A sportswear tycoon’s appeal against a divorce settlement has been dismissed.
The case concerned a financial order made for a couple who had completed their divorce as long ago as 2005. This ordered the husband to pay his former wife £1.6 million in four instalments, along with shares, part of his pension and a life insurance policy.
He appealed the ruling, arguing that that a more appropriate sum would be £500,000.
The couple, both teachers, had married back in 1984. A few years later he founded a sportswear business in his garage and this went on to enjoy great success. Eventually he quit teaching to run the sportswear business full time.
They had three children, eventually separating in 2002. “Protracted” negotiations led to a financial agreement in 2005 and the end of their marriage. In 2013, however, the former wife applied for a ‘financial remedy order’ which would, she claimed, complete the process and constitute a final settlement.
The husband, meanwhile, insisted that they had already reached a final settlement.
At a subsequent finding of fact hearing, Judge Rogers agreed with the divorced wife that a final settlement had indeed not been reached, principally because the husband had not fully disclosed his assets. He also concluded that the husband had “driven” the proceedings throughout.
In the Court of Appeal, Senior President of Tribunals Sir Ernest Ryder noted that an appeal against a finding of fact normally has to establish that the finding was “perverse”.
Sir Ernest concluded that the husband’s appeal failed to do so. He explained:
“The judge made clear findings about the husband’s failure to provide full disclosure to the wife and to the court. He accepted that the wife perceived herself as being bullied and intimidated. Given that the husband maintained to the judge that he had given full disclosure, the judge’s finding represents serious adverse litigation conduct.”
In relation to the delay in bringing the wife’s indisputably “valid” claim, the earlier judge, Sir Ernest continued:
“…did not accept that a delayed application requires an applicant to begin from a position where the burden of justifying any distributive remedy is on the applicant so that s/he receives nothing unless it can be justified. That hypothesis carries with it an elision [merging] of the concepts of entitlement sharing and needs provision which would be contrary to [legal] authority.”
Consequently, the Senior President of Tribunals concluded:
“… that the judge was right in the way that he approached the wife’s application. His findings of fact are unassailable …None of the grounds of appeal has been successfully made-out. I would dismiss this appeal.”
Read the full ruling here.