In the last few days, the High Court judgment in the Cooper-Hohn case has been published, setting out what is thought to be the highest award of money in any UK divorce. Jamie Cooper-Hohn was awarded $530 million of a total marital pot of $1.5 billion (which had been somewhat less at the time of separation).
Mr Hohn argued that the award should be $350 million, equivalent to one third of the assets at the point of separation. Mrs Cooper-Hohn sought a “full and equal share” of $750 million based on the assets at the date of trial.
Clearly a difference of $400 million warranted much complex legal argument during the proceedings, and at a lengthy final hearing, following which an enormous written judgment was produced, explaining how the concepts of (the husband’s) special contribution and accrual of assets after separation had justified a move away from an equal division in his favour.
If you think these numbers are impressive, consider that during their 17 year marriage, $4.5 billion had been transferred into a charitable foundation. This is altruistic generosity on a global scale – and is quite staggering. Between them, the Hohn’s built a leading world charity, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, addressing many issues, including child poverty, HIV/AIDS and climate change.
One thought overshadowed all others when I read the judgment. If the Hohn’s could selflessly give away $4.5 billion for good causes, why couldn’t they agree, even with the highest level of advice available, how to share the rest between them?