Freezing Order

When a marriage breaks down there are often ill feelings of anger and resentment from either spouse resulting in spiteful actions. In such situations it is not unusual for the individuals to try and sell assets or spend the money to prevent there former partners from receiving any financial settlements upon divorce due to there wrong doings.

What is a freezing order?

A freezing order is an interim injunction that can be used to prevent your partner from disposing (spending), dealing with his assets (selling) or hiding certain assets.  It requires specialist legal knowledge to maximise a prospect of obtaining a freezing order as the applications can be complex depending the structure of the assets and their jurisdiction.

If you are concerned about your partner attempting to get rid of assets then you may want to consider a freezing injunction.

The main purpose of the freezing order, in family matters, is to preserve marital assets from being touched until a financial settlement is reached.

What assets can be frozen?

In theory any assets can be frozen. Typically the types of assets involved in such cases include property and bank accounts. A freezing order can even include assets not yet in existence, like an award for personal injury or a new work contract. .

Who makes a freezing order?

The Crown Court has the power to grant a freezing order over the assets of any individual on application.  Freezing injunctions are usually sought without notice to the respondent, as giving notice would defeat the purpose of the injunction.

What are the requirements for a freezing order?

To obtain a freezing order, the Court has to be satisfied that your partner is about to sell or otherwise get rid of an asset with the intention of preventing someone else from receiving any financial benefit.

  • There must have a substantive cause of action against the respondent (the potential defendant)
  • It must be shown that there is a good, arguable case that refusing to make such an order would create a real risk of injustice.
  • There must be solid evidence of an intention to get rid of assets.
  • it must be just and convenient to grant the freezing order, bearing in mind the conduct of the applicant , the rights of any third parties who may be affected by the freezer, and whether such an order would cause financial hardship for the respondent.

Can a freezing order affect overseas assets?

Yes, but an order freezing assets held in other countries is only likely to be made where it is likely that the foreign courts will cooperate. Your solicitor will be able to assist you further with this decision.

What documents are required in order to obtain a freezing injunction?

There are a number of documents which will need to be completed prior to attending Court to obtain a Freezing Injunction. These are as follows:

  • An Application Notice setting out the nature and grounds of the application as well as parties details
  • A Draft Order setting out the terms being sought from the Court
  • Witness statement in support of your application

In addition to the Freezing Injunction, you may also want to consider any other appropriate requests such a spousal maintenance or interim payments.

You also may wish to consider usual directions on the Order such as:

  • An Order for cross-examination of your partner about the nature, location and or value of there assets.
  • An Order that your partner provides there passport as proof of identity
  • An Order that a Receiver be appointed over the your partner’s company;
  • An Order for immediate delivery of assets or a payment into court
  • An Order that your partner’s bank is authorised to disclose information to you
  • An Order for a Search Order
  • An Order requiring the disclosure of the identity of any your partner’s funders
  • An Order that any party who is holding assets or documents on behalf of the your partner be prevented from dealing with or disposing of the same.

How do I challenge a freezing order?

Failure to comply with the terms of the freezing order can be a contempt of court.

It is very important to take immediate legal advice from a solicitor with specific expertise of dealing with freezing injuctions.

You can challenge a freezing order depending on the strength of the application such as basis, grounds and evidence provided as well as remedy sought. You may want to consider what assets you’d wish to be excluded from the application such as living expenses, business assets or legal fees

You should look to put forward a response by disclosing your assets or challenging  the order whether it be all of the order or parts of the order and highlight which parts are accepted and which should be excluded.

Freezing injunctions are usually time-sensitive. If you have been served with an application, you should seek urgent legal advice so you are in time to respond to or challenge the application.

How long will a freezing order last?

A freezing order is initially granted for 7-14 days. The reason beings is that most freezing orders are granted without any notice to the respondent. This is done purposely and tactfully to prevent the respondent  from being able to hide, spend or sell the assets in question from the applicant.

At the expiry of the 7 or 14 days, there is then another court hearing date at which the various parties then attend court. At that hearing, the court can do a number of things;

 

  • Vary the terms of the freezing injunction itself but keep it in place until trial or further order
  • Keep the freezing injunction as it is until trial or further order
  • Discharge the Freezing Injunction if a successful application has been made by the Respondent for it to be dismissed.

 

If it is continued until “trial or further order”, the freezing injunction remains in place until there is a trial of the underlying claim itself or the parties otherwise agree by consent at a later stage for the freezing order to be withdrawn. Therefore, a freezing injunction can last for different periods of time depending upon the agreement or settlements.

How can 1solicitors help you with a Freezing Order

As specialists in financial settlements after divorce, we regularly act for high-net worth individuals who have assets over the world.

In these kinds of cases, it is unfortunate that one party can take steps to dissipate assets away from being within our client’s arms-reach. In such cases, our strong team of solicitors for freezing orders can take a rigorous approach to protect our client’s interests in ensuring such assets are frozen and preserved for our client’s benefit.

 

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