The Court imposes a duty of full and frank disclosure on the parties in order to obtain an honest picture of their financial situation and distribute the assets in a fair manner. If parties are not honest about their financial resources, then justice cannot be served.
Both cases of Sharland and Gohil feature serious issues of material non-disclosure in financial proceedings (and fraud in the case of Gohil).
The family law community is awaiting the outcome of the proceedings with baited breath to see how financial deception is to be treated by the family court going forward.
Sharland v Sharland and Gohil v Gohil reached the UK’s highest court in June. Although separate cases, the Supreme Court heard a joint appeal as the ex-wives both sought to have their divorce settlements set aside, arguing that their husbands had not been frank about their finances during the proceedings. As a result, both women claim, they received less than their fair share of the couple’s assets. The Court of Appeal described the evidence given by Alison Sharland’s husband during the couple’s divorce proceedings as “seriously misleading”. Meanwhile, the same court ruled that evidence from Bhadresh Gohil’s criminal prosecution for fraud could not be used as evidence by his ex-wife Varsha in her bid to set aside her settlement.