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Petrodel vs Prest settlement heads for Supreme Court

A case which sent shockwaves through family law circles in October will head to the Supreme Court in March next year.

Lord Justices  Patten, Rimer, and Thorpe at the Court of Appeal have given Yasmin Prest permission to appeal to the Supreme Court over their ruling that her former husband Michael Prest need not transfer ownership of 14 properties to her as part of a divorce settlement.

The case will be head by five justices on the 5th and 6th March next year.

The 14 properties in various countries belong to a number of companies, including a Nigerian oil company called Petrodel Resources, which was co-founded by Mr Prest. At a High Court hearing last year, Mr Justice Moylan judged the properties to effectively be Mr Prest’s assets and ordered him to transfer the properties to his ex-wife as part of the settlement process.

This ruling was reversed by the Court of Appeal in October. Lord Justices Patten and Rimer found in favour of the company’s appeal, saying that Mr Justice Moylan had been wrong to find that Mr Prest’s sole ownership of the companies which owned the properties made him entitled to freely dispose of their assets.

In a dissenting judgement, Lord Justice Thorpe, who has a family law background, said the fundamental principle was entitlement to assets as defined by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. He said that allowing Mr Prest to shield the companies’ properties from the settlement would defeat “the Family Division judge’s overriding duty to achieve a fair result.”

The judgement was widely criticised, with commentators saying it could provide a way for wealthy partners to escape substantial divorce settlements.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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