Radmacher v Granatino transformed the way English courts, and indeed the public, regard prenuptial agreements. Prenups have always divided opinion but, whether you see them as sensible or cynical, it cannot be denied that they give couples greater control over their marriage. And now, thanks to Ayesha Vardag’s tenacity, couples who do take this opportunity can trust that their prenup is worth the paper it’s written on. In 2010, Vardags represented Katrin Radmacher in a... Read more
High profile & important cases
In this section of the Divorce Guide, we examine some of the most important, high profile divorce cases through the lens of our expert opinion.
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The case of former beauty queen Pauline Chai and her businessman husband, Khoo Kay Peng, is one of the largest and most complex to come before the English courts. The couple were married for 43 years, as the Malaysian businessman built up a multi-million pound empire, which includes high street name Laura Ashley. Their divorce began in 2013, when the wife, represented by Vardags, issued a petition for divorce in London. The husband disputed that she had the necessary link to England... Read more
Li Quan and Stuart Bray met in 1990, and married in 2001. Both were united by their passion for saving the Chinese tiger and invested vast amounts of time and money into a venture to save the endangered animals. During the course of their marriage, the husband transferred almost all his wealth to a charitable trust registered in Mauritius. Though this was ostensibly to support their tiger project, the wife, represented by Vardags, has argued that it was set up in such a way that the... Read more
Young v Young, which became known in the press as the ‘Brewster’s Millions’ case, became a cause célèbre in both the legal world and the media. The case lasted for many years until Vardags took it over for the final financial hearing, which came before the High Court in 2013. Scot and Michelle Young moved in together in 1989, married in 1995, had two daughters and separated in 2006. Mr Young was an entrepreneur, primarily involved in property and tech... Read more
Fairness, like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder. This is how Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead introduced an appeal in the House of Lords that forever changed how the family courts distributed marital wealth on divorce and reflected how the concepts of breadwinner and homemaker had evolved in societal consciousness. When a farmer’s wife petitioned for divorce in 1994, there was little indication that course of English legal history would be altered. This was the... Read more
When you’re going through the emotional wringer of a divorce, legal fees are the last thing you want to contend with. But there are creative ways to ensure that cash flow doesn’t become a sticking point in these most trying of times. One such option is by applying for a Legal Services Payment Order (LSPO). Applications for a LSPO are made when one party does not have the financial means to pay their legal fees. In 2013, Vardags represented a wife in a successful... Read more
Charman v Charman was, at the time in 2005, the largest ever contested case in English divorce proceedings, with total assets of £131 million. The wife argued that she should be entitled to 45 percent, with the slight departure from equality representing the husband’s special financial contribution – so great that it could not be ignored. Beverley and John Charman were at school together in their teens and married in 1976. Mr Charman enjoyed a phenomenally successful career in finance and... Read more
Gohil, along with Sharland, was an important judgment in relation to fraudulent non-disclosure. The parties had divorced in 2002 and reached a settlement in 2004, even though the wife believed that the husband had significant undisclosed assets. Following the divorce, the husband was subject to criminal proceedings for aiding in the laundering of assets fraudulently sequestered from the government of Nigeria. As part of the criminal investigation, it became apparent that the husband had left... Read more
The case of Barder shows the rare circumstances in which a divorce award can be varied after it has been made. In the case of Barder, the wife received a settlement which provided for her and her two children. Sadly, a few weeks after the award was made the wife killed herself and the two children. The husband was given permission to appeal out of time, and the award was largely rescinded. The case held that an award can be appealed after the expiration of the deadline for appeal in... Read more
The case of Myerson is a further case clarifying the rules in Barder. The husband and wife had divorced shortly before the financial crisis. At that time, their assets were worth around £25 million, around £15 million of which were made up of shares in the husband’s company. The husband had retained these shares as part of a settlement which saw him keep 57% of the couples’ assets. In the months following the settlement, the company suffered as a result of the... Read more
The case of Xydhias v Xydhias is the most important of a number of cases concerning when parties are deemed to have agreed to settle their matrimonial claims. The details of the case are rather immaterial, but for the fact that during the course of negotiations, the parties concluded a draft agreement, which left two minor issues outstanding. Following this negotiation, the wife’s lawyers wrote to the court asking them to vacate the final hearing and list the case for a hearing dealing simply... Read more
The case of Jones concerned the value of a business in relation to matrimonial proceedings. The parties had met in 1996 and separated in 2006. When they married, the husband owned a business worth around £2million. By the time they had separated, it was worth £12 million, but was sold the following year with a net profit of £25 million. The court held that that uplift in value between 2006 and 2007 should be considered part of the marital pot. The court also held that the latent potential of... Read more
The case of SS v NS is a recent judgment from Mr Justice Mostyn which shows the changing approach of the courts to spousal maintenance. The husband and wife were 40 and 39 respectively, and had been together for 11 years. The husband worked in banking. Though he was very successful, he was reducing his work load due to ongoing health concerns. The wife had not worked since the birth of the first child, but had taken on part-time work during the course of proceedings. The judge... Read more
JL v SL was a case before Mr Justice Mostyn which focused on how the court was to treat inherited wealth in the context of divorce. In the case, the wife had received total inheritance from her mother of £465,000. A portion of this had been paid to the husband for cash-flow reasons and security should the wife pass away. Mr Justice Mostyn reviewed the relevant authorities and set down new guidelines for how inherited assets should be treated in divorce cases. He held that: “inherited wealth... Read more
In the case of UL v BK, the court considered the proper procedure for when a party seeks a freezing order or another emergency, ex parte injunction. Freezing orders are a vital tool in preventing a wealthy party from dissipating assets, but given their severity it is vital that the court follows proper procedures. In the initial application in UL v BK, this had not been done. The wife’s solicitors had failed to set out why it was necessary for them to come to court on an urgent... Read more
Non-disclosure is increasingly an issue in ancillary proceedings and it is often down to judicial discretion to establish whether or not it is in the public interest to report on and punish such dishonesty. Vardags represented the father defending an application by the mother to disclose to the police and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) the fact that the father had lied in statements and on oath in proceedings. The mother also applied for the judgement not to be... Read more
The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.