Ex-wife 'can't claim more because of rising shares'

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The judge who ruled that a recession-hit tycoon could not cut his £9.5 million divorce settlement decided today a wife could not claim more after her former husband's shares quadrupled in value.

But Lord Justice Thorpe, heading a panel of three judges at the Court of Appeal, said Martin and Kim Walkden had agreed a compromise and he was handing down his judgment only because the issues in the case "were of some general importance".

The wife had received a cash settlement totalling £482,000, mainly based on the £800,000 value placed on the husband's company.

But two months later, in October 2007, he received £1,758,199 when his timber products company Triesse was valued at £3.8 million in a takeover deal.

His former wife, who also received maintenance of £1,100 a month, was given permission at York County Court to seek a re-negotiation of the original settlement.

Mr Walkden, 47, today won his appeal that his case was no different from tycoon Brian Myerson's and his former wife should not get more.

Lord Justice Wall said Mrs Walkden, also 47, had reached an agreement with her former husband whereby her maintenance payments were converted to a capital sum and the couple had now achieved a clean break.

The judge said Mr Walkden's lawyer, Nicholas Francis QC, "was entitled to describe this case as the flipside of the decision of this court in Myerson v Myerson".

In that case, heard in April, it was ruled that Mr Myerson had no right to use the credit crunch as an excuse to renegotiate his multimillion-pound divorce settlement.

Mr Francis told the judges that Mr Myerson's was a case where the value of the shares collapsed, but this time the share value had substantially increased.

He said there should be no difference in the treatment of the two cases and the judge who allowed the wife permission to seek a re-negotiation had "fallen into error" in saying the share sale at a high price was an event that undermined the original agreement.

The former couple, who have two children, married in 1986 and divorced in 2006. Both live in Wetherby, west Yorkshire.

Mrs Walkden claimed that because of the rise in the value of the company, her share of the joint capital had fallen from 42% to 18% and the husband's had risen from 58% to 82%.

Bruce Blair QC, representing her, said this was unfair and had come about because Mr Walkden failed to keep the courts informed of the rise in value of his company.

Lord Justice Thorpe said none of the legal requirements had been met that would allow Mrs Walkden to reopen the hearing over division of assets.