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4 August 2014

Husband given a 4-week suspended sentence for not making any lump sum or maintenance payments

Mr Prest has been handed a suspended jail sentence for not complying with his court order after Mr Justice Moylan concluded that he had failed to make a lump sum payment of £17.5 million and periodical payments totalling nearly £300,000 a year to his wife and their four children, reports Family Law.

Mr Justice Moylan said that the 4-week sentence would be suspended for 3 months.

In June 2013 the Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal by Yasmin Prest and declared that property owned by Mr Prest's companies were held on a resulting trust. Mr Prest was ordered to transfer to his former wife, Yasmin Prest, properties held by companies owned and controlled by him.

John Nicholson, a specialist divorce and family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said:

'The courts have for some years now been inclined to use jail as a last resort when Children Act orders have been flouted repeatedly, it's good to see them taking the same stance in financial cases with this latest ruling in the long-running and high profile Prest v Petrodel divorce battle.
While the sentence is not as severe as the Scott Young decision last year which related to disclosure of information, it shows that family judges are not afraid to flex their muscles as they attempt to ensure all parties are complying with financial court orders.
In this case, the courts have decided how much Mr Prest should pay to his ex-wife, a judge has found that he has the means to pay, yet he has not paid her the funds. It is one thing for the courts to decide on a fair settlement – it is another situation entirely to ensure that any payments will be made. It seems only right that the courts continue to signal that non-compliance will not be tolerated - they have effectively given him three months to comply otherwise he will be facing jail.
The Prest v Petrodel case has shown that the family law courts still have the power to look closely at the nature of corporate holdings and make orders based on the concept of constructive or resulting trusts, even if that appears to conflict with the result that one might anticipate where two companies were contracting at arms’ length within corporate law.'