A personality clash between a millionaire dentist and her “highly controlling” mother-in-law is at the centre of a £10 million divorce battle.
Anushika Sharma, outside London’s Appeal Court Photo: Richard Gittins / Champion News
The a “strong mutual antipathy” between Dr Anushika Sharma, 36, and her husband’s mother, lies “at the heart” of a fight over a burgeoning dentristy empire spread across London and the home counties, the judges heard.
Dr Sharma and her husband Sunny, 45, the scion of a “substantial” business dynasty, divorced in October last year after raising two children and establishing a highly lucrative niche dentistry business.
She claims their marital assets were worth up to £10 million.
The ensuing fight over ownership of five practices has resulted in an atmosphere of “unremitting hostility” between Dr Sharma, her ex-husband and his family, especially his mother, Kesh, London’s Appeal Court was told.
Of 12 highly successful dental practices set up over the years, Dr Sharma claims she owns seven and family judge, Mr Justice Simon, last year ruled in her favour on the issue.
She said she had started her own “parallel” company, alongside the Sharma family business, to escape “interference” in her commercial affairs by her “dominant and highly controlling mother-in-law”.
Now Mr Sharma, his mother, and his brother Rajesh are asking Appeal Court judges, Lord Justice Jackson, Lord Justice McCombe, and Lord Justice Floyd, to hand back to them five of the bitterly fought-over surgeries.
Alan Gourgey QC, for Dr Sharma, told the court the practices at North Hampshire Hospital, Basingstoke, Lee on Solent, Hants, East Ferry Road, East London, Bridge Street, Banbury, Oxon and Civic Centre Road, Havant, Hants, were acquired by her at the same time that she was a director of the Sharma family dental business.
She had done that because she feared her formidable mother-in-law “controlling” her and was entitled to leave the marriage with her business interests intact, Mr Gourgey added.
“Mr Justice Simon found that, at the heart of the case, lay a strong mutual antipathy between two very strong-willed women, the husband’s mother Kesh and the wife.
“Kesh had been the driving force of the Sharma family businesses and she held a dominant and highly controlling position within the Sharma family…she expected deference from her family, which she regarded as her due, both as a mother and one of the founders of the family fortune.
“Anushika was aware of her mother-in-law’s control and, in light of such knowledge, the (Sharma family) agreed not to make what the wife regarded as her business, subject to such control.
“There was fully informed consent by all the joint venturers to her acquiring new dental practices for her own account,” the QC said.
However, Richard Snowden QC, for Mr Sharma and his family, asked the judges to find that Dr Sharma acted unlawfully in acquiring the five practices for her own company whilst still “wearing the hat” of a director of the Sharma family business.
He told the judges that the family’s “financial standing” had allowed the dental practices to succeed; that she owned the family business a duty of loyalty as a director and that there had been a “conflict of interest” between that duty and her own private interests.
Adding that Dr Sharma was “a daughter-in-law for whom (Kesh) had no warm feelings,” Mr Snowden argued that she had breached her fiduciary duty and the trust placed in her as a director of the Sharma empire.
Mr Justice Simon had commented last year that the couple and his family had “lived with this case for many months of unremitting hostility”. He added: “The two sides are very suspicious of each other and highly antagonistic.”
The Appeal Court judges have now reserved their judgement on the case, to be delivered at a later date.
SOURCE: The Telegraph