Court cracks down on ‘safe haven’ divorcees

Posted: 26th June 2013

In underlining the increasingly tough stance of the English courts when it comes to divorcees who live abroad to escape their legal obligations, the Court of Appeal has rejected a businessman’s appeal against a two-year jail sentence imposed for his contempt of court in failing to reveal full details of his assets.

tropical islandThe sentence was imposed in the businessman’s absence by a family judge at the behest of his ex-wife who had been seeking to enforce a United States court order that he pay her $5.7 million. She had obtained an order requiring him to reveal the extent of his assets in England but he had repeatedly failed to comply.

The two-year sentence was the maximum available for contempt of court and the businessman’s lawyers argued that it was manifestly excessive.  In dismissing his appeal, the Court ruled that it was repugnant to the proper administration of justice that the businessman should escape the consequences of flouting the court order by absenting himself in a safe haven abroad.

The businessman, who was believed to be living in Mallorca or the Bahamas and would face arrest were he to arrive at an English port, had tried to avail himself of the Court’s procedures whilst remaining outside the jurisdiction. In those circumstances, he could have no complaint about a sentence imposed for his deliberate, persistent and protracted defiance of the disclosure order.