How much is enough?

It has been revealed that the former wife of a dotcom tycoon has received £115 million from her ex husband in one of Britain’s biggest divorces.

This case involved a foreign born husband aged 51 and wife aged 49 who met in 2007 and married the following year. The marriage broke down and they divorced in December 2015. During proceedings which took place in the High Court in 2017 the husband, a businessman, was said to have amassed a fortune of £460 million from the sale of shares in a technology company which he founded. The husband began a company in the 1990’s from scratch initially working from a friend’s spare room. Within 15 years he was running a multi million pound technology firm and owned numerous luxury properties in West London. The company itself has offices worldwide and is known to have produced a product which, according to the Judge is so popular it is “used by millions of people across the world”.

The wife was from a wealthy Asian family. She was said to have considerable wealth in her own right. Despite this upon separation she demanded half of the husbands total assets amounting to some £230m. The husband by contrast had offered her £20m. It is understood that the divorce was fiercely fought by both parties over a long period of time before High Court Judge Mr Justice Baker. The parties are said to have incurred legal fees in excess of £2.5m between them. Although the matter was heard in 2017 there has continued to be ‘legal wrangling’ as to whether the details of the settlement and the parties themselves should be identified. Only the briefest of details are available today.

Despite having sought an equal share of the assets the wife was awarded 25%, equivalent to £115m. Whilst many will view this as more than sufficient wealth for an ex spouse, the wife could have succeeded in receiving half of the assets were it not for the “special contribution” made to the family’s wealth by the husband. The starting point in such matters is one of equality however in this case the husband was able to successfully argue that were it not for his contribution before and during the marriage there would not have been assets of £460m in the first place.

In his written judgement, Mr Justice Baker commented “I am satisfied in this case that the husband’s contribution to the growth in the value of the business assets during the marriage comes within the concept of special contribution”. He concluded that “I remind myself that when a marriage comes to an end each partner to the marriage is entitled to an equal share of the assets of the partnership unless there is a good reason to the contrary. Fairness requires no less”. He went on to say “I have concluded that the wife is entitled to a lump sum equal to 25% of that figure, I therefore award the wife a lump sum of £115 million”.

It remains to be seen whether the wife decides to appeal this decision but many will undoubtedly question why, having been awarded an astonishing £115m she would want to continue this litigation in her quest for yet more money.

Whilst these cases involving such huge wealth are not common, the law, legal arguments and factors which determine the division of a couples assets remain the same regardless of the parties wealth. It is therefore extremely important to obtain specialise legal advice at the outset of any separation.

For more information please contact Philip Rea, Senior Associate on 0121 227 3365 or e-mail

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