A Russian wife was recently awarded £1.14 million by the English court despite having already received a £5.1 million settlement in Russia. What does the law say about making financial claims in the English court after an overseas divorce?

The wife's application was made under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. It gives English courts the power to make financial awards to spouses who have divorced abroad, as if the couple had divorced in England.

Part III was introduced in November 1984 with the aim to alleviate the consequences if there are no, or inadequate, financial provisions awarded to a financially weaker spouse by foreign courts.

It is first necessary to apply for permission to bring a claim under Part III. If permission is granted, the court must then consider if it is appropriate for the English court to make an order, for example to avoid the applicant becoming dependant on state benefits. Finally, the court must apply the factors normally applied in financial remedy proceedings such as the parties' financial resources and financial needs.

Despite the intentions of Part III and the numerous filters applied, the wife's application was allowed to proceed and, in the first instance, succeed.

The Court of Appeal overturned the award, with Lady Justice King criticising the initial judge for failing to comply with the principle that, where possible, all litigation should be final. Lady Justice King also criticised the wife's application as seeking "a second bite of the cherry".

Despite the judgment, the English system of ancillary relief is regarded as one of the most generous in the world, so it is likely we will see many more seeking a second bite of the generous English cherry.

- Samantha Hickman is a partner at award-winning Watford-based law firm VWV.