There was no order for costs - other than I had to pay £2350 Divorce costs. It was a 40 page - 106 point Judgment. After 23 years marriage when we never had any money problems - I was presented with £66K debts in the Form E in August 2012 - which I knew nothing about - apart from the car loan for £15,000. This was a lease plan - and the repayments were offset against tax from my ex-wifes self-employed income. She failed and refused to provided her business accounts as required. At the early stage of the Form E she was claiming a £10K Legal Fee Loan.
The Divorce was started in Feb 2006 - but as far as I understood - had been cancelled in June 2006. I was made redundant and took 25% pension withdrawal at the end of 2009. It was a lot of money. Immediately after I took the pension my ex started building up debts with numerous cash transfers onto credit cards and with bank loans - all behind my back. She was a higher rate tax payer. Her Form E claimed she had £1300 in the world - no savings after 30 years working. She earns over £50K. She'd got rid of all the cash and all her income. I always paid all the household bills - and paid for all the groceries. It was a complete set up - she had nothing to show for all the money she withdrew. Very nasty. She was aided by her Solicitor - a friend and close neighbour for seventeen years. Every dirty trick you can imagine - she hacked my e-mail with my solicitor and barrister for six months - did not comply with order to provide financial statements from the FDR - and failed to declare a pension. She claimed £75K fees + £6K Legal Loan interest on her H1. Ten days later at Final Hearing Case Summary and Skeleton Argument confirmed this. Judge mixed up their figures - calculated £91 - not £81 - and on top ordered me to pay the Divorce costs as well. I had pointed our error - they failed to correct him and he declined to review his findings - and refused me permission to appeal. It was a "needs case" - Vaughan capped it all. No penalty for her for all the rule breaking. I presented evidence of her undeclared pension and was accused of breaking Imerman rules. I had been asking her to declare it for nine months.
I had to pay her a lump sum of £205K - which included £143 to clear her debts. You can see it was not a big-money case. I paid my legal fees as I went along - took me seven months to earn enough to pay my £24K costs. I understood each individual was responsible for their own costs since April 2006. They wanted costs order for £46K - since offer after the FDR - before they were due to provide the documents ordered. They wanted to settle without having to provide the damning statements ordered by the Judge at the FDR. Cost by the time of the FDR were £29K - so plus the cost order that wanted - that accounts for the £75K.
I Applied to the Court for Specific Disclosure - but they robustly resisted - and the District Judge refused my Application in writing - but said I could raise it with the Judge at the Final Hearing. It was damning evidence.
The Judge ordered some additional disclosure at the Final Hearing (so effectively agreed that she had breached the Order) - but I only had a few hours over night to analyse 3 years of bank statements - but could show from those that she lied to Judge in her cross examination. It was all a big lie. You may have heard it all before!
This was nasty - and there is no way her Solicitor spent 90 hours more on this case than my Solicitor - as they claimed - but they got another £10K on top of the £75K - the equivalent to another 30 hours of chargeable time since the H1 had been prepared. The Solicitor was actually away on holiday for a week before the Final Hearing - so impossible.
A Judge in a subsequent hearing on 14th March ordered them to send me the H1 which I'd never seen. They took me to Court to gain sole conduct of the sale of the FMH - claiming I had not complied with the Order to sell the house. This was not true - but they got their Order - but not the £8,000 costs they wanted me to pay for this one hour hearing! The Judge agreed they were excessive. (They are crooks). I was nevertheless Ordered to pay £2,500 from the proceeds of the sale of the property. This is another outrage - I've paid the mortgage and endowments since 1984 - an now have no say in the sale. I prepared th property and conducted 29 viewings and got the offers up by £50K from the first offers we received.
Anyway - I told this Judge about the costs issue - and she ordered them to send me the H1. I could now break down their claimed costs at each stage - and proved the "error". I wrote to the Judge from the Final Hearing telling him what had happened. He replied but said he was "not clear" if he could respond - and not without an Application for Substantive relief. They have written and denied misleading the Court (of course) despite me spelling it out to them.
I Self Represented in Final Hearing - I had lost my job 2 months before - but I had masses of evidence of all her bad behaviour. It made no difference - I had no hard evidence of hidden assets. It was a needs case. I was a fool - but I was relying on the Judge's discretion - once he saw the whole story - and to make her pay her own fees from her share of the assets. I was shocked at the way he ordered payment of all the debts - and then split what was left over. I got less than her Solicitor - so did she - but I know she will be getting a "rebate" from her friend - no way will she genuinely pay her £81K - they are friends - and all she needed to do was provide the bank/credit card statements if she had nothing to hide. I asked for a detailed assessment of their fees - £360 an hour was the rate - but the Judge declined to review his findings.
I was really stitched up - and like many before me feel let down by the Court. What else did she need to do to face some sort of penalty? She caused all the problems with the litigation - there is a lot more I've not told you about here. There was no adultery, violence, drink or drug problems in our marriage. We have three grown up children - all over 18. She lied about everything - and the Solicitor protected her.
I want to go after the Solicitor now - it is she who has lied about her clients fees - they can't hide these as they did the seven credit cards and four bank account statements. I didn't appeal in the 21 days in November 2013 - as the needs element told me it would be futile. However I now want to find a Judge who will frown on the deceit over the claimed legal fees and order that their fees - £70K more than mine - be assessed in the light of this deceitful behaviour in Court - and when dealing with me as a Litigant in Person. They have a responsibility to behave correctly - and the way they deal with a LiP. They definitely took advantage of me. I'm not stupid - and good with numbers - but they managed to confuse me and the Judge - and didn't provide me with their statement of costs.
The family are horrified what she has done - they know its a big set up with the Solicitor. I also know that she only paid £81K in settlement to the Legal Loans company. They will not give me a breakdown of their costs. The Barrister also colluded - I spelt out to her before the Final Order that the figures were wrong but she refused to correct them in my favour. There was a further half day in Court to resolve differences on the figures - they wanted their £5K costs paid by me - Judge refused this because he agreed with my points in the dispute.
However I crumbled when it came to the final part over costs - I had spelt out all her breaking of the rules - and then her perjury in the Final Hearing. It made no difference. It really was a disgrace - but "needs" won the day for them.
One of us could have kept the FMH - but after the fees - there was not enough to do so. I'm still living in the FMH - she rehoused immediately after the Appeal period passed - in an expensive rental property - far higher specification than she claimed she "needed" to meet her housing needs. She has a lot of hidden money that was not declared.
The FMH is now under offer at £100,000 more than the value given to the Judge. This had been the subject of great dispute - she claimed it was worth £70K less than me in August 2012 Form E. She knew what value I was going to use because she was monitoring my correspondence with my Solicitor. She provided no estate agent valuations - because none would value it at the price she claimed. My valuation was correct - prices have increased since then - but they rigged the eventual RICS valuation - no doubt about it. The property has gone up 28% since last March - other property in the area has increased by 6% according to Land Registry. It was fixed low so that she could keep the house. I now want her share of the increase - £50K - to be used to pay HER legal fees. It has the elements of a Barder Order - the asset was wrongly valued. Her needs have been met from the lump sum - plus her share of the FMH as per its valuation at the Final Hearing. This is new / additional money that the Judge didn't know about at the Final Hearing just a few months ago. I am still unemployed - her income is three times higher than mine - and a lot more than she declared in her Form E - which grossly exaggerated her outgoings.
I want someone to help be go after the Solicitor and the Barrister who misled the Judge - and me - and it was clever but quite deliberate - and they hopefully won't get away with it. I am actually a really decent man - not an enemy in the world - apart from these people. Really.
Clare - sorry it is such a long reply - it may not be an unusual divorce (I think it is of course) - but it was very dirty - and Justice has not been served. There was nothing wrong with any of my accounts - and my ex knew this as she has hacked into my computer records - but I never hid anything from her anyway. I thought the law would support me in the face of all this - they are the ones who made the rules that she broke - and thy have a lot of discretion. The Judge is a QC - a Recorder. Very experienced - but a part time Judge I believe. He was a very nice man - cross examined her on some of the lies I had exposed her on in my cross examination - I thought he was giving her a chance not to lie again to him. The evidence was in the Trial Bundle. However he accepted her evidence.
I was really expecting more from him. I thought he could see right through her. I had a McKenzie Friend with me - (a financial expert - not a legal person) - and we were confident that all the evidence we presented - despite not having the statements that they refused to supply - was enough to cast a big shadow over her story. We were confident after the Hearing - but were really shocked at the Judgment. As I say - I know I'm not the first to experience this.
It is the Solicitor - and the Barrister - who have lied now. Can you help me go after them and put this injustice right ? I want a stay on the sale of the property - need to act quickly - and for a review of the case based on the strength of the deceitful evidence provided in relation to the costs - which should bring all the other evidence that I pointed out to the Judge enabled them to obtain an Order through Perjury. I thought this was an offence? As I say - there is a lot more. There were 2000 pages of evidence - 6 lever arch files. This is not a big money case - but I was the victim of a professional divorce hit squad. I would like the Court - in the light of this new information - to also now order that ALL the statements ordered at the FDR now be provided - so that the evidence given under Oath can be double checked. They will show that she lied to the Judge - and in her other written statements of truth.
All the redundancy money I got from 30 years service has gone to pay their legal fees. I think the Judge made a lot of mistakes. I believe that divorce can be a dirty business - it's tough enough without all this deceit. I behaved myself throughout the process - and I hope to find someone who will help me bring one of their own to account. I realise this is not easy - and I'm sure there is a "club" - but nevertheless I believe most lawyers do want to see fair play and high standards - even in divorce cases.
I want to prepare a full Application to have the Order and their fees fully assessed - and an adjustment made that her windfall from the real value of the property be used towards her fees. No need to adjust the lump sum already paid in order to do that. If I can get the statements I require - which were ordered back at the FDR - we can now cross check these against the Oral Evidence at the Final Hearing.
As I say - apologies Clare - everything I have said here is true - some background is necessary I think. I just need some advice as to how I can go about dealing with this matter. I'm sure any Judge - given the facts - would agree that it all needs reviewing and sorting out.