The Team

Supreme Court allows wife’s English maintenance claim to succeed
01/07/2020
Supreme Court allows wife’s English maintenance claim to succeed

Way back in September 2018, we published an article about the case of Villiers v Villiers. You can read that article by clicking here.

 

The basic argument in this long running maintenance and divorce saga is whether an individual can raise maintenance proceedings in one jurisdiction whilst Divorce proceedings are ongoing elsewhere.

 

The background to this case is that Mr & Mrs Villiers were married in Scotland in 1994 and spent most of their married life there. When they separated in 2012, Mrs Villiers moved back to England. Mr Villiers raised divorce proceeding in Scotland against his wife whilst Mrs Villiers raised maintenance proceedings in England. It is well known that maintenance awards in England are more generous than those awards in Scotland.

 

Mr Villiers argued that by raising divorce proceedings in Scotland, the maintenance action raised by Mrs Villiers in England should not be allowed to go ahead.

 

The initial case went all the way to the Court of Appeal in England. Mr Villiers lost. The Court ruled that whilst divorce proceedings were raised in Scotland, they didn’t address maintenance for Mrs Villiers. That mean that Mrs Villiers’s claim for maintenance could be dealt with elsewhere – in this case England.

 

Having lost his case, Mr Villiers applied to the Supreme Court challenging the Court of Appeal decision.

 

Mrs Villiers claimed that it was more convenient for her to raise proceedings for maintenance in England and it’s acknowledged that the rules in England regarding maintenance are more generous where maintenance is concerned.

 

After considering the case, the Supreme Court, by majority, rejected Mr Villiers argument and found that Mrs Villiers was entitled to pursue her claim for maintenance through the English Courts.

 

You can view Lord Sales delivering the judgement by clicking here.

 

There is also a press summary of the judgement which you can view here and the full written judgement which you can read by clicking here.

 

This judgement may wall give rise to the notion of “forum shopping” where individuals intent on getting the best maintenance deal possible can raise proceedings in England rather than Scotland on the basis of convenience. It does, of course, presuppose that whoever raises the maintenance proceedings moves to and lives in England.