A well-known fashion commentator, who was taken to court after her former husband died, leaving behind debts totalling almost £300,000, has been told she does not have to pay the money to his creditors.
Trinny Woodall, a former presenter of TV fashion show, ‘What Not to Wear,’ found herself in court even though her former husband, Johnny Elichaoff, was declared bankrupt five years before his death.
The couple, who had one daughter, had agreed a divorce settlement in 2009, with Mr Elichaoff paying Ms Woodall £24,000 a year in maintenance, along with the repayment of £1.4million that he had borrowed from her during the course of their ten-year marriage.
Shortly before the divorce was finalised, however, Mr Elichaoff was declared bankrupt. Mr Elichaoff committed suicide in 2014, having failed to pay Ms Woodall any of the money agreed in the original settlement.
A trustee in Mr Elichaoff’s bankruptcy took Ms Woodall to court, in an attempt to force her to pay his £285,000 debts, plus legal bills.
The case went to the High Court, after a registrar threw out the trustee’s case earlier this year, stating that it had “no merit whatsoever.”
In November, Deputy Judge Robin Dicker dismissed the trustee’s renewed application for permission to appeal the order.
Speaking after the ruling, Ms Woodall said: "It is the most overwhelming relief.
"The judge has confirmed so clearly what we have been saying ever since this bogus and frightening claim was sprung on me over a year ago."
Andrew Skinner, a partner with Palmers who specialises in debt advice, said: “This was a highly unusual case which challenged the usual rules of both divorce law and bankruptcy.
“This claim, although ultimately unsuccessful, does serve to illustrate the legal complexities of debt. If you are concerned about a family member’s debts and how it may impact on you, please seek legal advice.”
For more information on how Palmers can help with debt advice, divorce settlements or claims on the estate of a deceased family member, please contact us.