This followed a trial where the husband argued that his wife had acted solely as a receptionist at the hotel and had not been employed on a permanent basis throughout the period of their cohabitation and short subsequent marriage.
The husband also argued that he had acquired the hotel from his father and the business had been part of his family to an extent for numerous generations. Therefore, it should not form the product of a shared endeavour. He also demonstrated that the business was already considerably valuable when he took it over from his father.
The wife contested this on the basis that her energy, enterprise and marketing skills had been pivotal in ensuring the hotel’s success during the period of her employment. She did make a concession that a third of the net assets of the business should not be included in her claim.
The trial judge held that the wife’s contribution to the success of the hotel business had been exceptional and that the hotel was not of any notable worth when it was transferred to the husband from his father.
The Court of Appeal upheld the award but stated that the trial judge should not have accepted that the business had no value at the date of its transfer. However, the wife’s contribution was accepted and it was further stated that had she not made the concession then the order could have exceeded £2.2million.