Supreme Court to hear high-stakes Prest divorce case

The former wife of oil tycoon Michael Prest is to take her case to the Supreme Court in March next year after the Court of Appeal (CoA) ruled against her claim that Prest should be forced to hand over assets totalling £17.5m.

The appeal at the Supreme Court for one of 2012’s most high-profile divorce cases is due to take place on 5-6 March after the CoA overturned an earlier High Court ruling (26 October 2012).

Last year High Court judge Mr Justice Moylan ordered Mr Prest, the founder of Nigerian energy company Petrodel Resources, to hand over £17.5m to Yasmin Prest, his former wife of 15 years. However, a first instance judge later said that, as Mr Prest was unlikely to hand over the assets given that he had flouted court orders, he should transfer 14 properties in the UK and abroad that were held by Petrodel Resources and other companies owned by him to his former wife as part payment.

Following an appeal by both companies, the CoA reversed the decision, with Lord Justices Patten, Rimer and Thorpe giving Mrs Prest permission to appeal to the Supreme Court over their ruling that her former husband need not transfer ownership of the properties to her.

For the Supreme Court hearing next year Mrs Prest will again turn to Farrer & Co partner Jeremy Posnansky QC, who instructed Richard Todd QC and Stephen Trowell QC for the appeal. It is understood that Posnansky will also work with company law barrister Daniel Lightman of Serle Court, who was not involved at the CoA, in the Supreme Court hearing.

As with the appeal, the companies will turn to Jeffrey Green Russell solicitor Sarah Ingram, family law silk Tim Amos QC of Queen Elizabeth Buildings and Erskine Chambers’ Ben Shaw.

Commenting at the time of the appeal in October, Posnansky said: “It’s a great pity that years of case law and practice which have enabled family law judges to do justice between divorcing couples have been overturned by this non-unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal.”