Billionaire challenges divorce settlement

Billionaire challenges divorce settlement

Mr Akhmedov, a Russian oil billionaire, is seeking to appeal against an order by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave that he pay his former wife £453m. It is believed that the award could be the highest made in a divorce case in the UK if the appeal is unsuccessful.

The parties met in Moscow in 1989 and married and moved to London four years later. They enjoyed an opulent lifestyle and in 2012 he netted more than $1 billion when he sold his shares in a major Russian gas firm.

The marriage however broke down and the couple divorced in 2014. At a High Court hearing in 2016 before Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, Mrs Akhmedova was awarded the sum of £453m, which despite its size represented only 41.5% of the family wealth. The award was made on the grounds of her “equal contributions to the welfare of the family” and the award was considered to be justified in all the circumstances. Her settlement was to include an extremely valuable art collection and an Aston Martin.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave rejected an argument during the initial proceedings that the oil trader had made an outstanding, or ‘stellar’, contribution to the couple’s wealth having undertaken an independent assessment based on the statutory criteria set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and on the basis that hard work alone lacked the necessary quality of exceptionality.

Mr Akhemdov’s solicitor now argues that this ruling displayed “manifestly unjust” favouritism towards the wife. During the initial proceedings one of Mr Akhmedov’s lawyers was summonsed and was compelled to divulge to the court private information relating to his client's finances, which would normally be privileged and secret. Mr Akhmedov is claiming that his case was 'affected' negatively as a result.

Mrs Akhmedova claims to have not received "a penny from him", except some “ de minimis assets in the UK.” Since the proceedings concluded. Her counsel insists that the great majority of the couple’s assets had been built up over the course of their marriage and as such she should share in the family wealth.

The appeal judges, Sir James Munby, Lord Justice Lewison and Lady Justice King, are currently considering the case at the Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Our specialist team are here to assist you should you require any advice, particularly if you have made any significant contributions to your marriage that should be considered when looking at dividing your assets on divorce. All our solicitors are members of Resolution, the national family law group committed to resolving disputes without unnecessary acrimony, and where possible we try to help our clients to resolve their disputes by agreement.

Please contact our team on 01622 690691.