Court finds woman FORGOT she agreed to give ex her share in £625k flat

Court finds woman FORGOT she agreed to give ex her share in £625k flat

July 3, 2020

Beauty doctor loses ‘bonkers’ court fight with hairdresser ex-husband over their £625,000 west London flat after judge ruled she FORGOT that she had agreed to give him the family home

  • Camila Ryder accused stylist Elie Charbel of forging her signature on documents
  • Beauty doctor could be saddled with £31k of ex’s legal costs after two-day trial 
  • The couple, who have a child together, ran beauty businesses side by side in Shepherd’s Bush throughout their relationship before it ended in 2008

Camila Ryder claimed her ex-husband Elie Charbel forged her signature to falsify documents showing she agreed to sign over the £625,000 flat to him but a judge found the beauty doctor merely ‘forgot’ she had made the agreement more than a decade ago

A beauty doctor who ‘forgot’ she had promised to give her ex-husband her half of their £625,000 former home has lost a ‘bonkers’ court fight with him over the apartment.

Camila Ryder accused her hair stylist ex Elie Charbel of using ‘forgery’ to deprive her of her share of their home in affluent Kensal Rise, west London, after they split in 2008.

While they were together in their long-standing relationship, the pair had a child and worked side by side in next door beauty businesses. 

Between them, the couple owned a valuable portfolio of properties in the UK, Lebanon and Colombia.

Last week, over a decade after they split, they faced off in court, after Mr Charbel produced a written agreement which he said meant their former family home is his alone.

The stylist said Ms Ryder had signed the papers in 2009 after she moved out, promising she would transfer her share of their apartment to him.

However, she refused to do so, claiming that the signature on the document was a forgery and that the property remained jointly owned by the pair.

Now, after a two-day trial at Central London County Court, Judge Alan Johns QC has ruled that the flat must be signed over to Mr Charbel in its entirety – and handed her lawyers’ bills of up to £31,000.

Mr Charbel’s barrister claimed Ms Ryder’s forgery claim was ‘bonkers’ and the judge threw it out, finding that she had merely ‘forgotten’ she had ever agreed that Mr Charbel would have it.

The court heard the couple ran their businesses from next-door properties in Shepherds Bush Road, Hammersmith.

Mr Charbel, 52, was a hairdresser, while Ms Ryder, 55, – formerly called Olga Rocio Arango – was a beauty expert who ran a spa and later a ‘cosmetic dermatology’ business as Dr Camila Ryder.

However, their relationship ‘effectively collapsed’ in the autumn of 2008, Mr Charbel said, when she became ‘stilted, monosyllabic and snappy’ with him.

A court found beauty doctor Camila Ryder simply ‘forgot’ she had promised her share in this £625,000 west London home to her ex-husband Elie Charbel after they split in 2008 

She divorced him in 2011, keeping her own properties in Colombia and a flat in Shepherds Bush, while he kept properties in Lebanon.

Their former home, a ground floor flat in Clifford Gardens, Kensal Rise, where they had brought up their daughter, stayed in their joint names.

However, Mr Charbel said they had agreed amicably in March 2009 to have the flat ultimately transferred into his sole name.

But when he spoke to her years later asking for it to be done, she demanded that he ‘make an offer’ for her share, he claimed.

The case reached the county court after an application by Mr Charbel for ‘specific performance’ of the agreement.

In his evidence, Mr Charbel explained that he had not brought a claim against her sooner because he ‘was trusting her that she was going to honour the agreement.’

But fighting his claim, Ms Ryder told the judge she had never signed such an agreement.

‘We agreed that Clifford Gardens would remain for our daughter in both our names,’ she said in her evidence via a video link.

‘We agreed he would keep his properties in Lebanon and I would keep mine in Colombia and we would both keep Clifford Gardens for our daughter.

‘We simply agreed to keep our separate properties.’

Mr Charbel’s barrister, Richard Colbey, added that he denied having committed a ‘crude forgery’ to wrongly claim all of the apartment.

‘It would be absolutely bonkers for him to have forged it,’ he told the judge.

Giving judgement, Judge Johns said a hand-writing expert had examined the signature and said there was only ‘weak’ evidence it was not hers.

‘I have come to the conclusion that Ms Ryder did sign the agreement,’ he said.

When petitioning for divorce, Ms Ryder had crossed out the section where a spouse would make a financial claim against their ex, he said.

That suggested ‘some financial arrangement had been reached’ between the former couple.

Ms Ryder, who has a child with her ex-husband, will also have to pay his legal bills of up to £31,000 after a two-day trial in London

‘Considered as a whole, the agreement appears to be a fair and sensible one,’ he said.

‘The agreement provides for Mr Charbel to keep one UK property, while Ms Ryder was to keep another.

‘Each was to keep one of the two businesses – Hair Apparent for Mr Charbel, the beauty spa for Ms Ryder – and each was to keep properties overseas.

‘The question for me is not whether the agreement was fair – however, its fairness is a significant factor in assessing the likelihood of whether it was made.

‘I find the agreement was signed by Ms Ryder and was therefore made.

‘What has happened here, in my judgement, is not that Mr Charbel has been engaged in forgery, but that Miss Ryder has forgotten signing the agreement.

‘I will order specific performance of the agreement as asked.’

The decision means the flat will be entirely transferred to Mr Charbel, while Ms Ryder will also have to pay her ex’s lawyers’ bills of up to £31,000.

However, her barrister, James Shaw, described Ms Ryder as ‘impecunious’ and said she would struggle to pay.

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