When the marriage between a wealthy property developer and his wife ended acrimoniously, their battle over the financial settlement lasted more than a decade.
As part of their divorce settlement following their separation in 2000, the husband was ordered to pay his wife £176,000 in ‘full and final settlement’ of her financial claims against him.
However, she continued to be surprised at her ex-husband’s ‘apparent wealth’ and this led her to question whether he had in fact made a full and frank disclosure of his assets at the time of their divorce.
It was subsequently ascertained that a house owned by the property developer, which is now worth more than £1.3 million, had not been disclosed. He claimed that it was owned by him in trust for one of the couple’s children.
The court was unimpressed and, in 2010, ordered him to pay an additional £384,000 to his ex-wife. He was also ordered to pay her legal costs.
His appeal against that decision, in which he claimed that his assets had been ‘grossly overvalued’ by the judge who ordered the settlement, was heard recently. After a five-day hearing, it was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The man was criticised by the Court for the lack of credibility of his evidence and for his failure to produce reliable documentary evidence. In the circumstances, the judge’s findings, which were findings of fact, could not be displaced.
Says Pauline O’Rourke, “When challenging a finding of fact, it is normally necessary to show that the finding was not reasonable given the evidence available, which is a very high hurdle. It is therefore important to assemble all available relevant evidence early in the proceedings so that a formidable case can be made at the first hearing.”
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