Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Ex-wife's Supreme Court bid for share of $8m allowed

The couple split $72 million from the sale of Nutra-Life Health and Fitness, a business which they established in 1984. Photo / Thinkstock
The couple split $72 million from the sale of Nutra-Life Health and Fitness, a business which they established in 1984. Photo / Thinkstock

The ex-wife of a businessman who made a fortune in health and sport supplements has today been allowed to take her fight over a share of $8 million to the Supreme Court.

After Michael and Christine Thompson divorced in 2005 they agreed on how to split up their family home, a holiday home and $72 million from the sale of Nutra-Life Health and Fitness, a business which they established in 1984.

But the former husband and wife - who married in 1971 - were unable to agree on how to deal with an $8 million restraint-of-trade payment made to Michael Thompson in 2006 by the company that bought Nutra-Life.

Christine Thompson made a claim in the Family Court that this payment was relationship property and should be divided equally.

This, however, was deemed to be her former husband's separate property and Christine Thompson then appealed this decision to the High Court.

While Justice Pamela Andrews in the High Court agreed that the payment was Michael Thompson's separate property, she exercised her discretion to treat part of it as relationship property.

However, Justice Andrews said there was not enough information to work out what part of the $8 million payment could be treated as such and said further evidence could be submitted to establish this.

Michael Thompson appealed this decision, claiming Justice Andrews wrongly allowed further evidence to be admitted in the case.

At the same time, Christine Thompson appealed the High Court's judgment treating the $8 million as her former husband's separate property.

In a decision released earlier this year, the Court of Appeal allowed Michael Thompson's appeal and dismissed Christine Thompson's cross-appeal.

This meant that the Family Court judgment is reinstated.

However, Christine Thompson is fighting that decision and today has been granted leave to take her case to the Supreme Court.

The question the country's highest court will consider is whether the Court of Appeal was right to find the restraint-of-trade payment was not relationship property or should not be treated as such.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2015, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 01 Mar 2015 13:52:01 Processing Time: 738ms