Warning that English wills may not be valid in Scotland
Legal professionals across the UK have seen a marked increase in estate planning instructions from existing and new clients during…More
An aristocrat has lost a Supreme Court appeal that he had hoped would prevent the English courts from ruling on a divorce case with his estranged wife.
Charles Villiers, a descendant of Mary Tudor, filed for divorce in 2014 in Scotland, where he and his wife, Emma Villiers, had lived in an 18th-century manor house for almost all of their marriage.
In 2015 Mrs Villiers, who was by then living in London, made an application under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England seeking maintenance. England and Scotland have different approaches to financial provision, with English awards generally seen as more generous.
Mr Villiers argued that the English court did not have jurisdiction to deal with his wife’s maintenance application. However, the Supreme Court last week dismissed his appeal.
Giving the lead judgment, Lord Sales said proceedings could take place both north and south of the border, adding: “A judgment in the wife’s maintenance claim would not be irreconcilable with a divorce decree in Scotland.”
Some family lawyers suggest that the case might encourage more Scots to seek court proceedings in England.
Alex Carruthers, from Hughes Fowler and Carruthers, told the Law Society Gazette: “Although close geographically, Scotland and England are worlds apart in their treatment of parties on divorce. This case opens up the possibility of exploiting that gap even more in the future.”
Caroline Holley, a partner at Farrer & Co, added that the Supreme Court decision would lead to a surge in numbers of “divorce tourists”.
Zahra Pabani, of Irwin Mitchell, backed the Supreme Court decision. “In England and Wales, we thrive on discretion and we have bespoke arguments for bespoke cases. In this instance, Mrs Villiers proved her need and has now been granted it; it won’t necessarily be the same case for others, but again those can be worked out based on what’s fair.”