A Court of Appeal judgement has today made a landmark ruling in the discovery of hidden assets; the first to deal with the issue after one of the parties has passed away.

This judgement echoes the Supreme Court’s rulings last year in the cases of Gohil –v– Gohil and Sharland –v– Sharland that it will not tolerate dishonesty within the Court system. In each of those cases, the husbands’ had claimed to have less wealth than they actually had. It was ruled that as there had been “significant dishonesty” that the settlements were unfair.

In those cases, it was suggested by Baroness Hale that the same rules apply to both heterosexual and homosexual marriages. This judgement today confirms that rule as a precedent for future cases.

In this case, the wealthier party had passed away and it was discovered upon her death that she had hidden assets during the Ancillary Relief Court process. Because there was evidence she had misled the Court the poorer party applied to have her settlement overturned and to negotiate a new settlement from the wealthier party’s estate based on an honest assessment of her assets. There was evidence that the wealthier party had been “significantly dishonest” about her income and therefore the three Lord and Lady Justices of the Court allowed for the settlement to be overturned and a new figure to be negotiated.

This ruling reiterates how important it is to be open and honest with the Court and to make sure the Court is not misled in any way. It is clear from the three cases above that the Court will not tolerate any deceitfulness and will take any and all steps to correct any unfairness caused by the deceit.

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