The House of Lords, the UK’s Supreme Court handed down an important ruling yesterday in ongoing divorce proceedings between an oil tycoon and his estranged wife. The decision has been heralded as a landmark for other couples in a similar situation.
Mrs Prest argued that she was entitled to a larger settlement than she was being offered by her ex husband. The case concerned assets belonging to Mr Prest’s numerous companies. The presiding judges agreed with Mrs Prest and ordered that any properties at the centre of the dispute should be transferred to her.
The judges were quick to state that this case was fact specific rather than rule of thumb law.
However Mrs Prest’s legal team disagree and believe this ruling could be relied on by others in a similar situation and stop individuals hiding assets behind a “corporate veil”.
In our view, this ruling would be not unexpected under Thailand divorce law. We would expect Courts to pierce corporate veils to enable the discovery of all assets.
Sidestepping away slightly, it is interest to consider what impact does the judgement have on assets held outside its jurisdiction? Without a treaty of reciprocal enforcements of civil judgements has been entered into, most foreign courts are not bound to follow the judgements of others.
However even if such treaty exists, it may not in any event apply to divorce cases. Thailand for example has no treaty for reciprocal enforcement of foreign court judgements with any other nations. Therefore the only relevance this decision can have in Thailand is supporting evidence.
This case lastly, and perhaps most importantly, serves as a reminder that individuals must be fully aware of your rights under Thailand divorce law. It reminds us that there are individuals out there who think it is acceptable hide assets away from proceedings. It is important that individuals adopt measures to ensure they are full protected during divorce proceedings to ensure the playing field is levelled.
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