Tigers charity couple could see cash they fight over go to lawyers, warns judge


A couple who launched a project aimed at saving endangered Chinese tigers, then got involved in a divorce cash battle, have been warned by a senior judge that all the money they are fighting over could go to lawyers.

Lady Justice King - who sits in the Court of Appeal - issued the warning after urging former banker Stuart Bray and conservationist Li Quan to negotiate and settle their differences.

The judge says the couple, who launched the Save China's Tigers project more than a decade ago, have already run up legal bills of more than £2 million - and she says there is a "real possibility" that the "funds at the centre of the dispute" will be "wholly dissipated in costs".

Ms Li has won the latest round of the fight.

Two appeal judges - Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Briggs - decided in December that a judge's ruling in favour of Mr Bray following a High Court trial should be reviewed at a full Court of Appeal hearing.

And on Wednesday the two judges dismissed a bid by Mr Bray to halt that appeal hearing.

But Lady Justice King warned Ms Li that the price of her latest win might be too great.

"In the event that the wife succeeds in her appeal, it may well be a Pyrrhic victory for her, leading to re-trial at vast further expense and a real possibility that the funds at the centre of the dispute will have been wholly dissipated in costs," said Lady Justice King, in a written ruling dismissing Mr Bray's application to stop the hearing in the appeal court.

"It is for that reason that the court (has) urged the parties to negotiate."

The couple initially fought at a hearing in the High Court in London and Ms Li had complained about a ruling by judge Sir Paul Coleridge.

She argued that money put into the Save China's Tigers charity was used to fund the couple's ''personal lives'', but Mr Bray disagreed.

Sir Paul had ruled in Mr Bray's favour but Ms Li complained that there was a ''lack of detail'' in Sir Paul's ruling and called for a review.

Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Briggs concluded in December that Sir Paul's ruling should be reviewed at a full Court of Appeal hearing.

Mr Bray then complained about their decision.

He said lawyers representing Ms Li had "grievously misled" Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Briggs.

And he said Ms Li's request for permission to appeal against Sir Paul's ruling should be re-argued at a fresh hearing.

Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Briggs disagreed and dismissed his application.

Judges have heard that Save China's Tigers had acquired land in South Africa with the aim of ''re-wilding'' South China tigers.