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Woman seeking divorce wants to 'have her cake and eat it'

Woman seeking divorce wants to 'have her cake and eat it'

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The estranged wife of an Italian fashion boss says a London judge who thought she wanted to “have her cake and eat it” made a mistake.

Ilaria Giusti and husband Ferruccio Ferragamo – chairman of Florence-based Salvatore Ferragamo, which is famous for shoes – are arguing over whether judges in England or Italy should make decisions about money following the breakdown of their marriage.

She says judges in London should make decisions, but he argues they are both Italian and lived in Italy when married, so litigation should take place in Italy.

She has asked two Court of Appeal judges to overturn a ruling by Mr Justice Francis, who ruled last year that legal proceedings in England should be halted pending rulings by judges in Italy.

Ferruccio Ferragamo and actress Hilary Swank at an exhibition at the Louvre in Paris in 2012
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Ferruccio Ferragamo and actress Hilary Swank at an exhibition at the Louvre in Paris in 2012

Appeal judges Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Baker are expected to deliver a ruling in the near future.

Mr Justice Francis said Ms Giusti moved to a new home in London in late 2017 and attempted to “put jurisdiction” in England in a way which was “frankly, unprincipled”.

But barrister Timothy Scott QC, who leads her legal team, told a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Monday that Mr Justice Francis “fell into error”.

He said Mr Justice Francis should have heard evidence from an expert in Italian law on whether “Italian separation proceedings were ongoing”.

“Mr Justice Francis found the position adopted by the wife to be unattractive and he used a number of disparaging phrases about it,” Mr Scott told appeal judges in a written argument.

“He described the situation as a remarkable case of the wife trying to have her cake and eat it.

“He said in terms that her position was unattractive and also that it was unprincipled.

Ferruccio Ferragamo in Beverly Hills, California, in 2013
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Ferruccio Ferragamo in Beverly Hills, California, in 2013

“Although Mr Justice Francis, in the present case, correctly directed himself that he should not be influenced by what he regarded as the unattractive nature of the wife’s case, it is hard to avoid the conclusion, looking at his judgment at a whole, that he was influenced by those considerations.”

Mr Justice Francis said in a ruling in November: “It appears to be common ground that the wife is likely to secure a higher financial reward for herself … in England than would be the case in Italy.”

He said she had “taken many active steps in her endeavour to secure English jurisdiction”.

The judge said the pair had married in 2004 and separated in 2012 and “enjoyed a very high standard of living”.

He said Mr Ferragamo had “significant resources” as a result of the fashion empire created by father Salvatore.

Barrister Nicholas Cusworth QC, who leads Mr Ferragamo’s legal team, told appeal judges Mr Justice Francis had not fallen into error and the appeal should be dismissed.

He said the marriage and separation were “wholly Italian”.



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