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The importance of an expert's advice

In a recent appeal case of Jones –v- Jones (2011), the parties separated after a ten year marriage. The Husband’s business, which supplied equipment to the oil industry, was worth £12 million at the time of separation. He sold it 12 months later for £25 million net of tax. The Husband agreed that for the purpose of negotiation, only £12 million should be included in the pot as this was the value at the separation. Obviously the Wife argued that the full £25 million should be included. The Wife’s argument was successful as the increasing value was due to the latent value of the business at the date of separation and not due to a new venture.The Judge took into account the expert valuation of £2 million at the time of the marriage but added uplift for economic growth and “spring board effect”. The “spring board effect” being the Husband’s ability to develop the business. The Judge over-rode the traditional valuation formula and applied a hypothetical valuation in order to achieve fairness. Whilst this case went all the way to the Court of Appeal, most financial disputes in divorce do not go to trial and the parties still need an independent objective assessment of the valuation of the business assets before they can reach a settlement.

By Lorraine Harvey

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