‘The Man From Del Monte…He say ‘Yes’!’ The Long Drawn Out Financial Divorce Settlement in Imerman Finally Arrives

A staggering £15 million divorce settlement brought to an end this widely publicized divorce case which has been going on for the past four years.

This case has been in and out of the news for all sorts of reasons, and not just because of who the parties are. For those of you that are not aware, Vivian Imerman is a South African multimillionaire drinks magnate and chief executive of the Del Monte company (nicknamed ‘The Man from Del Monte’) and his wife, Lisa Tchenguiz is a film producer and also, the sister of wealthy London property developers, Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz.

One of the most famous rulings to have come out of this case in 2010, related to the use of documents in financial proceedings, obtained without the other party's knowledge and consent. Imerman had failed to disclose certain documents which Tchenguiz’s brothers managed to download from his computer, which they wanted to use to expose the true extent of their brother in law’s fortune. Previously under Hilderbrand rules, such practice was allowed. However, this case saw an interim ruling to turn that on its head and overnight, divorce lawyers up and down the country had to change the advice that was given to their clients: it was no longer acceptable to search for and uncover documents that did not belong to you. You were no longer permitted to seize papers and documents left lying around as this would be seen as breaching a party’s right of confidence. Her brothers were ordered to return the thousands of documents that they had uncovered. At the time, I recall such uproar by family lawyers calling this decision nothing more than a cheat’s charter: allowing the wealthier spouse to effectively hide assets.

The position now is that the not-so-wealthy souse (very often being the wife) will have to apply for Court orders to search their husbands offices, seize his documents and freeze his assets: the ‘seize, freeze and squeeze’ procedure, as I like to call it! This costs money and if the wife cannot finance this, unfortunately the settlement that she arrives at may not be fair. True, this decision may appear to be in favour of the divorcing husbands but it is fair to say that what the decision effectively means, is that one is not able to take the law in to one’s own hands.

Fast forwarding to the present time and the divorce which was termed ‘Britain’s most bitter divorce’, has come to an end with a lump sum order of £15 million, to be paid in instalments, with no order as to costs.

In Imerman’s official statement following the settlement his spokeswoman confirmed “Mr Immerman believes that this is in the best interests of their daughter…” Fair enough – strange though that it has taken the parties four years to reach this conclusion. However, despite this, the ending of the story and the settlement was not too bad for Mr Immerman, whose reported estimated value is actually closer to £300 million! Whether the full extent of his business empire was ever truly exposed, we will never know…

Rupinder Bains

Managing Director

Pinder Reaux & Associates