London: Divorce capital of the world
Natalia Potanin, wife of multi-billion pound mining tycoon Vladimir Potanin, is now making a last ditch attempt to appeal her divorce and financial case through the Russian Supreme Court. If her attempt fails, she is threatening to issue proceedings through the courts in England and Wales. If she is successful, the couple could be arguing over equivalent of £30 billion worth of assets, marking one of the potentially largest financial disputes in history.
So, why, and more to the point, how will Mrs Potanin bring a claim in England?!
Why – London is frequently cited as ‘the divorce capital of the world’. This label has been awarded due to the emphasis on parties providing full and frank financial disclosure to each other and the commitment to meeting each parties ‘needs’ . Further, there is a stark recognition that there should be no discrimination between the breadwinner and the homemaker. These are just a few of the reasons why individuals (usually the financial weaker party) will gravitate towards bringing a case under English jurisdiction.
How – This is a far more complicated issue centring on whether the court has jurisdiction to deal with the divorce. This would usually fall down to whether the parties are habitually resident or domiciled in England. The burden of proof shifts between parties and can often involve detailed assessment of practical, legal and factual circumstances.
We have several international client’s and all the solicitors at James Maguire & Co are well equipped to assist individuals to explore the complex factual matrix thrown up by the issue of establishing domicile and assessing whether the court has jurisdiction to deal. It is important therefore to ensure that proper family law advice is sought at the earliest possible stage.
It is difficult to say if Mrs Potanin will satisfy the necessary threshold to pursue her case in England. What is clear is that if Mrs Potanin does end up issuing proceedings in England then the court will emphasise full financial transparency so no doubt Mr Potanin will fiercely argue against the English court’s becoming involved.