In a case which stands as a dramatic reminder that stubbornness gets you nowhere, a former couple who ran up £1.3 million in legal costs bills, whilst fighting over not much more than a third of that sum, have finally settled their differences after being lambasted for their ‘appalling profligacy’ by a High Court judge.
The unmarried couple had spent over 20 years together and had three children before the acrimonious end of their relationship fired the starting gun on ‘titanic’ litigation. The dispute mainly focused on the former family home, the equity in which was worth around £1 million, of which the woman claimed half.
Commenting on the ‘completely disproportionate’ scale of the litigation, the judge noted that he had been presented with over 2,000 pages of legal documents. Even if the woman’s claim succeeded in full, she stood to receive only around £500,000, a sum which was dwarfed by ever-mounting legal bills.
Although he appreciated that his words might come as ‘something of a bombshell’ to the warring ex-couple, he described the sums they had expended on the dispute as ‘truly absurd’ and strongly urged them to compromise. The case had been listed for a 10-day hearing; however, perhaps prompted by the judge’s powerful comments, the former couple reached a confidential settlement at the eleventh hour.