February 17, 2016

Judge makes effort to take “control” of long-running divorce case

In an unprecedented move, Mr Justice Brodey has compelled Dr Khoo Kay Peng, the chairman of fashion outlet Laura Ashley, to “lay out his stall.”

The decision to give the Malaysian businessman a 21-day ultimatum is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK’s family courts.

Speaking at a case management hearing, the Judge explained the reasons for his intervention.

“I am striving to exercise some control over this titanic case,” he said.

“The actual resolution of the finances of this couple, who have more money between them than they could spend in their lifetimes, has unfortunately taken a second seat.”

The long-running divorce battle is understood to be one of the most expensive to ever be dealt with in England.

The couple had been married for more than 40 years, and had five children together, prior to their marriage breaking down in 2013. While a decree absolute is expected to be granted in the next few weeks, it does not appear that there will be an easy solution to the financial settlement.

Pauline Chai, Dr Khoo’s estranged wife, has argued she is entitled to half his fortune, but there is a clear disagreement about how much he is actually worth.

Ms Chai has alleged that her former partner has assets of more than £400million, while Dr Khoo argues his fortune is £66million.

The clear disparity between the parties’ claims means, unless they can come to an agreement, there will have to be a comprehensive investigation to determine the true value of the businessman’s empire.

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