A FORMER New Age traveller whose ex-husband became a millionaire years after they parted has won the right to pursue a cash settlement against him in the Supreme Court.
Kathleen Wyatt wants a £1.9 million payout from Dale Vince, although she did not lodge a maintenance claim until more than 25 years after they had separated and nearly 20 years after their divorce.
I feel that we all have a right to move on and not be looking over our shoulders.Dale Vince
Five Supreme Court justices yesterday ruled that her claim should proceed and be analysed.
Ms Wyatt, 55, said the decision was “important”. Mr Vince, 53, said it was “mad”.
Judges had earlier taken different views on Ms Wyatt’s claim.
One ruled that her claim should go ahead following a High Court hearing, but Court of Appeal judges overturned that decision, ruling that the claim should be blocked after Mr Vince complained it had been lodged too late.
Five Supreme Court justices ruled in favour of Ms Wyatt yesterday after analysing the case at a hearing in London in December.
Ms Wyatt said: “It’s an important judgment.”
Mr Vince said: “I’m disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided not to bring this case to an end now, over 30 years since the relationship ended.
“We both moved on and started families of our own. For my part the passing of time is extremely prejudicial, it’s been so long that there are no records, no court has kept anything, and it’s hard to defend yourself in such circumstances – indeed, the delay itself has enabled the claim, because there is no paperwork in existence.” He added: “I feel that we all have a right to move on and not be looking over our shoulders. This could signal open season for people who had brief relationships a quarter of a century ago … it’s mad, in my opinion.”
Justices were told that the couple met as students, married in 1981 when they were in their early twenties, and lived a New Age traveller lifestyle.
They separated in the mid-1980s and divorced in 1992.
In the mid-1990s Mr Vince began a business career and went on to become a green energy tycoon after launching a company called Eccentricity –and justices were told that the business group is worth at least £57m.
Ms Wyatt lodged a claim for “financial remedy” in 2011.
Deputy High Court Judge Nicholas Francis gave her claim the green light in 2012 but three appeal judges blocked the claim in 2013.
Now Supreme Court justices say it should go ahead and be analysed by a judge in the Family Division of the High Court. One justice, Lord Wilson, said Ms Wyatt’s claim was “legally recognisable” and not an “abuse of process”.
He said she had been unwise to pitch her claim at £1.9m, adding that an award approaching that size was “out of the question”. But he said justices thought that there was a “real prospect” that she would get a “comparatively modest award” – perhaps enough to buy a mortgage-free house.
He said Ms Wyatt had four adult children, one of whom was a son fathered by Mr Vince.
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