Appeal judges analyse Anglo-Scottish divorce dispute

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Three Court of Appeal judges in London are analysing the latest stage of an Anglo-Scottish legal battle between an aristocrat and his estranged wife.

Charles Villiers and Emma Villiers, who are both in their 50s and lived together in Dumbarton before separating, are embroiled in a dispute about whether their arguments over money should be staged in an English or Scottish divorce court.

An appeal court hearing began on Tuesday and is due to end on Wednesday.

Appeal judges Lady Justice King, Lord Justice David Richards and Lord Justice Moylan are not expected to deliver a ruling until later in the year.

Mr Villiers says their marriage is being dissolved in Scotland and wants to know why a fight over money should be staged in England.

A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London had initially considered the case.

Mrs Justice Parker had ordered Mr Villiers to pay Mrs Villiers £2,500 a month maintenance pending a resolution of their money fight.

She had rejected Mr Villiers’ “jurisdictional challenges”.

Mr Villiers has mounted a challenge in the Court of Appeal, which Mrs Villiers is contesting.

Barrister Michael Horton, who is leading Mr Villiers’ legal team, told judges that the couple had spent almost all their married life in Scotland after getting married in 1994.

He said Mr Villiers stayed in the family home, Milton House, in Dumbarton, after the couple separated in 2012.

Mrs Villiers “came south to England”, first living near Oxford then in London, and made a cash claim in the High Court in London.

Mr Horton said Mrs Justice Parker had rejected Mr Villiers’ “jurisdictional challenges”.

He said Mr Villiers wanted answers to a number of questions, including:

– Could a spouse whose marriage was being dissolved in Scotland “move south” and apply for a maintenance order which would “have effect” pending divorce?

– Could such an maintenance order continue to have effect after divorce?

– Why should a spouse who moved south get better alimony payments that a spouse who stayed in Scotland and asked a judge in Scotland to make decisions?

Mr Horton said if Mrs Justice Parker’s decision was allowed to stand, London could become the “maintenance capital” of the UK.

Timothy Scott QC, who is representing Mrs Villiers, says the appeal should be dismissed.

He told appeal judges: “These cases are always about looking for litigation advantage on both sides.”

Mr and Mrs Villiers are listed on the website

The website provides a “genealogical survey” of the peerage in Britain.

Mr Horton told judges about financial difficulties following the breakdown of the couple’s marriage.

He said Barclays had begun possession proceedings and Milton House had been repossessed in early 2015.

Mr Villiers had been made bankrupt in November 2013 – then discharged from bankruptcy in November 2014, he added.

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