A case recently heard in the Court of Appeal could affect the financial arrangements of many divorced couples.

It involves investor Brian Myerson, who divorced his wife in 2008 at the peak of the recent boom. The settlement reached with his ex-wife involved giving her a lump sum of £9.5 million and a property in South Africa worth £1.5 million. Although he has mortgages and other liabilities of £2.5 million, this still left Mr Myerson with a considerable fortune, his investment company being then valued at more than £15 million. At the time, the settlement left Mr Myerson with 57 per cent of the couple’s total assets.

Then came the credit crunch. Mr Myerson’s shareholding in his company is now valued at less than £2 million, meaning he has a negative net worth in the region of £500,000. £2.5 million of the original sum due to Mrs Myerson is still unpaid.

Mr Myerson went to the Court of Appeal in a bid to have the 2008 settlement overturned, and lost. The Court was sympathetic regarding his financial predicament, but considered that he had made the settlement with his eyes open and with the benefit of advice. The settlement would not be amended.