Hong Kong's top court yesterday began hearing a landmark divorce case involving assets of HK$870 million that will decide whether the city's courts have the power to order payments by one party to the other - known as ancillary relief - even after recognising an overseas divorce. The case involves a tycoon who applied to the Hong Kong court for a stay of proceeding of his ex-wife's claim for ancillary relief on the grounds they were granted divorce on the mainland. The hearing at the Court of Final Appeal arose from a Court of Appeal's judgment in June last year that ruled after Hong Kong courts recognised a divorce granted by an oversea court, the city's courts would have no jurisdiction to rule on any application for ancillary relief as the marriage was considered officially dissolved and the assets were no longer matrimonial assets. Despite the ruling, one of the appeal judges voiced concerns about the serious injustice that would arise from the limitation of local courts' power. Mrs Justice Doreen Le Pichon called for a review of the divorce legislation, making reference to the introduction of an act into English law that empowers courts in the country to grant ancillary relief to parties divorced overseas. The court heard yesterday that both parties were born on the mainland. They married in Shenzhen in 1992 and moved to Hong Kong soon after. They have two sons. They had considerable property assets, as well as shareholdings in companies on the mainland and in Hong Kong. Benjamin Yu SC, for the wife, said the husband obtained a divorce decree from a mainland court with the intention of depriving the wife of her right to continue her proceedings in Hong Kong. Yu said recognising the Shenzhen divorce would adversely affect an agreement made by the wife and the husband to deal with the assets that was not known to the mainland court. This would cause the wife to suffer substantial injustice, and the court should exercise its discretion and withhold recognition of the mainland divorce decree, Yu said. Although the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance stipulated the recognition of overseas divorces and legal separation obtained by means of judicial or other proceedings in any jurisdiction other than Hong Kong, he said the court could exercise its discretion not to recognise the divorce in light of substantial injustice. Yu also argued that no part of the ordinance removed the jurisdiction of Hong Kong courts to grant financial relief on recognition of an overseas divorce, therefore the wife's claim for ancillary relief should go ahead. Michael Thomas SC, for the husband, was to make his submission to the court today. Outside court, Rita Ku, representing the husband, said: 'The implication of Hong Kong not recognising this ruling would be extremely undesirable and would throw into question the principle of international legal recognition.'