Daily Telegraph Owner Accused of Failing to Pay Ex-wife £50 Million - What Divorcing Couples Can Learn About Avoiding Conflict

Reclusive billionaire St Frederick Barclay is risking a jail term after failing to pay his ex-wife the first instalment of the £100 million divorce settlement she was awarded by the court earlier in 2021 after their 34-year marriage ended.

Sir Frederick’s ex-wife, Lady Hiroko Barclay, has asked the court to send him to prison, claiming he had breached the court’s instructions in respect of payment of the lump sum of £50 million and disclosure of documents.

Sir Frederick and his late twin, Sir David Barclay, amassed a fortune in a range of businesses, including ownership of the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator, the Ritz hotel, delivery business Yodel and the Very retail group.

The billionaire asked the court to consider his ex-wife’s claims in private, stating that confidential financial information would be included in the case. Judge Jonathan Cohen refused, saying the case would be heard in public, although some evidence could be subject to reporting restrictions or heard in private.

Sir Frederick had already angered the judge following the breach of a court order requiring a luxury yacht to be sold and the proceeds made available. The judge noted at the time: “I made orders intended to control the sale and the use of the proceeds. He completely ignored those orders, sold the yacht and applied the equity for his own use. I regarded that behaviour as reprehensible.” He also noted that he had “repeatedly” failed to disclose relevant documents or answer questions about the issue in court.

The case is expected to be heard early in the New Year.

Avoiding conflict when separating finances in divorce

Emotions often run high when dealing with financial issues on divorce, particularly where there are substantial assets. There is a risk that if efforts are not made to quash this, that both parties could end up in protracted legal wrangling. This makes life difficult and can prevent those involved from effectively moving on. As well as being stressful and time-consuming, legal conflict is often expensive.

At Preston Redman, we focus on helping clients to reach an amicable settlement with their former spouse. We understand that this can be difficult, but we are often able to suggest ways of resolving matters without the need for a court hearing.

If you cannot reach an agreement, it is recommended that you attempt alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration. This is a faster and more cost-effective way of dealing with matters than litigation.

A neutral mediator will help you both to understand the options open to you and work with you to try and find an acceptable arrangement. You do not have to agree to any suggestions unless you wish to. Arbitration is similar, but the arbitrator will make a decision that will be binding on you both.

You are entitled to receive a fair share of the matrimonial assets. This may not be exactly half, as the court will take into account the needs of both parties, and if one has higher financial needs, they may be awarded a larger settlement.

A divorce settlement is legally binding, although an exception may be made where one party has hidden assets or failed to adequately disclose documents during the case.

Dealing with a breach of a financial order in divorce

If your former partner breaches a financial order, it may be possible to resolve the matter by way of negotiation or mediation. If not, you are entitled to ask the court to deal with the matter.

The court has various powers available to it, such as requiring your former partner’s employer to make payments to you from their income and imposing fines or even a prison sentence.

Do you need advice about divorce or separation?

At Preston Redman, we have an expert team of divorce and separation solicitors who have specialist experience in dealing with contentious issues. We are often able to deal with a disagreement without the need for litigation so that your case can be settled without undue delay and conflict.

Our family lawyers represent clients across Bournemouth, Poole and the wider Dorset area, with our main aim being to help you reach an amicable agreement without the need for a court hearing wherever possible. We are members of Resolution, a leading family law organisation committed to reducing the amount of animosity in divorce.

Partner and Head of Family Law, Tim Flower, has particular expertise in taking a constructive approach to family law matters and is accredited by the Law Society Family Law Advanced scheme.

To get in touch with Tim, or any of our other divorce and separation solicitors, give us a call at our offices in Bournemouth or fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.