A case in the Court of Appeal this week is reported here by the Financial Times.  Aside from the sort of lurid facts about excessive wealth that always grab the eye of the media, the case demonstrates a rarely-used remedy available to the family court: the 'Hadkinson' order.

Also known as an 'unless' order, it is used where there is effectively no other way to ensure compliance with an order. It basically gives the court the power to prevent an application to court going ahead unless the person making it has done a particular thing, generally complied with a previous order.

In this case, Mr Assoun owed a huge amount of money to his ex-wife in unpaid maintenance. He appealed against the original order, and she cross-applied for the Hadkinson order, to ensure that before pursuing his appeal he would have to make a certain amount of payment to her. The Husband's argument, that despite apparent wealth including a $2million plus New York apartment, he wasn't a rich man, fell on rather deaf ears. The Court of Appeal were asked to consider whether the Hadkinson order should have been made by the lower court and took the view that although restricting a person's fundamental right of access to the judicial system was draconian and should be used as a remedy of last resort, this was such a case and the order should stand. In the course of the various hearings, Mrs Assoun's legal team described her former husband's behaviours as “one of relentless litigation conduct” designed to wear his ex-wife down “financially and emotionally”. Although the judgment is a short one, the reference made by Lord Justice Beatson to the Husband's 'attitude towards disclosure', is rather telling.