The Price of Dishonesty
The legal matrimonial world was well and truly shaken by a new decision in the cases of SHARLAND and GOHIL whereby two wives successfully alleged dishonesty by their husbands at the point of matrimonial financial settlement. This enabled them the right to set aside the settlement and to have the matter effectively reheard.
The Court has agreed this application and these cases will now need to be re-determined because of what Lady Hale said, in the case of Sharland, amounted to fraud.
It was noted in the Judgment that the Judge at first instance would have obviously made a different decision if he had known at the start what the true status of the husband’s finances was. It was the fraud that effectively meant that this case should return back to the Family Division to be decided again.
The legal development means these reviews of cases (on the strength of non-disclosure by one party or the other) may well trigger a large number of challenges to existing divorce settlements. That said, parties should proceed with some caution and avoid spending costs unless it is strictly adjudged to be a worthwhile possible avenue.
The watchword of these cases is that there is no excuse or reason for any person to try to be dishonest in the smallest degree. It obviously makes commonsense, as well as being morally essential, to be as absolutely honest as possible when undergoing financial matrimonial disclosure of documentation and assets. This was always the rule but has been reinforced with a vengeance by these cases.