I was fortunate enough to attend a training seminar recently the day that judgment was handed down on Vince v Wyatt, where one of the barristers involved in the case was a speaker. We were given’ hot off the press’ an overview of the outcome, which not surprisingly has attracted the attention of national press. In a nutshell, this ruling from the Supreme Court could open the door for financial claims to be made decades after parties are divorced.
In this case, the couple were ‘New Age travellers’ in the early 80s. The marriage was short and they had one child born in 1983. They lived a very frugal lifestyle, being mostly reliant on benefits. They separated in the mid 80s. Mr Vince continued with his traveller lifestyle and was involved in the Battle of the Beanfield. They divorced in 1992 and both parties went on to have other relationships and further children.
In the mid 1990s, the husband, described by Lord Wilson as ‘a remarkable man’ started a company, which became a very successful green energy business. This has made him a multi-millionaire. Ms Wyatt made a few attempts to claim money from Mr Vince including through the Child Support Agency, but with little success. Eventually, she found a London firm of solicitors who advanced her case and who issued her financial claim in May 2011, some 25 years after the parties separated.
Mr Vince applied to have the claim struck out, but this was dismissed, with the Supreme Court ruling that Ms Wyatt was entitled to pursue him for money. Mr Vince was also ordered to fund her legal costs. The case is continuing and the court has yet to decide how much Ms Wyatt should be awarded. Both sides have already run up huge legal costs bills running into hundreds of thousands of pounds with more to come.
This situation could have been avoided if the parties had obtained an order at the time of their divorce, settling their financial claims. Many couples do not do this, particularly if there is not much (if any) money, believing it is not important or worth the cost of a solicitor. I suspect that may well have applied to Mr Vince, but as the case is so old, no-one is sure whether a claim was made because the papers have not survived! This case is a stark reminder of what can happen if the financial ‘loose ends’ are not tied up at the time of divorce. It also highlights the fact that there is no ‘limitation period’ to a financial claim within divorce.
We at Acorn Family Law would remind those going through divorce, how important it to have a financial order made and not put it off or just ignore it. We can help you reach agreement and draft an order appropriate to your case, to include ‘clean break’ provisions. This would ensure you avoid suffering the same fate as Mr Vince! We offer very competitive rates with packages starting from £250 + VAT. Call us for further information and to discuss how we can help you on 01908 410301.
We are also committed members of Resolution, an organisation set up to promote good family law practice with the same values in mind. Click here to view a video about the benefits of instructing a Resolution member:
Call 01908 410301 for a free initial 20 minute appointment to discuss your needs and how we can help you.
Siobhan has been featured in the January 2014 issue of Prima Magazine (see photo)! Here is what she said about it:
“Through CILEX, I was invited to be the subject of one of their ‘Inspiring Lives’ articles. The aim was to encourage others that things such as age or family commitments should not stand in your way, and that you can achieve whatever you want if you put your mind to it. It was also to promote the benefits of becoming a lawyer through CILEX, as they offer a flexible and affordable way to qualify.
The article explained that in the past I had held back from ‘having a go’ but when working for a firm of solicitors, I was offered a chance to change that by qualifying as a CILEX lawyer. I started my studies in September 2006, but a few months into the first term, I found out I was pregnant! I carried on though, undaunted. After five years, which involved hours of study, revision and 10 exams, I qualified in October 2011. During this time, I continued to work and look after my son. It wasn’t always easy, but I was committed to becoming a lawyer and I didn’t once consider stopping and just being a ‘mum’! The article went on to say that another new opportunity beckoned in 2013, when I was able to go into partnership and open Acorn Family Law with my partner Leo. Here again I took the ‘chance’ to be a part of running a business, with all the challenges that that entails.
It was a great experience and hopefully it gets the message across that you never know what you can do if you don’t try! Having put in so much effort and determination to get where I am today, my clients can be assured that I will apply the same level of commitment to their case and that I will use all my skill and experience to their benefit.”
On Thursday 1st August 2013, the Citizen published an article on page 22 following our launch party. It was great to have some press coverage that reinforces the impact legal aid cuts have had on us (not to mention the poor clients!). Also to highlight the service we are aiming to provide.
A copy of the article is can be read here.
Our launch party on Friday 26th July 2013 was a great success. There was a good turn out from several solicitors, barristers and their clerks, mediators, Julia Upton (Chief Executive of MK Community Foundation), CAB staff, family members and even the odd client!
Leo spoke about the many members of her family who were (and are) also solicitors including her grandfather and father who ran a practice in Bletchley for 60 years until the late 80s. Her sister Esther Marchant also attended who is a Private Client Solicitor with Healds. Siobhan spoke about her background, having come from Aylesbury and worked for a leading law firm there. Also about our time with CAB and how we grew the Family Law Unit, and the amount of help and support they have given us to set up practice in Acorn House. She spoke of our aims and objectives as a firm specially to provide clients who no longer qualify for legal aid with a quality and cost-effective service.
We then had a video from Ben Thomas one of the Managers from CAB who spoke of our success with the Family Law Unit. He was particularly pleased that we had been able to set up our own practice, and that we are in a good position to continue supporting their clients as we are located just down the corridor!
Mary Banham-Hall, from Focus Mediation, then gave an illuminating talk about the difficulties many family practitioners are facing in the current climate. Specifically that rather than the legal aid cuts encouraging more clients to use mediation, it has had the opposite effect of increasing the number of court applications! She also felt that the message was not getting to the public that legal aid is still available for family mediation, and encouraged family law professionals to work in a more combined approach.
Friday 26th July 2013 at 4pm
Acorn House, 361 Midsummer Blvd, Milton Keynes MK9 3HP
With guest speakers Mary Banham-Hall, Lead Mediator, Focus and a representative from CAB Milton Keynes
Siobhan and Leo invite you to celebrate the launch of their new firm Acorn Family Law. As well as the above speakers we will have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and a tempting selection of canapés.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Please RSVP to: email@example.com or call: 01908 410301