The Supreme Court have today ruled that where an agreement between spouses is based on fraud, an existing court order can be set aside. The cases of Sharland and Gohil were heard together in June 2015 and the two husbands who deliberately deceived their wives are to have their cases re-heard because they did not provide full and honest disclosure.
The same principle will apply to civil partners.
The case of Sharland v Shaland was a big money case with liquid capital assets of approximately £16 million and the husband’s company shares valued at between £88.3 million and £60 million. The true value of the shares depended on whether the husband was able to sell them, and the husband gave oral evidence in Court that it would be unlikely he would be able to sell them within 5-7 years. During the final hearing the parties reached a settlement which was approved by the Court, but not sealed, and provided for the husband to receive a larger share of the company shares when sold than the wife as she was to receive a larger share of the available liquid capital.
It then transpired that the husband had lied and had already been in discussions with regard to the sale of the shares which were speculated to be worth circa £600 million. The order had not been sealed at the time the new evidence came to light and the wife invited the judge not to seal the order and to resume the hearing, the Court declined to do so. The Wife made an unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Appeal and then appealed to the Supreme Court.
The separate case of Gohil v Gohil was heard at the same time. In Gohil, the wife received £270,00.00 and a car in a financial settlement in 2002. Eight years later, the husband was jailed for 10 years for money laundering and during his criminal trial it was revealed that he had failed to disclose his true wealth during the divorce proceedings.
Giving the Judgment of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale said the case was one of fraud and a consent order made under such circumstances should be set aside, the only exception would be where the court is satisfied that when the Consent order was made the fraud would not have influenced a reasonable person to agree to it.
If you believe that your ex-spouse deceived the Court as to the true extent of their finances and you would like some advice as to how the recent ruling could affect you, a member of our family team will be able to assist you. Shane Miller can be contacted on 01562 512442 and Jane Chandler 01905 760 450.