The Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark divorce case, Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd  UKSC 34, confirmed that placing assets into corporate structures for wealth protection reasons might not now protect that wealth against divorce claimants.
Whilst Mrs Prest lost on many of her points of appeal, the Supreme Court looked at the overall asset structure of her husband and made a ruling against him, as it found that he had deliberately evaded court orders and tried to keep assets out of the reach of his wife.
Mrs Prest had sought a pay out of more than £30 million, plus more than £730,000 per year by way of spousal maintenance to meet the ‘reasonable needs’ of her and their children. As part of the settlement, Mrs Prest had asked for an order for the transfer of ownership to her of eight residential properties (which included the former matrimonial home), legal title to which was vested in two companies incorporated in the Isle of Man: Petrodel Resources Limited (‘Petrodel’) and another company ultimately owned by Mr Prest, Vermont Petroleum Limited (‘Vermont’).
The Court found that the husband either wholly owned, or had effective control of both of the companies but had claimed they were in fact independent from him. However, the evidence showed that the husband ran the companies and used their assets as if they were his own. It was further held to be likely that it had been the husband who had provided the funds to purchase the properties which were then subsequently transferred to the companies for minimal consideration.
Download the full article here: Prest v Petrodel