The very recent High Court case of Clayton v Bant [2020] HCA 44 has confirmed that Australian Courts have the powerto hear a claim in certain circumstances where there has been a foreign divorce.

This big development has changed the landscape of family law in Australia. 

Why you ask?

Well, the law has this tricky rule which stops a court from hearing a matter which has already been dealt with by a court (not including appeals). 

The decision in Clayton v Bant is an exception to this tricky rule.

What happened in the case?

A husband and wife had formally divorced in Dubai, but that divorce did not separate the properties they owned in Australia.

Here, the wife was Australian and the husband was from Dubai. During their relationship, they lived partly in Dubai,and partly in Australia. They had one child together. Thecouple owned properties in Dubai, Australia and several other countries too.

In 2013, the husband and wife separated and the wife and child remained living in Australia.

The parties were formally divorced under the law of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai, as initiated by the husband. The divorce proceedings there however did not address the division of property issue.

The wife commenced legal proceedings in Australia seeking to divide the properties that the husband and wife owned in Australia.

The Court confirmed that they as an Australian Court had the ability to hear the matter, even though the matter had technically been already heard in Dubai (aka the ‘tricky rule’), because the Dubai Court didn’t have the power to make decisions in relation to the relevant Australian Law requiredto divide the Australian property.


Coastal Lawyers are central coast family lawyers. We offer representation in all areas of family law including divorce, separation, parenting property and maintenance. 


The information contained in this legal resource is information only. It is not a substitute for your own research and/or legal advice. If you need legal advice, then you can book an obligation free appointment with Coastal Lawyers online.