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LANDMARK COURT RULING MEANS DIVORCE CASES CAN BE RE-OPENED IF EX LIED ABOUT WEALTH DURING SETTLEMENT

 On Wednesday 14.10.15 the UK’s highest court of law, the Supreme Court, made the historical ruling that people who discover their former spouse lied about their wealth during financial remedy proceedings following divorce will be able to reopen their settlements.

The court heard appeals from two women, Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil. Mrs Sharland was awarded a £10.35m settlement in 2012 following separation from her husband Charles Sharland, an IT entrepreneur from Cheshire who founded Appsense, a software business.

During the 2012 trial, Mr Sharland failed to disclose to the court talks about a possible flotation of the company. He actively informed the court that floatation was not being considered, and as a result, representatives of Mrs Sharland valued Appsense at £88.3m. Just before final settlement of the case was sealed and therefore given effect by the court, Mrs Sharland became aware that Appsense was being prepared to be placed onto the stock market. This was expected to make the company value rocket to $1bn (approximately £616m based on 2012 $ > £ exchange rates).

Varsha Gohil was awarded £270,000 and a Peugeot car following divorce from her husband Bhadresh Gohil, a solicitor, in 2004.

Mr Gohil later pleaded guilty to criminal charges including money laundering, and was linked to James Ibori, a former Nigerian state governor who himself pleaded guilty to 10 charges of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the Nigerian public purse. Mrs Gohil made the case that certain material was not disclosed during the settlement proceedings.

The decision sounds out a strong message to separating couples about the consequences of non-disclosure: dishonesty in legal proceedings will not be tolerated. It comes at a time when courts across the country are being faced with divorcing couples who do not disclose all of their assets in order to try and reduce their pay out to their partner.

The court made it clear, however, that actual evidence of the non-disclosure will be required in order to reopen cases, as opposed to simply suspecting a spouse was untruthful.

If you believe that you have evidence that your ex-spouse was dishonest to a significant extent about his or her wealth, then contact us on 0161 666 9999 to receive advice from one of our experienced family lawyers.