The impact of Sharland and Gohil – landmark decisions made by the Supreme Court

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Have the floodgates now been opened following the recent Rulings from the Supreme Court?

Last week, the Supreme Court handed down Judgments in the landmark cases of Sharland and Gohil.

These cases related to two women who had been misled by their ex-husbands about the value of their assets during their divorce settlements.

During her divorce, Mrs. Sharland was led to believe that she had been offered an equal share of the overall value of matrimonial assets. Included was a valuation of her husband’s software company.  At the time of their divorce, it was said to be of a value of £47million.  It later transpired that her ex-husband had lied about the value of the company and it was actually worth £600million.

Mrs. Gohil had also accepted a settlement when she divorced her husband.  In later years, during her ex-husband’s prosecution for money laundering, it transpired that he had also failed to correctly disclose the true value of his wealth during divorce proceedings.

It has been suggested that these landmark rulings will open the floodgates for thousands of cases to be revisited. What is clear from the Judgements is that the division of assets during divorce proceedings must be based on a valid agreement.  If one party has been dishonest or malicious during the disclosure of assets, this will be a clear indication that the aggrieved party should be entitled to return to Court to have the validity of the agreement challenged and re-assessed upon the true value of the assets.

These cases have set a clear precedent regarding material non-disclosure in divorce cases; it simply will not be tolerated.

This serves as a clear reminder that there is no scope other than to be absolutely honest during disclosure of financial assets. Previous legislation has been unclear as to the degree of non-disclosure required to enable cases to be brought back to Court. The Judgements will hopefully clear the water and enable many individuals to challenge the validity of their divorce agreements where inadequate disclosure is alleged.

Divorce Lawyer, Ros Bever, who represented the two women, stated that the Judgement will most certainly impact many other cases, including those with less at stake. She commented, “It’s inevitable that other wives, husbands or civil partners who feel that they too have been misled during divorce proceedings will seek to bring their cases back to court, and we can expect to see a significant rise in the number of challenges to existing divorce settlements”.

At FPH Law, our Family and Children Law Team provides expert, efficient and professional advice in all aspects of matrimonial law. If you require advice or assistance, please contact us on 0151 647 4051 or click here to get in touch.