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High Court Ensures Equality of Arms in Big Money Family Case

The below case is a great example of the courts applying common sense and fairness in proceedings. It is quite often the case that one party is significantly wealthy whilst the other cannot even afford legal fees to obtain justice. The court in this case ordered the wealthy individual to place funds on account for his partners legal fees.

The courts are willing to make such orders especially where one party has the financial ability to procrastinate as a tactic in the hope the other party will cave in.

It is not unusual for there to be very substantial differences in the financial resources available to opposing sides in litigation. However, one family case involving a hugely rich father and the mother of his child, who had no money of her own, showed that the courts will bend over backwards to ensure equality of arms.

The father had capital resources measured in hundreds of millions of pounds and an annual net income which ran into millions. The mother had no independent income and both she and the former couple’s eight-year-old child had relied on the father’s financial support since the end of the relationship.

The parents were engaged in lengthy proceedings in respect of child maintenance and contact issues and high six-figure legal costs bills had already been incurred in the dispute. In those circumstances, the mother sought an order requiring the father to fund her case so that her access to justice would be assured.

The High Court noted that its priority was to ensure fairness between the parties and that the mother was in a financial position to properly present her case. The father self-evidently had the means to pay and the Court was satisfied that the mother could not reasonably obtain legal funding from any other source. In those circumstances, the father was ordered to contribute £212,438 towards the mother’s past and future legal costs.

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MLA 2017 18 Shortlisted 2