High profile divorce case highlights need to tie up loose ends

News Article

A long running saga, involving a divorce settlement between a green energy tycoon and his former wife, has finally come to an end in the Supreme Court.

Kathleen Wyatt, who had originally been demanding a £1.9 million pay-out from her ex-husband, Dale Vince, founder of wind farm firm, Ecotricity, has now been awarded a much more modest sum of £300,000, in full and final settlement.

Judges heard how the couple met as students, married in 1981 when they were in their early 20s, and lived a New Age traveller lifestyle. They separated in the mid-1980s and divorced in 1992.

In the mid-1990s, Mr Vince began a business career and went on to launch Ecotricity which is understood to be worth around £57 million. It was not until 2011, 19 years after the couple divorced, that Ms Wyatt decided to lodge a claim for ‘financial remedy’.

Mr Vince, who had unsuccessfully fought for the outcome of court proceedings to be kept private, commented: “I feel that we all have a right to move on and not be looking over our shoulders. This could signal open season for people who had brief relationships a quarter of a century ago … it’s mad in my opinion.”

The couple’s hard fought battle over money has left many scratching their heads as to why a divorce settlement, originally agreed back in 1992, had even ended up back in court.

Surjit Verdi, a family law expert, with Palmers, explained: “The problem arose because the terms of the original divorce were not fully resolved. A ‘financial remedy’ – which is how the law terms the fair distribution of assets between the two parties – had not been fully dealt with when the couple split in 1992.

“Ms Wyatt did not lodge a claim until more than 25 years after the couple had separated and nearly 20 years after their divorce but was perfectly within her rights to do so as the financial claims had not been agreed previously.

“This case underlines the important fact that there is no time limit for making an application for financial remedy after divorce.

“The settlement now reached by the parties provides for a ‘clean break’ between them – something which should have been addressed when they divorced in 1992. This serves as an important lesson – ensure all the loose ends are tied up when negotiating a final settlement or you could find any agreement is overridden in the future.”

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