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String of cases resulting in huge payouts has cemented reputation for English courts being more generous than others

London's reputation as the divorce capital of the world has flourished in the belief that its courts offer more bountiful settlements for wives – as well as relatively fast justice.

A Law Commission consultation on marital property agreements last year attributed its prominence to a landmark case in 2000, White v White, which introduced the principle that divorcing "money earners" should not necessarily retain the surplus after a parting couple's needs had been met. Instead, the residual cash should be divided equally. "As a result of this change, English law has come to be perceived as more generous than the law elsewhere," the report acknowledged.

Among the high-profile cases to have been settled in London was that of Heather Mills, who secured £24.3m when she parted from the former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney in 2008. Orianne Cevey, the former wife of the musician Phil Collins, secured a settlement of £25m the same year.

Bernie Ecclestone is reputed to have paid out £750m in a private settlement to his ex-wife Slavica.

When Guy Ritchie divorced Madonna, he was said to have renounced any claim on his ex-wife's fortune because he is wealthy in his own right. Legal commentators suggested he could have been entitled to a significant share. The insurance broker John Charman was ordered to pay out £48m to his ex-wife in 2006.

The last major supreme court decision on divorce in 2011 – between the German heiress Katrin Radmacher and her less wealthy husband Nicolas Granatino – confirmed that prenuptial agreements are legally binding. At the time it was thought that decision could put a check on massive payouts to poorer spouses in British courts.

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source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/mar/03/london-status-divorce-capital


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