AR v BR  EWFC 7613 March 2023
Published: 20/06/2023 22:37
HHJ Lynn Roberts. Divorce proceedings concerning UK nationals who relocated to Dubai in 2020. W commenced divorce proceedings in England. H did not dispute the divorce, but proceeded to say that he did not agree jurisdiction. H later began divorce proceedings in Dubai and obtained an order, whilst W had already obtained a conditional order in England. W appealed the order in Dubai. H argued that the divorce was irrevocable. W adduced expert evidence from a legal consultant in Dubai regarding the legal position on a divorce granted that was later subject to an appeal. The expert’s opinion was that the Dubai court would not have made the divorce order in circumstances where W had obtained a conditional order in England and a final order was likely to be made shortly.
Due to competing jurisdictions, the court in England had to determine which of the two jurisdictions, England or Dubai, was the more appropriate court to hear the divorce proceedings. The court applied section 5 of the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973 (DMPA 1973), which sets out the grounds for the English court to have jurisdiction, which includes one of the parties being domiciled in this country. The court was satisfied that W remained domicile in England as she expressed an intention to return to live in this country and retained property and bank accounts in England. Section 5(6) and Schedule 1, para 9 of the DMPA 1973, was also considered to determine which was the more appropriate court on the balance of fairness and convenience.
Weighing the relevant factors, such as the parties being UK nationals, the location of their assets, the fact that neither party spoke Arabic and W’s difficulties in participating in the Dubai proceedings, on balance the court determined that the forum conveniens for the divorce and financial remedy proceedings is the English court. The English court proceedings were also first in time. The judge noted that the English court was already dealing with W’s financial remedy application and that the Dubai court would have been unable to deal with these proceedings in the absence of an agreement between the parties.