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Oil Tycoon 'wins' Marathon Divorce Battle

View profile for Lisa Collins
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A Court of Appeal decision made last week has Family lawyers all across the country in shock as they try to fathom out just what has happened.

An oil tycoon, Mr Michael Prest has been told he no longer has to hand over assets of £17.5 million to his former wife and has had the financial settlement, made within their divorce proceedings, reduced by a massive £9 million. An early Halloween trick perhaps? I imagine Mrs Prest may well have suffered quite a fright when the verdict was announced but, for her at least, this is sadly no joke.

Mr and Mrs Prest married in 1993 and have four children together, all of whom are now teenagers. The couple split in 2008 after leading what has been described as an ‘extravagant lifestyle’. Both have been locked in a legal battle ever since with Mr Prest reportedly using an array of strategies, to include failing to engage in a full and frank disclosure process, in an attempt to defeat his former wife’s claims against him.

The original settlement provided for various companies to be transferred direct to Mrs Prest to settle payment of part of the £17.5 million; a decision taken to prevent Mr Prest from not handing over the money himself (a reputation for non-compliance with Court decisions already well established). Some may praise the Judge for such a practical and sensible approach, however on appeal, the companies (and their assets), although set up by the tycoon and under his control, were found not to belong to him and were not therefore matrimonial assets. The Judge at first instance is said to have been wrong to ‘pierce the corporate veil’.

I suspect this is not the last we will hear about this case as Mrs Prest has been given permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. They will be tasked with unravelling what appears to be an intermingling of family and commercial law. Which will prevail? Watch this space.