Palmers Solicitors’ Surjit Verdi recently acted for a party in an interesting and unusual matter which reached the Court of Appeal.
In Critchell vs. Critchell, Surjit Verdi was instructed by Mrs Critchell. When the couple separated, the husband purchased a new home using £85,000 borrowed from his father and £63,000 raised by a mortgage. The parties had limited resources and the immediate housing needs of the wife and children required that she retain the former matrimonial home.
A consent order was made for the matrimonial home – which was subject to a mortgage of around £10,000 – to be transferred to Mrs Critchell. A charge was secured on the property entitling Mr Critchell to receive 45 per cent of the net proceeds upon any future sale. This would allow him to discharge his liabilities, including the debt to his father.
Within a month of the consent order being made, Mr Critchell’s father died, leaving him an inheritance of £180,000 and with the consequence that the loan of £85,000 would not need to be re-paid. Mrs Critchell successfully appealed the consent order on the basis that the inheritance was a Barder v Caluori type event.
The issue on appeal, taking into consideration the principles of Barder, was whether the death of Mr Critchell’s father had invalidated the basis of the consent order. Mr Critchell’s debt to his father was extinguished and he had inherited sufficient funds to clear his debts. The judge found that the Barder principle applied, allowed Mrs Critchell’s appeal and set aside the part of the order granting Mr Critchell a charge over the property.
Mr Critchell appealed and his appeal was dismissed. In the view of the Court of Appeal, the inheritance received represented a fundamental change to the basis upon which the consent order was made. The husband no longer had a need for the charge over the former matrimonial home.
Surjit Verdi commented: “This was a very interesting case to be involved with and I am proud to have been a part of it. The outcome for Mrs Critchell is just what we wanted; it is a great result.”