Laura Ashley boss and wife told to declare truce in bitter divorce

A Laura Ashley boss and a former beauty queen who have been fighting over money for more than two years following the breakdown of their 43-year marriage should declare an "armistice", a High Court judge has said.

Laura Ashley boss and wife told to declare truce in bitter divorce

A Laura Ashley boss and a former beauty queen who have been fighting over money for more than two years following the breakdown of their 43-year marriage should declare an "armistice", a High Court judge has said.

Khoo Kay Peng, 77, non-executive chairman of Laura Ashley Holdings and 69-year-old Pauline Chai - who was Miss Malaysia 1969 - had run up lawyers' bills of more than £6m, Mr Justice Mostyn heard.

The judge said the legal costs were "stratospheric" and told Dr Khoo and Ms Chai: "It really is time for an armistice to be declared."

He was speaking at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Wednesday after analysing the latest stage of the dispute.

Dr Khoo and Ms Chai, who both come from Malaysia, married in 1970 and have five children.

They could not agree on whether decisions about who got what ought to be made in English or Malaysian courts - and litigation was launched in both countries.

Dr Khoo, who is based in Malaysia, said the marital home was in Malaysia and said a judge in Malaysia should make decisions about the division of money.

He said Ms Chai wanted to fight in England because an English judge would give her a more generous award.

Ms Chai said they moved their home to Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, before separating and therefore decisions should be made in an English court.

In December, Ms Chai claimed victory in the fight over jurisdiction following a ruling by three Court of Appeal judges in London.

Now a High Court judge in England will make decisions on who should get what - if Dr Khoo and Ms Chai cannot agree.

Mr Justice Mostyn was analysing preliminary issues in that dispute over division of money.

Both Dr Khoo and Ms Chai were at the hearing.

Ms Chai estimates that Dr Khoo is worth at least £440m.

She says he has failed to give a ''proper account'' of his assets. Dr Khoo disputes her claims.

Mr Justice Mostyn was told that Dr Khoo had run up legal bills of £1.7m and Ms Chai bills of £4.4m.

The judge said the litigation had been "relentless".

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