May 24, 2007 / 10:02 AM / 11 years ago

Multi-millionaire loses divorce payout appeal

LONDON (Reuters) - A multi-millionaire businessman lost his appeal on Thursday against a court order awarding a record-breaking, 48 million pound divorce settlement to his ex-wife.

Insurance underwriter John Charman, 54, had challenged the size of the award to his former wife Beverley, 53, made by the High Court’s Family Division last year.

The case was being studied closely by at least one of the lawyers currently negotiating the divorce deal following the marriage break-up of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.

Beverley Charman was represented in the proceedings by leading divorce lawyer Martin Pointer, who is also representing Mills in her fight for a share of the McCartney millions.

Last year, Justice Paul Coleridge awarded Charman of Sevenoaks, Kent, the 48 million pounds -- the highest sum ever from a British divorce judge.

He gave her half her ex-husband’s money, saying it had been a long marriage during which all the wealth was generated from scratch.

Mr Charman, who had offered his wife a 20 million pound pay-out, said at the time the award was “unfair and unreasonable” and that the sum he had offered his wife would be “impossible for any reasonable person to spend in their lifetime”.

But on Thursday, President of the High Court Family Division, Sir Mark Potter, sitting with Lords Justices Matthew Thorpe and Nicholas Wilson backed the High Court decision.

Mrs Charman said outside the court afterwards: “I acknowledge that the sum awarded to me is huge by any standards, but the Court of Appeal has decided that it fairly reflects the contributions made by John and me during our 28-year marriage.”

In a complex legal battle in the Appeal Court in March, it was argued by Mr Charman’s team that the High Court judge had been wrong to take into account a 68 million pound trust fund when assessing his ability to meet the award.

By taking that into consideration, the judge had decided that the total assets to be divided ran to 131 million pounds.

They also argued he had been wrong to use a 50/50 split as the starting point to assess who should receive what. They said he should have decided how much Mrs Charman should get on the basis of her financial needs.

Potter said the court backed the decision of the High Court judge who had “serially considered all the factors set out”.

Permission to appeal to the House of Lords was refused, but it is still open to Mr Charman’s lawyers to apply directly to the law lords for permission to challenge the Appeal Court’s verdict.

The couple met as teenagers when they were at school in 1969, became engaged when they were each about 20, married in 1976 and bought their final home in Sevenoaks, in 1987. They lived there together until they separated in 2003.

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