Enforcement fear over wife's award
The estranged wife of a property tycoon awarded a £20 million lump sum by a High Court judge after an ''extraordinary'' legal fight over money might struggle to get her hands on the money, according to a leading family lawyer.
Michelle Young, 49, has insisted that husband Scot, 51, is worth ''billions'' and described Mr Justice Moor's award as ''disgraceful''.
The judge assessed Mr Young to be worth £40 million - after analysing evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London - and said Mrs Young was entitled to half.
And he said Mr Young should pay £5 million of a £6.5 million legal bill run up by Mrs Young.
But Marilyn Stowe, a senior partner at Stowe Family Law questioned how the award would be enforced.
"Although £20 million was not the sum Michelle Young had in mind, the judge faced a challenge - and one that exposes a significant shortcoming in our current legal system," she said.
"In the civil court, justice depends ultimately upon the voluntary submission of both parties to the court's jurisdiction. "
She added: "Mrs Young's battle may be far from over - and not just because she is dissatisfied with the size of the award. How will the award be enforced?
"If, say, the monies are held offshore in complex structures, subject to the laws of different jurisdictions, would foreign courts help Michelle Young? It might be in their own, wider interests to refuse to co-operate with any orders made by the court in England."
Mr Justice Moor said he knew Mrs Young would find it hard to enforce his order but said Mr Young would never be free of the debt.
The judge had heard that the Youngs, who live in London and have two daughters, separated in 2006 after starting a relationship in 1989.
Mrs Young, who had employed 13 sets of lawyers and four sets of accountants over the years, claimed that Mr Young had hidden ''a vast fortune''.
She claimed that she was a victim of ''fraud'' and said Mr Young had manipulated his affairs so as to do her down.
Mr Young said he was bankrupt, penniless and had debts adding up to £28 million.