Despite declaring a decision by the Supreme Court to allow his ex-wife to pursue a financial claim against him twenty years after they divorced, “mad”, wind farm multi-millionaire, Dale Vince, has now agreed to pay his former wife, Kathleen Wyatt, £300,000, along with £200,000 towards her legal costs in relation to the hearing before the Supreme Court.
This is perhaps a sensible and pragmatic decision after the Supreme Court made clear, in allowing Ms Wyatt to pursue her claim, that she was probably entitled to a “modest” award, possibly sufficient to buy a suitable home free of mortgage.
The claim, originally issued in 2001, had been kicked in to touch by the Court of Appeal. However, following a ruling from the Supreme Court last year, Ms Wyatt was given the go ahead to pursue her claim, even though at the time the parties separated they had little if any assets – Mr Vince was said to have been living in an old ambulance.
As specialist family lawyers we were frequently asked how this could be fair but the case remains a timely reminder to all of those engaged in divorce proceedings that it is wise to obtain expert advice about the financial claims they might face, now or in the future.
Whilst Mr Vince had argued early in the proceedings that Ms Wyatt’s claim should be dismissed, on the basis that to allow her to pursue it would be an abuse of the Court process, the Court not only allowed her to pursue her claim but also ordered that Mr Vince should make payments towards Ms Wyatt’s legal fees so that she had the resources to pursue the claim against him.
The Supreme Court have made clear that, unlike other civil claims, a Family Court does not have the power to dismiss a claim without hearing full arguments on both sides and, that decision having been reached, it appears that Mr Vince has been persuaded that he should make the recommended “modest” payment to bring this long running litigation to an end.
If you are in any doubt about the financial impact of divorce, or want to consider seeking a financial clean break order, please contact our Family team who would be happy to advise you.