High-Stakes Litigation Results in Costs Award of $1.4 Million to Wife

BarristerIt wasn’t that long ago that family law was considered the “poor sister” of commercial and corporate litigation, labelled “pink collar” law and considered a less worthy pursuit than other areas of the law. Happily that characterization has been abandoned for some time and rightly so.

Cases like Blatherwick v. Blatherwick 2017 ONSC 3968 (Canlii) and many others like it, point to the reality that family law embraces complex legal concepts including corporate valuations, off-shore assets with jurisdictional issues, and complicated income analysis, to name just a few.

When you have family litigation where the wealthy spouse refuses to provide information and documents, lies and evades the truth, and enlists business partners to assist in the obfuscation, it is not unusual to see large costs awards levied against the fraudulent litigant. Blatherwick is a perfect example of such a case.

Where there has been “reprehensible, scandalous, or outrageous conduct on the part of one of the parties”, the successful party will be awarded “special costs”, which represent the actual legal fees he or she has paid to his or her lawyer. In Blatherwick the successful wife was awarded $1,461,000 in circumstances where the husband made a mockery of fair play after a marriage lasting 39 years.

Mr. Blatherwick’s litigation “sins” were numerous including:

1. His admission that his business partners formed a “brotherhood of trust” and would circle the wagons in the case of any matrimonial dispute;

2. His admission that he was a liar and a cheat and that his business was conducted with those values;

3. His admission that his business was conducted in China and the British Virgin Islands and that the few documents produced were utterly unreliable.

4. His ever-changing evidence, despite previous admissions being made under oath;

5. His flagrant and deliberate disregard of court orders, in particular an order that restrained him from depleting his assets. However, the court found that in breach of the order he paid his lawyers over $800,000;

6. He failed to pay interim support to his wife and was in arrears of over $500,000;

7. He gave over $900,000 to several girlfriends in the Philipines and also made fraudulent Canadian immigration applications on their behalf, telling the authorities that his wife was deceased, and on another occasion that he was not married.

8. He made a voluntary assignment into bankruptcy such that his trustee seized and sold all his Canadian assets. He valued his off-shore companies at one dollar, despite evidence of $42 million dollars in annual sales;

In lengthy Reasons the Court held that Mrs. Blatherwick, in her early 60’s, was entitled to lump sum support in the amount of $5,985,216 based on an imputed income to her husband of $1.4 million dollars. Notably, his Canadian tax returns recorded income of about $48,000 per annum. She was also awarded compensation for her interest in the family assets in the amount of $3,573,807.

The Court annulled Mr. Blatherwick’s bankruptcy and scheduled a hearing to determine if his lawyers should be held in contempt of court for receiving funds from their client while he was under a restraining order.

The question remains, however, in the face of Mr. Blatherwick’s litigation behaviour, whether his wife will actually receive the funds she is owed. With her husband living in the Phillipines, and all his valuable assets located off shore, it seems highly unlikely that collecting her award will be a simple task. Although his Canadian passport was seized by Family Maintenance Enforcement authorities, it is very likely he has acquired a Phillipines passport.

These are extremely difficult cases and often the Court’s findings and orders are hollow, in the absence of compliance from a spouse who has already proved to be a rogue.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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Contemptuous Husband Goes to Jail With Louis Vuitton Overnight Bag

BarristerScot and Michelle Young of London, England separated in 2006. At the time Mr. Young was a real estate tycoon with over $400 million in assets.

The couple married in 1995, had two children, Scarlett and Sasha, and lived in a $14 million Oxfordshire mansion. Young once bought his wife a Range Rover filled with couture dresses and gave her $1 million in Graff diamond jewellery for her 40th birthday.

Despite declaring bankruptcy in 2010, citing a failed business venture with Moscow associates, Young continued to live lavishly. He told the high court that top businessmen were supporting him with gifts and loans.

That he is connected with Russian businessmen is no secret. His wife alleges that his business associate, Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who committed suicide in his Ascot mansion last year, helped Young hide his money.

Ms. Young says she has evidence that her husband constructed a secret network of offshore companies to hold his assets and his actions graphically demonstrate how a spouse bent on cheating can use the British Virgin Islands to hide wealth.

Mr. Young denied the allegations in a recent court hearing where he represented himself and found himself on the losing end of what has been a seven-year court battle.

Mr. Justice Moor found that Young had repeatedly failed to provide financial documents to his wife and refused to pay court-ordered support of $27,500 per month. He was in arrears nearly $1 million and was sentenced by Justice Moor to a six-month jail term.

However, after three months Scott Young was released without having purged his contempt, leaving Ms. Young no further ahead. To add insult to injury, he was photographed leaving prison with his Louis Vuitton overnight bag on his shoulder and his 29-year old girlfriend by his side.

A trial of all the issues is scheduled for October 2013. How much do you want to bet that scoundrel Scot Young “borrows” sufficient funds to retain the best lawyer money can buy?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang