Russian oligarch Potanin wins divorce claim appeal, case continues

Vladimir Potanin. (Image: The Kremlin.)

A claim by the ex-wife of Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin to a multi-billion dollar share of his stake in Nornickel can continue in a London court, despite the businessman winning an appeal on Wednesday over how her case was brought.

Potanin, one of Russia’s richest men and the CEO of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest palladium producer and a major producer of refined nickel, had asked the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court to throw out Natalia Potanina’s attempt to bring a mammoth divorce claim in the English courts.

Potanina wants to bring a claim for financial relief following their divorce, capped at 50% of the value of her ex-husband’s ultimate beneficial interest in shares in Nornickel, dividends paid since 2014, and a Russian property.

But Potanin’s lawyers said the Supreme Court should throw out her claim as the couple had no connection with Britain during their marriage and Potanina had already received tens of millions of dollars following Russian divorce litigation.

The Supreme Court ruled by a three-to-two majority that a lower court had applied the wrong legal test when granting Potanina permission to bring a financial claim in Britain, which was previously valued by her lawyers at around $9 billion.

But the case was sent back to the Court of Appeal to decide issues that were not resolved in 2021 when Potanina’s case was given the go-ahead.

Frances Hughes, a partner at law firm Hughes Fowler Carruthers who represented Potanina, said their client was delighted with the ruling, which meant the courts “will now focus on the merits of her case”.

Potanin’s lawyers, meanwhile, hailed the Supreme Court’s decision as a significant victory which may deter so-called “divorce tourism” – where one spouse chooses to bring their claim in a favourable legal jurisdiction.

“Divorce tourists will now have their claims subject to fair and robust scrutiny before being granted leave (to bring a claim) in this jurisdiction,” Potanin’s lawyer Fiona Shackleton from Payne Hicks Beach said in a statement.

(By Sam Tobin; Editing by William James and William Maclean)


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