A wealthy banker and her househusband are warming up for an £11 million divorce battle.
Ms Tan and Mr Choy own properties in Hong Kong, Malaysia and London, including a luxury apartment in Kensington worth over £4.5 million. Among the couples other assets is a vintage wine collection valued at over £1 million. Both of the couples’ two sons were educated at prestigious English boarding schools.
The couple encountered marriage difficulties in 2011, and in January 2012 Mr Choy decided to divorce his wife after a New Year’s Eve row while on holiday in Singapore.
Mr Choy has filed for divorce in the English courts, however, his wife is fighting to get the matter dealt with in Malaysia.
The High Court judges sitting in the Appeal Court who will decide the outcome of the matter are Lord Justice Leveson, Lord Justice Aikens and Lady Justice Macur.
Ms Tan is appealing against an earlier decision of a High Court family judge who ruled in March 2013 that Mr Choy was “habitually resident” in the UK because he lived in London for at least a year before he filed for divorce. As such he was found to be entitled to bring divorce proceedings in the UK.
However, Ms Tan’s barrister, James Turner QC, argued in the Appeal Court that this earlier decision had been wrong and that the divorce should not be allowed to proceed in the UK courts.
He said: “Married family life between the parties continued to some degree at least, and had Hong Kong as its centre, until a row took place between the parties during a family holiday in Singapore during the Christmas 2011 /New Year 2012 period, following which the husband came to England.”
“Clearly, each member of the family in the present case had been habitually resident in Hong Kong where the family home and centre of interests had been located for a considerable period.”
The barrister also brought to the court’s attention that Ms Tan was the “breadwinner” in the marriage and that proceedings in the UK would cause her a great deal of inconvenience.
Mr Choy’s barrister, Tom Bishop QC, argued that it was clear that the husband had been habitually resident in London and as such the divorce could go ahead.
“When the centre of the husband’s interest ceased to be Hong Kong as his connection with Hong Kong broke down upon the end of his marriage, London was the natural and obvious replacement,” he said.
“The judge found that they had an international marriage which, from 1998, involved them moving around the world following the wife’s work.”
“They owned property, they had homes in a number of countries – England, Singapore and Malaysia…but the jewel in the crown of their assets was the South Kensington apartment, worth £4-£4.75m, never mortgaged, never let out,” he added.
“After the marriage broke down…the husband’s centre of interests ceased to be dictated by the wife’s working life.”
“London was capable of swiftly becoming the husband’s permanent centre of interests after the breakdown of the marriage,”
Lord Justice Leveson, Lord Justice Aikens and Lady Justice Macur reserved their judgement on the case and will give their ruling at a future date.