Sir Frederick Barclay, the British businessman, was told on Monday that it is “absolutely essential” his ex-wife should be “properly provided for”, after he failed to pay a £100mn divorce settlement.
Barclay who, with his late twin brother David, built a group spanning property, hotels and the Daily Telegraph, made a “proposal” to Lady Hiroko Barclay in the latest stage of a drawn-out legal battle.
Judge Sir Jonathan Cohen agreed to delay a sentencing hearing at the UK High Court and urged both sides to “reach a full agreement”.
Barclay, 88, had appeared for an adjourned sentencing after he was found to be in contempt of court last July over his failure to pay £245,000 in maintenance and legal costs to his former partner.
Legal papers submitted on behalf of Hiroko Barclay claimed he had “still not paid one penny towards the £100mn [divorce award]” and “remains in breach and completely unrepentant”.
On Monday, Stewart Leech KC, barrister for Hiroko Barclay, asked for a further delay to the sentencing hearing after Frederick Barclay’s lawyers had made a last-minute settlement “proposal”, the court heard.
He asked for the hearing to be delayed until March 6 to allow more time for talks between the parties.
Leech told the court that, for the time being, “no further enforcement by my client” would be made, including a possible petition issued for Sir Frederick’s bankruptcy. In that case a court would be asked to confiscate a person’s assets so they can pay their debts.
“It is absolutely essential that Lady Barclay is properly provided for. It is unlikely this case will go away until that time,” Cohen told the court hearing where Hiroko and Frederick Barclay sat metres apart, separated by their legal teams.
Hiroko Barclay brought the application to have Frederick Barclay committed to prison for contempt of court last year after he failed to pay a £100mn divorce settlement awarded in 2021.
Frederick Barclay’s legal team then told the High Court that he was unable to pay the settlement, saying his assets were illiquid or could not be accessed without the help of the sons of his late brother David.
The court was also told that a “war between the two sides of the family” had meant his nephews would not help their uncle access the funds.
Cohen found Barclay in contempt of court in 2022 for failing to pay his former wife maintenance and legal costs, although he also ruled that the tycoon was not in contempt for failing to pay the first half of the £100mn award.
Last August Cohen agreed to postpone sentencing for several months to allow both sides more time to resolve the dispute, adding that he expected Barclay to “engage personally” with his nephews.
Court documents submitted for Monday’s hearing by lawyers for Frederick Barclay claimed he had an “obvious lack of means” and a prison sentence for contempt would be “inappropriate” because of his age.
The court papers also stated that a meeting had been scheduled last week between the retired businessman and Howard Barclay, one of his nephews who runs the family holding group.
Frederick Barclay will next appear before the High Court on March 6.