Billionaire divorce leads to privacy battle

Divorce|September 24th 2016

A foreign billionaire’s divorce has become the focus of a privacy battle in the High Court.

The man is reportedly a prominent political figure in his home country while his wife was described in court documents as a socialite. They have several properties in the UK which are apparently worth tens of millions but they are registered to a company based in the British Virgin Islands. This is part of an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea just east of Puerto Rico and is often used as a tax haven for the very rich.

Both the husband and wife have been anonymised in all court documents relating to their divorce. Additionally, they want their names to be kept from the public until 2024. The couple have claimed that this is necessary for their own safety. Due to their significant wealth, they would be in danger if identified they have insisted.

However, members of the media are not convinced by this assertion. In an appeal against the anonymization, a lawyer representing The Times argued there was no evidence to suggest the couple would in fact be in any danger. He also assured the court that the order the newspaper sought would still give the wife “a degree of privacy to which almost no other citizen is entitled”.

Although Mr Justice Moor ruled in favour of The Times, the couple launched an appeal against the decision. As a result, they cannot be named until their appeal is heard but no date has been set for the High Court to do so.

Last September, Mr Justice Mostyn said information in cases involving high net worth individuals should be “subject to an implied undertaking that it will not be published or used for any purpose other than the proceedings”.

Photo by Josh Hallett via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

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