The case of FRB v DCA (No3) (2020) EWHC 3696(Fam) is of note.

The husband was ordered to pay the wife £49million by instalments over an 18-month period with interest and immediate payment if there is noncompliance.

The husband applied to the court to vary the amount and timing of the payments or alternatively for the lump sum to be set aside and re quantified because of the effect of COVID 19.

The husband’s application was dismissed because the Judge found there was a lack of evidence to show a fundamental change in his financial circumstances and importantly, noted that most commentators believed that in the next couple of years the world economy will be back to where it was pre the pandemic.

The message from this case is that unless financial loss resulting from Covid-19 is significant and well-evidenced, it looks unlikely to be sufficient to re-open an award. There may however be cases where more persuasive arguments could be argued to re-open a case due to the pandemic. For example, a business has failed and had to be wound up due to the economic implications of Covid-19, then the fact that the wider economy is likely to recover may be of less relevance.

A less risky option for those who have been hard hit by the pandemic is to focus on seeking to extend time for any payments still to be made, and a downward variation of maintenance payments. All such applications should be well-evidenced and commenced promptly,

If you require advice on such matters please contact our Family Law Partner, Simon Gummer, on 01638 560556; e-mail simon.gummer@edmondsonhall.com