Mrs A. Thompson –v- Scancrown Ltd, trading as Manors In a case that received widespread…
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Hedge fund tycoon Vipin Sareen and his wife Beatrice have been ordered by an Appeal Court judge to stop their costly court actions as neither is going to end up lacking assets.
The couple married in 1987 and acknowledged the breakdown of their marriage 20 years later, when Mrs Sareen presented a divorce petition in September 2007. But it wasn’t until the end of the tax year in March 2008 that Mr Sareen, on advice from tax counsel, made an offer to transfer assets valued at £34 million to his wife, from family assets totalling some £100 million. He hoped that she would accept the payment in full and final settlement.
In the event, Mrs Sareen did not. Instead, she initiated a series of costly hearings in an attempt to increase her share of the family fortune. Hearings took place over several months in 2009. The judge attached great importance to the voluntary division of assets effected by Mr Sareen but asked himself the question ‘does fairness require me to order more to the wife?’ Answering that question in the affirmative, he ordered a further capital payment amounting to £7.5 million.
Even though this increased the settlement to £41.5 million, Mrs Sareen was still not happy and sought permission to appeal. Counsel for Mrs Sareen argued that the court should not have placed such importance on the voluntary division of assets and the judgment was unfair to her as it excluded assets that were in existence in March 2008 but had not been included in the schedule that assessed her share at £34 million. Moreover, the proposed settlement did not take into account assets generated since that date.
The Appeal Court judges were not impressed by these arguments, stating that the original trial judge’s reasoning was ‘impeccable’. He had noted assets, worth £3 million and £4 million, that were not taken into account in March 2008 and rejected arguments from Mrs Sareen’s counsel that these assets were considerably undervalued. Dismissing the application for leave to appeal, Lord Justice Thorpe said that the resulting figure of £7.5 million was clearly within the judge’s discretion.