UK Supreme Court in landmark divorce ruling

AP News
Posted: Oct 14, 2015 7:56 AM

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of two women who argued their husbands misled judges about their wealth during divorce proceedings — a landmark decision that may reopen other settlements.

The ruling involves the cases of Alison Sharland, 48, from northern England, and Varsha Gohil, 50, from London. Both claimed their former spouses misled judges during proceedings. The court indicated their claims would return to the High Court for consideration.

"All spouses subject to deceit and deliberate financial skulduggery in a divorce owe a huge debt of gratitude to the tireless efforts of the legal team here today," Gohil said after the decision was released.

Sharland, who had accepted more than 10 million pounds in cash and properties, realized her husband was about to float his company on the stock market despite testimony that it was "not on the cards today." The financial press put the value of the company at as much as 1 billion pounds — far above what has described at the hearing.

Though the judge in her case recognized her husband's evidence had been dishonest, he declined to set aside the order because the IPO still hadn't taken place and because he wouldn't have made a substantially different order.

"By the husband's fraud and the judge's order, she had been deprived of her right to a full and fair hearing of her claims," Supreme Court Justice Brenda Hale said.

Gohil had accepted 270,000 pounds and a car. Her husband was convicted of money-laundering following their divorce.

Graham Coy, a partner at law firm Mundays, suggested the ruling may "open the floodgates" for people to renegotiate historic settlements where a party misleads the court.

"It just goes to show that if you don't put all your cards on the table when divorcing it might come back to bite you further down the line," he said.