Wednesday, 19 October 2016

CIVIL PARTNERSHIP DISPUTE GOES TO THE GRAVE

Fraud, failing to disclose material information, mistake. All or any of them could result in a financial remedies order being ripped up by the court (for procedure to be used, see my post Remedying a Financial Remedy on 15 September 2016). 

A Court of Appeal decision last Friday highlights and establishes that
  • this applies as between civil partners as well as spouses;
  • this applies even though one of the parties has died;
  • this applies even though the party attempting to reopen the order originally agreed to it; and
  • this applies even though the consenting party when consenting had not believed that the other party had given full or accurate information about their financial circumstances.
In last week's case, the civil partnership was between females and had lasted for two years. One of them died after the court had made a financial order on the basis that the deceased had capital of around £628,000 whereas the other party asserts it was much more and also asserts that the deceased's income was higher than she disclosed to the court. The survivor applied after the death for the order to be cancelled but a judge struck out the application. The Court of Appeal ruled that this decision had been wrong and the survivor's attempt at a cancellation will now go before a High Court judge.

In a separate ruling this month by a High Court judge, a financial order on an opposite-sex divorce has been set aside because of the wife's material non-disclosure, albeit that she had not deliberately or fraudulently intended to deceive the husband. The case will be reheard. The husband had incurred legal costs of £841,000 in making the application to set aside. The wife was ordered to pay one-half of the costs even though this will have a substantial impact upon her financial well being. The husband did not get all his costs because he had gone to the national press about the case, he had not proved the wife's fraud and the wife had made a realistic and sensible offer to compromise. When those costs will have to be paid, however, will be settled in due course.  

For my anti-stitch up guide on relationship breakdown, see Breaking Law at chapter 49.