Oil millionaire's ex-wife wins £3m more in divorce settlement

Stephen Howard,Pa
Friday 28 January 2011 13:03

An oil technology millionaire was ordered to increase his former wife's divorce settlement from £5 million to £8 million today.

Victoria Jones, 44, claimed at the Court of Appeal that she got just 20% of the £25 million marriage assets from her former husband Gareth and wanted £10 million.

Mr Jones, 58, who has retired to his 16th-century castle in Scotland, said the settlement was fair following a "troubled" 10-year marriage.

But three judges at the Court of Appeal, in a ruling critical of the High Court divorce hearing, found that the value of the assets generated during the marriage was £16 million and she should have half.

Lord Justice Wilson said High Court judge Mr Justice Charles's ruling was "too unwieldy" and he had spent days trying to understand it.

He said it had "been a challenge" to him to work out why Mrs Jones was awarded £5 million plus £400,000 towards her costs.

Sir Nicholas Wall, the president of the High Court Family Division, said it was "unfortunate" that the law was dictated by big money cases "which bear no resemblance to the ordinary lives of most divorcing couples".

He said the sums of money and costs involved are beyond "the experience and even the contemplation of most people".

"Whether the wife has £5 million or £8 million, she will still be a very rich woman and the application of the so-called "sharing" and "needs" principles may look very different in cases where the latter predominates and the parties' assets are a tiny percentage of those encountered here."

He said the £1.7 million costs of the case before it reached the Court of Appeal were "disproportionate".

Lord Justice Wilson said Mr Jones was the sole owner of Dominion Technology Gases which he sold during the divorce settlement hearing in May 2007 for £32 million from which he received £25 million.

But, said the appeal judge, he had "dishonestly suppressed the existence of the negotiations" and had told the court in a sworn statement the value of the company was £3 million.

He did give full details after the court made an order for disclosure but then argued that the value of the company when they split up in 2006 was significantly less and that it was driven up after the marriage had broken down.

Mr Justice Charles's finding that £15 million of the assets from the sale of the company were not generated during the marriage was flawed, said Lord Justice Wilson.

He ruled that £9 million of the assets belonged solely to Mr Jones because they were effectively generated before the marriage in 1996, leaving £16 million to be shared.

Mrs Jones lives in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, in a £2.1 million house bought by her mother.

Mr Jones, who made his fortune in the Scottish offshore oil and gas industry where he started as a teenage apprentice, lives in the castle valued at £1.2 million.

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