Lewis Silkin successfully represents Save China’s Tigers interests in divorce proceedings between Li Quan and Stuart Bray
29 October 2014
Lewis Silkin has successfully represented its client Save China’s Tigers (a registered UK charity) in its bid to protect assets held for its benefit by a Mauritian trust called The Chinese Tigers South African Trust (“CTSAT”). The charity was added as a party to divorce proceedings between Ms Li Quan and Mr Stuart Bray in order to assert its rights.
Lewis Silkin has successfully represented its client Save China’s Tigers (a registered UK charity) in its bid to protect assets held for its benefit by a Mauritian trust called The Chinese Tigers South African Trust (“CTSAT”). The charity was added as a party to divorce proceedings between Ms Li Quan and Mr Stuart Bray in order to assert its rights (Quan –v- Bray and Others  EWHC 3340 (Fam)).
The couple founded the charity in 2000 and formerly worked together to save the South China tiger from extinction. Working in partnership with the Chinese government, the charity works to breed and re-wild zoo-bred tigers in South Africa with the ultimate aim of reintroduction into the historic range in China. The work is critical: the South China tiger is the world’s most endangered subspecies and is on the brink of extinction. About 100 remain, mostly in captivity.
During the divorce proceedings, Ms Quan alleged that CTSAT was established not only to advance the cause of the Chinese tiger but also to provide financial benefit and support for the husband and wife personally. She also alleged charity funds had been diverted and used to support a lavish lifestyle for the couple, to the detriment of tiger conservation. As a consequence she claimed that the assets of the Chinese tiger project (she put them at up to £50 million) should be available for distribution in the divorce on the basis that CTSAT (including its related corporate vehicles) is a post-nuptial settlement. Both the claim and the estimated value were hotly contested. The issue came before the court for determination as a preliminary issue in the divorce.
Hearing of the issue lasted 25 days (including reading time). Mr Justice Coleridge held that there was no evidence of a past, present or future benefit to the parties from CTSAT and that CTSAT was established with only one intention - to further the Chinese tiger project via Save China’s Tigers. He rejected any suggestion of an ulterior of secondary purpose maintaining CTSAT was (and is) only for the Chinese tigers. Accordingly he held it is not a post nuptial settlement which can be directly invaded by court order.
Speaking on behalf of Save China’s Tigers charity, Mr David K Thomas said:
“We are very pleased with the support we have received from Lewis Silkin. As a result of Mr Justice Coleridge’s ruling the charity’s assets are safe from attack. The untrue allegations made by Ms Quan have been damaging to the charity. Naturally, we regret the circumstances in which it became necessary to address these allegations and particularly the fact that our limited resources have been diverted from our conservation work with the tigers. Now that the Court has so clearly exonerated both the charity and its officers of any wrongdoing, we will strive to restore the charity’s reputation. Save China’s Tigers remains 100% committed to working with the Chinese government to reintroduce wild South China tigers into suitable protected landscapes in China.”
Mark Lim, Partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution team at Lewis Silkin LLP added:
“We are pleased to have worked with the team at Save China’s Tigers to secure this important judgment. We hope that the charity may now focus on the very important conservation work that it undertakes on a daily basis to save these magnificent animals.”
The Lewis Silkin team was led by Litigation & Dispute Resolution partners Mark Lim with support from Senior Associate Fraser McKeating and Associate Duran Ross.
The Counsel team for the charity was led by Richard Harrison QC of 1 Kings Bench Walk. Mr Harrison was assisted by Miss Samantha Ridley (also of 1 Kings Bench Walk). Mr David Eaton Turner of New Square Chambers also supported the counsel team during the hearing in December 2013.
For further information please contact:
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Scott Addison, Spada
Tel: 020 7269 1430
Emma Germain, Spada
Tel: 020 7269 1430