A fashion mogul has launched an appeal against a £2.7 million divorce settlement.
The former teacher, who built his own clothing empire, separated from his wife in 2002 after an 18-year marriage. Their divorce was then finalised in 2005. At the time, he agreed to let his ex-wife keep their marital home worth £700,000 and he paid the mortgage off in full. He also agreed to give her £10,000 each year.
However, ten years after their divorce his ex-wife initiated a legal bid for an increased settlement. Although his business was doing well at the time of their initial divorce, by the time the case went back to court it was reportedly making £30 million per year. He had incorporated well-known clothing brands such as Lambretta and Vision Streetwear into the business and set up outlets throughout the UK. He had amassed a personal fortune of around £10 million in the ten years since the end of his marriage.
Despite the divorce being ten years old, the court sided with the man’s ex-wife and ruled that he should pay her a further £2.7 million.
The businessman sought to appeal. He claimed there had been a verbal agreement between him and his ex-wife that their initial settlement represented a clean break. This would mean the couple would have no further financial obligations to each other once it had been completed.
At the Court of Appeal, the barrister hired to represent him insisted that the man had “started the business with just £81 of his own money” and that “the wife’s involvement in the business was negligible”.
The ex-wife’s motivation for launching her legal bid was that “her own wages as a teacher had been cut back, and she had parted from her boyfriend, with whom she had been in a relationship since the breakdown of the marriage” the barrister claimed.
“It is not the husband’s role to act as insurer against these events, let alone to do so many years after the separation.”
The QC representing the man’s ex-wife claimed there had been no agreement of any kind on a clean break and that she deserved a larger settlement due to her “substantial contribution to the family in relation to her work in the care of the children”. Her barrister said the £2.7 million settlement represented just 27 per cent of the available assets, which was a “very significant departure” from the usual division of 50/50 in these cases.
Lady Justice Rafferty, Lord Justice Lindblom and Sir Ernest Ryder heard the arguments but did not arrive at a decision. Their ruling is expected at a later date.