09 June 2008

Family news: Quotes from the judgment of Mr Justice Bennett


“The wife is a strong willed and determined personality. She has shown great fortitude in the face of, and overcoming, her disability. I refer to the loss of her left leg below the knee. As I shall show she is a kindly person and is devoted to her charitable causes. She has conducted her own case before me with a steely, yet courteous determination…..”

“Charity expenditure at an annual rate of £627,000 includes airfares of £180,000 for commercial flights, £120,000 for helicopter flights, and £192,000 for private flights. I accept that the wife is very committed to charities and their causes but the degree of such proposed expenditure is, I am sorry to have to say, ridiculous. However I do propose to allow in what I shall assess as her income needs (generously interpreted) a modest sum for carrying out her charitable activities and making donations to charity. If she wishes to make further donations over and above that sum then she can do that from her earnings.

Holidays are put into her budget at £499,000 which is made up of accommodation at £242,000, helicopter flights at £35,000, commercial flights at £72,000 and private flights at £150,000. I accept the wifeʼs evidence that she has always since the age of 25 flown first class and that when she and Beatrice fly they should go first class. The husband accepted this in his evidence. But the figures given are much, much too high in every respect.

These items in her budget which I have touched upon above, illustrate generally speaking, how unreasonable (even generously interpreted) are the claimed needs of the wife. In the absence of any sensible proposal by the wife as to her income needs I must do the best I can on the material I have. If the wife feels aggrieved about what I propose she only has herself to blame. If, as she has done, a litigant flagrantly over-eggs the pudding and thus deprives the court of any sensible assistance, then he or she is likely to find that the court takes a robust view and drastically prunes the proposed budget.

In my judgment a sum of £150,000 for not only holidays but also when in the UK (not on holiday) dining out, entertaining, and other interests, is appropriate…”