Matrimonial Investigations: The Sheikh, his ex-wife, and the butler…


Matrimonial and pre-nuptial work is often considered to be the bread-and –butter of a Private Investigator’s work.

It’s true we spend a lot of our time on cases such as these, whether it be gathering evidence for divorce proceedings, or checking out a potential spouse prior to the big day.

It’s one of the more sensitive areas of our job, and understandably can be distressing for all parties. We try as far as possible, to keep things amicable and on an even keel, and focus on providing the most discreet and professional of services.

In many matrimonial and pre-nuptial cases, large sums of money can be involved, thereby raising the stakes for those involved. We’ve dealt with multi-million pound divorce proceedings, but a story we read in the press today,  made us realise that some divorce cases are on another level entirely.

The case of the Saudi businessman Sheikh Walid Juffali and his ex-wife Christina Estrada is one which not only involves vast sums of money, but yet another example of money and power being used to try to  gain the legal advantage.

Sheikh Juffali had tried to persuade the High Court that his ex-wife could not sue and pursue a claim against his £4 billion fortune, as he had Diplomatic Immunity. Juffali had claimed that his work as permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation for the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, meant that he qualified for Diplomatic Immunity, and as such his ex-wife would be prevented from suing.

He had the money and connections to take his case first to the High Court – who rejected his claim – and subsequently to  the Court of Appeal. Unfortunately for Juffali, three judges at the Court of Appeal also rejected his claim. It appears they saw through his assertion that he was entitled to Diplomatic Immunity, largely on the grounds that he was based permanently in the UK.

The time and money involved in his appeal is not inconsiderable. Juffali of course can afford it, but has now exhausted all his attempts to try to prevent his ex-wife from obtaining her share of his fortune.

For her part, Ms Estrada is hoping to come to an agreement soon and is looking for a cash settlement. Quite right too, you might be thinking. So were we, but then as good investigators, we decided to delve a little deeper into the story.

Ms Estrada is not the poor ex-wife desperately seeking a fair settlement to support her teenage daughter. Her biggest grievance to date, seems to be her complaint that her ex-husband has forced her to live with only two maids and one butler, which is of course an intolerable situation in which to find oneself. Oh, and she still has to live in her £100 million mansion with fewer staff than she’s used to…

In this case, it seems that for once money was not able to procure the legal advantage. Sheikh Juffali will have to come to some form of agreement with his ex-wife despite all his efforts to the contrary. And Ms Estrada may well have to get used to living with only a handful of staff.

Life can be so unfair can’t it?


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