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International Divorce and Forum Shopping

  

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The issue of forum shopping has once again been brought into the limelight by a recent case involving assets reported to be worth £500 million. 

Forum Shopping is the term used by divorce lawyers to describe the decision making process that needs to be made by a divorcing spouse as to which jurisdiction they should commence their divorce. It can have a significant bearing ...on the resolution of financial matters, the division of pension provision, tax issues and the level of financial settlement.

In an ongoing case currently before the Court, a Malaysian wife, Pauline Chai is claiming that the resolution of financial matters on her divorce should be heard in England.  She is the wife of Khoo Kay Peng who is reported to be one of Malaysia’s wealthiest business men. Dr Khoo wants the case to be heard in Malaysia and has suggested that if the case proceeds in England it would only serve to enhance “the ill-gotten reputation of this country for being the divorce capital of the world”.  In comparison, Ms Chai is arguing that England is the appropriate jurisdiction to hear the financial proceedings as this is where she petitioned for divorce, and is also where the family have their £30 million home”.

Mr Justice Coleridge, who is hearing the case, has for the time-being declined to make a ruling and has adjourned the matter for a fuller hearing.

It is essential that advice about jurisdiction is taken at a very early stage if a husband or wife with a connection to more than one country is contemplating divorce.  It is possible that the outcome of the financial proceedings on divorce could be very different depending on where the case is heard.  Time is of the essence and therefore it is extremely important to seek advice, from experienced experts, at an early stage.

Stephens Scown’s top-rated family team regularly advise clients in relation to pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, as well as divorce and financial matters including those with an international element. Stephens Scown has offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell.

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