As reported in The Daily Telegraph recently, the Court of Appeal is to hear what is believed to be its first English “lesbian divorce” case.
Renowned property developer Carol Ainscow was instrumental in the redevelopment of Manchester’s Canal Street and in other parts of the city. She was sole shareholder of her company, Artisan Holdings.
Miss Ainscow and Helen Roocroft had been in a relationship since the 1990s, before entering into a civil partnership in 2008. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t last and the couple separated the following year. The civil partnership was subsequently dissolved in 2010.
Miss Roocroft applied for financial relief and maintenance after her ex-partner had been featured in the 2009 Sunday Times list of the north’s top property people. However, during the hearing, Miss Ainscow explained that her business had been hit hard by the recession and that her assets at that time were valued at around £750,000. As a result of this, Miss Roocroft was awarded £162,000, payable in instalments, as a settlement.
That might have been the end of the matter, had it not been for Miss Ainscow’s death in 2013. It seems that Miss Roocroft may have suspected her ex-partner had been worth more than was indicated during the original hearing and on investigation, Artisan Holdings was shown to have held funds to the value of around £5.5m for the year ending 2010.
In 2014, Miss Roocroft applied to have her case reopened, but the request was denied. Now however, Lady Justice Black has granted permission for an appeal, to be held later this year. She said that: “There was material to support the case that there was non-disclosure of potential significance to an ancillary relief claim”, and “It is surely arguable that there is a public interest in not supporting those who mislead others, in particular the court”.