Commenting on the successful outcome of the case on behalf of her client Mrs Emma Villiers, Jane Mitchell, family law partner at law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper said:
“My client is relieved and happy with the Supreme Court’s decision. Today is the culmination of a protracted process throughout which she has remained dignified and resolute under difficult circumstances. She now asks for privacy so that she can begin to move on.
More widely, the judgment provides clarity for similar cross border maintenance cases, both between couples within the UK and – because England and Scotland were treated as separate EU states – in cases involving, for example, England and France.”
Tim Scott QC, Alexis Campbell QC and Gayatri Sarathy, represented Mrs Villiers in the Supreme Court. Mrs Villiers was also advised by Rachael Kelsey and John West of SKO Family Law Specialists on the Scottish law aspects of the case.
Alexis Campbell QC said:
“More than five years ago, an English woman, living in England, applied to an English court for maintenance from her estranged husband who lives in Scotland, when divorce proceedings were taking place in Scotland.. The Supreme Court has now made clear that claimants for maintenance, who are often the weaker party, have the right to bring a claim in the court where they live, and that the English courts do not retain the power to refuse to hear the claim on the basis that another court may be considered to be a more appropriate forum. Litigants need clarity and predictability in the set of rules which apply to maintenance claims with a cross-jurisdictional dimension, which will in turn determine whether Scots or English law applies to such an application.”