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Couple Pay Price of Entangling Business and Personal Assets

FarmhouseWhere business partners are also couples, legal advice is often needed to ensure that commercial and personal assets do not become hopelessly entangled. In one case, a former couple who built up a frozen food business with an annual turnover of £1.8 million required judicial intervention in order to achieve a final separation.

The couple had tasted commercial success after starting out as market traders. By the time their personal relationship collapsed, the business was occupying the £645,000 farmhouse in which the woman grew up. The man, who managed the business, also lived there, and claimed a share of the property.

In seeking to cut the Gordian knot, the Court of Appeal overturned an earlier ruling that the man was entitled to a 25 per cent stake in the farmhouse. There had never been any agreement that he would have a beneficial interest in the property. However, the Court ruled that the man and the business – of which he was the rightful owner – could remain in occupation of the farmhouse on payment of £750 a week to the woman. She was awarded £62,300 in arrears which were owed to her.