Supreme Court judgment leaves nowhere to hide for spouses who fail to disclose their assets – ‘fraud unravels all’

Posted: 14/10/2015

The Supreme Court has today, 14 October 2015, handed down what has been described by leading family lawyer James Stewart of Penningtons Manches as “a ground-breaking judgment which looks set to secure London’s reputation as the divorce capital of the world for its even-handedness”. 

Mrs Sharland, who has fought through years of court cases, culminating in two days in England and Wales’ highest appeal court, has today received welcome news that she can share in the wealth which her ex-husband attempted to hide from her. 

James Stewart remarked:  “Non-disclosure can be a huge issue in divorce cases which is not just confined to the super-wealthy and those who are less well off.  This judgment underlines that non-disclosure and dishonesty will not be tolerated.

"Whilst the previous leading Supreme Court case on non-disclosure, the Anglo-Nigerian case of Petrodel v Prest has been branded by some as a “cheat’s charter” insofar as it provided great comfort for those whose wealth is tied up in complex offshore structures, the Supreme Court’s decision in Sharland and Gohil is, in many ways, a victory for often vulnerable wives.

“This is a truly remarkable judgment which is likely to have huge ramifications which stretch far wider than the impact on the two ex-wives involved in this case.  There is no doubt that this judgment will help to preserve London’s strong reputation as the divorce capital of the world for its even-handedness for both parties. The principle that ‘fraud unravels all’ is clearly reinforced.

“The fact that Mrs Sharland’s case has been allowed to return to the High Court does not necessarily entitle her to an increased financial settlement, however a re-hearing certainly has the potential to increase her prospects of an enhanced award.

“The dishonest behaviour of two husbands has ultimately been condemned and this will set a clear precedent for the way non-disclosure of crucial financial information is viewed by the family courts.”

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