Appeal judges analyse Anglo-Scottish divorce dispute

Three Court of Appeal judges in London are analysing the latest stage of an Anglo-Scottish legal battle between an aristocrat and his estranged wife.

Charles Villiers and Emma Villiers, both in their 50s, are embroiled in a dispute about whether their arguments over money should be staged in an English or Scottish divorce court.

Appeal judges Lady Justice King, Lord Justice David Richards and Lord Justice Moylan are not expected to deliver a ruling until later in the year.

Mr Villiers says their marriage is being dissolved in Scotland and wants to know why a fight over money should be staged in England.

A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London had initially considered the case.

Mrs Justice Parker had ordered Mr Villiers to pay Mrs Villiers £2,500 a month maintenance pending a resolution of their money fight.

She had rejected Mr Villiers’ “jurisdictional challenges”.

Mr Villiers has mounted a challenge in the Court of Appeal, which Mrs Villiers is contesting.

Barrister Michael Horton, who is leading Mr Villiers’ legal team, told judges that the couple had spent almost all their married life in Scotland after getting married in 1994.

He said Mr Villiers stayed in the family home, Milton House, in Dumbarton, after the couple separated in 2012.

Mrs Villiers “came south to England”, first living near Oxford then in London, and made a cash claim in the High Court in London.

Mr Horton said Mrs Justice Parker had rejected Mr Villiers’ “jurisdictional challenges.”




Man had Islamic divorce but not civil divorce before third marriage

A businessman has pleaded guilty after he went through a bigamous third “marriage.”

Magistrates heard Haroon Lorgat had an Islamic ceremony in Morocco.

He went on to have a civil marriage in the UK while he was still married to his second wife.

Lorgat used the divorce papers from his first marriage to convince the registrar he was free to marry.

Lorgat, 52, pleaded guilty to marrying Nadia Denjelloun whilst already married.

He was committed on bail to Preston Crown Court to be sentenced on April 30.

Lorgat and Miss Denjelloun married in March 2002 at Accrington register office.

She filed for divorce 10 years later and during those proceedings it transpired he was still married to his second wife.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said his client and his second wife had separated in 1999 and went through a Talaq, a Muslim dissolving of the marriage in 2001.

Taylor said, “It was also decided they would dissolve the civil marriage.

“My client accepts that because of all that was going on in his life at the time and, because it was an amicable separation, no pressure was placed on him to ensure the civil divorce went through.”

Mr Taylor added,

“He accepts that he entered into the civil marriage without bringing to an end the second marriage. He had fallen in love with the lady and didn’t want anything to happen to stop them being together.”


Millionaire developer handed jail sentence over breach of divorce settlement

An 83-year-old millionaire property developer has been given a 14 month jail sentence after he was found to be in “persistent” contempt of court.

John Hart failed to comply with court orders following his £9.3m divorce. He was ordered to hand over £3.5m of his £9.3m fortune to his former wife Karen in a divorce settlement in 2015.

Judge Stephen Wildblood ruled that Mr Hart was in contempt of court after he delayed transferring shares in a property company to her and failing to produce documentation and records which she needed to run the company.

Judge Stephen Wildblood said that Mr Hart had wanted to “obstruct her in the efficient running of the company” and still “bitterly resents” the divorce court’s decision to transfer over the company to Mrs Hart.

Judge Stephen Wildblood said the “protracted litigation” around the divorce had been fought out in the courts for almost seven years and the case “had placed an immense burden on limited public funds.”

Mr Hart was sentenced at Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre.


Husband faked wife’s signature and applied for divorce without her knowledge

A court heard that a man forged his ill wife’s signature on legal documents and applied for a divorce without her knowledge,

The victim discovered his actions when she visited the marital home to collect person items and found the divorce petition.

Swansea Magistrates Court heard Nicky Mark Jones, 44, had been married for 18 years before separating.

Mr Jones continued to live in the marital home even though the property was owned jointly by him and his wife even though the couple maintained “minimal contact.”

Mrs Jones became seriously unwell in 2015. Following her release from hospital in 2016 she contacted her estranged partner because she wanted to collect personal items from the house.

The court heard that when she received no reply from him she went to the house and let herself in, then discovering an open letter from the family court in Port Talbot about their divorce.

Mrs Jones went on to ring the court to find out what was happening and was told divorce proceedings had been instigated and had proceeded through the early stages and was now approaching the decree absolute.

The divorce process was halted after the victim alerted the authorities.

Jones admitted forging his wife’s signature after trying to get in touch with her but getting no replies.

He claimed they had verbally agreed to divorce.

Jones pleaded guilty to making a false instrument with intent that it be accepted as genuine.

District Judge Neale Thomas said, “This strikes at the heart of the whole divorce process.

“It is fundamental that both parties consent to the divorce.

“The court has been deceived – it seems to me to be an inherently serious state of affairs.

“I am quite sure it is not proper for me to sentence this case.”


Estranged couple face divorce battle delay

An estranged couple been told that they must wait another eight months before their battle over money can be fully aired before a divorce court judge.

Barbara Cooke and Michael Parker, directors of BC Softwear a firm which supplies towels and bathrobes to top hotels have been told that their hearing will now take place in October.

Mr Justice Holman says he regrets that the wait will prolong the strife for Ms Cooke and Mr Parker and prolong a difficult situation for their employees.

Mr Justice Holman said the Family Division of the High Court has to work to a calendar and that the dispute is jostling for space with “more needy” cases.

Mr Justice Holman said, “Sometimes a case seems to expand like Topsy, and an estimate, which was given in good faith at an earlier stage, begins clearly to be inadequate.

“These parties seem to be locked into a titanic dispute in which, to date, no quarter seems to be given by either of them.”

He added, “All these factors, cumulatively, lead me very firmly to feel that I, at least, could not resolve this case in the seven days.

“I appreciate that it prolongs the strife, and prolongs what may be a very difficult situation, not only for the parties but for the employees of the company.

“The fact is that the courts do have to work to a calendar.

“This case is jostling for space with many other even more needy cases concerning abducted children, children kept from their parents.

“I cannot, in all conscience, remove other cases from the list in order to enlarge the available time.

“The first available date when a judge can give two clear weeks for this case is 15th October 2018, and that is when it will be re-fixed.”




Sheffield landlord who illegally evicted tenant avoids jail

A landlord who illegally evicted a tenant and forced her to sleep on the streets has avoided a jail term.

Naveed Hussain, 36, was accused of forcing Saba Habte out of a flat above a takeaway she was renting with no warning.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard Ms Habte was told to leave the flat on December 15, 2016.

When Ms Habte challenged him, Hussain replied ‘it is my house and I can do as I choose’ and took the key from the door and put it in his pocket.

Hussain was described as having an ‘attitude of contempt’ towards Ms Habte by Salvation Army Officers who later assisted Ms Habte with the retrieval of her belongings.

Hussain pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 16 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Hussain will have to carry 250 hours unpaid work and attend 15 days at a rehabilitation activity requirement. He was further ordered to pay costs of £919 and a surcharge of £150.

This was the second time Hussain had been prosecuted for offences of a similar nature.

Housewife given £453 million by divorce court judge wins latest round of legal battle

A Russian housewife who was awarded £453m by a London divorce court judge after her marriage ended has won the latest round of a legal battle.


Tatiana Akhmedova was given a 41.5% share of Farkhad Akhmedov’s fortune by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

This award is thought to be the biggest made by a divorce court judge in England.


Three appeal judges published a further ruling after considering legal issues involving a solicitor who worked for Mr Akhmedov.


A spokesman for Mr Kerman said, “Mr Kerman is inevitably disappointed with the decision and is concerned about the impact this will have on clients and their lawyers. An appeal is being considered.”


Mr Akhmedov said that he married Tatiana Akhmedova in Russia and the marriage was dissolved in Russia and that British courts should not “interfere.”


In a statement Mr Akhmedov said,


“I am neither surprised nor disappointed by this ruling, even though I had hoped that the higher court might have shown some impartiality. Instead, its decision proves again that there is no justice for me in British courts. That is why I withdrew from the original divorce proceedings.


“The British courts should never have sought to interfere in a former marriage which took place in Russia, between two Russian citizens and which had long been dissolved in that country with generous provision for my ex-wife.”

He added, “I shall continue to defend all my rights in other jurisdictions, as will those responsible for the trust holding my family’s wealth.

“I believe other courts will act in a more reasonable and less partial manner than the British courts have done.”


Woman awarded over £1 million in damages after inheritance dispute

A woman has been awarded over £1 million in damages following a High Court case about the inheritance of a family farm.

Lucy Habberfield, from Somerset, received the sum in recognition of the work that she had carried out at the family farm over a period of 30 years.

Ms Habberfield said she worked for low wages and with few holidays. She was joined on the farm by her partner Stuart Parker in 2007 on a full-time basis and together they brought up four children while running the business.

Ms Habberfield claimed her father assured her that she would take over the farm when he retired.

When he died, however, her father’s promises and assurances were not carried out.

Ms Habberfield took the case to court for compensation for broken promises despite her mother’s opposition to the claim.

Ms Habberfield said, “I worked hard on the farm for so long and following my fathers drop in health, my siblings, with the help of my mother, made it impossible to stay on the farm. To start with I didn’t know I could do anything about the situation – I think a lot of people in farming are not aware of this law and how it could help them. Once I realised there was something I could do, I knew I had to try for my children’s sake and to give them a secure future.”

Phil Gregory who advised on the case said, “For 30 years Lucy worked seven days a week for low wages on the family farm on the understanding that she would one day take over the farm from her father.

“After hearing evidence from more than 20 witnesses, many of whom were local farmers and farm workers, the judge ruled in favour of Lucy. He found that she had kept her side of the bargain. To compensate her for the detriment that she had suffered over the years she was awarded a sum equivalent to the value of the Woodrow farmland and farm buildings.”