TM v KM  EWFC 1552 December 2022
Published: 12/01/2023 09:00
HHJ Hess. Application of compensation principle. W was 50 and had attended what many consider to be the finest business school in the world before a highly successful career in investment finance. In 2006 and 2007, before she ceased work, W earned £505,000 and £325,000, respectively. H was 48 and had a highly successful career in investment finance in the Middle East. Between 2017 and 2021, he averaged an income of $2m per annum. The parties cohabited in 2004, married in 2006 and lived variously in New York, the Middle East and London. They separated in 2021. W had relocated twice for H’s career and given up work for their two children.
The assets were worth c.£13m. Aside from the judge’s comments as to the ‘feel of lawyers’ strategic padding’ in how W pleaded her needs case, the needs assessments were simply and swiftly resolved.
There was no justification for further provision based on need, but there was on compensation. The court was satisfied that W sacrificed her status as a high earner in favour of her family commitments and that should be reflected in the order.
The judge reflected on the cautious dictum of Coleridge J in RP v RP  EWHC 3409, and the decision of Mostyn J in SA v PA  EWHC 392 in which he took issue with the reasoning of the House of Lords in Miller v Miller; McFarlane v MacFarlane  UKHL 24 and took the view that ‘the free choice made by the claimant to give up work was the dominant consideration’ and that he ‘cannot see how that can be characterised as a loss “suffered” by her entitling her to an award in excess of her reasonable needs’. The judge was ultimately persuaded by Moor J’s judgment in RC v JC  EWHC 466 where the wife surrendered her promising career prospects in favour of her maternal commitments. Unable to justify a division greater than an equal division on a needs basis, Moor J considered it appropriate to make a discrete compensation award of £400,000 (being £100,000 per year for the rest of the husband’s working life).
In reliance on RC v JC, HHJ Hess added five tranches of £100,000 to W’s award resulting in a slight and justified departure from equality (56/44) in W’s favour.