Fraudulent Evidence Entitles Wives to Return to Court

“Fraud unravels all” - Supreme Court Divorce Judgements

A landmark court ruling on 14th October found in favour of two wives in their divorce cases. Both women had originally agreed to divorce settlements, without knowing that their husbands had lied about the assets.

Alison Sharland, aged 48, had been married to Charles Sharland for 17 years. They had three children, the eldest of whom had severe autism and would need his mother’s care for the rest of his life. Mr Sharland, a software entrepeneur, had built up his business during the marriage. At the time of the divorce in 2012, he said that his company had a value of £47 million. Mrs Sharland believed him, and agreed a settlement. Later she discovered he had lied. The company in fact was worth around £600 million.

Varsha Gahil accepted a car and £270,000 as a settlement when she divorced her husband Bhadresh in 2002. He was a solicitor with an international practice based in Mayfair. Eight years later he was convicted of money laundering and jailed for ten years. Evidence in his criminal trial revealed that he had deliberately hidden his true wealth during the divorce proceedings.

Yesterday the Supreme Court found that both wives had been deprived of a fair hearing because of their husbands’ fraud. They were now both entitled to go back to Court and have their cases reconsidered.

Sabina Smith of our Family department comments:

“This was a clear signal from the Court that deliberate dishonesty will not be tolerated. Family lawyers will always encourage clients to negotiate and settle divorce claims by agreement whenever possible, to save legal costs and avoid an adversarial battle in court. The Court supports this approach, but this depends on both parties being honest about their financial circumstances from the outset."

Parties to a long marriage are expected to share the property, savings and investments fairly. This means that for some there is a temptation to hide the full extent of their assets. But in the interests of justice, the truth must come first, and where fraud is proved, any agreement should be set aside."

For more information on divorce and financial claims, contact our Family department “Relationship and Finance Team” on 01392 258451 who will deal with your enquiry sensitively.