The wife was awarded $530m after the judge found the husband’s special contribution and post-separation accrual of wealth justified a significant departure from equality.
In financial remedy proceedings initiated by the wife the parties had assets totaling between $1.35bn and £1.6bn. In addition to their personal wealth a further $4.5bn had been channeled into a charitable foundation.
In relation to the personal wealth the husband submitted that much of the sum represented post-separation accrual since the breakdown of the marriage in 2012. He claimed this justified a departure from the principle of equality. Furthermore he contended that his creation of wealth fell to be considered as a special and unmatched contribution which also justified a reduction in the wife’s entitlement. He proposed that the wife should receive one-third of the assets available in April 2012 when the marriage broke down and one half of one third of the post-separation accrual since then. The wife sought a full and equal share of the current assets.
The law required the court to consider the value of the assets as they stood at the date of trial. The relevance of the date of separation lay in the interruption of spousal contributions. Each case was fact specific and there was no presumption of equal division nor any bias in favour of the money earner. A departure from equality was permitted on the basis of a special contribution including the acquisition of wealth through the exercise of some special individual skill and effort.
On the facts of this case a significant departure from equality in the husband’s favour was entirely justified by the compounding factors of post-separation accrual and special contribution. The financial returns were achieved by the husband’s activist investment strategies and there was no guarantee that they could have been matched by the wife.Wealth creation on the scale achieved by the husband was possible due to his ability to identify a new investment opportunity and make it work. The investments created by the husband after the separation fell at a point too distant from the essential character of the matrimonial partnership to qualify.
The wife was awarded $530m from available assets of just under $1.5bn which equated to 36% of the global resources. The wife would bear her share of any contingent tax risks and she also had to make provision for the escrow which would be established in respect of tax indemnity. Such an award properly reflected her contributions and her entitled to a fair share of the marital acquest and post-separation accrual.
Case No: FD12D01549
Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 4122 (Fam) IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE FAMILY DIVISION
Royal Courts of Justice Strand, London, WC2A 2LL Date: 12 December 2014
Martin Pointer QC, Stephen Brandon QC, Geoffrey Kingscote and Oliver Marre (instructed by Mishcon de Reya) for the Petitioner Wife Lewis Marks QC, Elizabeth Clarke and Emma Chamberlain (instructed by Withers LLP) for the Respondent Husband