UK Divorce Case between Dale Vince and Kathleen Wyatt Has Lawyers and Clients on Edge
Posted: 16th March 2015
Posted in: News
Posted by: Dean Evans, Partner
A Claim Made for Financial Outcomes 30 Years Post-Separation and 23 Years Post-Divorce After a Two (2) Year Cohabitation Period
Kathleen Wyatt is not a woman of means, but 30 years ago, after a short period of cohabitation, she separated from Dale Vince, a free spirited traveller.
They had children together but separated. Vince left to live in an old converted ambulance (in which he travelled and maintained a free spirited lifestyle) whilst Wyatt was on the poverty line raising the children of their relationship and other children born to prior and subsequent relationships.
Years later, Vince went on to establish a wind-generated energy empire and is now said to be worth GBP 100 million.
Wyatt brought proceedings for a property settlement, in circumstances where Vince’s wealth was created apparently entirely after the couple’s divorce. She argued that they had never resolved their property settlement issues and he was able to pursue his entrepreneurial avenues whilst she cared for the children.
It is said that Wyatt seeks a GBP 2 million outcome, which is opposed.
At first instance, Vince was successful in having the proceedings summarily dismissed as being too remote from any sort of contributions made all those years before.
However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the case should not have been summarily dismissed and that there is an arguable case, although it will be difficult to make.
It is very important to remember that the Court has not ruled about her entitlements, but just that she can pursue a claim which can proceed to hearing.
Would this happen in Australia we hear you ask?
Well, in Australia, no proceedings for financial outcomes can proceed if sought to be filed 12 months after a final Divorce Order is made unless the Court grants leave. Leave will only be granted in very limited circumstances usually where there would be hardship or identifiable injustice.
Could a claim be made so far from the divorce? The answer is in theory, “yes” so long as the Court accepted that it was appropriate in the circumstances of the case.
Arguments would be made that the Wife had indirectly contributed to the wealth by raising the children and apparently with minimal child support-related payments. One might go further and contend that the refrain from child support indirectly generated seed capital for the ventures.
A similar case involving a post-separation lottery win in the millions in the decision of Farmer and Bramley still generated a result for the Wife albeit that she received a minority portion of the win and was not able to successfully contend she had “contributed to” the win, given the chance/luck involved.
We consider a better outcome than Farmer and Bramley could be achieved, and that the GBP 2 million claim should simply be paid.
Advisers to Vince may not have considered the wider implications to the community considering that he was a businessman who welched on his obligations or that he may suffer a downturn as a result of adverse publicity concerning how he approached the financial needs of his children. In addition to that, the legal costs involved whilst not likely to have reached the millions of pounds level, would be a consideration in setting out to resolve the case by settlement.
If the holdings of Vince are said to be GBP 100 million, the claim represents 2% of that wealth.
Small fry at the end of the day for Vince, but a massive and life changing outcome for Wyatt.
Thanks for reading.