Case Law Article Highlights Enforcement of Financial Orders for Child With Special Needs

Citation: [2024] EWFC 44
Judgment on

Introduction

In the case [2024] EWFC 44, The Honorable Mr Justice Cobb presides over the enforcement of a Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 financial order concerning a child known as Zoe. This case addresses the enforceability of financial orders, the non-compliance of parties, and the remedies available to ensure compliance.

Key Facts

The proceedings involve the mother’s applications for enforcement of a financial award made in March 2023, capitalisation of ongoing support payments, and a freezing order to prevent the father from dissipating assets. The father resides in the USA and holds his wealth in a living trust. Despite a substantive order to support Zoe, who has special needs due to Williams Syndrome, the father has failed to comply, leading the mother to take further enforcement action.

The case law demonstrates several legal principles including enforcement of financial orders, remedies for non-compliance, and the calculation of capitalised maintenance payments.

Enforcement of Financial Orders

The father’s non-compliance prompts the court to consider the enforcement of the financial award. Civil Procedure Rule (CPR) 52.21 on appeals and Family Procedure Rule 27.4(2) regarding proceeding in a party’s absence are applicable.

Freezing Order

The court relies on principles from Ninemia Maritime Corp v Trave Schiffahrts GmbH & Co KG (The Niedersachsen) [1983] and Crowther v Crowther [2020] for issuing a freezing order. The order prevents dissipation of assets and secures funds for enforcement.

Capitalisation of Payments

A key aspect is capitalisation of periodical payments, which is an exception rather than the norm, as discussed in AZ v FM [2021]. The court takes into account Mostyn J’s commentary and Baroness Hale’s observations in Simon v Helmot [2012], considering practical mechanisms, the computation basis, and administrative matters for capitalised sums. Tattersall v Tattersall [2018] is referenced for choosing the method of calculation.

Hadkinson Order

The application for a Hadkinson order, as per Assoun v Assoun [2017] and De Gafforj v De Gafforj [2018], is critical for dealing with deliberate non-compliance with the court’s orders. The order imposes conditions on the father’s future engagement with the court.

Costs

For the mother’s costs of application, the judgment refers to an indemnity basis for costs recovery according to CPR rule 44.3(3), influenced by principles from Excelsior Commercial and Industrial Holdings Ltd v Salisbury Ham Johnson [2002] and Three Rivers District Council & others v The Governor and Company of the Bank of England [2006]. The case M v M & Others [2013] is also considered for the circumstances warranting costs outside the norm.

Outcomes

The court, indicating the father’s blatant non-compliance, orders continuation of the freezing order, capitalisation of the child’s support payments, and issuance of a Hadkinson order. This prevents the father from participating in future proceedings until he complies with financial obligations or pays a defined amount into court.

Conclusion

In conclusion, [2024] EWFC 44 demonstrates the court’s commitment to enforcing financial orders for the welfare of children, utilising a range of legal remedies to tackle non-compliance. Mr Justice Cobb’s application of principles concerning freezing orders, capitalisation, and Hadkinson orders, along with the process for determining costs, provide a nuanced approach to ensuring justice despite cross-jurisdictional challenges and deliberate avoidance of financial responsibilities by a non-compliant party.

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