A husband brought an appeal to the Court of Appeal following the final hearing in a financial remedies case. This is because he was initially made to pay a lump sum of £1.4 million to his wife on the basis that he “comprehensively” failed to provide proper disclosure of his assets.
The husband’s primary argument was that, in failing to even attempt to quantify the scale of the husband’s undisclosed resources, the judge had erred in law.
At the final hearing, the husband had contended that the wife should receive a lump sum of £960,000, whilst the wife sought a payment of £1.5 million. The judge found largely in the wife’s favour and based his reasoning on an analysis of the wife’s needs.
Because of this, the husband argued that the judge should have made some attempt to quantify his assets and that the award of £1.4 million was not properly reasoned.
The judgment detailed the existing case law in relation to non-disclosure and the courts’ approach to it. It was noted that there are different types of non-disclosure but focuses on cases in which there is a “broad failure to comply with the disclosure obligations in respect of a party’s financial resources”.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the husband’s appeal but set out some general guidance in relation to judgments in financial remedy cases, saying at paragraph 114:
“In summary, as a matter of course:
(i) Every financial remedy judgment should clearly set out the judge’s conclusions in respect of each of the relevant section 25 factors as part of the substantive structure of the judgment and/or by way of a summary. This is not for the purposes of demonstrating that the judge has had regard to those factors, although it will do this, but so that the parties and anyone else reading the judgment can easily understand the judge’s conclusions as to these factors which, in every case, underpin the ultimate award;
(ii) This includes by providing, even in a non-disclosure case, a schedule “of the parties’ visible net assets”, to adopt the words from Behzadi v Behzadi, even though in such a case this will comprise only part of the parties’ resources; and
(iii) Every financial remedy judgment should clearly set out how the award has been calculated.
This is because a fair outcome in financial remedy cases is in part process driven, as in applying section 25, but also significantly outcome driven in the sense of explaining the basis of the award either by reference to needs or sharing.”
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