I was hoping to produce an article full of festive cheer, to get everyone in the Christmas spirit but then the news broke of the High Court’s decision in Princess Haya’s divorce; and, well the best I could do was to link the settlement to an early Christmas present.
Of course I say this in jest given the allegations made by Princess Haya against her estranged husband, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum who is reported to be a multi-billionaire and is the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE.
The case has been described in the press as the biggest divorce case in British legal history, with Princess Haya receiving more than £500 million including a lump sum of £251.5 million.
Sheikh Mohammed, who is 72 years old, has six wives and Princess Haya is the youngest at 47. They were married in 2004 and have two children together; a 14 year old girl and a 9 year old son.
It is alleged that Princess Haya fled Dubai in 2019 after she discovered Sheikh Mohammed had previously abducted two of his older daughters and kept them against their will. She is stated to have fled Dubai in fear for her life and has allegedly repeatedly received threatening messages after moving to the UK that Sheikh Mohammed could find her anywhere she went. In fact it was ruled by the Court earlier this year that Sheikh Mohammed had illegally hacked the Princess’ phone as well as those of her bodyguards and lawyers.
Mr Justice Moor, the Judge in the case, decided that the Princess and her two children were particularly vulnerable and therefore required security. He determined that the children needed protection from their father and he expressed his concern that Princess Haya would, for the rest of her life, be at risk from Sheikh Mohammed or terrorist or other threats.
It should be noted that this case involves exceptional wealth and therefore is unlike most divorce cases ever seen by the Court before. This will have presented the High Court Judge with some very difficult decisions about what orders to make but he will have taken into consideration the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage when deciding what award to make. It is very clear from his judgement that he was particularly concerned about securing the safety of Princess Haya and her children which is why he made a substantial award to protect their safety, which is said to include money for armoured cars, helicopter flights, bodyguards, ballistic shields, private jets, and a string of other security measures.
The Court ordinarily will consider a list of factors when determining what award to make in divorce proceedings. This will include but are not limited to:
- The income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of the parties;
- The financial needs and responsibilities; and
- The age of each party and how long their marriage lasted.
The Princess is also reported to have received sums to cover the cost of running two multi-million pound properties, one next to London’s Kensington Palace, as well as her main residence in Egham, Surrey.
She is also to receive secured periodical payments of £5.6m-a-year to each of the couple’s two children, secured with a £290 million guarantee.
Whilst many will find the sums of money being discussed in this case somewhat alien, some of the themes of controlling behaviour are common place.
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