The Court of Appeal has ruled against a man who sued his former wife for a larger share of her fortune after their divorce, leaving him with 'nothing but debts' after his legal bills for the case topped £500,000.
It is a case that should serve as a warning to any divorcing couples thinking of hiring the best lawyers and going on the all-out attack: the total legal costs of the divorce to date have reached £1.3m for the couple, something the Court of Appeal judges described as 'profligacy'.
Mohammed Salim Alyami, 40, was arguing for a greater share of his wife Nora Ali Musallam's fortune. Her family previously employed Mr Alyami and has close links with the Saudi Royal family.
The couple have two children and lived in lavish surroundings in a five-bedroom property in Holland Park, London. The wealth of the family was derived almost entirely from Ms. Musallam's father, a former senior adviser to the late King Fahad of Saudi Arabia.
In the original divorce settlement, the judge ordered that Ms. Musallam should pay £450,000 for a property for Mr Alyami, who was living in a bedsit at the time. The judgment also included an additional £50,000 to help Mr Alyami settle his outstanding debts.
However, Mr Alyami had already racked up £500,000 in legal fees and so decided to appeal the award, asking for a greater share of his wife's fortune, which his lawyers estimated to be in the region of £3.1bn.
The Court of Appeal rejected the claim, saying that Mr Alyami had instructed lawyers knowing full well he did not have the resources to pay their fees.
"The reality of the case is that the husband has run up a bill of nearly half a million pounds without having any assets," said Lord Justice Thorpe in judgment.
"This situation ought never to have developed. The costs in this case are quite disproportionate to the issues that had to be decided," he added.
The judges felt that any additional award against the wife would seriously jeopardise both her position and that of the children to the relationship.
Divorce battle lands pair with £1.3m legal bill (The Telegraph)