In what is thought to be the first lesbian “divorce” case to reach the Court of Appeal, the former partner of a successful property developer is fighting for a larger portion of her £6m fortune.
Helen Roocroft, 40, will make legal history if her claim – that her businesswoman ex-civil partner Carol Ann Ainscow, who died in 2013, misled her about her wealth when they ceased to be in a relationship – is successful.
The Court of Appeal heard that, instead of the £750,000 she claimed she was worth, business accounts for the year ending 2010 revealed that Carol Ann Ainscow’s combined wealth was actually closer to a figure of £6 million.
Ms Roocroft says the false information she was given while her former partner was alive led to her accepting a small pay out of £162,000 at the end of her 19-year relationship with the entrepreneur.
Their partnership was dissolved in 2010, the year in which Miss Roocroft applied for financial relief and maintenance.
She is now fighting to re-open her financial claims against Ms Ainscow’s estate in light of the estate’s actual value and, if successful, will be taking the money instead of the deceased’s elderly mother.
Lady Justice Black granted Ms Roocroft permission to appeal in what the judge believes is a unique case.
“The complication of the death of Ms Ainscow is significant,” said the judge. “I’m not aware of a similar case where the non-disclosure has been acted upon following death of the other party.”
As Miss Ainscow died without making a will, her mother is currently entitled to the entire estate.
The case will be heard by three judges later this year.