This morning, I have been busy discussing a Supreme Court hearing which is taking place this week. I appeared on the BBC Breakfast Show to talk about it, was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live by Adrian Chiles and spoke to several local radio stations.
The country’s highest court will consider the possible fraud in the divorces of Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil. The women in these cases both claim that their husbands were dishonest about their finances and that they received a lower settlement as a result. In Ms Sharland’s case, the Court of Appeal previously said that the husband’s evidence had been “seriously misleading”. Meanwhile in Ms Gohil’s case, the Supreme Court will consider the Court of Appeal’s ruling that evidence from her husband’s criminal prosecution for fraud could not be used in the divorce proceedings.
As I explained, the law requires a full, frank, honest and continuing disclosure of finances from both parties in divorce cases. This is so the couple’s assets can be fairly and reasonably divided once the marriage is over. However, some people neglect to inform the courts of the full extent of their finances in order to keep more for themselves. That certainly appears to be the case in the Supreme Court hearing.
Personally, I think that when one party is found to have concealed assets or otherwise lied about their finances, the case should be heard again from scratch. Additionally, the dishonest party should be made to pay the costs which built up prior to the revelation of their indiscretion.
We do not yet know when the Supreme Court will make a decision about the merits of these cases, but the law is quite clear about what considerations must be made. The lawyers representing the wives must be able to demonstrate that fraud has indeed occurred.
If fraud has occurred, the question then becomes: did that fraud subvert the basis of the original order? That is the question that the highest legal authority in the land will have to answer.
I also discussed the case with BBC stations in Merseyside, Somerset, Coventry & Warwickshire, Shropshire and Stoke. I was not the only member of our team to comment on this interesting case, as Stowe Family Law Partner Paul Read appeared on Sky News to give his take on the situation.