Husband loses fight to prevent wife divorcing him over a row about her map reading skills on wine tasting trip to FranceMark Howell and his wife argued after getting lost on French country roadsFamily judge admitted he has similar rows with his own wife
Appeal court refused Mr Howell permission to appeal divorce
13:12 GMT, 25 February 2013
20:10 GMT, 25 February 2013
Ruling: Property investor Mark Howell, pictured outside London's Civil Appeal Court, has been refused permission to appeal his divorce
A businessman whose wife divorced him after an argument about her holiday map-reading skills has failed in a legal fight to prevent their marriage ending – despite a family judge admitting he has similar rows with his own wife.
Property investor, Mark Howell, 60, and his then wife, 51-year old Nalini, argued after getting lost on country road in France while on a wine tasting trip to Burgundy, in August 2011, London's Civil Appeal Court heard.
Mrs Howell, a company director, was reading a map for her husband when he said he had to stop the car because they had lost their way. The couple then clashed over her ability to plan their route.
He says the row lasted 'a matter of moments', but it formed a plank of his wife's bid to divorce him and Judge Michael Horowitz QC – who confessed that he and his own wife also 'argue about map reading' – granted her a decree nisi in December.
On appeal, the businessman asked Lord Justice Thorpe to overturn that order and breathe life back into a ten-year marriage he insisted was not dead.
Mr Howell, of Kennington, south London, argued Judge Horowitz was wrong to accept his wife's account that the map-reading row was just one of many.
'There was nothing on which the judge could conclude that my wife could not be reasonably expected to live with me,' he said.
He also insisted: 'I believe as I stand here that the marriage has not irretrievably broken down.
'She said that there had been lots of arguments between us, but she never mentioned any arguments to the judge when asked a direct question, apart from one about map reading on the way to a wine tasting in France,' he said.
'I conceded that the argument about map reading had happened and the judge said he and his wife argued about map reading.'
Mr Howell, who denied he had acted unreasonably, also objected to being ordered to pay his wife's 20,000 legal costs bills.
Refusing Mr Howell permission to appeal, however, Lord Justice Thorpe said: 'The conclusion of the judge was that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. He concluded that the wife had proved her case.
Mr Howell was refused permission to appeal his divorce at a hearing at the Civil Appeal Court, in the Royal Courts of Justice (pictured)
'The husband's appeal against that is manifestly very difficult. The wife's case was being put at a minimum to satisfy the legal test but to save the husband from assertions that might appear gratuitous or unkind.
'Mr Howell is a man of considerable intelligence and he has advanced his case with courtesy.
'It is sad, as it seems to me, that this couple have spent far more energy and wasted far more money than was ever necessary had there been a more realistic assessment of where they stood and how to bring their failed marriage to an end.'
Outside court after the hearing, Mr Howell said: 'We were staying in Burgundy for nine days in August 2011. I was driving and my wife was reading the map. We were driving through back roads, and I had to stop to find the way. It was only a matter of moments really.'
Mrs Howell, of Kennington, south London was not represented at the Appeal Court hearing and did not attend.