Husband loses appeal against £48 million Divorce Payment

29.05.2007

A husband who appealed against the decision to award his ex-wife £48 million, the largest divorce payment in British legal history, has lost his fight after the Court of Appeal threw out his claim.

However the court did call upon the Law Commission to set up an inquiry into the system that had made London the "divorce capital of the world for aspiring wives".

Mr John Charman had argued that his original £20 million offer to his ex-wife was more than adequate and that a £70 million family trust should not have been taken into account when the total assets of the marriage were assessed. But the appeal court agreed with an earlier ruling that the trust fund was controlled by him.

Martin Loxley Head of Family Law at law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This decision by the appeal court judges will certainly raise eyebrows amongst the elite and wealthy in the UK.

"This appeal decision does not change the law; it does however reinforce the principle that in long marriages, such as this, there must be a very good reason to detract from equal measure. In Mr Charman losing his appeal, the courts are saying in cases of lengthy marriages it would be wrong to discriminate between the money earner and the home maker.

"Indeed, the courts no longer consider in a divorce what the wife's needs are, but instead what she is entitled to. If the wife receives more than she can ever spend, like in this instance of £48 million, then this is her return for being married to a successful husband.

"As a result of this decision we are likely to see a significant increase in the demand for pre-nuptial agreements especially amongst the UK's wealthiest. Even though they are not yet legally binding in the UK, they are still a very useful tool for outlining who entered the marriage with what, and so in turn who should leave with what should there be a divorce."