A mother is suing her former solicitor for £15 million, claiming that his poor advice cost her millions of pounds in a divorce settlement.
Caroline Mathiesen outside the High Court Photo: PAUL KEOGH
Caroline Mathieson, 51, alleges the solicitor botched an agreement she had asked him to draw up to prevent her former husband, Per, from taking more than £250,000 a year out of the family business. She sought the agreement after a friend told her Mr Mathieson, 82, had made it on to the Sunday Times Rich List.
The wording of the agreement did not stop Mr Mathieson paying himself up to £2 million a year for nearly a decade, reducing the value of her share of their assets when they divorced last year, she said.
The High Court heard that Mrs Mathieson learnt of her estranged husband’s large drawings from the firm Matki in 2002. She said she had developed a “deep distrust” of him, believing him to be having an affair, and said she was “flabbergasted” by what her friend had said. She said she asked John Seigal, of Clintons law firm, to draw up an agreement with “full protection” to stop her husband taking large sums out of the family’s shower fittings business.
“I told him there were severe problems in the marriage and I had very good reason not to trust Per,” she told the court. She said she was “in the dark” about how he was able to take “so much more than I thought he was supposed to be taking”. She believed the agreement, drawn up in 2003, would limit his salary to £250,000, with five per cent yearly increases.
It later emerged the agreement linked his pay rises to the company’s burgeoning profits. Her barrister, Roger Stewart QC, said Mr Seigal knew what Mrs Mathiesen, from Exton, Hants, wanted from the 2003 agreement and failed to secure it, resulting in “uncontrolled withdrawals of funds” from Matki by her husband.
Mrs Mathieson received 45 per cent of matrimonial assets in a multi-million pound divorce judgment last year, but says her share would have been worth more but for her solicitor’s alleged negligence.
Denying all claims, Michael Soole QC, acting for Clintons, said the £250,000 figure was never mentioned and Mrs Mathiesen had not been in a position to make demands. He said the agreement limited her husband’s drawings to those which would allow Matki to “grow and prosper …with sufficient retained funds”.
The court heard the couple, who married in 1993 when Mrs Mathiesen was 32 and Mr Mathiesen was 62, had lived in the £4.5 million Grade-II listed Exton House and had a second home in France. Mr Mathiesen is not party to the proceedings and was not represented in court. The hearing continues.
SOURCE: The Telegraph