PHOTO: Stefano Paganini/Flickr

Luna: Shariah Court Sends Yacht Back to Ex-Husband

The long legal battle over the ownership of the megayacht Luna continues. A Shariah court in Dubai has overruled a Dubai civil court’s decision to uphold a seizure of the yacht. The Shariah court’s decision also diverges from its own interim decision to maintain the freezing order.

According to The National, a United Arab Emirates news service, the Shariah court revealed its final ruling on November 7. It dismissed claims by Tatiana Akhmedova, the ex-wife of Farkhad Akhmedov. The latter has owned the 377-foot (115-meter) Luna since 2013. Akhmedova argued that the United Arab Emirates must uphold a London High Court ruling from December 2016, under which it awarded her £453.5-million (approximately $600-million) in a divorce settlement. Since Akhmedov has reportedly refused to pay her, however, she obtained a London court order in April this year to freeze his assets, including the megayacht. The two were London residents during their marriage.

In May, Dubai authorities arrested Luna as she underwent maintenance in Port Rashid. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts, an independent, English-language common-law judiciary, ordered it, enforcing the London court ruling. Akhmedov, though, appealed the seizure, arguing that the London court order wasn’t enforceable in the Emirates. As a result, Dubai’s Joint Judicial Commission removed the case from the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction in July. It stated that Luna was part of a matrimonial dispute, not a maritime dispute, and therefore belonged in Shariah court.

Due to Shariah courts typically favoring husbands over wives, several international media reports speculated that Akhmedov would receive preferential treatment. This is what made the Shariah court’s interim decision so surprising. In August, the Shariah court decided Luna belonged to the ex-wife, upholding the London freezing order. However, days later, Akhmedov appealed.

As part of the Shariah court’s final decision, Akhmedova must further pay Akhmedov’s legal fees. Her spokesperson believes the situation is far from over, however. “All that has been handed down at this stage is the decision,” The National quotes him as saying. “Until we have the full judgment together with reasons, we are unable to comment any further.” He adds that once the legal team reviews the full details, they may consider an appeal. “For now, nothing material will change, and importantly, MV Luna will remain in Port Rashid under arrest,” he asserts.

Interestingly, The National reports that despite the London freezing order remaining, the UAE has no legal obligation to act if Akhmedov decides to move Luna.

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