Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
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Supreme Court’s landmark divorce ruling
A woman who was divorced more than 20 years ago has won the right to seek payments from her ex-husband, following a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.
Judges this week agreed to grant Kathleen Wyatt permission to make a belated claim against Dale Vince, a multi-millionaire businessman.
Mr Vince, who founded green energy firm Ecotricity, had tried to argue that it was too late for his ex-wife to pursue the case – the couple’s marriage formally came to an end in 1992.
Despite this, the Supreme Court agreed unanimously that Ms Wyatt’s case should be heard by a Family Court.
Lord Wilson said that the claim was “legally responsible,” although he conceded that the £1.9million payout she was hoping for was too large a sum.
“It is obvious, even at this stage, that an award approaching that size is out of the question,” he said. “Her claim may even be dismissed.
“But there is, in our opinion, a real prospect that she will secure a comparatively modest award, perhaps of a size which would enable her to purchase a somewhat more comfortable, mortgage-free home.”
Mr Vince, said to be worth more than £100million, branded the decision “mad” and feared it would set a dangerous precedent.
“This could signal open season for people who had brief relationships a quarter of a century ago,” he said.
“Our relationship ended 32 years ago which is an incredible passing of time. We had a settlement 20 years ago but I cannot prove that because it was so long ago that not even the courts keep records.
“I think it is very wrong just to cash in what is in effect a very old lottery ticket on her part.”
Ms Wyatt first launched legal action in 2011 and said she was looking forward to concluding the litigation.
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