Charman immediately announced that he would appeal against the ruling, which was made in private last week in the Family Division of the High Court.
The award by Mr Justice Coleridge is believed to be the highest given to a wife in the English divorce courts on a contested basis. It beats the £30 million awarded to WPP Group chief executive Martin Sorrell’s ex-wife last year after their 32-year marriage ended in divorce.
Kevin Harris-James, a family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The decision will cement the UK’s reputation as one of the most lucrative places for wives to divorce wealthy husbands.”
Mr Charman, who took up residence in Bermuda in 2003, was denied a previous request to have the case heard in the Bermudan courts, which are known to be less generous towards the wives of wealthy men.
The £48 million awarded to Mrs Charman is equal to 37 per cent of her ex-husband’s £131 million fortune. It includes £8 million of assets already in Mrs Charman’s name. Mr Charman was ordered to pay a lump sum of £40 million to settle the difference.
The percentage award is slightly less than the wife received in White v White, the House of Lords case in 2000 that ushered in a new era of divorce law in the UK.
The White case established the principal that for long marriages the courts should begin their deliberations on how to divide marital assets from the standpoint of a 50:50 split between husband and wife regardless of who earned the money.
Mr Harris-James said: “The £48 million award may seem very high in absolute terms but in the light of the White v White judgment and the fact that the Charmans were married for 29 years, the judge has actually swung 13 per cent in Mr Charman’s favour which is a significant shift.”
Jeremy Abraham, head of the private client and family department at Russell Jones & Walker, said: “I’m not half as surprised as Mr Charman appears to be at the outcome of his appeal. This was clearly a long marriage and most of the asetts look to have been generated during it. What is newsworthy is that even post White, and other subsequent cases, Mrs Charman still looks to have received less than 40 per cent of the total assets.”