Lucinda Connell, Senior Solicitor with Major Family Law, the best divorce and family law specialist, comments:

The case of Wyatt v Vince [2016] EWHC 1368 (Fam) hit the headlines as it involved an unusual application to the court for a financial order by a wife some 19 years after the pronouncement of Decree Absolute had terminated the parties’ marriage.

Mr Justice Cobb has this month approved a financial settlement reached by the parties which involves the payment of a lump sum to the wife, notwithstanding the fact the parties had separated and subsequently divorce more than twenty years ago.

The background to the dispute is highly unusual in that the wife, Kathleen Wyatt, issued a financial remedies claim against the husband, Dale Vince, 19 years after the final divorce Decree Absolute.  The other notably striking feature of this case was that in the intervening period, Mr Vince’s lifestyle and wealth had changed remarkably and he had become a hugely successful business man who owned a company with an estimated value of £57 million. The husband’s attempt to strike out the wife’s claim failed at first instance but then succeeded in the Court of Appeal. However, that judgment was then overturned by the Supreme Court who unanimously allowed the wife’s appeal against the strike out of her claim and directed that the wife’s application proceed in the Family Division of the High Court. In a judgment dated 10 June 2016, Mr Justice Cobb confirmed that the final order settling the proceedings should be made public.  The consent order provided:

  1. A lump sum of £300,000 to the wife in full and final settlement of her claims 2. That the wife should retain a payment on account of £200,000 paid to her by the Husband towards the costs of the Supreme Court appeal in addition to the award of £125,000 towards her costs made in December 2012.

The husband had argued that he should be at liberty to publish “the likely net benefit to the wife of the lump sum payment” once her costs liability had been taken into account.  However, the amount of the wife’s final bill was not yet known and His Lordship considered that it was not in the public interest “for potentially misleading information to be published about the outcome of this case, and its actual financial impact on the parties.”  In the circumstances, His Lordship prohibited any disclosure of the sum said to be the approximate outstanding costs bill.