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Sheik claims diplomatic immunity in divorce case

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The former wife of a Saudi billionaire has taken her case to London's High Court in a bid to receive a legally binding divorce settlement. The former Pirelli model left her husband in 2012 when she discovered that her husband had secretly taken a second wife. Couples in the Greater Manchester area may be aware that Islamic law permits men to take more than one wife, but they may be interested to note that it apparently also enabled the sheik to divorce his first wife by repeating "I divorce you" three times. 

The case that is being heard centres around the man's claim that his diplomatic immunity prevents him from being legally compelled to pay a divorce settlement to his wife. A Conservative Member of Parliament criticised the use of diplomatic privileges for the purposes of suborning the justice system. The billionaire's claim is further complicated due to the circumstances surrounding his acquisition of diplomatic status.

His immunity from the law comes with the position of permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation, a post he was awarded by Saint Lucia, a small Caribbean island that he visited for the first time a few weeks before being selected to the position. He has been estimated to be worth in the region of £4 billion, but if his immunity is upheld, his former wife may be unable to legally claim any settlement for herself or her daughter.

A person involved in a contentious separation may find it beneficial to consult with a solicitor for advice on family law problems, especially where substantial assets are concerned. A judge will typically seek to determine the financial needs of all the parties concerned before deciding on the division of any surplus marital assets.