83-year-old jailed for contempt over divorce settlement
An 83-year-old businessman has been jailed for 14 months for ‘serious contempt’ after his ex-wife was awarded £3.5m in their divorce settlement.
His Honour Judge Wildblood QC, in sentencing remarks published yesterday, said John Ralph Hart ‘is a man who has received repeated warnings already that he must comply with court orders and he has chosen, repeatedly, not to do so’.
In 2015 Karen Hart was awarded £3.5m of the couple’s total £9.375m wealth. Her ex-husband was ordered to transfer his shares in a company called Drakestown Properties Ltd to her. Wildblood said the management of the company by Karen Hart should have been simple ‘but Mr Hart has done his utmost to frustrate her ability to run it efficiently and effectively’. Karen Hart applied for her ex-husband’s committal in September 2016.
Jo Carr-West, a partner in the family law department at Hunters Solicitors, in London, said the publicity around the judgment will assure clients that, once an order is made, the court will uphold it and punish those who deliberately avoid paying. Carr-West said: ‘Clients always ask “but what if he doesn’t pay?”. Battles to enforce an order can be long, frustrating and extremely expensive with costs having to be met upfront by the party trying to get the money owed to them.’