In WS v HS , Mr Justice Cobb granted an appeal against an interim order for sale of a family home made in matrimonial financial proceedings.
The parties had been married for 25 years and had separated. The family home had been on the market for sale for about 2 years. While it had generated one offer, that offer was significantly below the asking price. The husband wanted to accept the offer but the wife, who remained living there, did not. She said the offer was too low. The District Judge made an interim order for the house to be sold. The wife appealed.
Having considered the various statutory provisions and relevant case law, Mr Justice Cobb concluded that the only application before the court was under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. An interim order of this nature was barred under that Act. Other statutory provisions might permit the making of an order for sale but no such application had been made and could not simply be inferred to have been made.
The conclusion drawn was that, even if it could be assumed the court had the jurisdiction and that the application had been made properly, before making an interim order two aspects needed to be satisfied, namely that there was “good reason” for the order and that it was “right in all the circumstances”.
This case confirms it will not be easy to obtain an interim order for sale in financial remedy proceedings. Anyone seeking such an order will need to ensure they invoke the correct procedure. Even then, a high bar has been set to persuade a Judge it is actually an appropriate order to make.
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