The Supreme Court has been a hub of excitement this week
with family lawyers eagerly tuning in online to hear the 3 day appeal of the
cases of Sharland v Sharland and Gohil v Gohil.
Both cases have been brought to the Supreme Court on appeal
from the lower courts and seek to re-open financial negotiations as the initial
agreements were reached on the basis of intentionally misleading disclosure by
The cases have raised the wider issue of whether the family
courts go far enough to prevent non-disclosure and fraudulent disclosure when
agreeing financial settlements and whether, by not doing enough to prevent
non-disclosure, one party loses the opportunity to have a truly fair trial.
In addition to this, Sharland
relates to non-disclosure of finances obtained through criminal activity and
the court will need to consider whether a wife can be entitled to a share of
assets acquired through criminal activity or whether these assets should reside
with the Crown.
The starting point for the division of assets on divorce is
usually 50:50 and these cases therefore highlight the importance of full
disclosure within the proceedings, as any division will be based on the figure
disclosed. This means that there is a
huge incentive for the wealthier party to not disclose all of their
The argument is that if there are no repercussions for a
non-disclosing party then the court process cannot possibly be fair and
disclosure is a somewhat pointless exercise.
It is hoped that the court will use this opportunity to review the
position and provide clarity on the disclosure requirements.
This case is of great public interest as, if the court
re-opens these cases, the floodgates could open to many people seeking to
re-negotiate their divorce settlements.
Judgement likely to be given later in the year so watch this