S v S (Conduct: Pensions) [2022] EWFC 17611 March 2023

Published: 19/04/2023 09:00


HHJ Robinson. Financial remedy proceedings involving a police officer who was convicted of serious offences including rape of his W. H pension was permanently deducted by 1% following proceedings brought by his Local Police and Crime Commissioner. The maximum deduction could have been 65%, but as W was the victim any significant deduction to the pension would give rise to further detriment to her; [6]. Issues mostly concerned the distribution of H’s pension, and the accrued arrears which had built up while the pension forfeiture was being considered.

The parties were in a long marriage of over 35 years. There were no other significant assets. In considering H’s conduct, the judge accepted and applied Coleridge J’s observations in H v H (Financial Relief: Attempted Murder as Conduct) [2005] EWHC 2911 (Fam) and noted that the court’s first priority was to consider W’s needs and only to consider those of H when the court was satisfied that W’s needs had been met [26–28]. H sought as large a sum from the pensions as the court deemed possible and proper, accepting that W’s needs had to be met. W sought a pension share of 72.4% of the remaining CTV from H’s pension after the lump sums, but the judge was not prepared to go as high as this.

W advanced a public policy argument, in that H would be benefiting from his own conduct if he were to receive any of the pension that would otherwise have been deducted; [28], [33]. This argument was recognised but the court was not considered bound to apply it rigidly, particularly given its decision to award W 85% of the capital, which included her inheritance that was non-matrimonial. The court also accepted that the ‘most significant level of forfeiture’ did not automatically mean the absolute maximum (i.e. 65%), but it would have been substantial. Held, pensions were divided 66% to W, which would provide her with sufficient income to meet her needs, and 34% to H. Whilst this was a significant disparity, this was justified by W’s needs and the impact of H’s conduct.

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