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Vince v Wyatt (2013) EWCA Civ 495 – Financial Remedy Claim struck out after “Inordinate” delay

A Court of Appeal ruling released today declared that delay in bringing an application for financial remedy constituted a ground for an application for maintenance to be struck out.

In an unanimous ruling Lord Justices Thorpe, Jackson and Tomlinson found that while there was no statutory bar to bringing claims, many years after divorce, the Court should not allow parties to be harassed by claims that were issued many years after divorce and had no real prospect of success

The case involved Dale Vince and Kathleen Wyatt who were married in 1981 before separating three years later. They had one child together. When they married neither party had assets or income.

Following separation both parties formed new relationships and had further children. The husband went on to found a highly successful wind turbine company.

In 2012 the wife issued an application for financial remedy which the husband sought to strike out on the basis of delay.

The husband appealed an initial High Court decision which ruled that the husband had failed to demonstrate that the claim was dead.

The Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in favour of the husband and concluded that the financial remedy application should be struck out. Among the Justices reasons were that the husband could not be the wife’s insurer against life’s eventualities.

However Lord Justice Jackson did make clear that application to strike out claims would “only succeed in rare and exceptional cases”. Claims to strike out should not be made on the grounds that the other sides’s case was weak or unlikely to succeed.

New changes on the provision of Public Funding

On 1st April 2013 new changes on the provision of Public Funding (historically known as Legal Aid) will be implemented. Previously there was an opportunity for people with issues arising out of separation, divorce or dissolution of Civil Partnership to apply for assistance with the funding of their matter. These issues could include a mixture of financial resolution, children matters or injunctions.

Government reforms have now withdrawn that opportunity save in very limited circumstances, the most obvious being where there has been recent (within the last 18 months) allegations or police investigations into domestic violence.

This impact means there will be a large number of people who are no longer eligible for public funding to deal with these issues, but the same difficulties will remain.

We hope to assist the funding of these matters by offering a managed fixed fee service depending on the circumstances  of the case. The advantage of our service is it offers face to face contact with the individual person who deals with the case.

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