BRITAIN: Marco Pierre White case could turn divorce lawyer into civil defendant in divorce case screw up

Former Michelin star chef Marco White is hopping mad at his soon to be ex wife Mati’s divorce attorneys, the London based firm of Withers. At issue is a letter from Mr. White’s daughter Letty that was intercepted by wife Mati at the alleged advice of her attorney at Withers, a solicitor by the name of Marcus Dearle. Mr. White is alleging that at the advice of Mr. Dearle, his wife, acting as a self-appointed detective and sleuth, intercepted his mail looking for divorce dirt. Upon this interception, she took all his mail (including the letter from Letti and 42 other documents) in their original state to her solicitors, including a touching letter from her soon to be ex-husband’s daughter from a previous relationship. She never informed her husband that she had these documents or the letter from his daughter. In the letter, the daughter’s entreaties are described as “heartfelt.” She was asking her father to see more of him. He is absolutely miffed that he was denied an opportunity to see the letter and to respond to his daughter. Says the Mail Online:

 The documents include a contract from P&O and a heartfelt letter from Letty, White’s daughter by an earlier marriage, that he said he had never seen until the originals were produced by his wife’s lawyers in court. She removed 42 documents after alleged threats from the chef, which he strongly denies, that she would not get a penny from him if they were to separate; that he would leave the country; that he would “pull the plug” on everything; and that he owned nothing, having sold everything for £1.

Now, Mr. White is suing the law firm. He lost the suit in the lower courts but won an appeal and is proceeding with the case against the law firm for improperly advising their client, his soon to be ex wife Mati, to withhold his letters an documents and intercept his personal correspondences and documents. If he wins the case, it could potentially open the flood gates of cases against other lawyers in Britain and perhaps even across the pond here in the U.S.
A win would also arguably prejudice spouses (particularly the less affluent and that is usually the wife) in cases where the husband is hiding assets. It is often very difficult to prove that a spouse is dissipating or hiding assets but it happens all the time. Once the main bread winner knows a divorce is imminent, he or she can simply cause all their money to disappear and like the Scot Young case in London, pretty much leave the former spouse destititute. This result would not be right either. Some sort of balancing would have to be done. Sure, it is not right to intercept mail and take original documents. It is not right to put spyware on the computer and laptop or other surveillance on the cell phones or cameras in unsuspected places. But when you are dealing with a less than honest spouse who is intent on keeping all the marital assets for themselves, what choices do a person have?
If Marco wins the case, the answer to that is probably “not much.”
Stay tuned.