Asif Aziz a Hedge Fund Manager claimed in court last week that he wasn't married despite his wife claiming that there was a Muslim marriage ceremony in Malawi in 2002. He denies that such a ceremony took place. Mr Aziz disputes that he was ever married to Tagilde Aziz. He is attempting to convince the court that the marriage was a sham in order to protect his £1.1 billion fortune.
A decree nisi was pronounced in Mrs Aziz's favour last year. The decree nisi is the first part of divorce in which the Court accepts the evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Mr Aziz is seeking to set aside the decree nisi.
Whilst the English courts will not recognise an unregistered Muslim marriage ceremony that takes places in England and Wales, the courts will recognise a foreign religious ceremony as long as it complies with the requirements of the foreign country. Therefore as long as the marriage is valid in the foreign country it will be valid in England and Wales.
Even if Mr Aziz convinces the court that the parties were never married, Mrs Aziz would still be able to make a financial claim against Mr Aziz under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 as the parties have 4 children together. However, the result of such an application is unlikely to give Mrs Aziz a fair share of the matrimonial pot estimated by her to be around £1.1 billion.