Money, once parted with, can be very hard to recover and sensible people seek legal advice before handing over cash even to their loved ones. The point was powerfully made by a case in which a woman lent six-figure sums to a boyfriend who turned out to be a convincing and charming conman.
The recently divorced woman lived with the man for two years and lent him money on the basis that she would be repaid when a business project reached profitable fruition. The relationship, however, ended after she discovered that he had been spending her money on collecting fine art.
After she launched proceedings, a judge described him as a confidence trickster and found that she had allowed her heart to rule her head. His claim that the money was a gift, rather than a loan, was rejected and he was ordered to repay £850,000 to the woman, plus interest. Almost a decade had passed since those orders were made, but the woman had succeeded in recovering only a fraction of the money and her ex-boyfriend still owed her over £1 million.
In an attempt to avoid having to repay the judgment debt, the man argued that, after the relationship ended, the woman had retained various works of art and antiques that were his property. He sought an order that she deliver up those items, which he said were worth £900,000, or that their value should be set against the sums he owed her. She denied that she was in possession of any of his belongings.
In dismissing the man’s application as an abuse of process and totally without merit, the court noted that the evidence pointed strongly to the proceedings being part of a course of conduct that was intended to harass the woman. He claimed to have no assets or income and it was quite clear that he had no intention of paying his debt to her. The judge said that he would be minded to issue a civil restraint order against the man if he made any similar applications in the future.