UK Court Ups Divorce Pay Out Awarded In Nigeria


A British citizen who was unhappy with a divorce settlement awarded to her by a Nigerian court is eligible to receive a much larger lump sum payment, Britain's highest court ruled on Wednesday.

The landmark ruling is likely to encourage a flurry of similar claims, fuelling London's reputation as the divorce payout capital, lawyers said.

Olusola and Sikirat Agbaje, who spent most of their 38-year marriage in Nigeria but were given British citizenship in 1972, separated in 1999 when Sikirat Agbaje came to live in London with her five children.

After being awarded a lump sum equivalent to 21,000 pounds and a life interest in a Lagos property by a Nigerian court, Agbaje asked the UK courts for help under a law which enables financial relief to be granted when a marriage is dissolved in a foreign country.

"It was not so much that there was a very large disparity between what the wife received in Nigeria and what she would have received in England," said Supreme Court judge Lord Collins.

"But that there was also a very large disparity between what the husband received and what the wife received such as to create real hardship and a serious injustice."

A High Court judge in London awarded her 275,000 pounds, a decision initially overruled on appeal but reinstated by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, which ruled she was eligible to receive the money due to the couple's long standing connection with Britain, the Press Association reported.

British courts have granted several high-profile large divorce payouts, including to Heather Mills, the former wife of Beatle Paul McCartney, who was awarded 24.3 million pounds by a High Court judge in 2008 -- around $34,000 for each day of their four-year marriage.

Meredith Thompson, solicitor at Mills and Reeve, said the ruling would likely result in an increase in the number of overseas claimants bringing their cases to London.

"This decision could quite possibly open the floodgates for more claims from former spouses disappointed by the awards made to them in the divorce courts of other countries," she said.

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