Overseas pension interests

Property – Enforcement of orders that split overseas pension interests – Court declined the appointment of an assessor pursuant to r 7.34 where it would likely need to adjudicate every stage of such an appointment

In Gresham (No 4) [2023] FedCFamC1F 1090 (19 December 2023), Altobelli J heard an enforcement application in respect of property orders that required the parties to do all acts and things to cause a husband’s overseas pension interests to be split, so that the wife received the equivalent of 30 per cent of the value of the husband’s interest in the pension ([3]).

The husband sought enforcement orders that the wife sign and post to “RR Pension” certified documents and details as to her address and tax file number.

The wife sought orders that varied the original order, directing the husband to facilitate payment to her of $1,300,000 by way of a lump sum ([4]).

The Court said (from [24]):

“[The husband] … lists … what steps the wife needs to take in order to facilitate compliance … and indicates that thereafter RR Pension will be able to facilitate the wife receiving her 30 per cent … ( … )

[25] The wife’s case was that … the orders are impracticable based on the advice she received from a financial advisor … Mr BR … ( … )


[27] The wife indicated … Mr BR instructed her not to sign them due to various issues such as ‘tax contamination’, ‘jurisdictional  issues’ and the fact that there is no ‘recognising fund’ in Australia who will allow access to a pension fund at age 50 … ( … )

[34] … The Court has specifically considered its power to appoint an assessor pursuant to section 102B of the Act, ‘to help it in the hearing and determination of the proceedings … or any matter arising under them’. … [T]he Court does not believe that … it would resolve the differences in expert opinion without disproportionate delay and cost. The … history of this matter leads this Court to conclude that the Court would need to intervene and adjudicate on almost every stage of the process of appointing an assessor. ( … )”

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