Gloucestershire

Ecotricity tycoon Dale Vince wins case against ex-wife

Dale Vince
Image caption Dale Vince said he had practically no income when he and his ex-wife divorced in 1992

A green energy tycoon has won an appeal against his ex-wife's claim for maintenance more than 20 years after they divorced.

Millionaire Ecotricity owner Dale Vince, 51, of Gloucestershire, appealed after the High Court refused to strike out 53-year-old Ms Wyatt's claim.

Judges in the Court of Appeal ruled Mr Vince was not Kathleen Wyatt's "insurer against life's eventualities".

It is 30 years since the Forest Green Rovers owner separated from Ms Wyatt.

The couple shared a "New Age lifestyle" when Mr Vince had little or no income and years before he built his business empire, the court heard.

The pair married when he was 20 and Ms Wyatt was 22 and survived mainly on benefits. But the marriage lasted just three years.

'He was penniless'

Lord Justice Thorpe said: "Her husband was the most improbable candidate for affluence.

"The wife no doubt can appeal to his sense of charity but in my judgment he is not to be compelled to boost the wife's income by the exercise of the jurisdiction under the Matrimonial Clauses Act 1973."

The couple, who had a son in May 1981, separated in 1984 and their divorce was finalised in October 1992, but Mr Vince was not ordered to pay any maintenance.

Three years later Mr Vince launched himself as a businessman - setting up a wind energy business which developed into Ecotricity.

Lord Justice Thorpe said that may have prompted Ms Wyatt to apply to the Child Support Agency in 1997, which was reviewed but resulted in a nil assessment.

A second application was made in 2001, but withdrawn. In December 2010, after consulting four different solicitors over the years, Ms Wyatt instructed new lawyers to issue an application for financial remedy.

But in his ruling Lord Justice Jackson said the court should not allow people to be harassed by claims for financial relief which were issued many years after the divorce and had no real prospect of success.

Following the judgment Mr Vince's solicitor, Davina Hay, said: "Mr Vince understandably expected that having separated from his ex-wife in 1984 when he was penniless, he should not be required to pay her a vast sum of money simply because years after she divorced him, he had built a successful business.

"The Court of Appeal agreed with him unanimously."

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