The ex-partner of a successful property developer has returned to court seeking a larger settlement.
Helen Roocroft had a 19 year relationship with Carol Ann Ainscow, who died in 2013, the London Evening Standard reports, and the pair entered a civil partnership. After the couple separated she accepted a settlement of £162,000, the paper says, on the understanding that Ainscow was worth around £750,000.
Ms Roocroft now believes her ex-partner was in fact worth closer to £6 million and she has been given permission to take her case against the late developer’s estate to the Court of Appeal, seeking to re-open her financial claim.
Granting permission to appeal, Lady Justice Black said she was unaware of any similar cases in which “non-disclosure” (failure to fully disclose financial assets) had been “acted upon following the death of the other party.”
Ms Roocroft and her ex-partner had been together since the 1990s but did not enter a civil partnership until 2008. They separated the following year and their civil partnership was eventually dissolved in 2010. Ms Roocroft applied for financial relief (maintenance).
She agreed to a ‘clean break’ when Ms Ainscow claimed the recession had significantly reduced her assets.
Miss Roocroft’s counsel claimed her client had only become aware of her former partner’s true wealth when she saw business accounts following her death. She told the court:
“If Miss Ainscow had made full disclosure, it is inconceivable that the court would have approved an award in such modest terms to a wife in such modest circumstances.”
Lady Justice Black agreed, granting permission to appeal a Judge’s refusal to reopen her claim at Chester County Court last year.
Her Ladyship said:
“There was material to support the case that there was non-disclosure of potential significance to an ancillary [financial] relief claim”.
“It was Miss Ainscow’s duty to make full and fair disclosure, not only so Miss Roocroft could evaluate her claim and decide upon how to proceed with it, but also so the court could exercise its discretion.”
Ms Ainscow died without leaving a will, the paper notes, so her elderly mother is in line to inherit her estate.