Laura Ashley boss and wife mired in financial dispute end marriage
Dr Khoo Kay Peng and Pauline Chai have been fighting in English courts for several years with payout decision due this year
The marriage of the Laura Ashley boss and his estranged wife who are embroiled in a high-profile court fight over money has ended, according to lawyers.
Dr Khoo Kay Peng, 78, the non-executive chairman of Laura Ashley Holdings, and 70-year-old Pauline Chai a former beauty queen who was Miss Malaysia in 1969 have been in a dispute over money for several years following the breakdown of their relationship.
A high court judge in London is expected to rule on the size of the payout Chai should receive later this year.
Lawyers representing Chai said on Thursday she had been granted a decree absolute, nearly four years after filing for divorce. A family judge had signalled the end of the marriage a year ago by granting a decree nisi.
Todays grant of decree absolute brings an end to a process set in motion nearly four years ago, said the solicitor Ayesha Vardag, who represents Chai.
Ms Chai feels a great sense of relief that she can now move on with her life, with her faith in the fairness of the English legal system affirmed once again. She is delighted now to have the independence which the grant of decree absolute signifies.
All that now remains is to obtain the just financial settlement to which she is so clearly entitled, having supported her former husband in his business endeavours for nearly five decades, and having raised their five children.
Khoo and Chai, who both come from Malaysia, married in 1970. They could not agree on whether decisions on the terms of their separation should be made in English or Malaysian courts, and litigation was launched in both countries.
Khoo, who is based in Malaysia, said the marital home was in Malaysia and believed a judge there should decide on the division of money.
He said Chai wanted the hearing in England because an English judge would give her a more generous award. Chai said they moved their home to Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, before separating and therefore decisions should be made in an English court.
In December 2015, Chai claimed victory in the fight over jurisdiction following a ruling by three court of appeal judges in London.