Millionaire lands himself in jail after failing to adhere to divorce settlement

Divorcee and property developer John Ralph Hart has found himself on the wrong side of the law after being handed a 14-month jail sentence for ignoring court orders to pay his ex-wife Karen Hart a £3.5 million share of their £9.4 million estate.

In 2015, the court ruling that decided the financial settlement in their divorce included the transfer of shares that would make Ms Hart the owner of his property company.

Following three years of court proceedings to get Mr Hart to comply, things finally came to a head in March 2018 when he was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 14 months in prison. According to Judge Wildblood QC, the presiding judge over the case, Mr Hart had ‘done his utmost to frustrate her ability to run [the company] efficiently and effectively’. This included stripping the company of its management records and delaying the transfer of shares. The effect on Mrs Hart of Mr Hart’s contempt has been profound.

Judge Wildblood QC also remarked that Mr Hart had caused ‘deliberate financial and emotional harm’ to his ex-wife and that the case has ‘placed an immense burden on limited public funds.’

Michelle UppalMichelle Uppal, London family lawyer who specialises in divorce and financial settlements for high net worth individuals at Miles and Partners Solicitors, endorsed the ruling commenting that while cases of this magnitude are rare, it sends a resounding message to all divorcing couples.

‘Divorce transactions can involve anything from a multimillion-pound company to a council house, but the effect of non-compliance is the same. If a court order is not obeyed, it prevents you getting on with the rest of your life and there is no need to stand back and accept it. When a party who is subject to an order has received repeated warnings to comply and chooses not to there are very serious implications.
Your family lawyer can help ensure that justice is served’ says Michelle.

If you need confidential advice on divorce or enforcing a financial settlement, or any other family law matter please contact Michelle Uppal on 020 7426 0400 or email

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published. You should always take legal advice relating to your individual circumstances.