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Henry Hood comments on latest Versteegh ruling for Family Law Week

  • May 13, 2018
  • By Henry Hood, Partner

Wife fails in attempt to increase award of £51.4 million plus share of business assets

Camilla Versteegh has failed in her attempt to increase the High Court’s award in financial remedy proceedings against her husband, Gerard Versteegh.

The order by Sir Peter Singer gave Mrs Versteegh approximately half the non-business assets (£51.4m) together with a 23.41% interest in a business called H Holdings, which business had been created by and was run by Mr Versteegh under a trust structure.

Lady Justice King, giving the lead judgment in Versteegh v Versteegh [2018] EWCA Civ 1050, noted that the costs to date (excluding the costs of the appeal) were in excess of £4m.

The court had to address extensive arguments about, inter alia, the impact of a pre-marital agreement, non-matrimonial assets and the sharing principle. However, the main focus of the hearing was upon (i) the judge’s finding that he was unable to determine the value or future liquidity of H Holdings, the major business asset and (ii) his decision to make a so called Wells order whereby, rather than receiving a lump sum representing her interest in H Holdings, the wife received her interest in specie in the form of ordinary shares.

Henry Hood, Head of the Family Department at Hunters Solicitors, commented on the judgment:

“The Court of Appeal has found comprehensively against Camilla Versteegh in her attempt to improve on the High Court’s award to her of £90m. It rejected her arguments to give no weight to the pre-nuptial agreement signed the day before the wedding, as to the extent of the inherited and premarital assets that he brought to the marriage, and the fact that the award was made up of a minority holding in the husband’s company because they were so difficult to value. It was a bad day in court for her. The judgment is also interesting in that it sided with Moylan LJ (against Mostyn J) in the in the ongoing debate between the “arithmetical” and “impressionistic” approach to identifying marital assets to be divided.”

This article first appeared in Family Law Week and can be read here.

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