Breaking news: Wife’s financial claim to be heard 20 years after the divorce

The Supreme Court’s decision has recently been given in the case of Kathleen Wyatt’s financial claim against her former husband and wind-power tycoon Dale Vince.  Ms Wyatt won the right to take her former husband to court, despite not lodging a claim until nearly 20 years after the parties were divorced and after Mr Vince became a multimillionaire. 

The couple had met as students in their early 20s and married in 1981. They had apparently lived a New Age traveller lifestyle before they separated in the mid-1980s and divorced in 1992.  In the mid-1990s, Mr Vince launched green energy firm Ecotricity in Stroud, Gloucestershire.  Ms Wyatt lodged her claim for ‘financial remedy’ in 2011.

Ms Wyatt’s application had been allowed to proceed initially by the court’s decision in 2012, but it was blocked at the Appeal Court in 2013 after Mr Vince complained that it had been lodged too late.  There is no statutory time limit on financial settlements in divorce cases, save that an applicant will not be able to apply after he or she has remarried.

The recent Supreme Court decision appears now to support and provide clarity to such overall premise where a party’s financial claims have been left open at the time of the divorce.  The Supreme Court justices have said that Ms Wyatt’s claim should go ahead,  and that a judge in the Family Division of the High Court should now consider her claim.   The Supreme Court was told that Ms Wyatt is seeking a settlement of £1.9 million.  It is reported that Lord Wilson said Ms Wyatt’s claim was “legally recognisable” and not an “abuse of process”.   However, he said that a £1.9 million payment was “out of the question” but the justices thought that there was a “real prospect” that she would get a “comparatively modest award”.  It is reported that Mr Vince is very disappointed with the decision.

Anna Ferro is an expert lawyer specialising in Family Law.  Should you wish to contact her, please e-mail her at  alf@blasermills.co.uk or telephone 01494 450 171.