DIVORCE IN DUBAI OR PRETORIA – DOMICILE, JURISDICTION, APPLICABLE LAW, ANTI-SUIT INJUNCTION AV v WV  ZAGPPHC 324 (case no 5881/17) (6 July 2017) (GDP)
Keywords:Conflicts of family, succession law, jurisdiction, divorce action, substantive social and legal interest
Many South Africans work and live in the United Arab Emirates, especially in Dubai, which is one of the seven emirates. The emirate of Abu Dhabi is the seat of the federal government and the emirate of Dubai is the commercial and financial centre of the country. Numbers of South Africans in Dubai alone run into the tens of thousands. South Africans often move there to avoid crime in their home country and are enticed by the generally higher salaries. Nevertheless, most South Africans do not intend to settle in the United Arab Emirates permanently. Conflicts of family and succession law may readily ensue. Private international law has the function to delineate and harmonise the roles of domestic legal systems in this regard.
AV v WV ( ZAGPPHC 324) is typical in this regard. The case deals with the intended divorce of two South African parties resident in Dubai. Husband and wife are citizens of the Republic of South Africa and their domicile of origin was South African. After an armed robbery, the parties moved to Dubai, where the husband found employment as a pilot. Approximately eight or nine years later, the wife initiated divorce proceedings in the Gauteng Division, Pretoria, of the High Court of South Africa. However, the husband instituted divorce proceedings in Dubai and contended that the Pretoria High Court did not have jurisdiction, as the parties were not domiciled in its area of jurisdiction. The wife petitioned the Pretoria High Court to interdict the husband from proceeding with the divorce in Dubai. PM Mabuse J came to the conclusion that the Pretoria High Court had jurisdiction in the divorce proceedings between the parties and issued an interdict against the respondent, the husband, to refrain from proceeding with the divorce action in Dubai. The case was marked as “not reportable” by the judge, being “not of interest to other judges”. However, it is suggested that the decision is of substantive social and legal interest and deserves a wide readership. The case discussed is the revised version, as reported on the Saflii website.
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