The Supreme Court delivered an important ruling last week in upholding the decision of the English High Court and allowing a financial 'top up' to the award that a wife received on divorce from the Nigerian court. The case of Mr & Mrs Agbaje involved a Nigerian couple who had been married for 38 years. They had assets in both England and Nigeria. The husband applied for and obtained a divorce in Nigeria, as a consequence of which the Nigerian court made a limited financial award to the wife (by English standards). The wife, who had been living in Hertfordshire for 10 years, was not happy with this and applied to the English court to make a further award to her. The fiercely contested litigation culminated in last week's ruling, nearly 7 years after the husband first sought a divorce.
Stevens & Bolton LLP family partner Nicola Harries commented:
"The Supreme Court's decision sets out where the English court should make a further order after a foreign divorce. The greater the connection of the couple with England, the more likely that the court will feel it right to 'top up' a low foreign award. However, anyone who has been divorced abroad and who might see this as an opportunity to have a 'second bite of the cherry' should be warned that you need to have the court's permission to start this type of application. The less the connection with this country, the less the chances of getting that permission, and the lower any award is likely to be at the end. The fact that it took 7 years to get a final decision also shows that these types of applications are not for the faint-hearted."