assets on divorce.

The JMW family team has represented Ms De Souza in the long-running case.

Mr Rothschild sought to appeal the final order divining the parties’ assets, on the basis it was “unfair” and failed to meet his needs.  He claimed the effect of the decision was that he was left without any income, and with capital of only £23,000.  Ms De Souza asked the Court to uphold the division, and explained the divisions of assets in her favour was right on the basis of the needs of the parties’ children, that she would have to meet without assistance from Mr Rothschild.  

Mr Rothschild argued that the Judge in the original decision, in December 2019, had been influenced by his conduct in the proceedings, which had resulted in a committal order, and numerous costs orders being made, after he had failed to comply with court orders, along with other forms of behaviour which Ms De Souza said had significantly reduced the assets that would otherwise have been available to divide between them.   Mr Rothschild argued that although the judge stated the award was calculated according to need, it was clear he had also factored the conduct into account.

The Court of Appeal examined the Judge’s original reasoning, together with the financial effect of the original decision and provided a detailed summary of the law concerning how and when a parties’ bad behaviour (or ‘conduct’) should be taken into account when an award is calculated.  The conclusion reached was that the appeal should be dismissed.  The Court of Appeal took the view that the award had not left Mr Rothschild as badly off as he suggested and that the Judge had considered both parties’ needs (and most importantly, those of the children) when deciding what was fair in the circumstances of the case.  As such, it should not be adjusted.  The Court of Appeal also confirmed that as a matter of principle, it is possible for a party’s bad behaviour to justify them receiving less than their needs in a divorce settlement, though this will depend on the circumstances of the individual case.

The case makes it clear that if a party acts unreasonably after a divorce, causing financial loss to the family, it can mean they suffer those losses in whole, or in part, when the assets are divided.

Mr Charles Hale QC of 4 Paper Buildings represented Ms De Souza, and JMW were delighted to assist him, and Ms De Souza, in securing a positive outcome.   Cara Nuttall, said: “It’s a sad fact that, sometimes, litigation can be used as a weapon and become extremely destructive to a family. It is important that it is heavily discouraged and that, where someone has acted in such a way, there are consequences.   This decision confirms that the court can, and will, in the right circumstances, place the consequences of such actions at the door of the person who undertook them. It is also a reminder to all divorcing parents that the needs of children will always be “first” priority and should never be overlooked when parties are addressing how to go their separate ways as a couple.”

Ms De Souza expressed relief matters had been concluded but that “It is regrettable that this extended litigation has drained the family both emotionally and financially. I am extremely grateful for the outstanding support received from Charles Hale and the team at JMW led by Cara Nuttall which has enabled us to get to this point.”

The full decision can be found here.

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