A director’s pension scheme could be treated as a post-nuptial marriage settlement where the director was the only scheme member. It was thus a matrimonial asset capable of variation by a court in ancillary relief proceedings in a divorce. The court sought to define a marriage settlement: ‘In the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 settlement is not defined, but the context of section 24 affords some clues. Certain indicia of the type of disposition with which the section is concerned can be identified reasonably easily. The section is concerned with a settlement ‘made on the parties to the marriage.’ So, broadly stated, the disposition must be one which makes some form of continuing provision for both or either of the parties to a marriage, with or without provision for their children.’
Lord Nicholls said: ‘This decision should not be seen as a solution to the overall pension’s problem. Not every pension scheme constitutes a marriage settlement . . If the court is to be able to split pension rights on divorce in the more usual case of a multi-member scheme where the wife has no earnings of her own from the same employer, or to direct the taking out of life insurance, legislation will still be needed.’
As to section 24: ‘The section is concerned with a settlement ‘made on the parties to the marriage.’ So, broadly stated, the disposition must be one which makes some form of continuing provision for both or either of the parties to a marriage, with or without provision for their children. Conversely, a disposition which confers an immediate, absolute interest in an item of property does not constitute a settlement of that property. The statutory provision is concerned with an order varying the terms of a settlement. This would not be an altogether apt exercise in relation to property given out-and-out and belonging to one of the parties to the marriage as his or her own absolute property. The context does not require that outright gifts of this nature should fall within the scope of the variation provision. In such a case the appropriate order on the dissolution of the marriage, if an order is needed in respect of the property, is a property transfer or property settlement order.’
Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Ackner, Lord Lloyd, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Steyn
Gazette 06-Sep-1995, Independent 04-Jul-1995, Times 03-Jul-1995,  AC 375,  2 FLR 13,  UKHL 19,  Fam Law 545,  3 All ER 257,  3 FCR 214,  3 WLR 141
England and Wales
Appeal from – Brooks v Brooks CA 27-May-1994
A single member pension fund scheme was a post nuptial settlement within the Act, and was variable by the court on a divorce. No third party would be affected. . .
Cited – Bosworthick v Bosworthick CA 1927
An annuity secured by a bond was found to be a settlement. . .
Cited – Lort-Williams v Lort-Williams CA 1951
two individuals had taken out a single premium insurance policy on the life of Sir John Rolleston Lort-Williams. The benefits were payable to these trustees as ‘moneys payable under this policy, effected for the benefit of the widow or children or . .
Cited – Griffiths v Dawson and Co FD 1993
The possibility that a pension scheme might fall within the scope of section 24(1)(c) was given judicial recognition. . .
Cited – Pearce v Pearce CA 28-Jul-2003
The financial claims on divorce had been settled by a compromise recorded in a court order. The order included periodical payments to the former wife. After she suffered financial losses, she sought an increase, and the former husband sought an . .
Cited – Charalambous v Charalambous; C v C (Ancillary Relief: Nuptial Settlement) CA 30-Jul-2004
The parties had been wealthy. Whilst still married, substantial sums had been placed in a trust. Their business interests had crashed and both faced personal bankruptcy. The husband appealed an order setting aside the trust.
Held: A clause in . .
Cited – Martin-Dye v Martin-Dye CA 25-May-2006
The court was asked how to achieve fairness in ancillary relief proceedings on a divorce as respects pension entitlements. The parties had sufficient to allow a clean break, but the assets mixture included sums invested which would be returned only . .
Cited – Ben Hashem v Ali Shayif and Another FD 22-Sep-2008
The court was asked to pierce the veil of incorporation of a company in the course of ancillary relief proceedings in a divorce. H had failed to co-operate with the court.
After a comprehensive review of all the authorities, Munby J said: ‘The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.78677