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Law report – Potanin v Potanina [2019]

Date posted: 6 December 2019

Yordanka Bayraktarova, a Trainee solicitor in Wilson’s Family Law Department considers the recent judgment in relation to the application of the ex-wife of a Russian oligarch in relation to her application under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 for relief following the parties’ divorce in Russia. The case was widely publicized in the media.


The wife’s application for relief was made without notice to the husband and followed a protracted litigation in Russia where several orders were made in relation to how the matrimonial assets should be divided between the parties. The wife argued that the orders made in Russia were unfair and did not even begin to meet her reasonable needs. Under Russian law joint marital property should be divided equally between the spouses unless the Court is satisfied it can deviate from the presumption of equality in the interests of underage children and/or in the essential interests of a spouse. The wife argued that a large part of the husband’s property, held in trusts or corporate vehicles, was not taken into account rendering the orders made in Russia unfair. The Judge allowed the wife’s ex-parte application and the husband subsequently applied to set the order aside, claiming that the wife had misled the Court.


When handing down judgment, the Judge emphasised the very high duty of candour imposed on applicants in ex parte hearings, having concluded that in this case he had been materially misled by the wife when granting her permission to make her application. The Judge agreed that the Court was wrongly informed of the sum the wife was awarded by the Russian Courts and that the wife did not present a complete picture of the Russian litigation, including failing to provide underlying documents, such as the Russian Civil Code or any of the judgments made in Russia.


It was further suggested during these proceedings that this case would have the effect of limiting ‘divorce tourism’. As such, the Court dismissed the wife’s application to bring a claim under Part III of the 1984 Act. The wife has sought permission to appeal and as such this may not be the final word on this matter.


If you need assistance with a financial remedy case please contact Mavis on 020 8885 7986 or for an appointment with a solicitor in the family team.