Mr Justice Mostyn picks his way through the case of the bass player

Okay, I apologise for the rather poor pun in that post title, but I couldn’t resist. The title is, in fact, appropriate at a literal level, as Mr Justice Mostyn’s judgment in the recent case, CB v KB is an excellent example of a judge methodically going through the steps necessary to reach a financial remedies decision.

Well-known band

As the title indicates, the central fact of the case was that it concerned the bass player of “a well-known band”. Mr Justice Mostyn does not identify the band, but we are told that it has been “extremely successful”, having released seven albums since 1999. We are also told that the “kingpin” of the band is its lead singer, who has written virtually every song released by the band. The husband, on the other hand, has written only three of the band’s songs.

Otherwise, the relevant facts of the case were as follows. The parties began their relationship in 1998 and were married in December 2003. They have six children, aged 20 (and in full-time employment), 17, 16, 11, 9 and 7. The younger three children divide their time almost equally between the parties, although the wife is to be regarded as the parent with care for child support purposes.

The parties separated in January 2017. The husband remarried in December 2018, and he and his new wife are expecting a child.

We are also told that for personal reasons the lead singer of the band wishes to take a break from touring for up to two years – there may be some modest touring in 2021, with a more “full-throated” (to use Mr Justice Mostyn’s apt words) resumption in 2022.

As to the assets of the marriage (save for the husband’s music income streams, which I will come to in a moment), we are told that these amount to £5,769,464, including the wife’s new home which was purchased, as agreed, from the net proceeds of the former matrimonial home, and is worth  £2,958,500.

Mr Justice Mostyn essentially had to decide three things: what capital sum the wife should receive, what maintenance she should receive, and for how long, and what child support the husband should pay.

Income streams

In order to make these decisions, Mr Justice Mostyn had to first calculate the value of the husband’s music income streams. As he explained, the husband receives income from his music-making in five different ways:

  1. Royalties in respect of the three songs written by him.

  2. “Equitable remuneration” in respect of broadcasts of the band’s songs.

  3. By virtue of an agreement made between the members of the band, he receives 8.33% of the lead singer’s publishing or composition royalties.

  4. A one-third share of the recording royalties.

  5. His share of ticketing and merchandising income generated by touring, having regard to the touring break. This was considered by Mr Justice Mostyn to be future earnings. Accordingly, it was not taken into account as capital but was taken into account when calculating child support.

The decision

I won’t go into the details of how Mr Justice Mostyn calculated income streams 1 to 4. Suffice to say that the total he came to was £4,450,693, which meant that the total assets were £10,220,158 (I make it £10,220,157, but I’m sure the parties wouldn’t argue over the odd pound). Accordingly, the equal sharing principle gave the wife £5,110,079. This sum was to be paid by the husband in three instalments, the last in October 2023.

As to spousal maintenance, the husband will continue to pay the interim maintenance he was already paying, reducing after each lump sum instalment and ceasing after the final payment, when there will be a clean break.  Unless I have missed it, the judgment does not say how much the interim maintenance was, but Mr Justice Mostyn says that “Pending payment of the second and third instalments the husband will make periodical payments to the wife at the rate of £42,786 per annum”.

Lastly, as to child support, Mr Justice Mostyn calculated (using the child support formula but disregarding the cap on annual gross income) that the husband should pay £12,600 per annum in respect of each of the four minor children who make their main home with the wife, in addition to paying the children’s school fees.

You can read the full judgment here.

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