Supreme Court allows appeals in Sharland and Gohil

Supreme Court allows appeals in Sharland and Gohil

The Supreme Court has allowed both wives’ appeals in Sharland v Sharland [2015] UKSC 60 and Gohil v Gohil [2015] UKSC 61. The key points from each judgment are set out below but the wider points with implications for family lawyers and their clients are:

  • the duty of disclosure in family proceedings is to the court  - one spouse cannot exonerate the other from complying with this duty
  • if there is a reason that vitiates a party’s consent there may also be good reason for the court to set aside a consent order
  • where there are issues relating to fraud in family proceedings, 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 - ‘fraud unravels all’
  • the Ladd v Marshall [1954] 3 All ER 745 criteria has no relevance to the determination of an application to set aside a financial order on grounds of fraudulent non-disclosure

Sharland v Sharland

Key aspects of the decision in Sharland are:

  • it is in the interests of all members of a family that matrimonial claims should be settled by agreement rather than adversarial battles in court
  • such an agreement cannot oust the power of the court to make orders for financial arrangements and does not give rise to a contract enforceable in law but the court will make an order in the terms agreed unless it has reason to think there are circumstances into which it ought to inquire - allied to this responsibility of the court is the parties’ duty to make full and frank disclosure of all relevant information to one another and to the court
  • family proceedings differ from ordinary civil proceedings in two respects: a consent order derives its authority from the court and not from the consent of the parties and the duty of full and frank disclosure always arises
  • the consent of the parties must be valid - if there

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About the author:

Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.

Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.

When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).