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Petrodell v Prest appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court

Court of Appeal grants permission to appeal against its split decision

The Court of Appeal, comprising Lord Justices Thorpe, Rimer and Patten, have given permission to Yasmin Prest to appeal to the Supreme Court against its decision in Petrodell Resources Limited v Prest [2012] EWCA Civ 1395.

In October, the Court of Appeal (Thorpe LJ dissenting) had allowed the companies' appeal against an order by Moylan J who had concluded that the assets held within the companies were effectively the husband's property. After assessing an award to the wife of £17.5 million he ordered the husband to transfer or cause to be transferred to the wife the London properties held by the companies along with three properties in another company.

In the Court of Appeal Rimer LJ held (Patten LJ concurring) that the appeals should be allowed  because the judge fell into fundamental error as he made no primary findings justifying any conclusion other than that the properties were part of the assets of, and belonged beneficially to, the companies that owned them. Rimer LJ further held that Moylan J was wrong to find that the husband's sole control of the companies as their 100% owner enabled him to deal as he wished with the companies' assets and that it followed that the husband was therefore the beneficial owner of such assets and so 'entitled' to them within the meaning of MCA 1973 s.24(1)(a). 

Following the original decision in the Court of Appeal, Jeremy Posnansky QC of Farrer & Co, acting for Mrs Prest, commented:

"Devious men who want to avoid making fair provision for their wives will rejoice at this decision."

The judgment can be read here. For an article analysing the Court of Appeal's decision - Family Division 1 - Chancery Division 2: a consideration of Petrodell v Prest - by Alison Burge of Pump Court Chambers, please click here.