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The Prest saga returns to court

Regular readers of this blog may well recall the saga of Petrodel v Prest, the long-running divorce dispute between Yasmin Prest and her wealthy ex-husband Michael which went all the way to the Supreme Court in June.

The former Mrs Prest appeared to have won her case. The Justices of the Supreme Court ruled that the Petrodel Resources and other companies controlled by Mr Prest must hand over a number of properties in the UK and other countries as part of the couple’s settlement. Although held by the companies, the properties had been bought by Mr Prest and were therefore “held in trust” for him.

But things don’t appear to have gone that smoothly for the determined Mrs Prest since the judgement and she is now back in court. She claims her former husband has not kept up with the ‘periodical payments’ ordered by a divorce court in 2011 and that he now owes £400,000.

She appears to have issued a ‘judgement summons’ for non-payment of the maintenance. This means that, if the court is satisfied he has the means to pay, but won’t, the judge can impose a prison sentence. It will be up to her and her legal team to establish in court that he does in fact have the means to pay.

The ‘judgement summons’ is a ‘get tough’ option and whenever I’ve used it – or threatened to do so – it has worked wonders!

Mr Prest insists he now has “very little money”, despite his wealth being assessed at £37.5 million two years ago. He is “at a loss”, he claims, and has no source of income. His legal team is reported to have told Mr Justice Moylan:

“He tells me is he being truthful and frank. He says he has no source of income and is actively looking for employment….He finds himself in a position where he has very, very little money with which to live. He is a man in considerable difficulty, personally, financially and emotionally.’

Naturally Mrs Prest’s team disputes these claims. The various properties which came under the spotlight in the Supreme Court case were not mentioned.

Yasmin Prest’s application was postponed till early next year because her ex-husband is due to undergo an operation. We will have to see what happens then but this is another example (if one were needed) of a cardinal fact of divorce proceedings – orders to pay are one thing, actual payment quite another.

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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  1. Andrew says:

    That, of course, is true of all money judgments.

  2. Robert Fenton says:

    Why can’t the courts order the transfer or sale of the properties ?

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