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Burgess Mee Advises in Landmark Court of Appeal Win

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Burgess Mee Advises Angela Jilina in Landmark Court of Appeal Win Regarding Duration of Marriage and Recission of Decree Nisi

The Court of Appeal has today confirmed its reversal of the High Court’s ruling in the case between Olga Cazalet (known as Angela Jilina) and Walid Abu-Zalaf, which centred on the duration of their marriage.

Ms Jilina’s appeal, heard in May, followed her application to rescind decree nisi and the consequential financial provision order on the basis of a reconciliation with her husband, which was heard by Mr Justice Mostyn at the High Court last year.

Today’s ruling finds in favour of Ms Jilina’s position, with the Court of Appeal judges unanimous in finding that the judge’s qualitative assessment of the marriage in the High Court ruling was wrong in law.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment confirms that this was a marriage, a reconciliation had taken place, and that Ms Jilina has been married to Mr Abu-Zalaf since 2013, thus fundamentally undermining the basis on which the original decree nisi order had been made.

Ms Jilina was advised by Peter Burgess, partner, and Vikkie Chetcuti-Gee, associate, at Burgess Mee Family Law, and represented by Rebecca Carew-Pole KC and Josh Viney of 1, Hare Court.

Peter Burgess, partner at Burgess Mee Family Law, said:

“I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has seen sense and reversed the decision of Mr Justice Mostyn in the lower court. In place of the trial judge’s review of arcane law and qualitative assessment of the marriage, the Court of Appeal has substituted one simple test that requires the court to evaluate a change in circumstance to see whether a decree nisi should be set aside.

“In Angela’s case, the Court of Appeal judges gave multiple examples of evidence that had not been given sufficient weight at first instance and, unusually, they decided to set aside the findings of fact. This is, in truth, the application of common sense. Angela and Walid remained married in law and in life, and this outcome is a correct reflection of their status.”