25 February 2016

The issue of whether to reveal all

Lisa Boileau Partner & Head of Family

The issue of whether to 'reveal all' in matrimonial proceedings is explored in the latest blog post by Lisa Boileau, partner and head of family law.

At all times, there is a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of all your wealth and assets when undergoing matrimonial proceedings. This served as a very important reminder to everyone involved following two recent cases decided in the Supreme Court.

The cases of Sharland and Gohil, whilst very different to each other, ended up at the Supreme Court at the same time, and the court gave a clear restatement of the law. In the case of Sharland, the husband failed to disclose an immediately intended sale of a company for a substantial sum of money, whilst at the same time entering into an agreed Financial Order. In the case of Gohil, the husband failed to reveal proper evidence of his means to the point of deliberately misleading, and ultimately leading to his imprisonment.

The Supreme Court laid down the following main principles:

  1. The court cannot make any proper decision whether following a hearing or by agreement, unless it is provided with correct, complete and up to date information.

  2. Each party owes a duty to make full and frank disclosure of all material facts to the other party and to the court.

  3. The principle of full and frank disclosure applies to all cases where matters are either agreed (by consent) or are dealt with following contested hearing.

I am often asked as to how we can ever be sure that parties have revealed all of their means. The answer is that you can never be entirely sure but there is a skill to it gained from years of experience, and in the majority of cases parties do comply with the need to provide proper disclosure.

Therefore, it remains the case that parties to a separation must give full and frank disclosure of all material facts and of their means. Otherwise, Orders will either not be made or will be overturned by the court leading to extremely serious consequences for the party who has failed to disclose.

Furthermore, disclosure given promptly and clearly at the outset will enhance the prospects of a prompt and amicable settlement.

As always, if you have any questions about this issue don't hesitate to contact me or a member of my team for further information.

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