Supreme Court rules that divorced people can challenge divorce settlements in cases of dishonesty

Two ex-wives have won a Supreme Court battle to set aside their divorce settlements as a result of non-disclosure by their former husbands. Alison Sharland and Varshal Gohil were today granted the right to challenge their divorce settlements after the Supreme Court unanimously found that their husbands misled the courts in the original hearings.

Divorce lawyer Ros Bever at Irwin Mitchell, who represented the two women: “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. At the heart of these cases is a simple message: if you want finality in your divorce settlement (whether you agree it, or whether it is imposed by the court), don’t lie.”

Giving judgment in Sharland , Lady Hale said that the case was one of fraud. She said: “It would be extraordinary if the victim of a fraudulent misrepresentation in a matrimonial case was in a worse position than the victim of a fraudulent misrepresentation in an ordinary contract case, including a contract to settle a civil claim.”
She said it was clear that the judge would have made a different order than the one he gave in the absence of fraud and thus the case should return to the Family Division.

Previously, the law had been unclear about when a lack of disclosure is enough to set aside an agreement.