Spurious Diplomatic Immunity Claim Thrown Out by Divorce Judge

Desert IslandRightly or wrongly, the English divorce courts are perceived as being generous to ex-wives and former husbands can sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to avoid their marriages being brought to an end in this country. In one case, an extremely wealthy international businessman made a spurious claim to diplomatic immunity in a bid to thwart his ex-wife’s financial claims against him.

The Saudi Arabian husband had been appointed as a representative of a Caribbean island on a specialist United Nations body and claimed diplomatic immunity on that basis. However, the High Court noted that he had no pre-existing connection to the island, save for having reportedly made a substantial financial contribution to its health service.

He had in no real sense taken up his appointment and had discharged no duties in connection with it. His assertion of immunity was an entirely artificial construct and his appointment had been sought and obtained with the sole intention of defeating his ex-wife’s claims. The ruling opened the way for the ex-wife to seek financial provision from him in an English court.

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