Li Quan v Stuart Bray (1st Respondent) Maitland (Mauritius) Ltd (2nd Respondent) Chinese Tigers South African Trust (3rd Respondent) Save China's Tigers (4th Respondent) Ralph Edmond Bray (5th Respondent) Conservation Finance Ltd (6th Respondent) The Attorney General (7th Respondent)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
JudgeLady Justice King,Lord Justice David Richards,Lord Justice Moylan
Judgment Date16 June 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] EWCA Civ 405
Date16 June 2017
Docket NumberCase No: B6/2015/0102

[2017] EWCA Civ 405




Sir Paul Coleridge sitting as a High Court Judge

[2014] EWHC 3340 (Fam)

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL


Lady Justice King

Lord Justice David Richards


Lord Justice Moylan

Case No: B6/2015/0102

Li Quan
Stuart Bray
1st Respondent
Maitland (Mauritius) Ltd
2nd Respondent
Chinese Tigers South African Trust
3rd Respondent
Save China's Tigers
4th Respondent
Ralph Edmond Bray
5th Respondent
Conservation Finance Limited
6th Respondent
The Attorney General
7th Respondent

Richard Todd QC and Lily Mottahedan (instructed by Vardags Solicitors) for the Appellant

The First Respondent appeared in person

The Second Respondent did not appear and was not represented

The Third Respondent did not appear and was not represented

The Fourth Respondent appeared in person

The Fifth Respondent did not appear and was not represented

Stewart Leech QC and Sarah Phipps (instructed by Lee and Thompson LLP) for the 6 th Respondent

Ruth Hughes (instructed by The Government Legal Department) for the 7 th Respondent

Hearing dates: 31 January to 2 February 2017

Lady Justice King



This is an appeal against an order made by Sir Paul Coleridge sitting as Judge of the High Court whereby he declared that assets held within a Mauritian trust called the Chinese Tigers South African Trust ("CTSAT") were not, for the purposes of section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, a resource of either William Stuart Bray ("the husband") or Li Quan ("the wife"). In the light of his findings of fact the Judge further declared that CTSAT is not a post-nuptial settlement.


On 3 October 2013, Mr Justice Coleridge (as he then was) ordered there to be a hearing, listed initially for 10 days, to enquire into the circumstances under which CTSAT was set up and the nature of its underlying purpose. Flowing from those findings, consideration was to be given as to the availability, to either the husband or the wife, of the funds held in the trust by virtue either of variation of a nuptial settlement (if one were held to exist), or as a 'resource' available to the parties and capable of being utilised to satisfy the wife's claims within her financial remedy proceedings.


In the appeal before this court the wife seeks to overturn the Judge's findings of fact by way of a "reasons challenge" directed at the judgment. The issue is whether the judgment fails adequately to give reasons for the findings of fact he made, his evaluation of those facts and the conclusions he reached so as to render that judgment unsustainable. In particular, the question arises as to whether, had certain specific issues been dealt with by the Judge in his judgment, his findings would have been such that this court would set aside his order and remit the case for a fresh trial.



Mr Richard Todd QC and Ms Mottahedan have represented the wife following the First Appointment, at which she was represented by Lewis Marks QC.


The husband has been largely unrepresented and has appeared in person in both the trial and in this appeal. The husband's case however is the same as that of the charity at the heart of this litigation, SCT UK (Save Chinese Tigers), which is the sole named beneficiary of CTSAT. SCT UK was represented at trial by Mr Richard Harrison QC, Mr David Turner and Ms Samantha Ridley. On appeal SCT UK was represented by Mr David Thomas acting in person on behalf of the charity.


Shortly before the hearing of the appeal solicitors for the 6th Respondent, Conservation Finance Ltd (CFL), came on the record and have been represented by Mr Stewart Leech QC and Ms Sarah Phipps. The interests of CFL were protected at trial by SCT UK but upon the charity ceasing to be represented and, given CFL's need to protect its own interests as the owner of a property at Royal Mint Street, they appeared at the appeal. CFL is itself wholly owned by CTSAT.


Although CTSAT is a party to the case and this trust lies at the heart of the litigation, it has chosen to play no part in the proceedings and has neither filed direct evidence, nor been represented. As a consequence, both the Judge at first instance and this court have been deprived of the submissions of the party most nearly affected by the wife's application. Inevitably, the trust's failure to engage with the proceedings has caused the wife and those representing her to be both suspicious and frustrated. This state of affairs is commonplace in financial remedy cases where an offshore trust is involved. The fact that it is routine does not make it any the less unsatisfactory and one cannot help thinking that all too often such an attitude on the part of trustees is ultimately inimical to the interests of the beneficiaries they seek to protect.


Finally, in terms of representation, the Court of Appeal was notified in the days leading up to the hearing that the Charity Commission for England and Wales had taken the view that the involvement of SCT UK in the proceedings falls within the definition of 'charity proceedings' under s.115 of the Charities Act 2011 and that the Attorney General is a necessary party to all charity proceedings. The Attorney General was accordingly joined as party to the appeal and has been represented by Miss Ruth Hughes.



It should be emphasised that the summary of the history and background that follows (notwithstanding its length) merely scratches the surface of the material before this court which, in turn, was but a tiny proportion of the material before the Judge. I have attempted to provide only sufficient context to enable the reader to understand how the parties put their respective cases and, in the most general of terms, the backdrop against which the Judge made his findings of fact.


The husband and wife met in 1989 when they were both studying for their MBAs in Pennsylvania, USA. During the early 1990s each of the parties worked around the world developing their respective careers. The husband was extraordinarily successful in the world of structured finance transactions and the wife for her part became the global head of licensing at Gucci. In 1997 the wife left her paid employment and moved to London to live with the husband at the property at Royal Mint Street in London, which property he had bought in his name free of mortgage the previous year.


The husband and wife married on 1 August 2001. There are no children of the marriage. In July 2001 the husband's employment with G Bank, where he had been the Global Head of the Structured Transactions Group, was terminated. A compromise agreement was reached later in the year. The husband by the time of the marriage had accumulated substantial assets in his own name amounting to over £18 million.


During the latter part of the 1990s the wife became increasingly interested and knowledgeable about wildlife conservation and in particular in the conservation of the endangered South China tiger. On 6 April 2000 Save China's Tigers UK ("SCT UK") was set up as a charity by the wife, the husband and Mr David Kenyon Thomas in the UK. The purpose of the charity was to assist China with the conservation of the South China tiger. The wife had seen how ecotourism in South Africa supported wildlife, as well as local communities, and wished to approach the Chinese government to explore whether a similar model could be used in an effort to save the tigers in China. The wife hoped to replicate the successful South African model in China and, by doing so, to solve the problem of financing the restoration of the habitat in China, which was necessary in order to save the South China Tiger in its natural habitat.


At about this time the husband and wife became involved with two brothers ("the Vartys"). The Vartys ran a successful commercial ecotourism venture in South Africa. By the end of 2001 the husband and wife had travelled to China with the Vartys to investigate possible tiger reserves to be based on the Vartys' model. Land was needed in South Africa for the project and agreement was reached that the Vartys would acquire land for the proposed reserve with funds provided by the husband. In January 2002 the husband provided £2.5m to the Vartys and 32,000 hectares of land was bought on behalf of the husband. The land was then leased to the Chinese Tiger Project for 99 years at a pepper corn rent and upon terms that prohibit its use for any other purpose than the Chinese Tiger Project. The tigers would be bred on the South African reserve before eventually being 'rewilded' to the new reserves in China. This land, known as the Laohu Valley Reserve (LVR), is now held by CTSAT the husband having, pursuant to an undertaking given in these proceedings transferred ownership of the land to CTSAT.


Matters did not go smoothly as concerns arose that the Vartys might have used funds provided by the husband in violation of their mandate. Notwithstanding these suspicions, matters progressed steadily towards a planned date in October 2002 for the signing of what was to be known as the Framework Agreement, which would provide the structure for the Chinese Tiger Project. The only parties to the Framework Agreement were to be "the China party" (that is to say the Chinese government) and "the South Africa party" (the Vartys). Part of the Framework Agreement was to govern the rehabilitation of Chinese tigers bred in South Africa to tiger reserves in China. Within weeks of the anticipated date for signing the Framework Agreement, the Vartys sought to renegotiate the terms, in particular by seeking to abandon their commitment to reserves in China, a critical but expensive element of the project. It looked as if the whole project would fail; it is...

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