UK Courts Trim Record-Breaking Settlement Between Priscilla Star And His Ex-Partner

We reported earlier this month about English stage actor Don Gallagher (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) getting £1.7 million (about $2.7 million) in his separation from civil partner Peter Lawrence, a successful equity analyst for JPMorgan.

But Bloomberg is reporting that a UK court of appeal today agreed to trim that figure down to £1.37 million pounds (roughly $2.18 million). The court reduced Gallagher’s cash payout to £350,000 ($560,000) and rejected his claim on more than £90,000 ($143,000) of Lawrence’s deferred bonuses.

Lawrence must give Gallagher 33 percent of their assets rather than the 42 percent share awarded by a lower court, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal in London ruled today.

Under today’s decision, the banker will keep the London apartment he purchased before the 11-year relationship began, even though the property “soared” in value from 650,000 pounds in 1997, when the couple moved in together, to 2.4 million pounds. Gallagher got the couple’s second home, valued at nearly 900,000 pounds.

While we doubt you’re crying about the dough, Gallagher, 54, lost but he would have made off substantially better if the men were legally married instead of just joined in civil union. (Marriage equality is currently under consideration in Great Britain.)

“If this were a heterosexual marriage, and he were the female partner married to a wealthy City trader, he would have walked away with a considerably greater sum,” Matt Baldwin, a spokesman for Gallagher’s law firm Boodle Hatfield, said in a phone interview referring to workers in London’s financial district.

Even with this reduction the Gallagher-Lawrence split is reportedly still England’s highest-value civil partnership dissolution.


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  • david

    I’m confused. I thought civil partnerships were 100% exactly like marriage. What are the differences?

  • Tavdy79

    There are several differences, but this is not supposed to be one of them. I think I’m right in saying that Gallagher should be able to take the case to SCOTUK, which replaced the House of Lords as the UK’s highest court a few years ago.

    Parliament has repeatedly affirmed that civil partnerships are to be treated identically to marriages in every way, except where explicitly stated in the CP law itself (e.g for pensions, honours, etc.). This is important because, in the British politicalm system, the five branches of government are not equal – the executive (prime minister/cabinet) church (CofE) and courts are subject to the legislature (parliament) and crown. Sicne the crown has no remaining de facto power, this means the cabinet, church and courts cannot overturn or alter laws passed by parliament (although there are two key exceptions in the case of the courts – SCOTUK can overturn secondary legislation that either conflicts with, or is beyond the scope of, primary legislation, and can force parliament to re-examine legislation that conflicts with the European Convention on Human Rights).

    The Court of Appeal may have attempted precisely that – overturn or alter a law passed by parliament – by treating Gallagher differently from the way a divorcing spouse would be treated in an otherwise similar situation. The British and American legal systems (with the exception of Louisiana and Scotland) are very similar common law systems, which rely heavily on precedent. I don’t know if the Court of Appeal has set precedent in this case, but if it has it needs to be challenged as it will affect many other couples, both straight and gay.

  • Becky Rose

    About 90% David.

  • Auntie Mame

    So because a woman can bleed her husband, a gay couple should be able to do the same to each other?

  • NoVa Scotty

    How utterly predictable: Come time for separation/divorce, one of the couple is always going to try to ruin the other out of spite. What, you thought gays were somehow different?

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