Lucinda Connell, Senior Solicitor with Major Family Law, the leading divorce and family law specialists, comments:
Christina Estrada, a former Pirelli calendar model, has been awarded a sum of around £75 million by Mrs Justice Roberts in the High Court. Ms Estrada had been seeking £238m from her former husband, Sheikh Walid Juffali, with whom she has a daughter.
According to the report in The Guardian, Ms Estrada had claimed that her reasonable needs meant she required she enough from her ex-husband to afford a luxury home in London worth about £60m, a £4.4m house in Henley-on-Thames and £495,000 for five cars: three in London and two in the US together with £1 million a year for clothes, including £40,000 for fur coats, £109,000 for haute couture dresses and £21,000 for shoes. Ms Estrada’s lawyers estimated that her former husband is worth £8bn although Juffali, who has had three wives, said in a written statement that this was a grossly exaggerated “fantasy” figure and put his current net worth at £113.8m.
Although her award fell short of the target amount sought by her, Ms Estrada stated:
“I am very grateful for [the court’s] ruling. I have lived in the United Kingdom since 1988 and am thankful for access to the British courts. I never wanted to be here. I always wanted to resolve the matter amicably. This process has been incredibly bruising and distressing. Walid and I were happily married for 12 years and have a beautiful daughter together. He took both a second wife and divorced me without my knowledge.
His use of diplomatic immunity to try and prevent me from access to a legally binding settlement set a worrying precedent. Having grown up in a middle-class family and having enjoyed a successful career until my marriage, I am fully aware that the spectacular life Walid and I led was immensely fortunate and rarefied. And I fully understand how this can be perceived in the wider world. My focus now is to support my daughter and move forward with our lives. For her sake and the sake of our wider family, I hope we can now resolve matters sensibly.”
The Court of Appeal had considered the Sheikh’s claim for diplomatic immunity and decided that his permanent residence in the UK precluded him from availing himself of such protection from his former wife’s financial claims.
This Estrada/Juffali divorce will confirm the UK’s capital city reputation as the divorce capital of the world, where ex-wives can be more confident of being awarded more generous settlements and relatively fast justice for those who can afford the legal fees in such high asset cases.