The Court of Appeal has rejected a claim by a Kosovan businessman that the English courts did not have jurisdiction over his wife’s financial claims.
In Ramadani v Ramadani, the man and his now ex-wife had fled from Kosovo into nearby Slovenia as refugees. Hetem Ramadani made a fortune in the oil business. They had four children, all now adults, before separating in 2008. Mr Ramadani’s wife Hazbije moved to London that year with £3.5 million in funds and the four children, while he relocated to Dubai. The couple, who had been married for 30 years, officially ended their marriage in the Slovenian courts in 2011.
But Mrs Ramadani later applied for financial relief (maintenance) in the English courts, under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. This covers ‘Financial Relief in England and Wales after Overseas Divorce’. The husband objected and applied to have the order struck out or at least ‘stayed’ (delayed), but his application was comprehensively rejected by Mr Justice Moylan
At the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice McFarlane described this ruling as an “immaculately crafted and fully reasoned judgment”. Mr Hamadi, unhappy with the ruling, had launched an appeal, questioning whether or not the courts had the necessary jurisdiction (legal authority) to rule on maintenance for his ex-wife.
Mr Justice McFarlane noted that the issue of maintenance had not been decided during the couple’s divorce proceedings, as the wife had decided to withdraw her application at that stage.
“… this record describes an early case management hearing at which the parties were being encouraged either to settle or at least reduce the issues between them. In that setting, amongst other matters, the husband agreed not to contest the divorce and the wife indicated that she wished to revoke her claim for maintenance and the husband agreed to that course. I am in a like position to that of [Mr Justice Moylan] in holding that this sequence of events cannot amount to a ‘decision’ of the Slovenian court. There was a decision, but it was the wife’s decision to withdraw her claim; it was not ‘a decision…”
Therefore, Mrs Ramadani was entitled to pursue her claim under the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. The Court also denied her husband’s bid to take the case to the European Court of Justice.
The judgement is available here.