Long-Suffering Divorcee Let Down by Negligent Solicitors

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A long-suffering ex-wife whose dishonest former husband was ordered to pay her a £455,000 lump sum – but escaped having to give her a penny after he was declared bankrupt – has won at least part of her money back from negligent solicitors.

The acrimonious matrimonial dispute had been going on for almost a decade before the woman obtained the lump sum order. A divorce judge found that her ex-husband had tried to dissipate and hide his assets and described his behaviour as disgraceful.

However, before the financial order was finalised and the divorce made absolute, the husband was declared bankrupt at the behest of a creditor who was owed £230,000. The ex-wife was not recognised either as a secured or unsecured creditor and the effect of his bankruptcy was to render her award entirely futile.

The High Court found that her solicitors had been negligent in failing to secure a final order and a decree absolute before the bankruptcy petition was presented. Giving guidance on how her compensation should be calculated, the Court ruled that account should be taken of the difficulties that she would in any event have faced in enforcing the financial order against her ‘obdurate and hostile’ ex-husband.