(Bloomberg News) JPMorgan Chase & Co. equity analyst Peter Lawrence won a U.K. appeal cutting to 1.37 million pounds ($2.18 million) a divorce payout to his ex-civil partner, former "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" star Donald Gallagher.
Lawrence must give Gallagher 33 percent of their assets rather than the 42 percent share awarded by a lower court, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal in London ruled today.
Under today's decision, the banker will keep the London apartment he purchased before the 11-year relationship began, even though the property "soared" in value from 650,000 pounds in 1997, when the couple moved in together, to 2.4 million pounds. Gallagher got the couple's second home, valued at nearly 900,000 pounds.
"If this were a heterosexual marriage, and he were the female partner married to a wealthy City trader, he would have walked away with a considerably greater sum," Matt Baldwin, a spokesman for Gallagher's law firm Boodle Hatfield, said in a phone interview referring to workers in London's financial district.
The decision comes about a year-and-a-half after the U.K. Supreme Court took the country closer to U.S.-style divorces with a ruling on pre-nuptial agreements, which are often used by wealthy people marrying someone with less money. The October 2010 decision, on a settlement between a wealthy German heiress and a former investment banker for New York-based JPMorgan, said such accords can be given decisive weight in U.K. divorces.
In today's ruling on what lawyers called Britain's highest- value civil partnership divorce, the appeals court reduced a cash payout to Gallagher to 350,000 pounds and nixed his 90,000- pound share of Lawrence's deferred bonuses. In the U.K., gay couples can't marry and are the only ones eligible for civil partnerships.
Under the ruling, Gallagher will keep the couple's home in the English countryside worth nearly 900,000 pounds, his "pride and joy," and receive 200,000 pounds of Lawrence's pension, the panel of judges said.
"This successful and affluent couple had enjoyed the use of two properties whilst they were happy together," the appeals court said in its judgment. "Once they fell out, each needed a home of his own."
Lawrence, 47, and Gallagher, 54, together for more than a decade, separated seven months after getting a civil partnership in December 2007. They petitioned to end the arrangement in January 2009.