False disclosure and setting aside an order

The case of Goddard-Watts [2016] was recently published, dealing with circumstances where a financial order had to be set aside as a result of the husband providing false disclosure.The case follows on from the landmark rulings in Sharland [2015] and Gohil  [2015], which had focused on when a financial order should be set aside (for example, as a result of material non-disclosure).

In October 2016, a new procedure for making an application to set aside an order was introduced by FPR 2010, r 9.9A. In Goddard-Watts, the court considered the approach it should take after the final order had been set aside, when rehearing the financial claim of the wife. The issue faced was whether it should ‘start from scratch’ in assessing the financial settlement, or whether it would be better to simply consider the false disclosure and the assets that were affected in isolation.

In Goddard-Watts, the husband’s false disclosure had been in relation to two trusts and the court held that in this case, it could isolate those undisclosed resources and deal only with those, without reexamining the previously considered assets that had already been divided between the parties. This was because the parties’ other resources had been divided in a way that was fair and remained fair, even in spite of the disclosure relating to the two trusts. The court stressed that they have the discretion to determine the correct approach in the circumstances of each case, which will be considered on its own merits. It was clear from the court’s judgment in Sharland that there is “enormous flexibility” afforded to a court considered a case of this nature. Some cases will require the court to ‘start from scratch’, but in others assets will be treated in isolation and the court is happy to consider which approach is required on a case by case basis.

If you wish to discuss any concerns you may have regarding disclosure with one of our expert solicitors, contact us on 0207 177 9777 or 01234 889777 to arrange a free consultation. Hunter & Uro Solicitors provide specialist family law advice to clients in London, Bedford and the surrounding rural villages.


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