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Family Law: Greek millionaire fails to stop divorce taking place in 'generous' British courts

Pyrros Vardinoyannis, a millionaire shipping tycoon, tried to prevent his wife Elizabeth from pursuing a divorce through the British courts, which are known for awarding generous settlements.

The couple, who originally met in St Tropez in 2001, led a jet setting lifestyle described by High Court Judge Peter Jackson as "a protracted modern version of the 18th Century Grand Tour".

Since last April, the couple began to drift apart and Mr Vardinoyannis claims that since his wife spent a great deal of the last year abroad, she should not be allowed to pursue a divorce in the UK. He attempted to stop her legal action taking place in the 'divorce' and started his own divorce proceedings in Greece.

However, earlier this year the High Court ruled that the divorce, which has already accrued legal costs over £1 million, will take place in England.

Justice Peter Jackson said: "Just as there are multinational companies, so this is a multinational family.

"Their lives have not been tied down by mundane considerations such as financial budgets, local connections, immigration restrictions or language limitations.

"Instead, they have lived a protracted modern version of the 18th Century Grand Tour, gravitating towards places where the international social set gathers."

The Vardinoyannis family, including the couple's two children, had lived in London for several years but also had spent time in Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Crete and other European countries.

Their family home was in Kensington, but since the couple split the house has been sold and Mr and Mrs Vardinoyannis live in separate London homes.

The High Court decision was upheld at the Court of Appeal by Lord Justice Thorpe, who said: "A family such as this in its travels about the world has to have some secure base.

"The days when affluent people moved from one hotel to another without maintaining any residence anywhere are long gone.

"The reality is that the petitioner's residence base was, throughout the material time, in London.

"The requirement of European law does not stipulate for her presence, but only for her residence here."

Related links:
Read more on the story (The Telegraph)
How much does a divorce cost? (FindLaw)
Find local family solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)