Legal history made as actor loses £300,000 in gay 'divorce' ruling

 

A West End star lost part of the £1.7m settlement he was awarded following the break-up of his civil partnership, after the Court of Appeal ruled that his "home-making" role did not entitle him to a larger slice of the couple's assets.

In the first case of the Court of Appeal adjudicating over the settlement of a same-sex partnership, actor Don Gallagher, who played Bernadette on stage in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, was ordered to give up £300,000 to ex-partner Peter Lawrence, a City high-flier.

The judgment follows a legal battle between wealthy equity analyst Mr Lawrence, 47, and the actor, 54, who despite entering the relationship with assets of just £40,000, was awarded £1.7m of the couple's £4m assets, in part because of his contribution to maintaining a "lovely home".

The couple began a relationship in 1997 and entered a civil partnership in December 2007, which ended in September 2008.

Mr Lawrence, a £390,000-a-year analyst with J P Morgan, claimed that Mrs Justice Parker was wrong to include his London flat worth £2.4m when she divided partnership assets.

While Mr Lawrence retained the flat in Clink Wharf, central London, which pre-dated their relationship, Mr Gallagher was awarded Pine Cottage, a five-bedroom period home in Amberley, West Sussex, which the couple bought and was now worth £900,000.

The actor was also to receive £800,000, reflecting the disparity between the value of the two properties and including a £200,000 pension pot, giving him a £1.7m settlement, which the judge said recognised his contribution to the 11-year relationship.

Patrick Chamberlayne QC, for Mr Lawrence, told the court the division was "flawed" because of the unequal financial contributions which the two men brought to the partnership.

Tim Bishop QC for Mr Gallagher told the court he had played "the major domestic and home-making role" in the partnership. He said the actor, who has appeared in West End shows and on television in Casualty, Birds of a Feather and Taggart, "helped create and maintain a lovely home in the flat."

Mr Bishop said it would be "inconceivable" that the family courts would approve the kind of reduced settlement Mr Lawrence was seeking in the context of a heterosexual marriage of a similar duration. He said it was vital that "no person coming before this court who is homosexual should feel themselves treated as second class citizens".

Lord Justice Thorpe, ruling with Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Ryder, said that Mr Lawrence should not be allowed to take his London property out of the mix of assets to be divided.

Mr Gallagher "should have Pine Cottage – it is his pride and joy."

But the judge said there was no rationality for Mrs Justice Parker's lump sum figure of £577,778 and he thought a fairer figure would be £350,000 reducing it by £227,778. Mr Gallagher's total share of the £4.175m assets was cut from 42 per cent to 33 per cent.

Mr Lawrence said: "The case was not in fact about the principles of civil partnership, which are the same as on divorce, but about how to divide assets which were largely brought into the relationship by one party."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?