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Bethany Burnard, Pupil at KBG, provides a reminder on the impact of aggressive litigation: Crowther and Crowther and Others (Financial Remedies) (Rev 1) [2021] EWFC 88

24th November 2021

A reminder on the impact of aggressive litigation: Crowther and Crowther and Others (Financial Remedies) (Rev 1) [2021] EWFC 88

The judgment of Crowther v Crowther & others, handed down at the beginning of November 2021, highlights the impact that aggressive litigation can have on a client’s time and assets.

Mr Justice Peel dealt with the final hearing in the application by Caroline Crowther for financial remedies following her divorce from Paul Crowther. The parties separated in 2019 after 24 years of marriage and have three older children (aged 22, 20 and 15).

From the outset Mr Justice Peel noted ‘with dismay’ there had been 34 court hearings, which included an appeal to the Court of Appeal, a bundle of over 6,000 pages, a total of 41 statements from the parties, and the parties had collectively spent over £2.3 million in legal costs. This was against a backdrop of the parties’ total assets amounting to only circa £1.3 million.

In his judgment Mr Justice Peel noted that ‘the lack of cooperation between the parties and their lawyers was very apparent’, he noted that there ‘appears to have been an almost complete breakdown of constructive communication’. Both parties had previously made open proposals which would have left the other party bankrupt.

Mr Justice Peel questioned whether ‘the aggressive approach adopted by each side has achieved anything other than vast costs and reduced scope for settlement’ and concluded that ‘in the end, I have largely had to concentrate on how to divide the debts fairly’.

The judge concluded by noting that the ‘only beneficiaries of this nihilistic litigation have been the specialist and high-quality lawyers’.

This case serves as a powerful reminder to both clients and lawyers that aggressive litigation is not always the best way forward. An amicable agreement will always be better than a court ordered decision. ADR should be considered in these circumstances to prevent unnecessary litigation. In this case it seems that the parties were so entrenched in their positions that they failed to see the bigger picture and wasted a considerable amount of time and money. Money which was likely intended to be shared with their children.

You can read the full judgment of Mr Justice Peel on the following link: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2021/88.html 

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Bethany Burnard, Pupil at KBG, provides a reminder on the impact of aggressive litigation: Crowther and Crowther and Others (Financial Remedies) (Rev 1) [2021] EWFC 88