Carving up the matrimonial assets

The £9 million divorce pay-off to Maya Flick, ex-wife of Friedrich Flick of the Mercedes empire, recently became public in the Appeal Court.

The level of the highest ever award in ancillary proceedings by our courts has been an open secret among divorce practitioners for a long time.

But the profession is now waiting for the second round of the battle in which Mrs Flick is heading back to court to ask for a bigger settlement.

She claims that £9 million, less than 5 per cent of her ex-husband's £200 million fortune, is not sufficient to keep her in the style to which she has become accustomed.

Her plea for more was to have been heard at the end of November.

But the case emerged in public prematurely when Mr Flick sought to have his wife's leave to challenge the Family Division award of Mr Justice Thorpe (now Lord Justice Thorpe) rescinded.

The move to rescind fell on stony ground when it came before the Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Otton and Sir John Balcombe. But it did provide the first insight into a case which is set to become a landmark action.

Divorce judges are increasingly facing the prospect of carving up marital finances involving huge sums. Any new guidance the Appeal Court can given on dividing the assets in such cases is bound to be of major significance.

The Appeal Court's view of the Flick case will be viewed as an important sign-post for future big money cases, a number of which, including that of US billionaire Robert Dart, are in the pipeline.

Although the Flick case was first set for a November hearing that now seems unlikely in the light of indications to the court during the rescind application that original time estimates were likely to overrun.

Apart from Mrs Flick's appeal, a cross-appeal by her husband over the High Court costs order is expected to follow which will increase the time and should prove to be significant to divorce practitioners.