The High Court in London is set to hear what could be the highest value divorce case the English courts have ever seen.
Natalia Potanina has commenced divorce proceedings in England having lived in London for the past several years. Her former husband, Vladimir Potanin, is reported to be the second wealthiest man in Russia.
English Courts do have a reputation for granting more generous settlements, and it is reported Mrs Potanina is pursuing one-third of her soon-to-be ex-husband’s £15 billion fortune. He however, disputes that figure as being his net worth.
The couple were married for 31 years. It is anticipated that Mrs Potanina’s case will be her husband established his wealth, which was accumulated in the metals industry following the break-up of the Soviet Union, during their marital partnership and with the benefit of her support.
This is the latest in a succession of cases before the English courts involving very high net worth individuals. Last year, the former wife of an oil and gas trader was awarded £453 million in settlement of her financial claims. It is believed this could be the biggest settlement ever made by the English court. However, it is impossible to tell if that is the case given an increasing number of couples are electing to resolve their disputes in a confidential manner, either by arbitration or mediation, in which the details of what they have agreed are kept confidential.
Both of these marriages were long marriages, meaning that the starting point for dividing the assets would be an equality. The fact that these wives have chosen to commence their divorce proceedings in England does reinforce the perception that the English Courts are the place for rich spouses, especially the spouse who is in the less favourable financial position, to bring their claim.