M'sian ex-beauty queen wins fight to divorce in London

This article is more than 12 months old

A judge at London’s High Court ruled on Friday that it could hear the divorce between ex-beauty queen Pauline Chai and tycoon husband Khoo Kay Peng Peng after his lawyers argued it should be heard in Malaysia instead.

The divorce case between Khoo, reputedly worth at least £400 million (S$820 million) and Chai, with tales of whose 1,000 pairs of shoes and £22,000 monthly budget for a Rolls Royce plus chauffeur, has enthralled Britain’s press.

After reading out a three-hour judgement in Chai v Peng, Judge David Bodey implored both sides “with all the strength I can muster” to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

Mr Justice Bodey said the battle had been "bitterly, tenaciously and hugely expensively fought".

He told the High Court that while both parties shared a mutual desire for divorce, each thought they would get a "better financial outcome" if the hearing was held in their own jurisdiction.

"The issue is not the wife's physical presence but her motivation and whether she has made this jurisdiction the permanent centre of her interests," The Telegraph quoted him as saying.

He concluded that while her words had been "inevitably self serving", he was satisfied that she was "genuinely" based in the UK.

“There is enough in the kitty that they would be hard-pressed to spend it all in their lifetimes, even if they wanted to.”  -  Judge David Bodey, imploring the couple to reach a quick agreement

The former Miss Malaysia was in court for the ruling and hugged her family and lawyers in delight at the news.

“I am pleased the judge recognised my connection with this great country,” Chai, 67, ​said in a statement afterwards.

“I am so pleased that I, my children and indeed my shoes have found a home here.”

Her legal team, led by the “Diva of Divorce” Ayesha Vardag, successfully argued that Chai had lived in England – in a £30 million mansion outside London surrounded by 405ha of parkland featuring a menagerie of animals – for long enough to satisfy the legal requirements.

The case could set a new record for England’s biggest divorce payout due to the length of the couple’s marriage, which lasted over 40 years.

That is currently held by late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who reportedly paid up to £220 million to his ex-wife Galina Besharova in 2011.

Sources: AFP, The Telegraph

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