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Russian oil billionaire appeals £453 million settlement

A Russian oil billionaire has appealed against a £453 million financial settlement, The Guardian reports.

If his appeal is unsuccessful, the award could be the biggest settlement ever made in an English divorce court.

Oil trader Farkhad Akhmedov, 62, met his wife Tatiana in Moscow in 1989. They married and moved to London four years later, enjoying an opulent lifestyle. In 2012 he netted more than $1 billion when he sold his shares in a major Russian gas firm.

The marriage broke down the following year and the couple divorced in 2014. Finally, at a High Court hearing in 2016 before Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, Mrs Akhmedova was awarded the huge sum, which nevertheless represented only 41.5 per cent of the “staggering” family wealth, on the grounds of her “equal contributions to the welfare of the family”. Her settlement was to include an extremely valuable art collection and a rare (and very expensive) Aston Martin.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave rejected an argument that the oil trader had made an outstanding, or ‘stellar’, contribution to the couple’s wealth.

But Mr Akhemdov’s solicitor now argues that this ruling displayed “manifestly unjust” favouritism towards Tatiana and that “the family court’s attitude . . . [had been] to espouse without restraint” her case.

She, meanwhile, claims to have received little of the settlement to date, beyond “some de minimis assets in the UK”. Her barrister insists that the great majority of the couple’s assets had been built up over the course of their marriage.

Stowe Family Law Partner Graham Coy said:

“English Judges have said on many occasions that marriage is a partnership and normally that the fruits of that partnership should be shared equally. While the figures involved are eye watering, the fundamental question this cases raises is when is a partnership not an equal one?”

He continued:

“A succession of wealthy husbands have tried, largely unsuccessfully, to counter this by suggesting that they have made a such special or “stellar” contributions that they should receive more than 50 per cent. This is likely to be core to the decision which the Court of Appeal will need to make. What is so special or so stellar to alter the principle of equal division when both parties have made their own full, but different, contributions? Or, is that argument now dead in the water?”

The case continues.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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