Financial claims years after a marriage has ended in divorce have come to the fore in a case involving a former West Midlands teacher who started a fashion empire and his former wife, who went on to claim a £2.7m slice of his assets.
Kevin Harris-James, head of family law for Harrison Clark Rickerbys in Worcester and Birmingham, represents the husband.
The case, involving Willenhall teacher Glen Briers and his former wife Nicola, who divorced in 2002 after 18 years of marriage and three children, has been a challenging one.
Kevin said: “This is the first real case of substance since Vince v Wyatt in terms of dealing with delay in bringing financial claims on divorce. Each divorce is unique, but this has been challenging in its complexity and because there is a real lack of judicial guidance in terms of case law.
“Vince v Wyatt [in which Mrs Wyatt brought a financial claim against her former husband Mr Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, 19 years after their marriage ended] only went so far in addressing the question of how to treat delay in bringing claims many years after the ending of a marriage, and so this case, on the facts, is the first real opportunity the Appeal Court has had to deal with a complex set of legal issues and facts. Judgement is awaited but whatever the outcome it has been a fascinating case to be involved in.”
Glen Briers was working full-time as a teacher when he started up his sports and street-wear empire, Lydenford Ltd, in the garage of the family home in 1988 with just £81 of his own money. By the time the couple divorced, the firm had a £1m turnover and has since grown into a major fashion chain, incorporating well-known brands Lambretta and Vision Streetwear, and turning over up to £30m.
Mr Briers gave his wife the family home, paid off the mortgage, gave her a £10,000 a year salary and child maintenance but kept the business. This was based on a verbal agreement between them that this would make a clean break. But Mrs Briers went to court to claim more money, and last year a judge found she deserved a £2.7m slice of his £10m fortune last year.
He has now taken his case to the Court of Appeal, claiming that this outcome was unfair
Lady Justice Rafferty, Lord Justice Lindblom and Sir Ernest Ryder reserved their decision on Mr Briers' appeal and will give their ruling at a later date.
Harrison Clark Rickerbys has 400 staff and partners based at offices in Worcester, Birmingham, Cheltenham, the Wye Valley, Hereford and the Thames Valley, who provide a complete spectrum of legal services to both business and private clients, regionally and nationwide. The firm also has a number of highly successful teams specialising in individual market sectors, including health and social care, education, agricultural and rural affairs, defence, security and the forces, advanced manufacturing and construction.