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21 Dec 2021

Princess Haya divorce: difficult for Sheikh to avoid paying a large part of record £554m settlement, say lawyers

Commenting on today’s record £554m divorce settlement awarded to Princess Haya in her divorce from Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Harriet Errington, Partner at Boodle Hatfield, a leading private wealth law firm, comments:

“This is the biggest ever award by an English court following a divorce. Given the Sheikh’s reputed net worth of more than £3bn, this was always going to be a blockbuster settlement.”

“The UK court can effectively force the sale of the Sheikh’s UK assets in order to enforce such a judgment but forcing the sale of assets in the Gulf or in countries like Russia has always been much harder.”

“Given the Sheikh has considerable assets in the UK including racehorses and properties here, it will be very difficult for the Sheikh to avoid paying a large part of the settlement to his ex-wife. The court clearly took this into consideration in putting in place a bank guarantee of £290m for annual payments, so as to avoid any risk of non-payment. The sums involved are incredible; the child maintenance awarded was in excess of £11 million per year.”

“London is known internationally as the preferred venue for high value divorces. The settlement achieved by Princess Haya today would not have been possible in many jurisdictions.”

The previous record divorce settlement in the English courts was the £453m awarded to the ex-wife of Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov in 2017. He finally paid the settlement in July 2021 after almost four years of further disputes.

Comments from this article were published in CityAM Bloomberg, Spears and Law Gazette on 21st December 2021.