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Judge Imposes Limit on 'Attritional' Litigation Costs

When a divorcing husband and wife ran up legal costs of more than £150,000 disputing the division of family assets amounting to little more than £200,000, the judge hearing the case described himself as ‘appalled’.

In the initial court hearing, the wife was awarded approximately 6/7 of the couple’s joint assets. Because of her ex-husband’s substantial earnings, she was awarded £3,000 a month in maintenance for herself and the couple’s three children.

When she appealed against the decision – at a cost of a further £12,500 – the judge put his foot down, describing the way she conducted the case as ‘attritional’. Whilst allowing her to appeal, he limited her recoverable costs to £5,000, ‘to discourage profligate waste of costs, particularly in a case with a track record like this’.

The judge hearing the appeal commented, “I recognise that the costs cap that I am imposing will mean that the wife already has unrecoverable costs... If that is what it takes to prevent what the district judge described as a haemorrhaging of money, so be it.”

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