Russells recently represented the Applicant Wife in her application for interim maintenance and a costs allowance under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (the “1984 Act”) securing: (i) interim maintenance of £200,000 p/a; and (ii) a costs allowance of £62,831 in respect of unpaid costs to date (which included costs in the application) and a further £20,000 payable monthly in advance until the FDR.

By way of background, the Wife is of Polish origin and the Husband is of Chinese origin and the Husband had obtained a Chinese decree of divorce prior to Wife obtaining decree nisi in England. Accordingly, the Judge dismissed the Wife’s English suit and financial proceedings then ongoing under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (the “1973 Act”). However, in July 2021 leave was given for an application for financial relief based on the foreign decree pursuant to the 1984 Act.

The application for a costs allowance was brought under the common law jurisdiction (there being no direct equivalent under the 1984 Act to s22ZA-B of the 1973 Act) – the power to award interim maintenance under s14 of the 1984 Act includes the power to make an award for costs referable to legal services. The Judge had little doubt that similar principles apply, just as they apply to such applications made under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 or the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (neither of which have a direct equivalent to s22ZA).

The judge was clear that the court can make a legal funding order in respect of future costs. However, in respect of unpaid costs outstanding as at the date of the interim application, or at the date of determination of the interim application, the Judge held the answer will depend on how closely such costs are related to the existing proceedings. On this occasion they were backdated to the date of the application.

The full judgment can be found here: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2021/78.html

The Family and Matrimonial Department here at Russells regularly represent clients in complex matters, including applications for financial relief based on the foreign decree, pursuant to Part III of the 1984 Act.

Please contact Carol Ellinas or Lucy Hoare in the Family and Matrimonial Department for further advice and assistance.

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