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In the Matter of 180 Irregular Divorces; Rapisarda v Colladon (No. 2) [2014] EWFC 35

Date:30 SEP 2014
Law Reporter
(Family Division, Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, 30 September 2014)

[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports [2015] 1 FLR 597]

 Divorce – Fraud – Assertion of habitual residence – Address given was a mail box – Whether the petitions, decrees nisi and absolute could be set aside

 The President set aside 180 petitions for divorce and in some cases decrees nisi and absolute on the basis of fraud.

 Please see attached file below for the full judgment.

 The Queen’s Proctor applied for the dismissal of 180 divorce petitions, issued in 137 courts throughout England and Wales and also in many cases to set aside decrees of divorce obtained in consequence of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on an almost industrial scale.

 In each case the Italian petitioner or respondent asserted that they were habitually resident in England and Wales for the purposes of Brussels II Revised. In 179 of the cases an address in Maidenhead was given for the petitioner or respondent. The address for the other party was in Italy, and in one case Germany. Aside from one case there was no reason to believe that either party had ever resided in England and Wales. The address given was a mail box in a commercial premises.

 In each of the cases the President was satisfied that the assertion that the English court had jurisdiction to entertain the petition was founded on a lie that one of the parties was habitually resident here. The court was induced by fraud to accept that it had jurisdiction. In those cases where a petition had been issued but the case had progressed no further, the petitions were dismissed pursuant to FPR 7.20(2)(b). On the authority of Callaghan v Hanson-Fox (Andrew) [1992] Fam 1 and Moynihan v Moynihan (No 2) [1997] 1 FLR 59 the findings established fraud in those cases where decree nisi and absolute had been granted rendering them void.

 The President noted that the fact that a petition could be issued in any divorce court in England and Wales irrespective of the address of the petitioner or respondent enabled to fraud to continue for so long without being detected. The handling of divorce petitions was soon to be centralised with a limited number of locations. Within a year there would be fewer than 20 places where a divorce petition could be issued.

  Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWFC 35
 Case No: AL11D00099  and 179 other petitions

 Royal Courts of Justice

 30 September 2014

 B e f o r e :


 In the matter of 180 Irregular Divorces




 - and -



 Mr Simon P G Murray and Mr Thomas Collins (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the Queen's Proctor
 Ms Tina Villarosa (instructed under the Direct Public Access scheme) for the parties in AL11D00099 (Rapisarda v Colladon)

 Hearing dates: 9-10 April 2014
 Further submissions lodged 4 June 2014




 In the Matter of 180 Irregular Divorces; Rapisarda v Colladon (No. 2) [2014] EWFC 35