The Case of the Chinese Tiger

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A conservationist couple who ran a charity to save the rare Chinese tiger have spent £2 million on legal costs arguing, as part of their divorce, whether or not £25 million put into the charitable fund formed part of the matrimonial assets for division between them on divorce. The wife claimed it formed a post-nuptial settlement because the parties used the fund to further their lavish lifestyle.

A post-nuptial settlement is a financial agreement entered into by spouses after marriage and may pre-determine what the settlement should be on any divorce. The court at first instance declared that the charitable fund was just that, not a post-nuptial settlement. The wife is appealing. The court has urged the parties to reach an agreement with one judge commenting on the ferocious nature of the litigation to date.

Should the wife’s appeal prove successful this could have powerful consequences for other charitable or philanthropic funds on divorce.

Nicola Furmston is a solicitor and head of the Family team at Barker Gotelee.

Family Solicitors in Ipswich – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email