The case concerned a couple whose principal asset was a business in the education sector. A judge ruled on the financial aspects of their divorce in October 2019, a few months prior to the onset of the pandemic. She ordered that, of total assets worth £4.75 million, the husband should receive 58 per cent and the wife 42 per cent.
The wife agreed that the husband should keep the business, an asset that pre-dated the marriage and which thus had, to some extent, a non-matrimonial element. The unequal division of assets was also justified by the fact that the husband’s shares in the business carried an element of risk and were not comparable to cash in the bank.
The business was hit hard after COVID-19 reached these shores and schools were closed as part of the lockdown. The husband applied to set aside parts of the order on the basis that the pandemic was an unforeseen and unforeseeable event that resulted in devastating financial consequences, which invalidated the fundamental assumptions on which the order was based.