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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

English legal system “superb” claim

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There are many occasions when you might think: “Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?” Like when the manager of a football team which has just won 5-0 says: “We deserved to win”. Or when the chief executive of a car manufacturer says: “We make the best cars in the world.” They would say that.

I had the same feeling when I read comments last week that the English legal system is “superb”. Now, it is nice to get some praise for once and I would agree that, compared to many others in the world, it is not bad overall. It still has many faults though so, superb? Maybe not. Then you find out this individual is the ex-wife of the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and has just accepted a record for a British divorce settlement with a payment said to be worth up to £220m. Then you think: “She would say that, wouldn’t she?”

Mr Berezovsky, 64, agreed to what was described as an "amicable settlement" after admitting unreasonable behaviour. The hearing took 10 minutes. The previous record was a £48 million award to the ex-wife of the insurance millionaire John Charman in 2006.

“English judges are not only incorruptible, but have a sense of fairness in their DNA", ex-Mrs Berezovsky – now Miss Galina Besharova – said. Well, she would, wouldn’t she?

Mr Berezovsky though agrees apparently. Maybe he thinks he got off lightly? Although the exact terms of the settlement are confidential, the assets awarded to Miss Besharova are understood to include cash, stocks and shares and the penthouse near Kensington Palace in London where she lives.

What I think is more telling in this case if you can get over the huge sums involved is that both parties were at pains to point out that the divorce settlement was reached “amicably”. Because of what was at stake and the funds at their disposal, they could so easily have turned the divorce into a circus. Think of divorce and you are perhaps more likely to think of words “acrimonious” and “battle”. But it doesn’t have to be. A grown-up responsible attitude shown by the parties involved can make the best of a bad situation, cut the time involved to draw a line under proceedings and bring numerous other benefits. Just ask Mrs Berezovsky.

Andrew Woolley
Family Solicitor

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