Where 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.