• Janis Donnelly-Coode

Yeates v Yeates

This is a legal update prepared by our PLT law student Cortnie Brown.


Yeates & Yeates [2020] FamCAFC 132 (1 June 2020)


Background

  • The Husband was initially self-represented.

  • Court made interim parenting and property orders, ordering Husband to pay $100,000 to the Wife. The matter was adjourned, there was no payment to the Wife.

  • The Husband did not appeal on time, there was an application to extend time to file notice of appeal.

  • Application allowed.


In the original proceedings the Wife sought payment of $100,000 without leading evidence in relation to that claim. An order was made on the first return date for the payment of that amount. A later order (upon failure to pay the $100,000) required that two cars be delivered to the wife for sale at a date earlier than the date of the order.


Failure to comply with disclosure requirements

  • Several exhortations by the primary judge to the husband not to lie to him, seemingly because “if you lie to me once I can never trust you again”

  • Primary judge to the husband "You are doing whatever you can to avoid the responsibility that you must have now so that the court can look at the property of the marriage and make a just and equitable adjustment so that you and [the wife] can now just go on your way. You’re trying to frustrate that process by not cooperating. So when it is that they say “Yes. You can afford $100,000,” well, you’ve had all the opportunity in the world to show to me that you can’t and you haven’t done it."

  • "With regard to financial matters, I’m going to order that [the husband] pay to [the wife] the sum of $100,000 and I will then decide how I will characterise that payment at some other time..."


Explanation for delay

  • Delay 10 days, initially being unrepresented.

  • Representation provided, from 4 March 2020, did have the assistance of lawyers focussed upon complying with disclosure of documents.

  • Order to pay $100,000 to wife did not have required time, focussed attention towards collating documents for disclosure, filed and served list of documents on 2 April 2020 setting out documents he was able to disclose.

  • Focused on amending initiating application, affidavit and financial statement.


Grounds of appeal

  • Appellant not afforded procedural fairness:

  • …’the learned Judge did not afford him an opportunity to get advice and put material before the Court.’

  • The learned Judge interrupted the appellant excessively when he tried to make submissions and did not afford him a fair hearing.

  • The learned Judge unfairly adopted a negative view of the appellant on the basis that he had not filed financial material.

  • Appeal appears to have reasonable prospects of success.


The right to appeal was granted but the Husband was ordered to pay wife’s costs

  • Reason for the costs order was the Husband's failure to comply with the time limits for bringing appeals, and

  • The Husband failed in the first place to properly comply with the rules (by responding to the initial case).



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