Nicholas Mostyn

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The Honourable
Mr Justice Mostyn
Judge of the High Court of Justice
Family Division
Assumed office
20 April 2010
Appointed by Elizabeth II
Preceded by Mr Justice Bennett
Personal details
Born (1957-07-13) 13 July 1957 (age 59)
Lagos, Nigeria
Nationality British Nigerian
Alma mater Ampleforth College
University of Bristol
Inns of Court School of Law
Occupation Barrister
Religion Roman Catholic

Sir Nicholas Anthony Joseph Ghislain Mostyn[1] (born 13 July 1957 in Lagos, Nigeria), styled The Hon. Mr Justice Mostyn, is a British High Court of Justice judge in the family division, and a former leading divorce lawyer.[2]

Early life[edit]

The son of a British American Tobacco executive from North Wales, Mostyn was born in Nigeria, and grew up there and in Venezuela and El Salvador. After his parents divorced, he was educated at Ampleforth College alongside friend Edward Stourton (also the Nigerian born son of a BAT executive, and later BBC journalist), where the pair won the Observer Mace debating prize.[3] He then studied law at the University of Bristol.[2]


Serving his pupilage at Middle Temple, he was called to the bar in 1980, and initially served on domestic violence cases in Edmonton County Court; he took silk in 1997. In 2000/1 he was on the losing side of the husband farmer in the key White v White case, where the judge ruled that "there should be no bias in favour of the money-earner and against the home-maker and the child-carer."[3]

After this his career took off, and after winning a number of notable cases including representing the wife of footballer Ray Parlour, and winning the 1000day marriage case for the wife of a leading City of London fund manager where no children where involved, he earned himself the nickname of "Mr Payout."[3][4] At the height of his earnings, his is reputed to have earned £500 an hour, and was retained by Fiona Shackleton in Paul McCartney's divorce case with Heather Mills.[2] Mostyn would also undertake pro bono cases where he thought there was an important issue of law involved, particularly those involving the Child Support Agency and its problems:[3]

Mostyn became an assistant recorder in 1997, and both a recorder and appointed a deputy High Court judge in 2000.[2] Mostyn was appointed a full-time High Court judge on 20 April 2010, on the retirement of Mr Justice Bennett.[5] He was knighted on 11 May 2010.[1]

Notable cases[edit]

  • Karen v. Ray Parlour: won more than £4m in 2004 in a divorce against the settlement former Arsenal F.C. footballer, where it was ruled that Karen's efforts to curb Parlour's addiction to the 'laddish' footballer drinking culture meant she had played an important role in his career. Mostyn won her a £250,000 lump sum, an annual personal maintenance allowance of £406,500, two tax-free homes, £37,000 maintenance for their three children, and 37.5% of his future earnings.[3]
  • Melissa v. Alan Miller: City of London Fund Manager Alan, who was married to Melissa for less than 1000days, was told to hand over £5m of his reported £65m fortune. No children were involved.[3]
  • Sandra v. Sir Martin Sorrell: won the ex-wife of the CEO of advertising group WPP, a 40:60 share of marital in 2005, a sum of £29m after being "marginalised and dehumanised" by her husband during their 32-year marriage. The payout included a £23.4m lump sum, £2m in bank deposits, the family's £3.25m home, and two parking spaces valued at £200,000.[3]
  • Shan v. Harry Lambert: in 2001, won £7.5M for the ex-wife of the newspaper proprietor. Harry Lambert who was represented by Martin Pointer QC. In 2002 after an appeal by Harry, the figure was increased by £2.6m, half Lambert's £20m fortune. Lambert described his ex-wife's contribution to their 23-year marriage as "revolving around children and the microwave," the judge quoted White v White back to him.[3]
  • Zeta v. Francois Graff: won the model, socialite and actress £10m on divorcing diamond heir Francois in 2003. The settlement included a London property and a jewellery collection, from a family worth more than £100m. Mostyn described the settlement as a "crushing victory."[3]
  • Sir Paul McCartney v. Heather Mills: in which Mostyn was retained by McCartney's solicitor Fiona Shackleton,[6] before Mills solicitor Anthony Julius, leading to them being known during the case by the media as the "legal dream team."[2]
  • Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer v. second wife, Carolyn Freud: Mostyn represented the Earl. After losing the right to have the case heard in a closed court session, the Earl was upset at the final settlement. Mostyn, a keen farmer, named his latest batch of seven pigs after his thoughts on the case's high court judge, Mr Justice James Munby: James, Munby, Self-regarding, Pompous, Publicity, Seeking, Pillock. The Earl later unsuccessfully sued Mostyn.[7][8]
  • Katrin Radmacher v Nicolas Granatino:Mostyn represented Nicolas Granatino against millionairess, Katrin Radmacher. Mrs Radmacher was represented by Richard Todd QC. Mrs Radmacher was successful in effecting a change in the common law so that pre-nups were no longer void for public policy reasons.
  • Re AA:Mostyn presided as judge and authorised an NHS Trust to deliver a deliver a child by emergency caesarian section, as the mother was judged to have lacked capacity to have consented to the operation herself. The mother was an Italian citizen who was visiting the UK; during her visit she suffered a severe psychological episode. The child was later the subject of a care application by Essex County Council.[9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Married to Lucy for 26 years, the couple have four children. Mostyn once joked that his youngest son Charlie is living proof that the rhythm method "doesn't bloody well work." The couple lived at the family home and farm country estate in Hertfordshire, but divorced after Mostyn started an affair with junior barrister Elizabeth Saunders, the widow of barrister Mark Saunders who was shot by Metropolitan Police gunman in May 2008.[4][11]

Mostyn labels himself "Catholic, Welsh and Wagnerian,"[3] enjoys smoking, hunting, windsurfing and skiing; and follows ("generally despairingly") Southampton F.C. and the England cricket team.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Knighthood for Nicholas Mostyn". 11 May 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Sir Nicholas Mostyn". The Times. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lynn Barber (15 July 2007). "Mostyn Powers". The Observer. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Judge who left wife for widow of gunman barrister Mark Saunders expected to pay 'several million' in divorce settlement". The Mail on Sunday. 19 December 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Mr Justice Bennett retires from and Nicholas Mostyn joins the High Court bench". Family Law Week. 20 April 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  6. ^ Reality bites for the McCartneys –
  7. ^ Maev Kennedy (25 July 2010). "And these little piggies … were named after a high court judge". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Fay Schlesinger (25 July 2010). "The bizarre case of Earl Spencer, his divorce lawyer...and seven little piggies". Daily Mail. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  9. ^ Christopher Booker (30 November 2013). "Operate on this mother so that we can take her baby". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "Judgment (released on 4 December 2013)" (PDF). Royal Courts of Justice. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "Wife divorces High Court judge 'over barrister affair". The Daily Telegraph. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2016.