Millionaire businessman loses latest stage of divorce battle

The boss of big-name retailer Laura Ashley has lost the latest round of a protracted legal battle over his £440million fortune.

Dr Khoo Kay Peng, non-executive chairman of the high street giant, has been locked in divorce proceedings for more than two years.

The Malaysian businessman and his estranged wife, Pauline Chai, take differing views about whether proceedings should be heard by courts in the UK or the South-East Asian country.

Ms Chai is keen for the case to be dealt with in England, while her husband wants the settlement to be decided in the couple’s country of birth.

Last October, a High Court judge ruled that proceedings set in motion by Ms Chai, a former beauty queen, should be allowed to continue.

Dr Khoo had argued this wasn’t appropriate, pointing out that the couple’s marital home was in Malaysia and claiming that his wife wanted the case to continue in England because she believes that courts here are likely to award a more generous share of the assets.

He had gone to London’s Appeal Court in an attempt to challenge last autumn’s ruling, but his case was dismissed by Judges last week.

Ms Chai’s argument rests on her claim that the couple had moved their home to Hertfordshire before their marriage of 43 years collapsed.

The case is expected to resume in the new year.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.