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How to make a fortune from divorce
Clare Conway meets Raymond Tooth – Sunday Times Magazine 25 April 2015
He’s ruthless, he revels in the nickname Jaws and he has the sharpest teeth in the business. Clare Conway meets Raymond Tooth, the most feared divorce lawyer in Britain. Raymond Tooth flashes an unsettling smile. His nickname is “Jaws”. He is a fearsome lawyer, Britain’s top divorce solicitor, the go-to man for anyone who wants to see their spouse humiliated, destroyed and ruined. In the 1970s, this cigar-smoking 75-year-old took on the mafia in Las Vegas and the South African government during the apartheid era. But he says crime was “boring as hell” and not as lucrative as divorce. Tooth’s selling point, which he personally revels in, is “Don’t get even — get Tooth!”
In his 35 years as a divorce lawyer, he has seen close up how the rich fight dirty in the marital battleground, he has been “attacked and bashed up” by one irate husband, and has uncovered fortunes squirrelled away by secretive ex-husbands.
Among his high-profile clients were Irina Malandina, the second wife of Roman Abramovich (£155m); Sadie Frost when she divorced Jude Law (and got £4m, the £2m house in Primrose Hill and £150,000 a year in maintenance); Pattie Boyd when she divorced Eric Clapton; and Eimear Montgomerie, former wife of Colin Montgomerie (Tooth got her a £15m settlement). Most recently he handled a 105-second quickie divorce for Jo Westwood, who was married to the disgraced celebrity publicist Max Clifford.
London has become the favoured arena for the world’s wealthiest divorcing couples. This is down to the generous settlements on offer. Anyone who can successfully argue that London is their main home can divorce in this country. What counts is getting in first and playing the system like “a game of chess”, according to Tooth.
Certainly, it seems women have the upper hand. In March, the Supreme Court ruled that Kathleen Wyatt could bring a £1.9m claim against her former husband, Dale Vince, whom she divorced 23 years earlier when they were both penniless hippies and before he became an eco-tycoon. The Supreme Court decided there is no time limit on making a claim for financial provision.
“The court will look at needs in terms of the standard of living they’ve enjoyed,” says Tooth. “If they’ve lived the lives of enormously rich people, then a driver may be suitable. We did one for a Saudi Arabian: a million [pounds] for each child a year,” he says, adding as an afterthought: “In many cases [the wives] have only flown in private jets, and the poor things have to go first class.”
And there are the arguments, tortuous squabbles “down to the spoons, even”, when dividing up a couple’s assets — all conducted against the backdrop of Tooth’s £500 hourly rate. Most divorces take no more than five days in court; Tooth’s longest case lasted three months. “On one occasion, my client — the wife — was in tears. After that, the husband was in tears. And then even I burst into tears, it was so frustrating!”
He sighs, shakes his head. “There are no winners in this.” You win? I venture. He smiles, all teeth, naturally. Most cases settle. When they don’t, it’s down to five things, says Tooth: “Husband too mean. Wife too greedy. Too much emotion. Bad legal advice. Nondisclosure of assets: fatal.” Sometimes, hidden assets can be “right in front of your face”, he says. “We had a chap who said he had no property, but we found a house he’d built in Surrey. I also found a Swiss account once, just from the back of an envelope.”
His eyes twinkle. He’s positively gleeful. “Once the judge finds out you’ve lied, you’re smashed!” Tooth represented Scot Young, the bankrupt tycoon who had been locked in a £300m divorce with his wife, Michelle, and who died last December after falling from the window of his Marylebone townhouse. “He went to prison because he didn’t comply with court orders for disclosure. He was ordered to answer this question, do that, and he didn’t do it.”
Sometimes, however, there is a happy ending, says Tooth. “I’ve known men marry their same wives again, which shows an enormous lack of imagination.” As he tells it, one husband and wife reconciled during the middle of a “very bitter” divorce. “We were just dividing up the contents of the house. They went and had a good bonk, and called the whole thing off.”
RJ v Tigipko 
Sears Tooth represented the father in a seminal child abduction case identifying the names and photographs of the abductors, Ganna Tigipko (the mother), Sergiy Tigipko (the maternal grandfather or “MGF”) and Slava (the mother’s new husband), in a bid to encourage the return of his children from Ukraine.
The case was widely reported in the press:
Billionaire Sergiy Tigipko investigated over abduction of UK grandchildren
By Sanchia Berg | BBC News | 15 April 2019
Ukrainian Tycoon Sergiy Tigipko named in family abduction
by David Brown | The Times | 16 April 2019
‘I got a text message saying my girls weren’t coming back’
by David Brown | The Times | 16 April 2019
Judge aims to bring ‘scourge’ of child abduction into the light
by David Brown | The Times | 16 April 2019
Businessman reveals fight to bring daughters back to UK after ex-wife took them to Ukraine and never came back
by Phoebe Southworth, Robert Mendick | The Telegraph | 15 April 2019
Millionaire mum ‘ABDUCTED her two Brit daughters and took them to Ukraine with help from her own tycoon dad’
By Jenny Awford – The Sun | 16 April 2019
Roman Abramovich split with third wife 
Raymond Tooth comments on the split between Chelsea owner Abramovich, and his third wife Dasha Zhukova, having represented Abramovich’s second wife, Irina Vyacheslavovna Malandina, in her divorce from Abramovich in 2007.
Russian tycoon could be facing a costly divorce
Victoria Ward – 8 Aug 2017 in London– National Post
Roman Abramovich and his third wife Dasha Zhukova at the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and his Chelsea team in 2012. Roman Abramovich ended his last marriage with a reputed settlement of 195 million — small change for a multibillionaire. ….
Abramovich married his first wife, Olga Yurevna Lysova, in December 1987 but was divorced just three years later. He wed Malandina in 1991, before he made his fortune in the Russian privatization boom.
Raymond Tooth, a London divorce lawyer, said it was “inconceivable” that Abramovich and Zukhova would not have a pre-nup.
“He will have done a deal and will sort it out in Russia to avoid any claims in an English court,” he said.
Russian ballerina who has ‘captivated’ love split
Richard Spillett in London & Will Stewart in Moscow | Mail Online | 9 August 2017
Chelsea owner Abramovich, 50, and his third wife Dasha Zhukova, 36 announced their shock split this week. Some are predicting it could be the most expensive divorce in history as she could get hundreds of millions. Russian media reports have now said Russian billionaire is interested in married ballerina Diana Vishneva, 41. Abramovich’s circle have rebuffed the talks as ‘total nonsense’ and there is no evidence for any of the claims. ….
The magnitude of any payout, however, is likely to depend on if the divorce is heard in the Russian courts, which may favour Roman, or the notoriously tough English courts.
It may also depend on whether Dasha signed a pre-nup — something which Raymond Tooth, the lawyer who represented Roman’s second wife Irina Malandina in her 2007 divorce against Roman, said he thought was likely.
Much speculation followed as to how much their divorce settlement would be worth, with it eventually being reported that Irina had been awarded £155 million — believed to be one of the largest settlements in the world.
Her divorce lawyer, Raymond Tooth, refuses to discuss the divorce settlement but told the Mail that Abramovich’s latest divorce could cost him just a fraction of his wealth, even if it amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds.
He said his ‘gut feeling’ was that any divorce would most likely take place in Russia where pre-nuptial agreements are honoured without question and the courts don’t award maintenance to wives.
He added: ‘There are probably two countries [where it could take place] — England and Russia. There’s probably most certainly a pre-nuptial agreement. In Russia, if you enter into that sort of agreement, that would be the end of the story. You cannot get maintenance in Russia for women, only for children.
‘But I doubt whether there will be a fight — and there will be an agreement. It won’t be billions. But it certainly could be hundreds of millions.’
‘One reason is because England is seen as extremely fair. The English courts see them as equal partners. They will look at what they have accumulated over the years of that marriage and will look to share it out.
‘That’s the yardstick they are working from. In that context, you could be looking at a huge sum, potentially. If it happens in Russia, she might get an awful lot less.’
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