Legal Business

Landmark Prest v Petrodel Resources verdict reached

Supreme Court decision hailed as end to ‘cheat’s charter’

The landmark divorce battle between Yasmin and Michael Prest came to an end last month as the Supreme Court on 12 June ruled Mr Prest should hand over properties held by companies under his control.

The ruling – the most significant divorce case to reach the UK’s highest court since the 2010 judgment in Radmacher v Granatino – has been touted as instrumental in establishing whether London remains a key forum for resolving big-money divorce cases. The case has also been watched for its impact on the court’s treatment of the corporate veil, which protects company assets.

The background to the long-running dispute – Prest v Petrodel Resources – is well trodden. In 2011, the High Court ruled that wealthy oil trader Mr Prest was worth at least £37.5m and should pay his ex-wife a £17.5m settlement. Included in that settlement was a £4m house in west London owned by one of Mr Prest’s companies, which Mr Justice Moylan ordered to be transferred in part payment of the settlement. However, last October Lord Justices Rimer and Patten allowed an appeal by the oil trader’s companies, ruling that on principle shareholders are not entitled to treat their companies’ assets as their own.