Ex-wife of green energy tycoon awarded £300,000 in divorce cash battle

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The ex-wife of a green energy tycoon has been awarded a "modest" lump sum payment of £300,000 in final settlement of the couple's divorce cash battle.

Kathleen Wyatt had earlier demanded 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.

How much she will actually receive of her award remains uncertain, because of outstanding legal bills which have yet to be fully quantified.

Approving the terms of the settlement, High Court family judge Mr Justice Cobb, sitting in London, said: "I am perfectly satisfied that it is reasonable, and that the wife is entitled to receive a modest capital award following the breakdown of this marriage.

"The lump sum payment agreed between the parties fairly represents, in my view, a realistic and balanced appraisal of the unusual circumstances of this case."

Neither Ms Wyatt, 55, of Monmouth, nor Mr Vince, 53, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, were in court for the announcement of the settlement.

 

Mr Vince is a former New Age traveller who became a millionaire businessman years after the couple parted.

There was a legal battle over whether her late claim against him could proceed, which Ms Wyatt finally won in the Supreme Court. Mr Vince described the decision as "mad".

Judges were told that the couple met as students, married in 1981 when they were in their early 20s, 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 Ecotricity - and justices were told that the business group is worth at least £57 million.

Ms Wyatt lodged a claim for "financial remedy" in 2011.

Deputy High Court Judge Nicholas Francis gave her claim the green light in 2012. Three appeal judges blocked the claim in 2013.

But the Supreme Court justices said it should go ahead.

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 £1.9 million, 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.

Lord Wilson said Ms Wyatt was in poor health and lives in a "modest house" in Monmouth.

He said she sometimes has low-paid jobs, and at other times she "gets by" on state benefits.

Lord Wilson said Mr Vince, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, was a "remarkable man".

"In his 20s he was a New Age traveller with no money at all," said Lord Wilson.

"But one year at the Glastonbury festival he rigged up a contraption from which he provided a wind-powered telephone service.

"It was the start of a business which, as a result of his ingenuity and drive, has led to his manufacture and sale of green energy on a massive scale.

"His company, Ecotricity Group Ltd, is now worth at least £57 million."

Lord Wilson said Mr Vince lives, with his second wife, in a Georgian fort.

Mr Vince said of the Supreme Court ruling against him: "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."