The truth prevails when dealing with financial matters

posted: 14th November 2016

Here at PMC Family Law we always tell our client’s to be open and honest from the outset of any ancillary relief proceedings. Put simply, this means telling the truth about the finances of the marriage / civil partnership. Misrepresentation of your assets within these proceedings will only come back to haunt you in the future.

It is important that we obtain a full picture of both parties financial positions in order to provide our clients with the best advice. This also gives us the ability to deal with your case as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you are not open and honest about your financial position from the beginning of your case, it can cause delays or worse still lead to your case being re-opened years later.

This was the position in the recent case of Roocroft v Ball [2016] EWCA Civ 1009. In this case Ms Roocroft applied to have her case re-considered after it came to light that her deceased ex-civil partner had ‘misrepresented’ her assets that were built up during the 18 year civil partnership. Lord Justice Elian, Lord Justice Kitchin and Lady Justice King ruled in the Court of Appeal that the case should be re-analysed and will be listed before a High Court Judge. This case further confirmed that same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples in relation to this issue.

The Supreme Court in 2015 ruled on this matter in the cases of Sharland v Sharland [2015] UKSC 60 and Gohil v Gohil [2015] UKSC 61. In these cases, both women successfully argued their ex-husbands misled the Judge in regards to their fortunes and were permitted to have their financial settlements re-assessed before the High Court. These cases highlighted the issue bringing it to the public’s attention. Dishonesty in financial cases will only serve to interfere with a just and fair outcome for both parties involved.

As well as both parties having a continued duty to each other to make full and frank disclosure throughout, the court also has a duty to independently assess any agreement reached between parties under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 s.25 (2). However, this will not bar the Court from later ruling to re-assess a case where there was non-disclosure of assets or they were misrepresented to the other party.

Lord Neuberger stated in Gohil “[44]: where a party’s non-disclosure was inadvertent, there is no presumption that it was material and the onus is on the other party to show that proper disclosure would, on the balance of probabilities, have led to a different order; whereas where a party’s non-disclosure was intentional, it is deemed to be material, so that it is presumed that proper disclosure would have led to a different order, unless the party can show, on the balance of probabilities that it would not have done so”.

The cases outlined above serve as a warning to anyone thinking about distorting the truth in regards to their financial position. At PMC Family Law we pride ourselves on being honest with our clients about the likely outcome of their case.

If you are involved in financial proceedings or thinking about starting the court process please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on 0151 375 9968.