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27 May 2015
Slater and Gordon Senior Family Solicitor Beverley Darwent was instructed by her client to represent him in divorce and financial proceedings.
Slater and Gordon Solicitor: Beverley Darwent is a Principal Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
Settlement Value: Undisclosed
What happened: The total value of the assets in the case was approximately £9.5m of which the main asset was the value in the husband’s £8.5m minority shareholding in a multi-national family company. There were complicated valuation/taxation issues which were simplified considerably after the husband’s shareholding was brought back by the family company.
Beverley’s client was very concerned to ring-fence the value that his shareholding had at the time he was given it by his father, which was seven years into the marriage. Beverley argued that that latent value justified a departure from an equal split of the assets.
How Beverley helped: There was considerable dispute over the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage with the wife asserting the couple had enjoyed a lavish lifestyle.
Beverley refuted these arguments using details of her client’s salary during the marriage which would not have sustained the lifestyle the wife alleged. The wife was also trying to seek regular maintenance going forward even though Beverley’s client had ceased to work in the company when his shareholding was brought back by it and did not intend to work in the future. The parties were in their 50s.
The wife’s solicitors threatened injunctive proceedings as Beverley advised her client not to give an undertaking to agree to more than half the proceedings from his shareholding being held on deposit pending a final financial order in the divorce. The wife’s solicitors eventually agreed to Beverley’s suggested undertakings, accepting the wife was not entitled to more than half.
The wife had instructed London based solicitors hoping this would help her secure a larger settlement. Beverley sought transfer of the case from London court up to the Manchester court as the parties had always lived in Lancashire and the family business was based there.
Both parties instructed leading counsel in view of the complexity of some of the issues and the value of assets involved. Beverley’s client was very keen to avoid the case progressing to a final hearing.
Decision: Beverley put forward clear proposals at an early stage. Beverley and leading counsel were able to negotiate a favourable settlement for Beverley’s client at the dispute resolution hearing which succeeded in ring-fencing more than the initial value in the husband’s shareholding and was on a clean break basis. The outcome of the case meant that Beverley’s client was able to enjoy his early retirement.
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