Ferruccio Ferragamo, pictured outisde London’s Appeal Court, has won the latest round of a legal battle with his estranged wife
An Italian fashion tycoon has won the latest round of a legal battle with his estranged wife who wants to settle their multi-million pound divorce in Britain.
Ilaria Giusti, 53, is asking courts in the UK to rule on her divorce from shoe designer Ferruccio Ferragamo, despite moving here five years after splitting from her husband.
But Mr Ferragamo, chairman of Florence based Salvatore Ferragamo, which was the go-to shoe label for Golden Age Hollywood icons, including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich, says judges in Italy should make the decisions instead.
The case is the latest another example of so-called ‘divorce tourism’ which has seen London nicknamed the ‘divorce capital of the world’ after a series of generous payouts.
A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London last year ruled that legal proceedings in England should be halted pending rulings by judges in Italy.
Ms Giusti had asked two Court of Appeal judges to overturn that decision.
But today Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Baker, who had overseen a Court of Appeal hearing in London earlier this month, said they preferred an argument put forward by Mr Ferragamo’s lawyers.
They said judges in England should ‘defer to the Italian court’ and let Italian judges decide whether they ‘remained seised’ of proceedings.
However the two appeal judges also said Ms Giusti’s English bid should not be thrown out.
They said her ‘divorce petition’ should be ‘adjourned’, not dismissed, pending rulings by Italian judges.
Ilaria Giusti, 53, (left with her estranged husband and right, outside London’s Appeal Court) is asking courts in the UK to rule on her divorce from the shoe designer despite moving here five years after the marriage broke down
Mr Justice Francis, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, had initially analysed the case.
He had explained, in a ruling in November 2018, how both were Italian and how their marriage had broken down after about eight years.
The judge said they had ‘enjoyed a very high standard of living’.
They married in 2004, and have one son, born in 2001, who is now 17.
The former marital home of the couple, Il Borro, a lavish 1,750 acre estate in Tuscany
Ms Giusti has now set up home in Muswell Hill, north London, but had lived in Italy throughout the entire marriage. She moved to the UK five years ago
They have been estranged since 2012 after Mr Ferragamo applied for legal separation from Ms Giusti, but it took six years to be completed after she appealed.
He launched his bid to divorce her in Italy in March 2018, one day after the separation case ended.
But, by that time, she had beaten him to it, having relocated to London in August 2017 and filed an earlier divorce petition of her own to transfer the fight over her ex-husband’s fortune over here.
But her bid was slammed by High Court judge, Justice Francis. He called her attempt to move the divorce to the UK an ‘unprincipled manoeuvre’.
Mr Ferragamo is chairman of Florence based Salvatore Ferragamo, which was the go-to shoe label for Golden Age Hollywood icons, including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe. Pictured: Shoes from the Salvatore Ferragamo show earlier this year
The judge said Ms Giusti had now set up home in Muswell Hill, north London, but had lived in Italy throughout the entire marriage.
He said in his ruling in November: ‘The parties enjoyed a very high standard of living.
‘The husband has significant resources as a result of a fashion empire that was created by his father and which he continued very successfully.
‘Right up until the last months of 2017 both parties were living in Florence as they had done throughout the marriage.
‘The Italian court has made several financial orders at the insistence of the parties, including making substantial provision for the housing and income needs of the wife.
The interior of the Palazzo Spini Feroni, headquarters to the Ferragamo Luxury Brand in Florence, Italy.
The Palazzo (pictured) was purchased in the 1930’s by Ferrucio’s father renowned Italian shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo
‘This is, if I may say so, a remarkable case of the wife seeking to have her cake and eat it.
‘First she has availed herself to the fullest extent in Florence of orders for both capital and income, and I have been told she is enjoying a very substantial income indeed from the husband, as well as a significant property in Italy.
The history of Salvatore Ferragamo
The iconic Italian luxury goods company was started in 1928 by cobbler Salvatore Ferragamo.
The company is known for its innovative designs and shoes adorned by a variety of Hollywood stars such as Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.
But the company is not just about shoes, and made boxy handbags favoured by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Salvatore’s son Ferruccio is the chairman of the board and oversaw the luxury company going public in 2011.
Although the company is now public, the hugely successful high fashion house is still 70 per cent owned by the Ferragamo family.
‘Secondly the wife managed to prevent the husband from being able to issue divorce proceedings in Italy.
‘The moment he was given the separation order he wanted, he issued his divorce petition.
‘Separation proceedings in Italy are a stepping stone on the way to divorce, quite different from what we might regard as judicial separation proceedings in England.
‘This is an attempt by a litigant, namely the wife, to move in the middle of proceedings by a series of manoeuvres to try to put the jurisdiction here in England in a way which is frankly unprincipled.
‘I am satisfied that the Italian court is still seised of matters relating to the separation…The issue of separation continues to be relevant in term of financial outcome.
‘I stay the English proceedings until such time as the jurisdiction of the Italian court is established,’ he concluded.
Mr Ferragamo split from his first wife, Amanda Peat – with whom he had his twin sons Salvatore and James – in 2002.