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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 17:43 GMT
Wife rejects divorce award appeal
John Charman
John Charman said a 20m divorce offer to his wife was adequate
Lawyers for a woman who won the biggest divorce settlement in British legal history have been arguing against an appeal by her ex-husband.

John Charman, 54, who lives in Bermuda, has gone to the Appeal Court over the 48m award made last year to his former wife Beverley, 53, of Sevenoaks, Kent.

He said his work in amassing the family fortune entitled him to more of it.

But Mrs Charman's contribution could be seen as being of "equal value to the family as a whole", her lawyers said.

Martin Pointer QC, for Mrs Charman, told three Appeal Court judges on Wednesday that previous divorce rulings made by the House of Lords had laid down guidelines that family assets should generally be divided equally between the breadwinner and the homemaker.

Family trust

Mr Charman had described his former partner as "a housewife".

But Mr Pointer said: "A claim by a non-working wife is not to be diminished, either because she is not active in her husband's business affairs or because her domestic contribution could not be measured against those of the breadwinner.

Beverley Charman
Mrs Charman stayed at the family home in Kent when the couple split

"If sexist discrimination is to be avoided, in most cases such... contributions will be regarded as having been different in type but of equal value to the family as a whole."

But Mr Charman's lawyers claim a High Court judge was wrong to make the 48m divorce settlement last August.

They said his "endeavours in the global insurance industry" - he is the owner of the Axis group - meant he should get a larger share of the family's assets.

Mr Charman has also said a 70m family trust should not have been taken into account in the 131m total.

The hearing continues on Thursday, when judgment is expected to be reserved to a later date.


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