Compensation: ‘Relationship-generated disadvantage’

In the recently reported case of RC v JC, a judgement has been delivered that has awarded the Wife an additional sum of £400,000 to compensate her for ‘relationship-generated disadvantage’.

The parties, who were at one time both lawyers, live in London and are in their 40’s.

As part of his Judgement, Mr. Justice Moor awarded the Wife a 50% share of the parties’ assets which amounted to almost £10 million. In addition to the Wife’s half share, she was awarded £400,000 to compensate her for the fact that she had sacrificed what the Court considered to be a potentially lucrative career.

The parties had met while working at the same law firm, the Wife being a trainee and the Husband an Associate at the time. Before the marriage it was agreed between the parties that the pair could not continue to work within the same firm.

Mr. Justice Moor accepted that the Husband’s career was given precedence to that of the Wife, who took on the role of the primary carer to the parties’ two children.

Mr. Justice Moor was abundantly clear in his judgement that his decision in this case was not one that would open the floodgates for a host of claims for ‘relationship-generated disadvantage’.

While it is positive that the idea of compensation still exists as a concept in divorce proceedings, this decision was made in a case with exceptional circumstances. The Wife was a Cambridge graduate and talented lawyer who gave up her career so that her Husband could flourish in his and she could look after the home and children.

In many cases the assets up for division will be such that any loss is already covered by the sharing principal and in others, the asset value will not be high enough to justify a claim for compensation in the first place.

While the media is reporting this result as a landmark case, in reality it is not. The concept of compensation in Financial Remedy Proceedings already existed and as stated by the Judge, a decision like this will only be made in exceptional circumstances.

If you would like to find out more or need advice or support relating to divorce proceedings, get in touch with our team.