30 November 2016
Lambretta millionaire’s ex-wife wins £2.7m divorce settlement a decade after split
A self-made fashion mogul is appealing against a judgment after his ex-wife won a £2.7 million settlement 10 years after they divorced.
Millionaire Glen Briers is asking the Court of Appeal to overturn this award, claiming it leaves her "in a position which is excessively favourable".
From news reports it is understood that the couple divorced in 2005 and at that time Mrs Briers retained their £700,000 family home and Mr Briers paid £150,000 to discharge the mortgage. Mr Briers retained a business – a sports and street wear brand he had started from the family home during the marriage while also working as a teacher. At the time of separation the business is said to have been turning over £1 million a year.
It is not clear whether either of them had legal advice at that time, but Mr Briers claims there was a verbal clean break agreement – but this was not incorporated into a court order.
The turnover of Mr Briers's company has since increased from £1 million to £30 million and Mr Briers says this is due to him single-handedly building up the company since separation.
However a Judge last year awarded Mrs Briers circa 27% of his current £10 million resources.
On behalf of Mr Briers, the Court of Appeal heard how it is unfair for Mr Briers to have to share his fortune – one he has accumulated through his hard work over a decade since the split.
Mr Briers's legal team said: "her explanation as to why she eventually did make a claim, so many years after the event, was that she had heard that the husband may have had another child before his relationship with the wife; that he had a young girlfriend; her own wages as a teacher had been cut back, and she had parted from her boyfriend, with whom she had been in a relationship since the breakdown of the marriage.”
Mrs Briers’s legal team argued that the business was a matrimonial asset since its "… origins were deeply embedded in the history of their 18 year marriage". It was said on her behalf that she and Mr Briers had not reached a final settlement at the time of the separation, and claimed that Mr Briers was a dominant personality who had dictated terms to her. It was said that she deserved her share of the family fortune due to her "huge contribution" in caring for the children as the company grew. As she was awarded far less than 50%, the award, it was argued on her behalf, was a "fair resolution".
Court of Appeal Judges Lady Justice Rafferty, Lord Justice Lindblom and Sir Ernest Ryder have reserved their appeal decision and will give their judgment at a later date.
Family law expert Sue Andrews comments:
"The decision which is being appealed has not been made public yet and so we have to wait for the Judge's rationale for the award and the full facts. However, if at the time of this couple's separation their resources consisted of a family house and shares in a private limited company; a settlement leaving Mrs Briers with the liquid assets (a mortgage free home worth £700,000) and Mr Briers with the more risky asset of the business, it was very likely to have been regarded as entirely fair at that time.
"This case is therefore a further example of the importance of formalising the financial terms of the separation through a court order. Where there is agreement, a consent order can usually be obtained without the need for an attendance at court.
"If Mr and Mrs Briers's capital claims against one another had been dismissed she could not have brought this claim.
"If she was receiving maintenance then she could have sought to have that capitalised (a lump sum in lieu) however that would have been a needs based award and as she is 58, it is unlikely that £2.7 million would have been awarded for her income needs for the balance of her actuarial life expectancy of around 30 years.”