Valuation directions

Having recognised that a valuation of the matrimonial property within the Trust was an issue to be determined, the Family Court’s preferred approach was to delay any expert valuations so that they could be prepared as close to the hearing date as reasonably possible. The Family Court’s approach was based on avoiding wasting substantial expense on reports which may be out-dated or require revisiting.

In relation to the appointing an expert to value the matrimonial property within the Trust, the Family Court accepted that the parties (because they all agreed) may instruct their own expert, rather than instructing a joint expert. However, the Family Court expressed its view that “the instructions [to the parties’ individual experts] should be agreed by the Court, not least because it would be highly undesirable to have experts approaching the questions which the Court has to consider on a wholly different basis.” Accordingly, the Family Court directed that the parties should circulate draft instructions to their respective expert prior to any appointment and which could be considered at a subsequent hearing if there was not agreement between the parties.

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Schedules of issues

It was agreed by the husband and the wife that it would be useful for the Court to order directions that included a schedule of issues which, it was said, “would identify the issues in schedule form and contain, with a maximum of two to three sentences on each point, the position of the parties.”

This direction followed an earlier order in which the parties pleaded their respective positions as regards the ancillary relief claims including claims against assets of the Trust.

These were unusual steps within ancillary relief proceedings, but proportionate given the level of monies involved, and sensible given the complex (and somewhat unusual) arguments being advanced. The pleadings and the schedule of issues helped guide the parties and the Court to know what the matters in dispute were and sought to ensure no party was taken by surprise. It was a time and cost saving initiative, as opposed to a directionless free for all.

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