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One of the Worst SRL's Ever?

Male or Female here is what not to do

The SRL-R people often discuss SRLs that have been their own worst enemies in Court.

The very high profile McCartney Mills case which now has a published judgment really gives an a very public insight into mistakes that are made in many 'normal' cases.

So forget the genders, dollars and the names - look at the case as a partial lesson in What Not to Do.

By way of information The High Court in the UK can make a decision to make public a judgement if it is 'in the public interest'**. This probably includes Bennett just taking the 'mickey' after hearing that outside Court she was describing his judgement as 'outrageous'. Of course she appealed against this and reading the details about the way she handled herself in Court reveals why. About the only reasonable thing Bennett said in his judgement was that she had a 'strength of character' and with the English language being so accommodating that may even have been a side swipe.

**(Our own CJ is not above doing a similar thing, after the Court received some nasty public utterances from an Association about the way its expert witnesses were put down by a Judge. Bryant released the judgement [minus names] so that the 'there is no such thing as parental alienation' experts got a lot of egg on their faces)

Now Mills has been going around telling everyone they should represent themselves.

So Mills is 'happy' she got one fifth of what she wanted. Yeah so would a guy going to the FCoA for 5 out 14 and getting 1 out of 14.

So where did she go wrong and where do many guys go wrong?

- She grandstanded
- She did not produce the right evidence to make her case
- Her application was unrealistic
- She was not a credible witness
- She failed to provide consistent and accurate evidence
- And others

The Court is not a theatre, it is a place for cold hard argument

You will need evidence to support your case
(Not making out her worth before the marriage and not providing any proper evidence of McCartney's)

Unrealistic Application
(In her case such niceties as claiming for wine (she does not drink) and other expenses she does not have)

Not creditable
(She received some harsh words here. For those that have been in Court and heard people called 'liars' and then read 'less than truthful' in the judgement; some of Bennett's words may give an indication of what was probably transpiring in the Court room).

Consistent and Accurate Evidence

I have included a collection of news comments.

Forget that Mills is female and whether it's houses or wine, because men can make the same mistakes with evidence and credibility. Look at the big picture of evidence and credibility in this case and where it all went wrong for the SRL and ask yourself "Did I do that"? or "I had better make certain I do not do that"


Mistakes NOT to make

But for Mills, the shine from the hefty settlement was tainted after the release of Justice Bennett's judgement, in which he suggested Mills had a muddled grasp on reality.

Heather Mills' reputation has been savaged by the judge that presided over her divorce from Sir Paul McCartney, with him describing her as "less than impressive", having a "warped perception" and indulging in "make-belief".

"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."

The judge in Paul McCartney's divorce settlement berated the former Beatle's estranged wife Heather Mills for giving "inconsistent and inaccurate" evidence, according to details of the ruling released on Tuesday.

Justice Bennett also described Mills as "a less than impressive witness".

"I am driven to the conclusion that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate, but also less than candid."

The judgement also includes details on the full demands made by Mills, which included an annual claim of 39,000 to buy wine. Alongside this claim the judge noted: "She does not drink alcohol."

Mills' full claim, according to the judgement, was as follows: "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."

Justice Bennett also rubbished Mills' claims that she had a personal wealth of 3 million prior to the marriage, describing this as "wholly exaggerated".

"I have to say I cannot accept the wife's case that she was wealthy and independent by the time she met the husband in the middle of 1999. Her problem stems from the lack of any documentary evidence to support her case as to the level of her earnings."

Justice Bennett also weighed in on whether Mills had been a good wife, again questioning her grasp on reality.

But he added: "I am driven to the conclusion that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid".

"In her final submissions the wife described her contribution as "exceptional". I reject her case. I am afraid I have to say her case on this issue is devoid of reality.

"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."

While describing Mills as an "explosive and volatile", Justice Bennett complimented Mills on the strength of her character.

"The wife is a strong willed and determined personality.

"But to suggest that in some way she was his 'business partner' is, I am sorry to have to say, make-belief," he added.

"I wholly reject her account that she rekindled the husband's professional fame (after his first wife's death) and gave him back his confidence."

In contrast, the judge praised McCartney for giving balanced evidence during the six-day hearing.

"He expressed himself moderately, though at times with justifiable irritation, if not anger," Bennett said. "He was consistent, accurate and honest," the judge concluded

Sir Paul's evidence was described as "balanced".

The judge found that the total value of McCartney's assets, including his business assets, was about STG400 million ($A867.5 million). There was no evidence at all before him that he was worth STG800 million ($A1.7 billion), he said.

"Everybody knows he's been worth STG800 million ($A1.73 billion) for the past 15 years," she snapped.

McCartney-Mills Divorce Judgement

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas.
"strong willed and determined" is a very polite english way of saying "b***ch on wheels"

I think her mistake was to go in with a victim mentality - "woe is me, I'm a poor, single mum now…" that and the lack of evidence, backfired badly.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Perhaps we should send her an email, thanking her for producing such a comprehensive example of what to avoid in court.

Thanks for the transcript.

Out of Court Comments

Daily Mail (Britain)

More about the spray that she went on with outside the courts. It's an interesting insight into her personality… I particularly like these quotes:

"She has called me many, many names before even meeting me when I was in a wheelchair." aimed at Sir Paul's solicitor.

Note the manipulation of "poor me, I'm a victim". Who Ms Mills went on to pour water on, inside the courtroom, after the judge had left the room.

"I've said if the whole judgment goes out, then all the transcripts have to go out because it's going to be written in a way that they will try and make it look like I wasn't successful."

Success implies winners and losers. She has an outcome, an outcome about half of what she expected financially. Ms Mills intends to appeal the release of the transcript, which is a bit like put the genie back in the bottle.

"Because they say me and my daughter don't need security"

"And I really hope now that me and my daughter can have a life"

"Then we moved to Brighton, and then he went to try and get my daughter, joint residency"

"Question: Do you think Sir Paul has been cruel? - I can't say that for the sake of my daughter. My sister (Fiona) does."

"I'm going to go and be with my daughter because I took so much time away from her"

"I can't leave England. I've always wanted to keep my daughter near her father"

Not our daughter - my - note the implied ownership.

"Basically Paul has always wanted Beatrice to go to a state school - a private school, sorry."

Note the freudian slip? Sir Paul is well known for having schooled his "first family" through state schools and Stella is on record as having appreciated the opportunity to be "normal" greatly.

A note to SRLs - after an appearance in court, we all need to "debrief and de-stress" but be careful where you do it. Remember court room staff like to have a break and a coffee and court staff are human and will gossip. Don't "do a Millsy" and bad-mouth the ex outside the court.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 

Where art thou Heather?

The mention of "offers" in this judgement suggests a distinct approach to case procedure.
Add-backs on both sides, and reckless parties spending by both have been dealt with.

Without credibility one's case is floating below the waterline.

As a witness for the other side she was convincing. (re: Security)

There appears to be a "fault" component in this case which also differentiates it from our court's proceedings. The conduct of the parties may be factored in.

It is of interest that three McKenzie friends were allowed.

"This case is a paradigm example of an applicant failing to put a rational and logical case and thus failing to assist the court in its quasi-inquisitorial role to reach a fair result. "

Last edit: by verdad

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha

How to avoid a hard day's night in court

The Telegraph
17 March 2008

How to avoid a hard day's night in court
By Teresa Hunter

The McCartneys have taken a long and winding road to a settlement, but, says Teresa Hunter, others find that they can work it out.

As the high-profile divorce of the McCartneys shows, however rich you are, breaking up is hard to do. But it doesn't have to be if you take precautions. It is possible to arrange a quickie divorce over the internet for as little as 25, although solicitors warn these should be eyed warily.
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Heather Mills McCartney arriving at court: she is now representing herself

Family lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt says: "If you have no assets and no children, then it's probably fine to use one of these. But once there is wealth in the marriage to be divided or children, you should take advice."

It is also important to use a specialist family law firm. She adds: "A great deal of our workload is sorting out the terrible messes people can get themselves into because they have either tried to do it themselves, or used the wrong type of solicitor."

Miles Preston of Miles Preston & Co also advises seeking specialist advice at the earliest possible stage.

"People have an awful lot of misconceptions and make assumptions that may be wrong," he says.

Lloyd Platt agrees, although warns that if you are in emotional turmoil, there isn't much point seeking legal advice.

She says: "If you are totally barking, this isn't the time to see a lawyer. You won't listen to the advice anyway. What you need is a therapist. Go and see your therapist first, sort yourself out emotionally, then go and see your solicitor."

Outside celebrity divorces like the McCartneys or high-value disputes like that between the Crossleys, only a small percentage of splits make it into court.

Susan Crossley, thought to be worth 18m after three prior divorces from wealthy men, last week dropped her claim against her husband's 45m million fortune. The couple had signed a pre-nuptial agreement, but she was seeking to have it set aside on the grounds that he had concealed millions of pounds in offshore accounts.

If your marriage hits the buffers, it will be cheaper for most people to opt for mediation rather than a court hearing.

Alternatively a collaborative system where you both agree at the outset that you will not go to court is becoming popular. This focuses all minds on reaching a sensible settlement.

Next you have to decide how assets will be shared between you, whether maintenance should be paid, and what will happen to the children.

Division of Assets

All the assets owned by each party are thrown into the pot. Preston says: "It is irrelevant whose name they are held in, if they are assets acquired during the marriage."

Wealth acquired before the marriage, or inherited during it can be treated differently, which is why the McCartney case is so complex. Says Preston: "They are still relevant, but not treated in the same way as assets accumulated together by the couple."

Most fighting usually takes place over who gets the house and the pension. Preston usually advises his clients where possible to stay in the property until crucial issues are resolved, unless one partner is at risk of physical harm.

However, he notes: "Difficulties can arise here when those involved misjudge the emotional state of another party. Someone who has always been sensible and rational can suddenly flip. Obviously, personal safety is the most important thing."

Once the assets have been tallied up, then they are in principle divided 50/50. However, adjustments may be made for pre-owned assets and for inherited ones. Further adjustments can be made for the "exceptional contribution" in building up that wealth made by one party. Recent City divorces have centred on the extent to which an individual's unusual talent for making money gives them the right to keep a bigger share of that fortune.


Courts will award maintenance for children and spouses where appropriate. The good news is that they are increasingly sympathetic to the position of middle-aged women even after their children have left home.

"There was a stage where courts were becoming very aggressive towards women and refusing maintenance on the grounds they could work," Preston says.

"But it has swung back the other way. Courts are very sympathetic to the practical difficulties which a woman who has been out of the work force for many years raising children, will find if she tries to get a job in her early 50s."

Courts will award maintenance for each child based on minimum Child Support Agency guidelines, which require 15 per cent of salary to be paid in respect of the first child (up to a maximum 104,000 income ceiling), 20 per cent for two children and 25 per cent for three or more.

If you're in Scotland, the Scots courts prefer clean breaks, having virtually no concept of maintenance. The maximum support normally given is limited to three years.

John Fotheringham of Fyfe Ireland says: "A meal ticket for life does not exist in Scottish law. There are pluses and minuses with all systems, and certainly the courts in England like clean breaks where possible. The problem is there is rarely enough capital available at the point the marriage breaks up."

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Pre-nuptial agreements, although commonplace in many parts of the world, have not been part of the British culture, and as such have no legal force in court, which is what makes the Crossley case fascinating. Although not legally binding, courts may take them into consideration provided there has been full disclosure of all wealth, that they have been drawn up by professional advisers and that neither party was subjected to undue pressure to sign.

Many lawyers believe the Crossley case could give them extra weight in court. But Alex Carruthers of family law practice Hughes Fowler Carruthers says that as Mrs Crossley settled with her husband before they were due to appear in the High Court, the status of prenuptial agreements remains uncertain.

He says: "It is an encouragement to judges to be more forthright in upholding pre-nuptial contracts if the circumstances are right. It does not, however, mean that all prenuptial contracts are now going to be looked on favourably." It can cost around 1,000 each for a solicitor to draw up a pre-marital agreement on any future split of assets, although courts are very sensitive to any suggestion that one party may have been coerced into signing a prenuptial agreement against their will.

Preston suggests: "If an agreement was signed within 21 days of the wedding ceremony, it is extremely unlikely a court will uphold its terms. "It will take the view that so close to the wedding, an individual will have been under intense pressure, as the invitations had gone out and the caterers ordered. Refusing to sign, and having to cancel all the arrangements would have placed immense stress on those involved."

How NOT to Dress for Court

Jest a mess
By Erica Davies, Fashion Editor

They say money can't buy love - but Heather Mills' court outfit proved it can't buy style either.

Jester ... Mucca

Mucca learned of her 24.3million payout dressed in what looked like a court jester's costume.

The Vivienne Westwood waistcoat and jacket in blue, green and beige looked as though it had been cobbled together from several men's suits.

It appears the former porn star didn't just clear out Macca's wallet but his wardrobe too.
The Telegraph
19 March 2008

Heather Mills's colourful hodge-podge outfit
By Hilary Alexander, Fashion Director

Leaving court: Heather Mills's suit featured a curious hodgepodge of colours

Heather Mills is turning into a DIY addict. First, she defended herself in the divorce case. Now, it appears, she may have been wearing one of her own designs while she hammered out the fine print.

Her agent, Michele Elyzabeth, of Parapluie Inc, in Los Angeles, said that Miss Mills was ignoring the skills of leading designer labels.

"She has been designing her own outfits lately," she said.

The unusual multi-coloured, three-piece "city" suit Miss Mills chose for her final day in court bore striking evidence of having been partly-inspired by Sir Paul's designer daughter, Stella.

She trained with the Savile Row tailor, Edward Sexton, and the late Tommy Nutter, famous for his man-tailoring for women, who designed the white trouser suit Bianca Jagger wore for her wedding.

However, Miss Mills's suit featured a curious hodgepodge of colours.

The waistcoat, blue on one side, beige on the other, was accompanied by an almost-matching jacket in blue and beige, but with the addition of one green sleeve, one green lapel and a trace of red piping to match the business shirt underneath.

The trousers, fortunately, escaped the colour patchwork effect and were in plain blue.

James Sandwith, of BeBRAND, the public relations company for Nutters, said: "Alas, this is not a Nutters suit. As far as I'm aware Lady M has recently taken a few things from her husband, but his former tailor is not one of them."
Sad to say, that little ensemble would have cost a cool $10 000

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 

McKenzies(S) Friend(S)

Note - 2 of Heather's friends were portrayed as having legal training. The "American Lawyer" and the "Advocate". I wonder how much if anything they got to say in court. No evidence of a temporary practicing certificate.

Also note - The payment to Mills is conditional of the Decree Nisi being granted. Fight the divorce and you will have to wait for the money - Who said Judges don't have a sense of humor.

I wonder who's application will hit the courts first -date in court already allocated. The 2 year rule is probaly like our 1 year rule. Can't file for divorce until you have been separated for the specified period. Obviously the British still have Divorce on the grounds of CONDUCT. Messy! - But no bigger mess than fighting over the spoils.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
All I can say is Thank God we have no fault divorce - I wonder if the British system means we will have more entertainment fodder at the hands of Heather Mills?

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.

Preparation & Presentation Important for SRLs

The Telegraph
21 March 2008

Only fools represent themselves in court
By Harry Mount

There's a lawyers' saying about people such as Heather Mills who represent themselves in court - the client who chooses himself as his lawyer is a fool.

Lawyers would say that, wouldn't they? But that was certainly my experience of litigants-in-person when I was a barrister. Judges were tremendously kind to them in court, explaining all the jargon and giving them plenty of time to find their notes - with the battier litigants-in-person, these were written on scraps of paper scooped out of bulging Sainsbury's bags.

This is how Sir Hugh Bennett, the judge in the McCartney case, behaved during the hearing; he is known among family lawyers for being particularly gentle and understanding in court.

The opposing side often think that litigants-in-person are getting unfairly generous treatment from these indulgent judges. But when the judgment is handed down, the litigant-in-person always gets destroyed in the end by their lack of knowhow.

The destruction of Heather Mills's performance in court would not have been so prominently advertised if a full judgment hadn't been made available. But because the case offered up interesting legal points - particularly how much money judges should grant after such a short marriage - her utter uselessness as a lawyer had to be revealed in full.

Barristers tell me that, if she had retained counsel and not gone quite so nuts in court, she would have got another 5?million or so - even after subtracting the 600,000 she said she saved by representing herself. So much for the "power of one" that she boasted about on the steps of the High Court.

In private, divorce lawyers not only say you shouldn't employ yourself for your divorce; they also say you shouldn't employ them either - ie just don't get divorced.

The divorce rate among divorce lawyers is incredibly low - however much they dislike their husbands or wives, lawyers know it's not worth paying people like them a fortune to make things worse.
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