Wife keeps £48m Charman award

Manches scored a first in English legal history when the Court of Appeal today (24 May) upheld the largest-ever contested divorce settlement.

Manches family partner Helen Ward instructed Martin Pointer QC of 1 Hare Court for Beverley Charman, the wife of insurance millionaire John Charman.

The judges, led by president of the Family Division Sir Mark Potter, threw out an appeal by Charman against the £48m award to his former wife.

Charman had challenged the sum awarded by a High Court judge, saying his wife’s share in his fortune was “grotesque and unfair”.

In his judgment, Potter ruled that Charman’s special contribution had been taken into consideration when the award was made.

“Neither in its method nor in its result do we regard the judge’s treatment of the husband’s special contribution as vulnerable to appeal,” said Potter.

The judges held that Charman’s “massive contribution” to the family fortune meant he should receive a larger slice of the total assets, which were assessed at £131m.

Lawyers for the head of Axa Insurance group argued that his £20m offer was more than adequate and a £70m family trust should not have been taken into account when the total assets of the marriage were assessed. But the Appeal Court agreed that the trust fund was controlled by him, and so should be taken into account.

Beverley Charman’s barristers argued that the House of Lords had laid down guidelines in previous divorce rulings in big money cases that family assets should generally be divided equally between the breadwinner and the homemaker.

Barry Singleton QC of 1 King’s Bench Walk was instructed by partner Mark Harper from Withers for Charman.