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CASE NUMBER

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									IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION

                                                        Claim No: FD06D05076



                                                              5TH AUGUST 2010




                                B e f o r e:

            THE HONOURABLE MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING

                                - - - - - -

                           JOHN DRAGONAS

                                                                  CLAIMANT

                                     V

                      PANAYOTA LYMBERAKOU

                                                                 DEFENDANT



                               __________

                Tape transcription by Exigent Group Limited
                   44 Carnaby Street, London W1F 9PP
                                 __________




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               SUBMISSIONS MADE BY MR ALEXANDER THORPE



MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes, Mr Thorpe?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: My Lady, I am going to take matters fairly briefly

      because I appreciate it would be better if I finished by 1.00 and that will give

      everybody an opportunity – or it will give you an opportunity to consider your

      judgment.



      Mr Dragonas’ position has been crystal clear from the outset and if I could take

      you to page 138 of the supplemental bundle, this is at B, five lines down.

      Primarily he says that Greek properties are to be determined under the jurisdiction

      of Greek Courts and I say that that on his behalf do not back it up with any legal

      arguments. It is also said throughout the correspondence. The difficulty that the

      wife faces is not just in this jurisdiction. The husband issued a petition in Greece

      that he pursues and he defends his position in Greece vigorously so that

      enforcement is not easy for my client and success here today is not the end of the

      story.



      The extent of the difficulties of disclosure was not limited, however, to property.

      If I can ask you to take the first bundle, My Lady, and turn to page 123 at question

      4: “Please explain why the address of HSBC bank statement as of May 2007 is

      166 … High Street. What is the Applicant’s attachment to this address? Please

      provide an office copy for this address. The Applicant had a lease from

      December 1991 until 2011. The Applicant, however, assigned the lease in March

      2007, copy completion statement enclosed herewith.” This money was put into


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[unclear] International account, which is his brother’s company. This money was

money the Applicant owed to his brother for paying his debts.



If I can turn you on to 138: “Please provide documentary evidence” – sorry, this

is at paragraph 48: “Please provide documentary evidence, including copies of

loan agreements for the sums allegedly owed to the following: M. Dragonas,

I. Dragonas, P. Dragonas.” In fact, the money was paid to A. Dragonas so he is

not even cited as the debt but over the page you will see that, even were he cited

as a debt, we are given no documentary evidence of any debts from those

individuals and you will see that the relationship of the individuals to

Mr Dragonas – sister, brother-in-law, brother, friend and friend.



Then if I can turn you to page 169, this is another reply: “The Applicant does not

have any documentary evidence. The Applicant cannot remember the sources of

funds, probably personal funds and funds from his brothers and sisters. With

reference to the Abbey account in the name of A. Dragonas (that is his sister this

time), please [allocate] each payment over £500 as requested in the original

questionnaire and provide documentary evidence. This is the Applicant’s sister’s

account and therefore the Applicant does not know the transactions.” This is an

account registered to his address upon which he was and is a signatory.



At 175, at question 32: “Please confirm the account into which the sum of

£17,978 from FC Investments was deposited. Please provide documentary

evidence of that bank statement. The Applicant’s sister’s account, A. Dragonas,

(off mic)… already provided.”

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      It was also part of our case that the husband had transferred large sums of money

      to his brother, who he described as being in the agricultural police and it is right

      that his brother has considerable influence over land and land purchases in

      Zakynthos. Our case was that the sums of money transferred to his brother were

      way beyond anything that his brother could pay back and that, as a result of that,

      his brother purchased lands such that the lands notionally held by his brother

      were, in fact, we would have said held for him. So if I could just take you to 144

      – sorry, starting at 143.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: And, in fact, you asked, didn’t you, at first instance

      to have those added back but the learned District Judge declined to do so?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Declined to do so.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: So in that respect, you did not get everything that

      you were asking for.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes. In fairness to the District Judge, we accepted that it

      were better that her judgment were, as I described it in my submissions, [bond]-

      proof, that she acceded to the submissions. This is the agreement with Peter

      Dragonas: “Enclosed herewith, it is H’s case that the copy of the 15th September

      1995 … is supplied as a true copy of the original document and the signatures

      appearing at the bottom are those of the various parties.” The sums involved

      equated to £210,000 on the dates that they were transferred. When we asked, the

      husband said that this money was paid back by his brother-

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: To him?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: -to him and at 41-44: “With regards to this agreement,

      please provide documentary evidence of the various payments totalling £70,000

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      made to Peter Dragonas. The Applicant does not have any documentary

      evidence.” Then if I could turn you to the second bundle at 467.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: 467?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: I think I may have taken you to a wrong – sorry, yes,

      these are the agreements with the brother for €35,000 – sorry, forgive me,

      35 million drachma and at 468 you will see 4 million drachma in 1982; in 1985

      20 million drachma; in 1988 11 million drachma.



      Then if you turn on to 473, you will see a translation of the document that

      precedes it showing that the brother then bought land and you will see the amount

      or the cost of the land was only 550,000 drachmas, which gives you an indication

      of the purchasing power of the Dragonas brothers in 1993, and you will see that

      he bought it in the name of his wife at 473. At 480 you will see that again it is

      bought in the name of his – sorry, Peter’s wife. When I say “his wife”, I do not

      mean Mr Dragonas’ wife. And if you turn on to 484, you will see that he buys –

      sorry, I took you to 483. At 487 he buys in the name of his son. On the other

      hand – sorry, this is in the name of his brother, the son of Pavlos and Penelope.

      At 491 he again buys in the name of his wife.



      So large sums went across and his brother, a major player in real estate, is buying

      up land left, right and centre. It is said that he paid back the debt by rebuilding

      the house. So we asked for receipts. We were provided with none. We

      demonstrated, in my submission, clearly that brother, sister, Mr Dragonas himself,

      all interplay between themselves and therefore the extent to which even now we

      have got to the heart of what Mr Dragonas’ true holdings on the island of

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      Zakynthos are is debatable because he did not present himself for cross-

      examination.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Well, there was a certificate of incapacity.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes, I accept that. I have asked you to read his replies

      and frequently in his replies he says this is a matter for cross-examination.

      Therefore the Judge could not make any findings on one of our central issues but,

      in my submission, the web that we have demonstrated was clear, but I accept it

      was entirely appropriate for her to make no findings without having heard

      evidence from Mr Dragonas. With regard to the issue of valuations, if I could ask

      you please to turn to page 233 of the first bundle-

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes, thank you.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: -this is obtained by a lawyer, as you can see at the top, on

      Zakynthos who has undertaken a search of the register and this demonstrates

      every piece of land registered in the husband’s name.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Is this the 2006?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: This is 2006. Then over the page at 234 is a search of the

      debts and again these are debts registered by the husband on his land. Ironically,

      the purpose of his doing so was in order to defeat American Express in his own

      bankruptcy and how ironic that it should be that which actually defeats his

      attempt to defeat his wife’s claim in these proceedings. But at 235 it is clear that

      in 2007 he amended those charges to enable him to sell the properties at Volimes.

      And we see over the page at 236 that the lawyer has put a PS, and the PS is: “I

      am aware he is selling for 140,000 and 125,000”.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Which plots were those?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: They are the Volimes plots.

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MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: They are the Volimes, that is 413 and 509.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: It is the plots that he complained bitterly how could they

      say 36,000 and 100,000.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: That shows how wrong they are he says. We say no, it

      shows how imperfect the process has been by reason of the fact that you would

      not engage with the valuer and assess with the valuer, so that we have an

      imperfect valuation but it is what we have. So we prefer to proceed on that which

      is within the realms of reality rather than continue to flap about in the dark.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: So I am clear, the note I have got, Mr Thorpe, about

      those two properties is that the husband originally valued them at 4,000 and

      6,000.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: That is correct.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: The joint valuer then had them in at 22,000.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: The joint valuer had them in at – that is correct, 22,000.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Then in April 2008 the husband had them on the

      market at a total of 265,000, which was 125 and 140.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: He had them advertised on the internet at 600,000.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: And the final joint valuation – sorry, the final

      valuation that the court adhered to-

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: -was 136.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: -was 136.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: It is 36 plus 100.

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MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Euros?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Euros.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: So have I got that right?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: That is correct, My Lady.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Okay.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: In relation to…

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Sorry, the internet advert?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Would you like me to take you to that?

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Please.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Sorry, forgive me…

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: No, sorry, it is my fault. I have taken it out.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: 455 – My Lady, at 455-

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: -you will see that: “Little [island spots] are set on a

      panoramic hillside facing the sea. The beach and fishing bay are less than 1 km

      away. Sea view all around from the plots. This is an ideal spot for a holiday

      home with the village and its shops just a couple of minutes away.” Could I

      pause there to read you what the joint valuer said about those plots?

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Was this the joint valuer that was replaced?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: That was replaced.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Right.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: “Regarding two abandoned, unexploited building plots in

      the same sparsely populated area in”…

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Sorry, what page is that?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Sorry, 268.

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MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Thank you.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: I was just going to read it to Your Ladyship.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: No, no, do. I was just putting it in for my notes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: “Regarding two abandoned, unexploited building plots in

      the same sparsely populated area in the remotest edge of the island, one hour

      drive from the town of Zakynthos on a road with constant turns and bends in the

      mountains which present no particular interested buyers. Furthermore, both the

      building plots are intersected in the middle by a private asphalt paved road, a fact

      which makes them even more [disdainable]. According to the contracts of

      purchase, the abovementioned building plots are nearly valueless at 22,000.”



      Mr Dragonas sings their praises. He says: “The plot area is 4,000 square metres,

      subdivided into smaller plots of 500 square metres, each being one-eighth of the

      plot. Four plots are now available for sale. Build density is 50 square metres for

      each plot, making a nice two-bedroomed villa with verandas all around. The

      price per plot is 29,000, including the building provision for your house. The

      price of construction of the building is approximately 69,000.” If you look to the

      right-hand side, you will see the contact details – [Yanis] website

      [www.aaronsinternational.com]. That is the company with the EFT private bank

      account which is registered to the husband’s address, which he says is his

      brother’s but into which he paid £60,000 of his money which he says was owed

      further back for a debt which he did not approve and did not appear in his Form E.



      I accept that the husband is taking the best possible price for the land in his

      internet advertisement because he is subdividing the plots up but what it

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      demonstrates clearly is that the valuers are wrong, that this is valuable land. It is

      overlooking the beach, it is a short ride from the local town and it is sought after.

      In relation to [Xylokastro], if I could turn you to 242 of bundle 1, My Lady.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: So which contract number is this one?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: [Xylokastro] is not one of the contracts because it is the

      mainland property.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Oh, I beg your pardon, of course it is.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: And you will see this is a valuation provided by the

      husband in May 2008, valuing it at €125,000.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: If you turn over the page – sorry, two pages to 244 you

      will see a real estate agency in Zakynthos – sorry, in [Xylokastro] has set out:

      “Following our phone conversation regarding the building plot located in the

      municipality of [Xylokastro] (reads off mic) … of your property and concerning

      … in 2007 to John Dragonas … amounted to €300,000 by a customer who is

      willing to pay in cash but this was considered too low a price and the sale was not

      integrated”. The Form E is dated 17th March ’08 and clearly that is a disclosable

      fact and clearly it was a suppressed fact.



      If, My Lady, I could then turn you on to 251 – just for your interest, you will see

      at 246 whilst we were trying to get him to agree valuations re the nomination of a

      valuer, at 246, rather than assist us by nominating one of the three we put to him

      as per the order, he was busy obtaining further valuations and this further

      valuation came in at between 69 and €95,000. The joint valuer, when it came in,

      is at 251 and nobody has challenged this valuation because we did not need to

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      because it was not on the Island of Zakynthos and you will see there he says the

      size of the plot is 422 and 152, making it 574. He says 400,000, not in demand,

      not easy to find. “We found this when we [searched] both parties and, taking into

      consideration the current economic crisis, please note that our office is currently

      undertaking the sale of a similar plot of land of 1,000 square metres belonging to

      Mr Skouras worth €1 million.”



      Complaint is made of the valuation obtained by the wife. The black-out is only

      that we black out her name. Nothing else is blacked out and we give a complete

      run of correspondence, which you will find at 321.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Sorry, I am just making a note, I beg your pardon-

      black-out?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: It is at 321, My Lady. In my submission, when reading

      through the correspondence, it is clear that this valuer has actually done a jolly

      good job because you see that we give her the contract numbers at the bottom of

      321. She replies at the top saying: “I will make arrangements this week with the

      notary that we cooperate in order to assess the objective values and together will

      provide you next week with both the objective and the market value. Realistically,

      spots of land can be difficult to find without them showing individual areas. It

      may, unfortunately, not be possible to get pictures.”



      Then at 323 you will see we chase a little and they say that there are problems in

      the Land Registry in Greece and so there has been a delay. At 325 the valuer says

      – we chased again and the valuer says: “Please could you provide me with the

      following: the full name of the owner; full name of owner’s mother; full name of

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owner’s father; notary who passed this information or to get the copies of the

contracts.” At 327 we chase again. The lady says that she – sorry, lady or man

says that she has been to the registration office to check the contracts (reads off

mic)… “in Greece the notaries and most offices stop work between 2 and 6.

Regarding the particulars (reads quickly off mic)… and hope to send it to you”.



At 328 she says: “Please find attached finally the valuations that you requested

on behalf of your client. Unfortunately, the contracts did not provide the

information of whether the properties were inside or outside town planning so we

will need to do a further search”… But the next paragraph: “We would be

obliged, as the island is relatively small, if during the proceedings if our company

name details, other than Zakynthos Real Estate, were not disclosed if not

necessary. We feel this may be best as the locals can be strange regarding

divorce proceedings, especially when it comes to claims against their property.”



Then at 333 they explain that, because it has taken more work, they will need an

extra €200 and that gives you an indication of the cost of the valuation: “In order

to provide further assistance and information, we must at this point … request the

payment as we wish to pay the … here for their work. Also, when we quoted

€200 fee – I know it says 200,000 but it is 200 – we were not aware that there

would be so many contracts or pieces of land and hence we have charged more

than had been predicated by the notary … so we hope you will appreciate … this

request for a further €100 should further information be required.”




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      At 336 there is: “I have dealt in part 1 and 2 with your email below. I sense from

      the conversation there was no evidence or information provided of the two

      properties no longer in your client’s ex-husband’s name. I will ask the notary

      and lawyer tomorrow if they can do a further search on these.” It is again

      indicative of the objective way in which they went about it. If you look to the

      final valuation at 340, those that are not in his name are 29544, that which the

      husband claims is not in his name, and 20698, sold or no longer in Mr Dragonas’

      name. If I could turn you to 358 in the second bundle, just in relation to 20698.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: 398?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Sorry, 358. If you look at number 3 on the list, this is

      another of Mr Dragonas’ valuations, again … in August when we were trying to

      agree the nomination of a valuer. At 3 he is providing us with a value for 20698.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: And indeed he is not suggesting today in front of me

      that he does (off mic)…

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: But the suggestion that our valuer was, as it were, eating

      out of our hand is undone by the fact that she is perfectly – he or she is perfectly

      upfront in saying ‘I don’t think he owns these two properties’. It is said that our

      valuation was way over the top. If you look at the bottom of 340, it is €836,000 –

      340. That is broadly in line – it is slightly less, in fact, but it is broadly in line

      with the Official Solicitor’s valuer.



      At 344 we ask for her to comment on the joint valuation. She had not yet seen – I

      keep on saying “she”. I do not know whether it is a he or she but what she says

      is: “I can see this agent is clearly and vastly” – this is the last line of the first

      paragraph – “understating the value of the land today in Zakynthos”. Then she

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      goes on to say: “Although the property may not have a full correct building

      licence, having only a licence for 56 of the 150 square metres, it seems slightly

      unlikely to be honest (off mic)… This is not unusual and the price of the

      properties is still, nonetheless, calculated on the full square metres and not only

      on the legal square metres. The illegality of not having the correct building

      licence may make a sale difficult but not less valuable and hence the seller can

      still at this stage apply for a building licence for the new extended square metres,

      if he wishes to make the whole property legally correct.”

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: So is the position then, Mr Thorpe, just so I am

      absolutely clear in my mind, that what had happened was that there is the joint –

      Mr [Kalamakis’] valuations which the wife felt will be contaminated.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: And she then went and unilaterally got the wiped out

      valuation-

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: -if I might call it that. The Official Solicitor then

      took the view – the Judge and the Official Solicitor together took the view that,

      because those were one-sided so to speak, there should be a final neutral

      valuation-

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Exactly.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: -which was the valuation that then came before the

      court.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Exactly, and that was a valuer chosen by the Official

      Solicitor. We also agreed to the – we agreed to that. We also agreed to it but it

      was proposed and agreed. They are a specific specialist body and you will see at

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      the front of their report they are the Hellenic Republic Body of Sworn-in Valuers

      because they are so bona fide that that is how they sell themselves.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: What page is that?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: That is at page 1. It is on the front page of every report.

      It is on the front page of every report.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: The reason I took you to our valuer is also to cost-

      reference with what the joint valuer says about the building. He says: “The

      abovementioned plot, a residence was built … according to licence” blah, blah,

      blah “of the Town Planning Department of Zakynthos. The building, according to

      the abovementioned licence, is 56 square metres but during my visit there I

      realised that more than 150 square metres were built. A great transgression of

      irregularity in the construction of the building renders it highly unmarketable due

      to the fact that the seller would have to be accountable to pull down the off-

      licensed extensions or legalise them by paying a very high fine.” And what our

      valuer says is (off mic)…



      When it came therefore to – sorry, My Lady, I have to look at my notes. When it

      came to the valuation by the official valuer, if I could turn you to page 392 of

      bundle 2 – I need to start at 393 in order for you to make sense of it.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Thank you.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: “Dearest Franklin, Regarding the valuations in

      Zakynthos, I would like to inform you that during the checking of the contracts

      and the rest of the information made available after visiting the areas (so they

      were visited) of where the properties are located, it was made clear that most of

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      the actual properties belonging to Mr Dragonas were not able to be located.”

      And my instructions are that attempts were made to contact Mr Dragonas but no

      contact was accepted. “In addition, we will not be able to provide you with

      information about changes and developments that have been made regarding the

      properties, such as buildings built after the contracts were signed, because the

      available information is not enough. This will be made clear in the valuation

      reports.”



      My instructing solicitor, over the page at 392, says: “Following our above

      conversations, we understand that you will be providing market values for the

      lands as per the details of the contracts provided but are not able to confirm

      whether or not any buildings, etc., have been added to the lands and what impact

      such alterations would have on the valuations. Obviously, any such building …

      would only increase the value.”



      My Lady, if I could turn you to – sorry, I need to look at my note – I think it is

      455, My Lady. I am just going to find it first to make sure. If I could turn you on

      to 460, you will see the building that the husband has built on his land and I think

      that is the best picture that I have of it.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Which contract number is that built on?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: That is built on 317-

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: -3174?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: 31174 and no account has been taken of that build. Self-

      evidently, the valuations are imperfect but, in my submission, the imperfection is

      actually to the husband’s advantage because he has not engaged and because the

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      valuer is so (off mic), she/he does not allow themselves to overset the mark and

      when we look to the valuations themselves, you will see in relation to [Tridado] –

      if you could turn to page 8, My Lady-

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: -you will see at the top of the page, in particular,

      announcements published in the newspaper and internet refer to a 5,000 square

      metre plot and you will see that going for €50 per square metre, a 1,000 square

      metre plot which sold for €50 per square metre and a 4,500 square metre plot

      which sold for €64 – 14 per square metre. And then if you look further down to

      the final valuation, that which has been used is the figure of €14 and €12 per

      square metre. Do you have that, My Lady?

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: I have seen it.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Based on this unit price – 14 square metres in relation to

      5145 and 12 square metres in relation to the 2177. In relation to – if you turn

      please, My Lady, to page 15, you will see the real estate market details, prices for

      plots within the settlement and on the (off mic)… vary from €70 to €100 per

      square metre depending on their special features. The prices [will integrate to] the

      building plots within the settlement with easy access or a view of the sea may

      reach prices exceeding €200 per square metre. In respect of the sale prices of

      plots (reads off mic)… vary from 20 to €80 per square metre. And then over the

      page you will see that she ascribes a value of €15 per square metre, way below

      that which her comparables suggest.



      If I could turn you to page 24, you will see that real estate market details, the

      valuer says: “The information accumulated (reads off mic)… systematic research

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of the local estate agents’ market leads us to the conclusion that the sale prices

for plots within the settlement and on the central road … vary from €70-100 per

square metre depending on their special features. The prices integrated in the

building plots within the settlement and with easy access or a view to the sea may

reach €200 per square metre.” And then a final valuation; this particular plot she

finds an appropriate valuation is €100 per square metre.



At 3174, at the top of the page – sorry, page 35, forgive me: “In particular,

pronouncements, approximate distance 3 km from the sea, offset … a six studio

apartment, view to sea, sold for €250,000, i.e. €50 per square metre. Plots 1,000

square metres within settlement … sold for €50,000, i.e. €50 per square metre and

plot 4,500 … sold for €65,000. We judge market real estate details – we judge the

suitable unit price … taking into account the details of real estate market and the

special features, is €50 per square metre for the property under details of area

762 and €35 per square metre for the property under details of area 4704. Based

on the above, we come to the following, €202,000.”



And finally the last two are Volimes but I am not going to take you to Volimes

because I do not, in my submission, need to because the husband’s own evidence

down to him on that in that he is selling it for a far higher price than the valuer has

valued the land.



But we come to the nub of his appeal, which is that the finding of the District

Judge was plainly wrong because he does not own two of the plots. This was an

issue that was raised by his counsel, Ms [Giz], at page 139. This is at B just

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above C: “There remains a question mark as to what it is that Mr Dragonas

actually owns and I do not mean that in the wider sense that Mr Thorpe will be

submitting in the senses that he will be submitting there are properties you do not

yet know about.” My Lady, forgive me, it is indicative of the camouflage of

deception that was raised by the husband but here we are at final hearing and his

own counsel says we do not actually know what he owns.



Then she goes on to say: “I mean in terms of the properties we do know that he

has owned, for example the wife’s valuation previously … two of those contract

numbers were no longer actually in Mr Dragonas’ name. There seems to be

support for that in the translation that has been provided by the employee. This is

referred to in my position statement. Looking through those, Madam, first of all,

the 260,000 – I am not taking that in order (reads off mic)… first of all, contract

29544, there is at the second page the translation the Official Solicitor has

provided” And the District Judge says “29544, yes, it is the one on €280,000 on

the front sheet.”



Ms [Giz] makes her submissions in relation to that and then in relation to 3234 –

sorry, 33234 at page 140, the District Judge says at G: “[unclear] except that in

1988, was it, did not Mr Dragonas purport to charge both those properties? It

looks like … that that is what has happened. So how could he have divested

himself of that if he is calling a charge against it? It does not seem to make sense,

does it?”




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      Now Mr Dragonas made submissions to you that the registry would not state that

      those charges are there. I have taken you to the lawyer. I am not going to take

      you back to the lawyer but he clearly says they are there, but also each of the

      valuations obtained by the valuer, the OS’ valuer, also records the fact that they

      are there. What he says is ‘I transferred 29544 into the name of my nephews in a

      land swap’. My instructions are that in 1991 his nephews would have been ten

      years old. But our whole case was whether it had been Mr Dragonas,

      Mr Alexander Dragonas, Mr Peter Dragonas – I am afraid I do not know his

      sister’s name, but his sister as well – they are all used as a camouflage for the

      truth for their various reasons, whether it be AmEx or whether it be my client, and

      that that is a proven methodology of behaviour that the husband accepts he

      undertook in relation to AmEx and we say it was self-evident.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: That the husband accepted that…

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: I will take you to where he does that in his replies. It is at

      145 of the first bundle; page 145, it is question 69: “During the bankruptcy

      proceedings issued against the Applicant by American Express … the Applicant

      declared his United Kingdom assets to be 7,000. Please explain the basis of this

      calculation. The Applicant cannot remember what was declared or how it was

      calculated and the Applicant does not seem to have any paperwork in relation to

      the bankruptcy. What sanctions were taken against the Applicant when it was

      discovered that he failed to disclose his Greek assets as required during the

      bankruptcy proceedings? The Applicant was asked to pay a further £30,000.”

      Had the mortgages not been there, no doubt American Express would have asked

      for the entirety of the sum owing.



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MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: But, of course, these were not real mortgages, were

      they? They were the ability to draw down and it is accepted by the husband that

      nothing was ever drawn down.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Nothing was ever drawn down. They are a ruse. My

      Lady, in relation to the Civil Aviation-

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: -if I could – sorry, if I could take you to bundle 1 and ask

      you to turn please to page 149 of that bundle, this is question 82: “Please provide

      a narrative plan supported by documentary evidence, including the outcome, of

      all litigation, pending litigation, the Applicant has been involved in since the

      1st March 2003. No pending litigation. However, the Applicant has started

      ancillary relief proceedings in Greece after receiving advice from a lawyer in

      Greece and the hearing is on the 2nd February.”



      This document is dated the 12th day of June 2008. The husband’s appeal was

      submitted in March 2007 and that appeal is very informative because what it

      reveals is that the husband is saying ‘you have used the tax value’, the very value

      that he had impressed upon this court and indeed continues to impress upon this

      court as being the appropriate value, whereas the real value is €350,000 but that is

      for 2,000 square metres. I believe it is in Volimes as well. I may be wrong about

      that but my recollection of that – I will take you to the valuation so I can see if I

      am right about that. It is 3234 (off mic)… In any event, it gives a very clear

      indication of the husband’s own view of what he thinks the land is worth on the

      Island of Zakynthos.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: The valuation is 260 and he says it is worth 350.

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MR ALEXANDER THORPE: It also demonstrates that he had an action – it shows an

      action which he hoped was going to produce a very large sum of money and that

      he was under a duty to disclose. Not only does he not disclose it in his Form E,

      but when it comes to our asking a specific question about it, he denies that there is

      any such action. And what he now says to this court is ‘I have just discovered in

      the back end of 2009, well I have lost my case and I will now have to transfer the

      land from my name into that of the Civil Aviation Authority and, in light of that,

      there has been some terrible error because you have taken account of a piece of

      land that was shown to be in my name in the Land Registry (we will accept that it

      was) and that the valuers had found it but you did not know that, in fact, I had

      faced a compulsory purchase order; I was appealing against it and the reason it

      was still in my name was because of my appeal and that in my appeal I sought

      €350,000. So undo this injustice.’ My Lady, the law is clear. I have given you –

      before I go to the law, I am going to deal with the Judge’s judgment if I may. My

      Lady, I will not be much longer.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: No, it is just that do you want to resume at 2?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: No, I was going to suggest I carry on for 10 minutes.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Is that alright?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: My Lady, the judgment is at page 156.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: And there the Judge says, paragraph 23: “However,

      there are two properties in which there is a remaining issue. Those are a plot of

      land at Volimes of 542 square metres, valued at €100,000, and the register

      appears to show that what is referred to as a virtual transfer” – in fact, that is not

      one of them. It was raised by Ms Gill – Ms [Giz], forgive me – but, in fact, I

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      demonstrated the husband was showing himself as owning it but, in fact, Ms [Giz]

      did raise both properties even though the Judge has only actually referred to two

      of them, which is why I say it becomes a little confusing as to what is argued.



      Then contract number 92954 for the land at Kalipadhon valued at €280,000 refers

      to an exchange of other land in 1992. If I can pause there, the reason why the

      Judge only focused on those two is because those are the only two that were

      raised by our valuer. On the face of the documents, it was clear that the Civil

      Aviation Authority land, namely contract 33234, was in his name.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: So was the Judge plainly wrong to focus on the two that

      seemed to be objectively there may be an issue about? And, in my submission,

      she was not objectively wrong because the valuation showed that it was in his

      name. He never at any point had said ‘that is not my land’. He only raises it in

      submissions. He does not raise the fact of the Civil Aviation Authority in

      submissions and it is all because he is keeping a very big secret, and the very big

      secret is about his appeal. And what the Judge had to go on was what was before

      her, and that was good valuation evidence showing that he did own that property.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: We now do know about Civil Aviation, which, as

      you know, this is the property that I am bothered about.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: And I am bothered about it.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Okay. I am sorry, forgive my, My Lady, can I address

      you on that when I come to them all?

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

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MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Because at this stage I am just going to deal with how the

      Judge approached her decision.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Well, I mean I quite accept that it showed it to be in

      his name. He was not saying it was not in his name. He did not flag up the

      litigation. In fact, he denied there was any litigation. So how could the Judge be

      said to have got it wrong? All the evidence was not just one way; it would seem

      to be agreed evidence and [there was a] valuation.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Yes.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: I perfectly accept that.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: She goes on to say: “In respect of both these properties,

      I note that the joint valuation carried out by Mr {Kalamakis] in 2008 with the

      cooperation of the husband’s brother includes both these properties without any

      comment on ownership. It appears to be the case that a charge registered by

      Mr Dragonas in 2006” – and for that you should read 1999. I think where the

      2006 may have come in is that it was in 2007 that he amended his charges and the

      District Judge would have been taken to that amendment of the charges, as I have

      taken you to it, My Lady. (Continues): “against all the Zakynthos properties held

      in his name, is still registered against these two pieces of land”. And to that you

      can add the Civil Aviation Authority land as well because it was also that charges

      were registered against the Civil Aviation Authority land.



      At paragraph 25 she says: “Having considered the valuation evidence and the

      representations made by Ms [Giz], I am satisfied that, although it is unfortunate

      that no full translation is available, I can rely on these valuations and further that

      I should find that all these properties are registered in the husband’s name or

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      remain under his control.” If I can pause there, I include in that 29544 which was

      transferred to his infant nephews at that time. That is supported by the way of the

      Dragonas [leaching] across UK assets which were transferred into their name as

      well as the history of money going across to the Dragonas to effect land

      purchases…



      The decision for you therefore, My Lady, is: was the Judge plainly wrong to have

      come to that conclusion? In light of her finding that the husband was clearly non-

      disclosing – this is at paragraph 33: “I have been asked to find that there has

      been non-disclosure of assets on the part of the husband in this case. Looking at

      the totality of the evidence and the history of this matter since divorce

      proceedings have begun, I have no difficulty in doing so.”

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Sorry, what paragraph?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Sorry, paragraph 33.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Thank you.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: And at the end of the paragraph she goes on to say: “It is

      also clear from the evidence before me that he has transferred assets out of the

      jurisdiction of this court.” Therefore, when faced the argument put forward by

      Ms [Giz] that the contracts do not appear to be in his name, the District Judge said

      well, hang on a minute, he is still using those to provide security for mortgages

      well after the dates of transfer and that is an insight into his mind. It shows how

      he regarded properties and he regarded them as his, otherwise he would have (off

      mic)… and that applies, as I said, to the Civil Aviation Authority land. In relation

      to the law, I have provided you wish a copy of Baker v Baker, which is old but

      [unclear] law, as it were. This in my-

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MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: -in your bundle.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: -in my bundle. I am actually going to take you to my

      note because my note gives you the quotes that I wish to refer you to. If I could

      turn you to paragraph 34 of my note – sorry, it should be paginated but it is not.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Particular problems arise in cases – I have put Butler v

      Butler but that is an error. It is Baker v Baker.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: I was just slightly – thinking I was unfamiliar with

      it…

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: “Particular problems arise in cases where one party has

      deliberately failed or refused to provide the material facts and has concealed

      from the other party and the court his true financial position. In such a case, J v

      J, Sacks J said: ‘In cases of this kind, where the duty of disclosure comes to lie

      upon the husband where a husband has and his wife has not detailed knowledge

      of his complex affairs, where a husband is fully capable of explaining and has the

      opportunity to explain those affairs and where he seeks to minimise the wife’s

      claim, the husband can hardly complain if, when he leaves gaps in the court’s

      knowledge, the court does not draw inferences in his favour. On the contrary,

      when he leaves gaps in such an extent that two alternative inferences may be

      drawn, the court will normally draw the less favourable inference, especially

      where it seems that his able legal advisors would have hastened to put forward

      affirmatively any facts had they existed, establishing the more favourable

      alternative.”




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      And at 229: “It is as well to state expressly which underlies the procedures by

      which husbands are required in such proceedings to disclose their means to the

      court. Whether that disclosure is by affidavit of facts, by affidavit of documents or

      by evidence on oath, not least when that evidence is led by those representing the

      husband, the obligation of the husband is to be full, frank and clear in his

      disclosure. Any shortcomings of the husband from the requisite standard can and

      normally should be visited at least by the court drawing inferences against the

      husband on matters that are the subject of the shortcomings, insofar as such

      inferences can be properly drawn. Those passages set out the principles … upon

      which the courts have for over 40 years approached cases in which a spouse, not

      nowadays necessarily the husband, has been found to have lied and to have been

      guilty of material non-disclosure of relevant financial information in an ancillary

      relief application by the other spouse. In many decisions, reported and

      unreported, judges and district judges have applied those principles and drawn,

      where appropriate, adverse inferences.”



      My Lady, because of the Civil Aviation Authority point, I have not brought a case

      but there is a case in which a husband was facing an investigation by the tax

      authorities and the court took account of that and he came back at a later date and

      said ‘hang on a minute, it has all gone wrong for me with the investigation by the

      tax authorities’. I can bring it to you after lunch and, indeed, I can get my clerks

      to email it to you.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: That would be good.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: I will obviously provide it to my learned friend. The

      investigation by the tax authorities has gone complete pear-shaped. I am now

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      faced with a far larger bill and that is entirely unfair. And what the court said was

      hang on a minute, it was all in your hands. This was an investigation into your

      affairs. You could have ensured that they were properly informed so that you

      knew what the potential liability was. Instead, what you have done is to obfuscate

      so that the cause of this is you. So now we will not re-open this.



      In my submission, the husband falls exactly into that category of case. His case is

      effectively ‘I know I lied and I did not tell you the truth but it has all gone pear-

      shaped and so, in light of that, would you re-open this case and would you take

      account of the facts as I now choose to present them to you?’ In my submission,

      he says that his final appeal has been refused but you would not have known

      about the appeal if we had not done our research and we have – if I can hand – I

      am not sure if my learned friend has these because they are additions to the

      bundle but it is later correspondence. Mr Dragonas would have seen it and I

      appreciate that my learned friend will not have. My Lady, if I can ask for that to

      be added at the end of your bundle 2?

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: This is to my Civil Aviation bundle bit?

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: This is – it goes to the back of your bundle 2. It is further

      correspondence after the bundles were submitted.

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: Yes, thank you.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: And at 823 we say halfway down the page: (reads

      quickly off mic)… It is not he who tells you of the appeal; it is my client finding

      the papers in the loft. That is how – when he raised the Civil Aviation Authority

      letter, she went into her loft to see what she could find and that is what she found.

      But we still do not actually know that the appeal has failed or at which level of

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      court or, indeed, whether the husband is intent on taking the matter to Europe,

      which is, of course, his final call of appeal.



      So, My Lady, I shall provide the case to which I have referred you to the facts but

      not the authority. In my submission, it is not acceptable in this court to say on

      appeal ‘I have misled the court and my deceit has now turned round and caused

      an injustice to me’. I am afraid, if you are prepared to be deceitful with this court,

      this court will say to you in rather more intelligent language ‘if you live by the

      sword, you die by the sword’, and that is what Mr Dragonas faces but only in

      relation to Civil Aviation Authority land. In relation to 29544 the Judge was fully

      entitled to come to the conclusion she did in light of the fact that it was (off mic)…



      My Lady, if there is something I have not addressed you on and you would like

      me to?

MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING: No. I have got your … note, which I have read and

      will read again.

MR ALEXANDER THORPE: Thank you very much, My Lady.



                                            ***




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                                   JUDGMENT



MRS JUSTICE ELEANOR KING:

     1.   This is an extempore judgment in an appeal by the husband against an

          Order made by District Judge Aitken on the 9th October 2009 in relation to

          ancillary relief proceedings following the breakdown of his marriage with

          the wife. The Order that was made by the learned District Judge provided,

          inter alia:



          (i)     that the wife retains the former matrimonial home at 297 Cannon

                  Hill Lane in London and it is recorded that the husband had no

                  legal or beneficial interest in that property;



          (ii)    that the husband should retain various properties situated in Greece

                  and similarly that that the wife would have no legal or beneficial

                  interest in those properties;



          (iii)   that the husband should pay to the wife a capitalised maintenance

                  fund of £600,000, such sum to be paid by the 20th November 2009;



          (iv)    for there to be a pension sharing order of the modest pension;



          (v)     the husband was to pay 80% of the wife’s costs up until a date in

                  February 2009.



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2.   The husband subsequently filed a Notice of Appeal out of time. The

     complaints he raised are essentially two-fold:



     (i)     that the valuation evidence relied upon by the court included two

             pieces of land which the husband did not own and therefore should

             not have been included in any schedule of assets for subsequent

             division; and



     (ii)    that the valuation evidence itself was flawed and gave grossly

             inflated values of the properties.



The Law

3.   The law governing appeal is well-established and uncontroversial. This is

     not a retrial. In the well-known case of G v G [1985] 1 WLR 647, the

     House of Lords rehearsed the whole of the law relating to appeals. That

     portion of their judgments which is quoted and regarded as the law on this

     says as follows:



            “It is only where the decision exceeds the generous ambit within

            which reasonable disagreement is possible and is, in fact, plainly

            wrong that an appellate body is entitled to interfere.”



4.   I bear that in mind when I consider this appeal. The court has also

     considered the well-known case of Ladd v Marshall during the course of

     submissions in considering issues of fresh evidence.

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5.   During the course of the hearing the husband has represented himself as a

     litigant in person. Circumstances have been somewhat unusual in that

     counsel, Ms Poppet, was instructed at a very late stage and at a time when

     all parties were agreed it would have been wholly impossible for her to

     have been able to master the extensive papers prior to the start of the

     hearing.



6.   I am extremely grateful to her, as I am sure the Appellant is, that she

     agreed to stay in court and has for the last two days provided the husband

     with invaluable assistance as to the law and the management of the various

     documents. The court would like to express its gratitude to her, given

     what must have been the difficult position she found herself in and the

     professional and competent way in which she has dealt with the matter.



Background

7.   The parties were married in 1987 and they have one daughter born in

     1997. The parties are both I think now 54 years of age. (I suspect they

     have birthdays since the hearing). Both parties are Greek although they

     have lived in the United Kingdom for most, if not all, of their married life.



8.   The husband comes from a close-knit family from the Island of Zakynthos

     in Greece. It is apparent that he, his brother and sister have been involved

     separately and together in numerous property transactions on that island



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      over the years and that they are important and integrated members of the

      island community.



9.    In 1999 the husband was made bankrupt by American Express. The

      husband came to a settlement with them on the basis of fraudulent

      disclosure in that he did not disclose his Greek properties. American

      Express subsequently discovered this to be the case and undertook

      significant enquiries in Greece. What they discovered was that the

      properties, which they now knew were owned by the husband, were

      heavily charged. In truth, these charges were in favour of family and

      friends and were, it is now accepted by the husband, a sham as in relation

      to none of the charges on any of the properties had the sums allegedly

      charged, in fact, been drawn down. American Express, on the basis of this

      sham, settled their action against the husband on an additional payment by

      him of some £30,000.



10.   The wife issued a divorce petition in September 2006 and a decree nisi

      was pronounced on the 19th March 2007. On the 27th April 2007 the

      husband applied for the decree nisi to be set aside on the basis that, despite

      having lived in the United Kingdom for over 25 years, he did not

      understand the proceedings. That application was dismissed with costs.



11.   Progress in the ancillary relief litigation was tortuous despite the fact that

      it was the husband who had issued the Form A and therefore was pursuing

      the application. There were hearings where the husband failed to attend

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      and he did not comply with court orders. Despite having issued these

      proceedings, some four months later after he had launched ancillary relief

      proceedings in the United Kingdom, the husband issued similar

      proceedings in Greece.



12.   The matter finally came on for a first appointment on the 20th June 2008.

      That marked the start of the court’s attempts to obtain satisfactory

      valuation in respect of the following property:



      (i)     the matrimonial home;



      (ii)    land near Corinth which had formerly been in the wife’s family;

              and



      (iii)   a number of properties and pieces of land on the Island of

              Zakynthos.



13.   By December 2008 the husband’s then counsel was having difficulty in

      obtaining instructions from the husband. There arose an issue as to

      husband’s capacity and the possibility of his being represented by the

      Official Solicitor. On the 4th February 2009 a Certificate of Capacity was

      received. It seems, from looking at the medical reports that are in the

      bundles put before me today, that the husband suffered from serious and

      chronic depression and this manifested itself in no doubt the well-

      recognised ways but he had, in particular, difficulties in concentration.

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      His medical advisors in Greece did not feel it appropriate for him to take

      part in the proceedings.



14.   In June 2009 the Official Solicitor consented to act but, fortunately for the

      husband, the Official Solicitor continued to instruct the same solicitor and

      so he had the benefit of continuity of representation.



15.   The judgment of District Judge Aitken sets out in summary form the

      considerable difficulties which arose in obtaining the valuations. I have

      been taken through documents contained in four leverarch files over the

      course of two days dealing with issues of valuation. This is an appeal I

      remind myself and not a rehearing, and it is neither necessary nor

      appropriate therefore for me to rehearse in detail the difficulties

      encountered in obtaining valuations, although I will use one or two

      examples when considering the husband’s submissions.



16.   What is clear is that the Official Solicitor, on behalf of the husband, very

      properly made an application for fresh valuations by independent valuers

      from Athens. In my judgment, the District Judge was plainly right in

      allowing such an application. The husband’s complaint therefore can be

      distilled as follows:



      (i)     The valuations were not translated in their entirety, having been

              written and delivered in Greek. Had they been so, he says, the



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              District Judge would have appreciated their inadequacies and

              would not have relied upon them.



      (ii)    Two plots of land are not owned by the husband and should not be

              in the schedule of assets.



The Valuations

17.   Valuations have their limitations. It was undoubtedly unfortunate they

      were not translated in full but only the crucial first page and in one case I

      think two pages. The fact remains, however, that, whilst the husband had

      paid promptly and in full for his legal representation up until the time the

      Official Solicitor took over his representation, thereafter his family and/or

      he declined to pay the Official Solicitor.



18.   The wife therefore, in order to get the matter on, was driven to having to

      pay the Official Solicitor herself. Not surprisingly therefore, given the

      husband’s conduct in relation to the valuation evidence to date, a view was

      taken that it was not a proportionate approach to require the whole of these

      lengthy valuations to be translated from Greek.



19.   The husband has raised a number of points when looking at the complete

      translations that are now available to all the parties:




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(i)   The restrictions noted in each of the valuations

      Each of the valuations of the property contains the following

      restriction: “The autopsy was implemented on 21/09/2009 and

      restricted on the definition and the study of the real estate’s direct

      area because the detection of the specific real estate was not

      plausible based on the existing available details at that time. We

      consider that the non-exact detection of the specific real estate

      does not affect the rating of the valuated real estate.”



      The husband, in my view brought this on himself. He had been in

      continuous breach of court orders which required him to provide

      the full address of the land which had to be valued and the order

      for valuation made by the District Judge specifically allowed a

      representative of each party to be present. Indeed, when joint

      valuations had been undertaken at an earlier stage in the

      proceedings, the husband’s brother had shown the valuer around

      all the properties and, indeed, was praised by the valuer for his

      assistance and the generosity of his behaviour. Indeed, the brother

      was showing the valuer, in addition, properties the husband now

      says he does not own.



      Whilst the husband did not have the capacity to litigate at the time

      of the hearing, there was no suggestion that he was not capable of

      making such an arrangement, in other words of asking his brother

      one more time to show a valuer around the land. Counsel had very

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       clear instructions as to the disposal of the case, which she put

       before the court at first instance.



       The husband submitted to me today that some effort should have

       been made by the valuers: they should have knocked on doors; it

       was only a small village; and any enquiries could have rapidly led

       them to a clearer picture of what pieces of land were specifically to

       be valued. It is not for the valuer to go trying to identify land and,

       as I have already indicated, it was in the husband’s own hands. It

       would have been a matter of moments for him to have been clear

       right from the beginning of this litigation in identifying precisely

       what land the court had to deal with.



(ii)   The husband’s next complaint about the valuations is that again, in

       respect of each of these properties, the valuation to the valuer’s

       note quotes: “The [finding] in Greece and comparative details by

       the informative (off mic)…



       Mr Thorpe, on behalf of the wife, does draw my attention to the

       fact that an analysis of research of the local real estate market was

       undertaken by the valuers, including references to the newspapers

       and the internet, to assist the valuers in placing a value on the

       properties concerned.




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      (iii)   The Actual Values

              The values used are low in each case. This was analysed by

              Mr Thorpe, who showed me in relation to each of the properties

              how, by looking at the information available to the valuer in

              newspapers, the internet and local knowledge, that in each case the

              valuer had gone to the lower end of an assessment of what was an

              appropriate value per square metre of the properties in hand.



20.   It should be noted also that the valuations do not include any value for the

      buildings which may be on the land and it therefore excludes, for example,

      consideration of the husband’s most attractive villa, a photograph of which

      appears in the papers before me. That is not to say that I do not accept that

      these valuations have their limitations but they were the best that could be

      achieved after many attempts and a considerable amount of money having

      been spent in circumstances where the court had met with nothing but

      obstruction from the husband and his family.



21.   Turning then to the two plots of land which the husband says the court

      should not have been included in the schedule of assets:



      (i)     Plot 29554, property at Trago

              The husband says that he no longer owns this property. The

              valuation (now translated in full) shows that the property appears

              to have been exchanged with another property and the land at

              Trago put into the name of his infant nephews. Even though the

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valuation was not fully translated at the hearing, the learned Judge

was well aware of that contention. He was, unsurprisingly,

considerably occupied during the course of submissions by the fact

that the husband had charged this property years after he was

supposed to have disposed of it and that those charges were still to

be seen as recently as 2008. It is hard to see, therefore, how the

learned Judge could have come to any other conclusion than that

which she did, namely that the property remained under the control

of the husband and, accordingly, included it in the schedule of

assets.



The husband asked me to adjourn this part of the appeal as he told

me that he could obtain a document showing that the charge had

now been removed as it should never have been on the property as

he did not, in fact, own it. I did not allow the application. The

husband has had since October 2009 to obtain such information

and to disclose it to the other side and has known since an order as

long ago as February 2010 that any applications to adduce the

evidence will be considered by the court today. In any event, it is

hard to see how such a document could, in fact, assist this court.

The husband has already been shown to put ‘sham’ charges on

properties when it suits his purposes and, equally, in 2007 he had

no difficulty in removing charges from two properties that he

wished to put on the market.



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(ii)   Contract 33234 [Limionas]

       The other property which the husband says that he does not own is

       contract 33234/11. This is a piece of land which he tells the court

       was the subject of a compulsory purchase in 2000. It remains,

       however, in his name. He does not deny that this is the case. It is

       not his he says and he has a document to prove it. I therefore was

       most concerned about this and under the rule in Ladd v Marshall

       and with the acquiescence of Mr Thorpe, who very properly did

       not oppose the application, I allowed the husband to adduce the

       document. I also allowed the wife to produce a document which

       Mr Thorpe told me would counter the document that was to be

       produced by the husband.



       It is necessary to consider a little of the background in order to

       understand the importance of these two documents. In a reply to

       the questionnaire filed in the ancillary relief proceedings and dated

       the 9th October 2008, the husband was asked to provide details of

       all litigation and pending litigation in which he had been involved

       since the 1st March 2003. The reply was unequivocally there was

       no pending litigation although, he told the court, he had started

       divorce proceedings in Greece in 2007. The document (disclosed

       by the husband under the rule in Ladd v Marshall for this appeal)

       is dated the 23rd December 2009 and is a request for the transfer of

       the property in the light of the property having been “expropriated



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and compensated in accordance with the decision of the Appeal

Court of Patras in 2000”.



What the husband did not disclose, and the court would have been

unaware of had it not been for the wife’s diligence, was that in

March 2009 the husband had in fact launched an appeal against the

level of compensation, i.e. not only was it not disclosed to this

court but had not been disclosed in response to a specific question

in the questionnaire. In that appeal the husband argues that, rather

than the €33,401 he received as compensation for the land when it

was appropriated (on the basis of it having been agricultural land

only), he should have received some €370,996 because the land

was valuable building land. It is worthy of note that the valuation

to which I have already referred and which the husband suggests is

grossly inflated was, in fact, for €260,000, some €110,000 less

than the husband would appear now to value the property.



Mr Thorpe submits that the court has no evidence before it that the

appeal launched in 2007 has been dismissed as the husband

suggests. The husband now says that his appeal has been

dismissed by the Supreme Court in Athens. No documentary

evidence has been produced to this court to show that the appeal

has been dealt with at all, let alone dismissed.




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In effect, Mr Thorpe says the husband has gambled and lost. He

failed to disclose the land in his Form E, he denied the litigation in

his questionnaire and he has now lost his case. For the first time,

he says the land should be excluded even though it is in his name

and he subjected it to a charge a considerable period of time after

he says it was appropriated by the airport.



The question is was the Judge plainly wrong in concluding on the

evidence before her that the husband owned or controlled that

land? Clearly, she was not. The question is therefore, in the

circumstances where the court would not even have known about

the appeal had the wife not done her research and the husband has

absolutely no evidence that the appeal was dismissed, should this

court now succumb to the blandishments of the husband that,

although he lied throughout about this property, it has all now gone

wrong and would the court please discount it?



The learned Judge found at paragraph 33 of her judgment:

   “I have been asked to find that there has been non-disclosure

   of assets on the part of the husband in this case and, looking at

   the totality of the evidence and the history of this matter since

   divorce proceedings were begun in 2006, I have no difficulty in

   doing so. The husband’s disclosure has fallen woefully short

   of the obligation to be full, frank and clear. Whether this

   should have a significant effect on the assets available for

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                 distribution is, of course, a different question but it is clear that

                 the proceedings have been unnecessarily prolonged by the

                 position taken by Mr Dragonas. In saying this, I give due

                 consideration to the report from his psychiatrist that he may

                 have been suffering to some degree from depression. It is also

                 clear from the evidence before me that he has transferred

                 assets out of the jurisdiction of this court.”



             At paragraph 25 she said:

                 “Having considered the valuation evidence and the

                 representations made by Ms [Giz], I am satisfied that although

                 it is unfortunate that no full translation is available, I can rely

                 on those valuations and further that I should find that all these

                 properties are registered in the husband’s name or remain

                 under his control. I bear in mind the husband’s clear

                 incapacity as certified by a psychiatrist since the 4th February

                 but it appears to me that any blame for the difficulty in

                 establishing the true extent of these interests prior to that date

                 must lie with him and his non-compliance with the orders of

                 the court. He had been asked to provide details of the

                 properties with full addresses. He had then been ordered to do

                 so and had not complied with those orders.”



22.   This court is in no better position than DJ Aitken to know the true extent

      and value of the husband’s land and properties. The husband has

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      recovered capacity and has represented himself most skilfully with the

      very able assistance of Ms Poppet over the last two days. He has had ten

      months to produce evidence. He has, in fact, produced reams of

      documents but on the two key issues he has failed to produce any evidence

      which would establish his case and might, in certain circumstances, have

      led the court to go behind the Judge’s Order even though she was not

      plainly wrong.



23.   In my judgment, if ever a case merited a rehearsal of the judgment in the

      case of Baker v Baker, it is this. I quote from Baker v Baker [1995] 2 FLR

      829 at 832 per Butler-Sloss LJ:



           “Particular problems arise in cases where one party has

           deliberately failed or refused to provide the material facts and has

           concealed from the other party and the court his true financial

           position. In such a case J v J [1995] P 215 Sacks J said at page

           227: ‘In cases of this kind where the duty of disclosure comes to lie

           upon the husband where husband has and his wife has not detailed

           knowledge of his complex affairs, where a husband is fully capable

           of explaining and has the opportunity to explain those affairs and

           where he seeks to minimise the wife’s claim, that husband can hardly

           complain if, when he leaves gaps in the court’s knowledge, the court

           does not draw inferences in his favour. On the contrary, when he

           leaves a gap in such a state that two alternative inferences may be

           drawn, the court would normally draw the less favourable inference,

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especially where it seems likely that his able legal advisors would

hasten to put forward affirmatively any facts had they existed,

establishing a more favour alternative’.



And at page 229: ‘It is as well to state expressly something which

underlines the procedure by which husbands are required in such

proceedings to disclose their means to the court. Whether that

disclosure is by affidavits of facts, by affidavits of documents or by

affidavits on oath, not least when the evidence is led by those

representing the husband, the obligation of the husband is to be full,

frank and clear in that disclosure. Any shortcomings of the husband

from the requisite standard can and normally should be visited at

least by the court drawing inferences against the husband on matters

the subject of the shortcomings insofar as such inferences can be

properly drawn’.



Those passages set out the principles upon which the courts have for

over 40 years approached the cases in which a spouse, not

nowadays necessarily a husband, has been found to have lied and to

have been guilty of material non-disclosure of relevant financial

information in an ancillary relief application by the other spouse. In

many decisions, reported and unreported, judges and district judges

have applied those principles and drawn, where appropriate,

adverse inferences from the deliberate failure of a party to give the



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             court an accurate and complete picture of his true financial

             position.”



24.   If I needed any support in my conclusion that the court did not fall into

      error in this respect, I need to consider only two examples of the

      husband’s approach to the litigation and valuation in particular:



      (i)     The land near Corinth on the Greek Mainland

              This was a property owned by the wife’s father and which had

              been transferred to the husband in 1994, I presume as part of a

              marriage settlement. In his Form E dated the 18th March 2008 the

              husband valued this property at €125,000 (that is £86,700).

              Pursuant to a Court Order dated the 2nd October 2008 a valuation

              was obtained on the joint instructions whereby it was valued at

              €400,000. That is a valuation which has not been challenged. In

              fact, the husband undoubtedly knew when he filed his Form E that

              the valuation he had put forward in that document was a gross

              under-valuation as it transpired that in 2007 the husband had been

              offered €300,000 cash for the property and had (unsurprisingly, in

              the light of the joint valuation) turned it down as too low.



      (ii)    A second example is the properties at Volimes

              These are two properties which the husband initially valued at

              some €4,000 and €6,000 respectively. The joint valuer was shown

              around these properties by the husband’s brother. They were

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subsequently described as follows: “Regarding two abandoned,

unexploited building plots in the same sparsely populated area in

the remotest edge of the island; one hour drive from the town of

Zakynthos on a road with constant turns and bends in the

mountain which present no particular interest to buyers.

Furthermore, both of the building plots are intersected in the

middle by a private asphalt paved road, a fact which made them

even more disdainable according to the contracts of purchase of

the abovementioned building plots.” It comes as no surprise that

such unattractive properties were valued at €22,000.



However, in April 2008 it was discovered that the husband had

them on the market for respectively €125,000 and €140,000, a

matter which only came to the wife’s attention through the attorney

who was commissioned to make enquiries about charges which

were held on the properties.



The matter goes further than that, however, because it has

subsequently discovered that the husband, through various family

members, has subsequently sought to sell these properties at what

would be a total of some €600,000. What is interesting is the way

that the same properties are now described: “The plots are set on

a panoramic hillside facing the sea. The beach and the fishing bay

are less than a kilometre away. Sea views all around from the

plots. This is an ideal spot for a holiday home with the village and

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             its shops just a couple of minutes away. Zakynthos airport and

             Zakynthos town are approximately 30 minutes drive with

             approximately 100 weekly flights from all UK airports”, etcetera.



25.   Perhaps the most unusual feature of this case is that the husband was

      incapacitated at the time of the trial and represented by the Official

      Solicitor. I have thought carefully about that and as to how, if at all, that

      should affect the appeal. The court must always bear in mind when

      someone is suffering from mental health problems, no matter how

      transient. I have concluded, however, that in the particular circumstances

      of this case it has no effect and I agree with the analysis of the learned

      District Judge that the issues of litigation misconduct all took place at a

      time when the husband had capacity.



26.   I am also satisfied that he has had capacity for many months and that he

      was in a position to be frank with this court and to produce pertinent

      evidence. Indeed, he put together a substantial bundle for consideration of

      the wife. Other than that, the court was faced with behaviour very similar

      to that which had been observed throughout the proceedings in the manner

      in which he produced evidence in relation to the land which he says has

      been subject to compulsory purchase and his failure to make full and

      proper disclosure of all relevant documents that would have given the

      court a true and accurate picture of that piece of land.




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27.   In all the circumstances therefore, I am satisfied that the learned Judge

      was not plainly wrong to take into account the value of those two pieces of

      land. I am satisfied that she was not plainly wrong in using the valuations

      in the manner that she did. Having admitted the evidence under Ladd v

      Marshall, I have considered carefully whether or not I should interfere in

      the decision in the light of the fresh evidence and I have been driven to the

      conclusion that I should not. I therefore dismiss the appeal.



                                   ***




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