L’avantage des jugements des juridictions de tradition anglo-saxonne c’est leur caractère exhaustif: là où un arrêt de la Cour de cassation française est brève (et donc obscure) comme un haïku, un jugement de la Cour suprême US ou de la House of Lords fera facilement 50 ou 100 pages. Petit exemple: le récent divorce de Paul Mc Cartney. Un jugement de la High Court (comme son nom ne l’indique pas, il s’agit d’un tribunal de première instance) du 17 mars 2008 consacre ainsi 58 pages aux détails intimes du mariage et du divorce de l’ex-couple Paul Mc Cartney et Heather Mills:
50. After the marriage the nature of their relationship changed. At paragraph 17 of his January 2007 affidavit he said:
“After our marriage, the nature of our relationship to my mind, changed significantly. I was and remain fairly old-fashioned about marriage. We decided upon a proper wedding for that reason – I did not want any suggestion that we were in any way furtive or ashamed about our marriage. I believed it was for life and that it put everything on a very different footing. I drew up a Will to include Heather which I executed on 5 June 2002. We stopped using contraception the night we were married. There was never any question of us doing so before the wedding. Heather had one miscarriage before Beatrice was conceived in the first year of our marriage. Neither of us contemplated children without marriage.”
52. In my judgment, in assessing this issue, the background is of importance. The husband’s wife, Linda, had died in 1998. Their marriage endured for some 30 years. Repeatedly in his evidence the husband described how even during his relationship with the wife in 1999 to 2002 he was grieving for Linda. I have no doubt the husband found the wife very attractive. But equally I have no doubt that he was still very emotionally tied to Linda.
53. It is not without significance that until the husband married the wife he wore the wedding ring given to him by Linda. Upon being married to the wife he removed it and it was replaced by a ring given to him by the wife.
54. The wife for her part must have felt rather swept off her feet by a man as famous as the husband. I think this may well have warped her perception leading her to indulge in make-belief. The objective facts simply do not support her case.
55. Cohabitation, moving seamlessly into and beyond marriage, normally involves in my judgment, a mutual commitment by two parties to make their lives together both in emotional and practical terms. Cohabitation is normally but not necessarily in one location. There is often a pooling of resources, both in money and property terms. Loans between cohabitants may be forgiven.
57. I do not accept the wife’s case that the property in Heather Road in Beverly Hills was purchased for her. The husband’s explanation for putting it into Mr Whalley’s name is the more credible, namely to disguise the fact that the husband had bought it. He told me that when a star buys a house in Beverley Hills it goes onto a map showing where the stars live. The husband did not want unwelcome and unwanted visits. The husband and wife, the husband accepted, did call it “Heather House” because it was in Heather Road just as they called Cavendish Avenue “Cavendish”. I saw a DVD in which the wife could be seen in the property saying that “Heather House” was “my house” in rather a jocular way (apparently without contradiction by the husband) but that was, I find, wishful thinking on her part. I find that the husband never said to her that it was her house or that he would put it in her name. He accepted that later on in the marriage that the wife said to him that she wanted it (and other of the husband’s properties) to be transferred into her name but that was at a stage when the marriage was not good.
68. The wife complains that in April 2001 or thereabouts she was offered a contract by Marks and Spencers to model bras over a 12 month period for £1m but that the husband would not allow her to undertake to do it. Her evidence was that he forbade her. The only document produced by the wife in connection with this offer is an e-mail from Jaime Brent, a creative director from Beckenham. There is nothing in it about any remuneration. The husband’s evidence was that even if such a contract for that sum was in the offing (which he doubted), nevertheless he and the wife discussed it and decided together that as they were in a relationship it was not appropriate for her to be seen modelling bras. She agreed. He also told me that if she had insisted he would not have opposed her. In my judgment the husband’s evidence is much more likely to be true.
99. I have to say that the wife’s evidence that in some way she was the husband’s “psychologist”, even allowing for hyperbole, is typical of her make-belief. I reject her evidence that she, vis-à-vis the husband, was anything more than a kind and loving person who was deeply in love with him, helped him through his grieving and like any new wife tried to integrate into their relationship the children of his former marriage. I wholly reject her account that she rekindled the husband’s professional flame and gave him back his confidence.
142. Mr Mostyn put to her that that was a fraudulent attempt to extract money from the husband.
143. In my judgment it is unnecessary to go so far as to characterise what the wife attempted as fraudulent. However, it is not an episode that does her any credit whatsoever. Either she knew or must have known that there were no loans on Thames Reach, yet she tried to suggest that there were and thereby obtain monies by underhand means.
144. Her attempts when cross-examined to suggest that she may have got in a muddle and confused this property with others, to my mind, had a hollow ring. In the light of the husband’s generosity towards her, as I have set out, I find the wife’s behaviour distinctly distasteful. In any event, as Mr Mostyn rightly submitted, it damages her overall credibility.
172. For 10 months of the near 4 year marriage the husband was touring. This entailed first class international travel, first class hotels, and internal private flights. The husband and wife went on expensive and sometimes exotic holidays. They lived well. They often flew by private jet and /or helicopter. They always flew first class if flying with a commercial airline. The wife had an allowance of £360,000 p.a. The husband paid all the major bills. But that said, their lifestyle in their homes, particularly in England, was comparatively simple. The Cabin was a very modest property. They largely stayed in and did not eat out. They enjoyed riding and yoga. There was no round the clock security. The security in Sussex was provided by the farm workers. There was no live-in staff. The parties did not spend their time on yachts or, in the memorable phrase of the celebrated economist, Prof. J.K.Galbraith, on “conspicuous consumption”. They spent time in New York and at 11, Pintail, a modest holiday home. They never visited the Scottish properties.
173. I am satisfied that the wife has expected, and unreasonably, that such a lifestyle would not only continue but was her entitlement. She did not moderate her spending after separation. I entirely accept that when a marriage breaks down, the maelstrom of a broken relationship may well envelop both spouses and make it very difficult for them to re-order their lives, particularly financial. But I have no doubt that in the wife’s mindset, there was an element that she was going to spend (in the 15 month period) in order thereby to hope to prove that a budget in excess of £3m p.a. put forward in her Form E in September 2006 was justifiable.
191. I accept that since April 2006 the wife has had a bad press. She is entitled to feel that she has been ridiculed even vilified. To some extent she is her own worst enemy. She has an explosive and volatile character. She cannot have done herself any good in the eyes of potential purchasers of her services as a TV presenter, public speaker and a model, by her outbursts in her TV interviews in October and November 2007. Nevertheless the fact is that at present she is at a disadvantage.
211. I shall now analyse the wife’s budget.
212. It is based on a number of matters. She claims for seven fully staffed properties with full-time housekeepers in the annual sum of £645,000. She claims holiday expenditure of £499,000 p.a. (including private and helicopter flights of £185,000), £125,000 p.a. for her clothes, £30,000 p.a. for equestrian activities (she no longer rides), £39,000 p.a. for wine (she does not drink alcohol), £43,000 p.a. for a driver, £20,000 p.a. for a carer, and professional fees of £190,000 p.a. All these items Mr Mostyn submits are theoretically recognised heads of expenditure but “extraordinarily exaggerated”.
249. The conduct complained of by the wife can be summarised as follows. Prior to their separation at the end of April 2006 the husband treated the wife abusively and/or violently culminating in the unhappy events of 25 April 2006 upon which, in her oral submissions, she placed great reliance. He abused alcohol and drugs. He was possessive and jealous. He failed to protect the wife from the attention of the media. He was insensitive to her disability. Furthermore, it is alleged that post separation the husband manipulated and colluded with the press against the wife and has failed to enforce confidentiality by his friends and associates. The wife blames the husband for the leaking to the media of her Answer and Cross-Petition which alleges in strong terms unreasonable behaviour by the husband against her. The husband has failed to provide her with a sufficient degree of security from the media and generally he has behaved badly.
Petit détail: le jugement, publié sur le site des tribunaux britanniques, contient cependant un avertissement contre toute publication non-autorisée préalablement par le juge, Mr Justice Bennett:
THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE BENNETT
This judgment is being handed down in private on 17 March 2008. It consists of 58 pages and has been signed and dated by the judge. It may not be reported unless the judge has given leave. It is a contempt of court for any person to publish the contents of this judgment without first obtaining a direction for permission to report from the judge.
La dernière partie du jugement précise:
324. During the course of the wife’s evidence Mr Mostyn asked her if she would consent to an order, subject to any leave to report being granted by the judge, prohibiting both the husband and herself and any persons acting on their behalf from publishing, disclosing, or in any way revealing without the consent of the other, the evidence, correspondence, transcripts or judgments in this case, the terms of the financial award and any marital confidences; and if consent was not forthcoming then the party seeking publication should be able to seek the permission of a Family Division Judge.
325. The wife agreed to a consent order being made in those terms.
326. I agree to make such an order. Both parties want it and in the exceptional circumstances of this case it is just and fair to make such an order. I shall also attach a penal notice to this part of my order. But I should warn each of the parties that if either of them personally or through their associates transgresses, then the consequences for committing a contempt of court may be dire. The penal notice will make that clear.
327. Mr Mostyn also suggested that I should issue a warning to the media not to publish matters covered by my order and that to do so would amount to a contempt of court. I am confident that the media realise that both the Children Act and the ancillary relief proceedings have been conducted in private in accordance with the relevant rules of court and are confidential. I am also confident that the media will respect the privacy and confidentiality of both sets of proceedings. Beyond that nothing more needs to be said.
Vous voyez, blogguer est une occupation dangereuse…