Fool me once…
The Supreme Court highlights the importance of full and frank disclosure in divorce proceedings in the cases of Sharland and Gohil.
In both cases, the wives’ unknowingly accepted far from equal divorce settlements as a result of their husbands fraudulent disclosures of their financial positions.
In Sharland the wife agreed to a 50/50 split on the husbands assertion that his business was worth between £31m and £47m only to later discover that it was in fact ready to float at a value of $1bn
In Gohil the husband’s non-disclosure resulted in rather more serious consequences leading to a conviction for fraud and a ten year prison sentence.
While the Court of Appeal were not willing to allow the wives appeal, Lord Brandon at the Supreme Court Lord justified overruling this position as “ the fact which was not disclosed undermined…the whole basis on which the consent order was agreed” and that because of this the order should be set aside.
Although the Sharland case represent sums far above the average earner it is not to say that the judgement has no relevance to those with more modest assets. This decision could in fact have a greater impact on smaller money cases where there aren’t enough assets to cover both parties needs. Undisclosed assets could have a far greater effect on the value of the parties’ pot in every day financial proceeding.
This case serves as warning about the importance of full and frank disclosure in financial agreements consequences of which as in the event of Gohil should not be taken lightly.
Henna Kerai – Paralegal