Wyatt v Vince – settled at last, but at what price?
13th June 2016
On Friday (Wyatt v Vince  EWHC 1368 (Fam)) Cobb J approved terms of settlement in the long-running court battle between Kathleen Wyatt and Dale Vince, following a relationship which lasted less than three years and ended before Wham! had released “Freedom” and whilst Margaret Thatcher was in her hey-day.
A lump sum order of £300,000 payable by the husband to the wife in full and final settlement of her financial remedies application was approved, together with costs orders totalling c. £325,000.
The background should be familiar to most readers, as it has been widely publicised in the national press, Mr Vince having attained “brilliant” post-separation success in green energy firm Ecotricity (now supplying energy to over 70,000 homes), following his successful fixing of a windmill to an old pylon at Glastonbury festival in the early 1990s (Supreme Court judgment Wyatt v Vince  UKSC 14).
It was this issue of publicity which troubled the wife, who wanted the settlement published, and the husband who was only agreeable to that if the full extent of the wife’s legal costs were made known at the same time. Cobb J helpfully summarised the law as to privacy and publicity in financial remedy proceedings and applied it to these unusual facts.
Gwyn Evans examines the judgment here, and responds to some recent criticisms of the costs rules in the Family Court.