Chris’s Matrimonial Cases
Here are some matrimonial cases Chris has dealt with:
Business & Share Valuations – What’s My Business Worth?
Often the family company is the largest single asset to be taken out of the marriage by a spouse, and its value can be a large component of the matrimonial balance sheet. And it is seldom for sale, because the spouse who built it will wish, or need, to continue to operate it.
Chris has vast experience of valuing family companies as party expert and, increasingly, as SJE, and can advise on tax efficient ways of withdrawing them from the marriage.
Case 1 – The Ultimate Special Purchaser, and Bleak House
Chris acted as shadow expert for the wife in a case where the spouses owned a specialist IT company half each. The company was making huge trading losses, but its intellectual property was of great interest to an American company. So the husband was in complex negotiations with the US buyers, whilst Chris was advising the wife’s family lawyers on company sale & purchase and tax planning issues etc, in a way, which would not spoil the negotiations.
An order by consent was achieved, and the sale went through. A couple of years later the husband reneged on the deal, and the wife had to sue for the final instalments of the amount due to her. At the hearing, she won. The case is reported as Wood & Rost  EWHC 1511 Fam, and the first paragraph of the judgment reads:
“If Charles Dickens were alive today, the twists and turns of this litigation, conducted at vast expense, would provide him with ample copy for a 21st century sequel to Bleak House.”
Case 2 – Hidden IT Assets
Chris is also experienced at locating hidden assets and diverted businesses.
In one case, a husband had an IT company which, as well as selling hardware, provided a range of maintenance, support and training services. Chris captured a print from his website when all such services were listed. He then inspected the husband’s sales records, and found that regular income from many customers petered out.
The husband contended that these services were no longer worth pursuing. Then a few months later, Chris captured a print from the website of the new girlfriend, who also had an IT company, and found that all the missing services were now listed on her web site.
The husband very quickly reached a generous settlement with his ex-wife.
Case 3 – Divorce The Spouses, But Don’t Divorce The Companies
A husband and wife were equal shareholders in two companies. One company ran a big waste transfer company, and the other owned a huge quarry from which road gravel was extracted.
The wife’s lawyer proposed that a fair division of assets should start with the husband taking the waste business and the wife taking the quarry. Chris saw this as a daft proposal, for where would the husband put his landfill, and how would the wife refill the quarry?
Chris saw that there was a “marriage” between the two companies, and that they should not be “divorced”. He valued the combined businesses, the husband took them out of the marriage, and a settlement was reached with the wife whereby she took the matrimonial home and other assets to balance.
A clean break, which suited both parties, was achieved.
Case 4 – Is The Business Worth A Million Pounds Or Zero?
In another case the wife had a rich daddy who paid for a forensic accountant to value the husband’s businesses. That expert’s opinion was a total value of £1million. Application was made to the court for this expert’s report to be admitted, and permission was given provided that the husband could also instruct an expert. So Chris, acting for the husband, then valued the businesses, which had huge losses and pressing creditors, at £nil.
Shortly afterwards, and whilst the matrimonial proceedings were part heard, the husband was forced to declare himself bankrupt, and all his businesses collapsed. This was the best possible demonstration that the £1million valuation was hopelessly optimistic.
Hopefully these case studies show you how Chris uses his expertise to provide creative solutions to each case.
Contact Chris to discuss further how he can help.