Ex-wife awarded £300,000 more than 20 years after divorce
On 20 May, the much publicised case between Dale Vince and Kathleen Wyatt returned to the Supreme Court where final judgment was handed down by Mr Justice Cobb.
Vince and Wyatt married back in 1981. They had two children together and were new age travellers, predominately living on benefits. Despite separating in 1984, their divorce was not finalised until 1992. At that time their assets were so minimal they did not deal with financial matters arising from their separation and, as a result, these matters were left open.
In 2011 (19 years after the divorce), Wyatt filed an application at Court for a financial settlement against Vince who was now a multi millionaire. She was seeking £1.9m, in addition to interim payments to cover her legal costs. Vince cross-applied to the Supreme Court for Wyatt’s application to be dismissed. Wyatt was successful and Vince was ordered to make interim payments directly to her solicitors in respect of legal costs.
Vince appealed to the Court of Appeal who found in his favour and ordered Wyatt to pay back some of the monies paid to her solicitors. Wyatt did not stop there however and appealed to the Supreme Court who, on 24 March 2015 unanimously found in her favour and the original costs order was restored.
After the Supreme Court ruling in favour of Wyatt, the parties were finally able to agree by consent terms of financial settlement. However, a dispute over confidentiality halted negotiations; Vince wanted confidentiality clauses to be included within the terms of the Order, but Wyatt wanted the right to disclose details of the settlement to the public, citing ‘public interest’.
The matter returned to the Supreme Court on 10 June 2016 and was heard by Mr Justice Cobb. On the issue of publicity, Mr. Justice Cobb ordered that in light of the significant media attention the case had already attracted, it was in the public interest that details of the settlement be disclosed, together with the fact that the parties were able to do so amicably and in negotiations.
The terms of the Financial Remedy Order agreed between Vince and Wyatt provide Wyatt with:
1. A lump sum payment in the sum of £300,000, (some of which will need to be used to pay her outstanding legal costs)
2. Retention of £200,000 previously paid by Vince to her solicitors towards her legal costs of the appeal to the Supreme Court
3. £125,000 towards her costs made in December 2012 and £1,000 towards her costs for the hearing in March 2016.
What does this mean for our clients
No matter how small or large your matrimonial assets are, when it comes to divorce, you should always ensure that you obtain a financial settlement – even if you agree matters amicably with one another; get this incorporated into a Court Order.
Whilst the facts surrounding this case were somewhat unusual; the risks of failing to agree a financial settlement with a Court Order are now very clear. Ask yourself one question – do you want piece of mind and closure? If so, don’t delay.
For more information please contact Gail Brooks, Associate, Private Client - Family.
Published: 20 Jun 2016