Gohil and Sharland – Does Honesty Pay?
It would appear in matrimonial law that in some cases it might not!
This week two cases are being heard in the Supreme Court where both wives allege that their respective husbands misled the divorce courts about the true value of their assets. The assets subsequently turned out to be worth considerably more than the figures the two husbands put forward and on which the divorce settlements were based. The wives are now claiming significantly larger settlements, with the reopening of negotiations in their concluded divorce agreements.
The cases of Varsha Gohil and Alison Sharland raise serious issues about how the Court should deal with factual information which is then found to be erroneous – either deliberately or mistakenly.
In the past the family courts have been quick to refuse to reopen cases, preferring finality with regard to divorce settlements. A change which could have been foreseeable is no reason to set aside an award, neither is misrepresenting the financial position if in fact the award would not have been much different even if the true facts were known.
In these two cases the wives allege that their husbands deliberately misled the Court. It is a fundamental tenet of English law that dishonesty in any legal proceedings should not be tolerated and many would say that the present divorce system encourages a Cheat’s Charter. To date the penalties for lying to the Court have not been sufficiently stringent to discourage this type of behaviour.
The Supreme Court is expected to give guidance later in the year and it may be that criminal sanctions could be imposed if inaccurate information is deliberately given. Then, at last, honesty may pay!
For more information, please contact Nicole Hackett of Family Law in Partnership:
T: 020 7420 5000