The former wife of an entrepreneur has been given permission to appeal her previous divorce agreement after it was discovered that her former husband had misled her and the court during the agreement proceedings.
Mrs Sharland has decided to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal not to set aside the agreement on the grounds as Mr Sharland led the High Court and Mrs Sharland to believe that his company was worth significantly less than its actual value .
The Supreme Court has given the permission to appeal the decision as they have determined that it raises a point of public importance. The case will be heard in June 2015.
Facts of the Case
Mr and Mrs Sharland were married for 17 years before separating. The final hearing to determine how their assets were to be divided was held in the High Court.
During the proceedings and agreement was reached whereby Mrs Sharland would receive £10.355 million of cash and properties and Mr Sharland would be given £5.64 million of cash and properties.
On top of this, both parties were to take a share of the profit from the sale of the shares in Mr Sharlands business – Mr Sharland was to receive a significantly larger share.
During the proceedings the company had been valued at between £31.5m and £47.25m.
The agreement was approved by judge, Sir Hugh Bennett.
However, before the order had even been sealed it came to light that the company may be have a much greater value than that cited in the High Court.
Financial press reports indicated upwards of £700 million – even up to £1 billion.
Furthermore, an initial public offering (IPO) was being prepared for the business – contrary to evidence given by Mr Sharland during the proceedings.
Due to this misrepresentation, Mrs Sharland sought to have the agreement set aside. The judge Sir Hugh Bennet determined that Mr Sharland had knowingly concealed information and had also lied to the court – but refused to set aside the agreement. The reasoning behind this was that the judge believed that the court order would not have been substantially different had the court been aware of these facts – Mr Sharland also gave evidence accepted by the court that the IPO had been put on hold.
Mrs Sharland appealed but two out of the three Court of Appeal judges agreed with and upheld Sir Hugh’s decision. They determined that although Mr Sharland’s actions had been on purpose and inherently dishonest, his behaviour proved not to be “material” to how the case would be determined.
Mr Sharland argued that Mrs Sharland would not have been awarded a substantially greater amount had the court known the true value of the company.
Mrs Sharland was ordered to pay Mr Sharland’s legal costs for the appeal.
The case will now be given consideration in the Supreme Court – the highest level of appeal in the UK. The main point to be considered by the Supreme Court is whether the deliberate fraud by Mr Sharland should be allowed to underpin the agreement enetered into by Mrs Sharland – who believed she was receiving half of the matrimonial assets, when in fact, the amount given to her was much less.
The case will be heard by the Supreme court in June 2015.
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