Concealment in Family Financial Proceedings: A Crime by Any Other Name (2014) Fam Law 1131

The introduction of the single Family Court is intended to herald a more efficient and cost effective system of family justice. However, the measure of the effectiveness of any system of justice has to be in its delivery.

There is no purpose in eradicating delay and costs waste up to the judgment seat if, once an order, is made its enforcement by the court remains uncertain and inconsistent. In this area, the family justice system has too often failed to excel. Indeed, some would say that compared with the other divisions of our legal system, the family jurisdiction has become something of a known ‘soft touch’ when dealing with those who are determined to flout its decisions and procedure and it is suggested that this state of affairs applies both in financial remedy cases and in cases involving issues related to the care and upbringing of children. Be it criminal, civil or family law, there is a basic duty in the court system to ensure that the Rule of Law is upheld. As Plato observed about the importance of the Rule of Law:

‘Where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own, the collapse of the state, in my view, is not far off . . .’

There have always been those who within court proceedings will attempt to cheat the system. However, few family practitioners will have failed to observe the increase in such instances in everyday practice in recent years and, of course, this has been reflected in the increasing number of such examples in the more high profile cases, the latest of which have been, of course, Young v Young [2013] EWHC 3637, [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming and reported at [2014 Fam Law 291), Sharland v Sharland [2014] EWCA Civ 95, [2014] 2 FLR 89, and US v SR [2014] EWHC 175.

This development, some may say, is not limited to family proceedings in particular but rather the result of a fall in the attitudes of respect for authority generally in society. However, if this is correct then the courts must be more rigorous in ensuring that its own enforcement procedures are fit for purpose and more aware of the message which its own actions sends out when met by attempts to cheat or disobey the court process.


The bedrock of divorce financial remedy procedure is based upon the principle of ‘full and frank’ disclosure by the parties engaged in the proceedings. In Livesey v Jenkins [1985] AC 424, [1985] FLR 813, Lord Brandon emphasised the importance of full disclosure within the s 25 exercise:

‘It follows that, in proceedings in which parties invoke the exercise of the court’s powers under ss 23 and 24, they must provide the court with information about all the circumstances of the case, including, inter alia, the particular matters so specified. Unless they do so, directly or indirectly, and ensure that the information provided is correct, complete and up to date, the court is not equipped to exercise, and cannot therefore lawfully and properly exercise, its discretion in the manner ordained by s 25(1).’


‘I stated earlier that, unless a court is provided with correct, complete and up-to-date information on the matters to which, under s 25(1), it is required to have regard, it cannot lawfully or properly exercise its discretion in the manner ordained by that subsection. If follows necessarily from this that each party concerned in claims for financial provision and property adjustment (or other forms of ancillary relief not material in the present case) owes a duty to the court to make full and frank disclosure of all material facts to the other party and the court. This principle of full and frank disclosure in proceedings of this kind has long been recognised and enforced as a matter of practice. The legal basis of that principle, and the justification for it, are to be found in the statutory provisions to which I have referred.

My Lords, once it is accepted that this principle of full and frank disclosure exists, it is obvious that it must apply not only to contested proceedings heard with full evidence adduced before the court, but also to exchanges of information between parties and their solicitors leading to the making of consent orders without further inquiry by the court. If that were not so, it would be impossible for a court to have any assurance that the requirements of s 25(1) were complied with before it made such consent orders.’

Like a cornerstone, this principle of ‘full and frank’ disclosure is at the same time the essential factor which makes the process operate effectively and the point of greatest weakness, if removed or undermined. Accordingly, its protection by the court should be of the utmost priority.

Take, for example, the Young case. Mr Young, of course, had already been imprisoned for several months for contempt but there is an obvious sense in reading the judgment of Moor J in that case that the effective assessment under the s 25 exercise was entirely thwarted and denied by the husband’s actions and that the ultimate outcome was little more than complete guesswork by the court as a result. Indeed, Moor J’s judgment effectively admitted that the likelihood of continued contempt of the court’s decision was high and Mrs Young would not, in such event, be assisted by the limited assistance given by the court’s own lamentable judgment summons procedures. It is an indictment of the court’s enforcement ineffectiveness that the learned judge clearly felt obliged to attempt to provide solace to the hapless wife who had spent some £6.5m in legal costs by that stage in suggesting that:

‘[182] . . . this debt will exist for all time. The husband will never be free of it. It is very much in his interests to discharge it so he can move on [; and] I hope that he will take the view that he is better off paying the lower sum of £20 million so that he can then concentrate on rebuilding his life.’


Has the court system itself added to this apparent impotency? It is suggested that the answer is undoubtedly that it has and there could be no better example of this position than the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Sharland (above). In short, the majority’s (Moore-Bick and Macur LJJ) decision to dismiss the wife’s appeal in this case feeds a palpable sense of injustice at the ineffectiveness of the family court system to tackle a serial contemnor and is a model of frustration to the other spouse of the ‘old fashioned idea’ that court orders must be obeyed.

Briefly, the parties married in 1993 and separated in 2010. There were three children, one of whom had a disability. The children lived with the wife. The wife’s claim for financial orders were heard from July 2012 by Sir Hugh Bennett. Before the hearing concluded the parties reached agreement and the judge approved the heads of agreement. The wife was to receive £10.355m and the husband £5.64m, each both in cash and properties. In addition, on disposal of his 63% company shareholding the husband was to pay a deferred lump sum of 30% of the net share sale proceeds to the wife after he had paid £4m into a trust for their disabled child and a further £1.7m lump sum to the wife. It was claimed the wife’s agreement was based on the belief in the light of a joint accountant’s valuation that the award gave her broad equality of the parties’ jointly acquired assets.

One month later, however, the wife discovered the husband had told lies about the company when he stated a public flotation was not to happen imminently and probably not for up to 7 years. In fact, it transpired that he had already been in discussions for such a flotation that year and media reports suggested a possible value for the company at between $750m and $1bn. In consequence Sir Hugh Bennett ordered the husband to file an affidavit and when it was produced it comprised of hundreds of pages of previously unseen exhibits and an admission that the public flotation had already been in full swing. However, by the stage now reached, the husband claimed the work undertaken had only been to generate market interest and in fact he maintained the flotation had since been aborted and the reported company value had been just media hype. The wife, nevertheless, applied for the original hearing to be resumed seeking an equal division of the assets including the shareholding.

Sir Hugh Bennett concluded that the husband’s disclosure dishonesty had continued up to and at the original hearing. However he considered that, because Livesey v Jenkins required him to consider whether the non-disclosure had caused him to make an order substantially different from that which he would have made had full and frank disclosure taken place, then because he would have had to have adjourned the case to see whether and on what terms the flotation would take place, then in his judgment, as eventually a flotation had not taken place, his order would not in the event have been substantially different from the heads of agreement reached.

The wife, unsurprisingly, appealed this decision claiming that enforced full disclosure from the husband might have led to a different factual outcome to that which the husband was now contending was the position. She claimed that she had been denied the opportunity to cross examine the husband on his affidavit as to the likelihood and timing of the flotation and she had been deceived into an agreement which she would not otherwise have made. She further claimed that the judge could not have had the necessary information from the process he had conducted to decide what order he would have made. The wife also claimed that had she known of the potential for imminent flotation she would have sought an outcome closer to equality of the shareholding held.

The majority decision, which some will consider unduly intellectually blinkered, on the facts of this case, determined that because, in accordance with Livesey v Jenkins, it was the appellant who had to satisfy the court that it would have made a substantially different order had it been in possession of the true information, then the crucial factor was the effect of the non-disclosure. Here, the Court of Appeal accepted that it was clear there had been no flotation and that none was imminent. The absence of any cross examination, the Court of Appeal concluded, had been the choice of the wife at the first instance hearing and whilst the husband’s non-disclosure had been deliberate and dishonest, it had not resulted in a situation where the court would have made a significantly different order. Macur LJ added that deceit alone did not determine the outcome and if the very fact of deception was to have the effect that an order would be set aside, then the court system would be increasingly inhibited. In consequence, the majority dismissed the appeal.

It is submitted that the stance adopted by the majority of the Court of Appeal is highly regrettable and wrong in the face of the flagrant non-disclosure conduct of the husband. What signals does this send to litigants contemplating a less than frank approach with the court? If an agreement of divorcing parties is to form one of the principle rationales of the s 25 exercise (see Radmacher and V v V (Prenuptial Agreement) [2011] EWHC 3230 (Fam), [2012] 1 FLR 1315) then the parties must have been provided with, at least, material if not full and frank disclosure to have exercised a fully informed choice to reach consensual terms. The wife was, it is submitted, entitled to complain that had she known of the potential of an imminent flotation then this would have influenced her to seek a more generous provision on an eventual share sale. With respect, against the untested assertions of the husband whose credibility was already substantially tainted, for the Court of Appeal to seek to justify not setting aside the order made on the basis that the wife would probably have recovered little different, is alarmingly missing the point.

At least, some reassurance can be gained from the forceful minority judgment of Briggs LJ that the wider public interest issues raised in this appeal had gained some recognition. In His Lordship’s view the husband’s deceit had affected the wife’s ability to properly assess the pros and cons of accepting a lower proportion of company shares in contrast to the other assets and hence it had undermined the basis of the agreement and the consent order. In His Lordship’s judgment, there was a public interest in the protection of the court’s processes from such deceitful conduct which cut across other considerations such as finality, economy and speed. Briggs LJ’s careful reasoning justifies closer reading:

‘[34]In my view the judge’s earlier conclusion that the husband’s fraud undermined both the parties’ agreement and the consent order which followed ought to have been the end of the matter, and to have led to the setting aside of the consent order, and an order for a new (or perhaps resumed) hearing. I consider that the second stage of the judge’s analysis, by reference to the apparent position as at April 2013, leading to his conclusion that the consent order should not be aside, involved three errors of law or principle. The first is that it underrated the significance of the fact (as he had found) that the husband’s conduct was fraudulent. The second is that he wrongly derived a special rule or principle from the final paragraph of Lord Brandon’s speech in the Livesey case, or at least misapplied it. The third is that he overrode the wife’s right to a fair hearing of her claim, in circumstances where her consent to a settlement had been vitiated by fraud, by an essentially summary determination of the relevant facts, on the basis of an affidavit from the dishonest husband which had only been ordered to be sworn to enable the court properly to determine whether there had been a material non-disclosure in the first place, and which was deployed only in the context of an interim application for a re-hearing. I will deal with each of those points in turn.

[35]I consider that the now undisputed fact that the husband’s conduct was fraudulent is a cardinal aspect of this appeal. The general principle that ‘fraud unravels all’ is, as far as I am aware, no less applicable to judgments and orders of the Court than to contracts. Although there has been long-standing debate about how it should properly be litigated (for which see the useful summary of this court in Owens v Noble [2010] EWCA Civ 224) it has never been in doubt that once it is established that a judgment or order has been procured by a process involving material fraud, then the interests of justice require that the judgment be set aside. By ‘material fraud’ I mean fraud which, as in the present case, was material in the obtaining of the judgment sought to be set aside, in this case the consent order approved by the judge on 25th July 2012.

[36]The fact that non-disclosure or misstatement is fraudulent is not merely relevant to materiality. It means that the process by which the judgment was obtained involved a serious abuse of process. There is a public interest in the protection of the court’s processes from fraud which transcends other case management considerations, such as finality, economy and speed. I do not by that mean to undermine or disagree with my Lord’s conclusion that non-disclosure in these or comparable circumstances in civil proceedings will almost always involve some abuse of process, but there remains in my view a step-change in gravity between that which is shown to be dishonest and that which is not.

[37]I consider that the court should be very slow to depart from that healthy principle. I am aware of no case before this one where such a departure has occurred. In the present case the husband has sought to hold onto an order tainted by material fraud on his part by rearranging his affairs (in this case the affairs of AppSense which he controls) so as to bring them broadly into line, but after the event, with the false picture originally portrayed by him. I have come nowhere near being persuaded that he should thereby have been allowed to do so.

[38]Secondly, nothing in the final paragraph of Lord Brandon’s speech in the Livesey case seems to me to give rise to a principle which requires or even entitles the Court to take that course. The ratio of the Livesey case lies in the earlier opinion of Lord Brandon that:

“Since the fact which was not disclosed undermined, as it were, the whole basis on which the consent order was agreed, that order should be set aside and the proceedings for financial provision and property adjustment remitted to the Family Division of the High Court for rehearing by a judge of that Division.”

[39]The House of Lords was concerned in that case with simple non-disclosure. The wife had become engaged to be re-married after the settlement agreement had been made, but before the Court order which reflected that agreement had been applied for or made. There was no allegation of fraud. The order was set aside because the disclosure duty persisted beyond the date of the settlement agreement, until the order was made, so as to enable the court to consider whether to approve the agreement on the basis of all material facts then available.

[40]My reading of Lord Brandon’s speech is that he was delivering a sensible warning against the use of trivial non-disclosure for seeking to set aside orders for financial provision, by reference to a sensible test requiring it to be shown only that, but for the non-disclosure, a substantially different order would have been made than that which was made, at the time when the order sought to be set aside was in fact made. He was proposing a single comparison between triviality and materiality, as at the date of the order sought to be impugned. He was not, on the facts of that case, concerned at all with the unusual situation which has arisen in the present case, where a non-disclosure which was unquestionably material rather than trivial at the time when the order was made is alleged to have passed its shelf-life because of changes in circumstances which had occurred between that date and the determination of the application to have the order set aside. But above all he was not concerned with a case of fraud.

[41]I acknowledge that, in a case not involving fraud, the constant need to balance the interests of economy and finality in litigation with the interests of justice may lead to a conclusion that an application of Lord Brandon’s materiality threshold as at the time of the hearing of the application to set aside, rather than the making of the impugned order, may call for careful consideration. But that is not this case. It is precisely where fraud in the obtaining of an order has been conclusively established (rather than merely alleged) that the interests of justice trump the interest in finality, see per Smith LJ in the Owens case at paragraphs 22 and 27.

[42]In my view the judge’s third error was to deprive the wife of a full hearing of her claim for financial provision in circumstances where the only conventional basis for doing so, namely that she had settled it with the Court’s approval, had been undermined by fraudulent non-disclosure. The purpose of the hearing in April 2013 was not to determine her claim but only to decide whether the order apparently determining it should be aside, and a rehearing ordered. It was an interim application, but one in which any issue as to whether the husband had been guilty of material non-disclosure was to be finally determined. As I have already observed, determination of that issue did not require cross-examination of the husband on his later affidavit. It was a plain case in which he had lied to the Court about a highly material matter.

[43]But the judge went on to decide, on an essentially summary basis (i.e. without a full hearing) that circumstances had sufficiently changed since the date of the consent order so as to render the non-disclosure no longer material. The judge reached an essentially summary conclusion about what the outcome of a full hearing in or after April 2013 would have been.

[44]I have considerable sympathy with the judge in taking that course. He had heard four days of the original trial, which preceded the settlement agreement. He had had considerable time then, and thereafter, to form provisional views about an appropriate order. He may have thought that the wife had done very well by her settlement agreement, regardless of the imminence or otherwise of an IPO. He may well have wished, if possible, to avoid subjecting the parties to further substantial effort and expense, much of which might have been duplicative of that which had already been undertaken.

[45]But in my judgment where a party has given up a prima facie right to a full hearing of her claim by being fraudulently induced into a settlement of it by her opponent, she should not lightly be deprived a full hearing, even if the Court considers on a summary review that she would be unlikely to do better at a full rehearing than the settlement already achieved. This is in part because of the abiding sense of injustice which the deceived party will be likely to carry away from the process.’

It is submitted that the narrow approach of the majority of the Court of Appeal in Sharland to the impact of non-disclosure reveals a pattern of misguided thinking, which has actually pervaded our higher courts’ approach to the seriousness of non disclosure for over two decades within divorce financial remedy proceedings and that such an approach is now in urgent need of reconsideration.


To find the source of this approach, it is suggested that it is necessary first to consider the decision of Lincoln J, in B v B (Real Property: Assessment of Interests) [1988] 2 FLR 490 where His Lordship determined at first instance that the court should, pursuant s 25(2) of the MCA 1973 adjust its final award to reflect the wife’s serious conduct deficiencies and dishonest statements in discovery within the proceedings in that case as ‘conduct which was inequitable to disregard’. Some several years later, in P v P (Financial Relief: Non-Disclosure) [1994] 2 FLR 381Thorpe J was presented by counsel Nicholas Mostyn with Lincoln J’s decision in B v B in support of an adjustment of the overall award arising in P’s case as a result of a lack of disclosure by the wife. By the time of the judgment, however, Thorpe J determined that the previously hidden financial information had eventually all been revealed within the process of the hearing. Accordingly, he assessed the position as follows:

‘How should this financial misconduct within the litigation be treated? Mr Mostyn says that the judgment of Lincoln J in B v B [1988] 2 FLR at p 490 offers the guide. The passage he relies on appears at p 495 under the subheading “Conduct”. The judgment is in these terms:

“The husband relies on the wife’s vindictiveness throughout the proceedings to be inferred from her prolonged resistance to disclosing documents. There can be no doubt that there was great bitterness on her part, but I think it would be wrong to describe this aspect as conduct which it would be inequitable to disregard. There are, however, some very serious deficiencies and a dishonest statement in discovery as well as an act of flagrant disobedience of a registrar’s order on the part of the wife.”

I then pass over the detail and resume on p 496B:

“But in the light of the general conduct of the wife and her advisers in the process of discovery I consider such conduct not only a contempt of court but also conduct which it would be inequitable to disregard. The wife sought to excuse her conduct by attributing it to the distress she had suffered on the death of her child. Such an event indeed evokes considerable sympathy but it occurred four or five years earlier. I am entitled to take into account the conduct of the parties after they separated. I have no hesitation in holding that it would be inequitable to disregard the behaviour which was primarily directed at obstructing the husband’s pursuit of his remedies. I have to reach an equitable conclusion, and equity expects propriety from those who seek its remedies.”

If that passage is to be taken to establish, first, that flagrant breach of the obligation to make full and frank disclosure coupled with a dishonest presentation constitutes financial conduct which may in appropriate cases be brought into the balancing exercise, I am in complete record. If it is to be construed as meaning that the court making primary findings of fact before applying the statutory criteria is entitled to draw inferences adverse to the party proved guilty of breach, then I am in complete accord. But I do not follow the passage so far as to conclude that if at the end of the judicial investigation the conclusion is (a) that the applicant has been dishonest, but (b) her dishonesty has failed to conceal from view any substantial asset, then on some punitive basis she should receive less of what is available for distribution. It seems to me that in that case such price as is to be paid by the dishonest litigant is a price in costs, not in reduction of the appropriate share of the available assets. The suggestion contained in the last sentence of Lincoln, J’s judgment that maxims of equity should be applied to deny or reduce relief I cannot follow. It seems to me that the court has a duty to discharge a statutory function on the application of statutory criteria, and maxims of equity have nothing to do with it.’

Based upon Thorpe J’s dicta in P v P (1994), it appears that the satellite jurisprudence of ‘litigation misconduct’ as conduct which was to be visited by costs as opposed to affecting the balancing exercise under s 25(2) thereafter developed. Of course, as Thorpe J made clear in P’s case, such conduct if it denied the court an awareness of the nature and value of the hidden resource could still justify an adjustment in the final analysis of the award balance itself. However, his determination that if such conduct failed to achieve its obvious ambition of effective concealment then a costs award alone was a sufficient sanction by the court was, it is submitted, more problematical. Indeed, should a deceitful spouse whose attempt at deliberate concealment of financial information fails gain any benefit from such unintended disclosure – is that spouse any the less culpable as a result.

Certainly, there are levels of what have been described as ‘litigation misconduct’ which justify the Court visiting certain forms of such behaviour by costs penalty alone, as in cases of excessive delay or excessive zeal in pursuing an issue. However, an all encompassing ‘costs approach’ to all forms of ‘litigation misconduct’ was subsequently to be endorsed by the Court of Appeal with Thorpe LJ giving the leading judgment, in Denningesque case precedent fashion, in Tavoulareas [1998] 2 FLR 418, CA. Therein, His Lordship stated, in regard to the fair division of the resources in the ancillary relief proceedings where there had been, in that case, the excessive expenditure by the wife of £100,000 in costs in Children Act proceedings, as follows:

‘The criterion of conduct under s 25(2)(g) of the 1973 Act is clearly stated to be relevant if the court concludes that it would be inequitable to disregard it. But it does seem to me that a clear distinction must be drawn in all these cases between what might loosely be described as marital conduct and what might conveniently be described as litigation conduct. It seems to me as a matter of construction that s 25(2)(g) is plainly aimed at marital misconduct. If the applicant’s misconduct is limited to misconduct within the ancillary relief case long after the separation of the parties, it is, in my judgment, questionable whether that factor should go to diminish the quantum of the financial award.’

With respect, two decades on, Thorpe LJ’s appraisal of the construction of s 25(2)(g) as being confined to ‘marital misconduct’ alone now appears highly questionable. In contrast, the phraseology of s 25(2) is relatively straightforward from title to content:

‘25 Matters to which the court is to have regard in deciding how to exercise its powers under ss 23, 24, 24A, 24B and 24E:

(1)It shall be the duty of the court in deciding whether to exercise its powers under section 23, 24, 24A, 24B or 24E above and, if so, in what manner, to have regard to all the circumstances of the case, first consideration being given to the welfare while a minor of any child of the family who has not attained the age of eighteen.

(2)As regards the exercise of the powers of the court under section 23(1)(a), (b) or (c), 24 24A, 24B or 24E above in relation to a party to the marriage, the court shall in particular have regard to the following matters –

(g)the conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it;’

Clearly, the section directs a court in deciding whether and in what manner to exercise its powers under the section to have regard to ‘all the circumstances’, to give first consideration to the welfare of any relevant dependent child and in the particular exercise of the powers given by Parliament to have regard to a number of specified factors one of which is the parties’ conduct – if it is such that in the Court’s opinion it would be inequitable to disregard it’.

It is submitted that it was highly subjective for Thorpe LJ in Tavoulareas to suggest that this wording of ‘conduct . . . such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard’ as a matter of natural construction prevents and/or was intended to prevent the court from having regard to the conduct of either spouse after the parties’ marital cohabitation has come to an end as part of the ‘balancing exercise’ under the section. Indeed, if His Lordship’s construction is definitive, then arguably his own decision of M v M (Financial Provision: Party Incurring Excessive Costs) [1995] 3 FCR 321, where a husband had set himself upon a campaign of unmeritorious applications whilst the ancillary proceedings were on foot which had both delayed the proceedings and succeeded in wasting his capital and incurring a huge amount in costs, broke the rule – since Thorpe J (as he then was) determined that such misconduct constituted:

‘. . . the exceptional case where the husband’s strategy has been so extreme that it would be inequitable to disregard it.’


It is submitted that the correct approach should be, without any prior categorisation, that if a spouse is responsible for ‘conduct’ before a determination at a final hearing of a financial remedy application which a court finds to be ‘obvious and gross’ (in accordance with the guidance provided by their Lordships in Miller/McFarlane (2006)), then such ‘conduct’, whether it be within the period of marital cohabitation or after separation and whether relating to the relationship or the proceedings, should be taken into consideration in the ‘balancing exercise’ in accordance with the wording of the section adopted by Parliament and whether interpreted as marital, financial or litigation misconduct.

By contrast, in our criminal law the offence of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice is triable on Indictment only and carries a penalty which is at large and dependent upon the nature of the criminality involved ranging from a fine to life imprisonment. The course of justice perverted need not involve another criminal act and is often engaged when there has been attempt to conceal evidence from the police or the courts – the starting point of sentence is to consider immediate imprisonment. It is submitted that a husband or wife who deliberately conceals their financial information and/or files an intentionally deficient Form E for their own advantage misleads the other party and the court and undermines the validity of the statutory exercise undertaken in accordance with s 25. Their action is both dishonest and intended to pervert the course of justice. It also constitutes a contempt in the face of the court which is punishable with up to 2 years imprisonment. The potential effects of deliberate financial concealment can be life-long upon the other spouse.

It is submitted that the Rule of Law administered in the Family Court is of no different interpretation to that administered in the other divisions of our legal system. Ordinary men and women of our society expect the Courts at all levels to uphold the Rule of Law – indeed the very orderly existence of the society we live in and benefit from in our every day lives depends upon the due observation of Parliament’s statutes and the common law and, where not observed by others, the expectation that there will be penalties imposed of varying degrees dependent upon the mischief created by the disobedience in question. It is submitted that the public know almost better than we do as practitioners that the breaking a court order or the stating of a falsehood before a court is to be expected to result in very serious consequences. A failure therefore to act by the court in the face of a deliberate act which seeks to pervert the course of justice or which is a contempt of a court order is likely to bring the law and, in this instance, the Family court process involved into disrepute.

The manner of the response of the Family Court to deliberate attempts to undermine the principle of ‘full and frank’ disclosure is critical to the credibility of the whole financial remedy process. There is a legitimate viewpoint from this history that breaching a matrimonial order is in some way less serious than breaching an order of the criminal or civil court – this should not be so – whether it involves money or the lives of children within the Family Court system – such a view undermines both the Rule of Law and the effectiveness of the process we are all involved in for the betterment of our society and ultimately it undermines the ability of the court to do effective justice in making the appropriate and fair division upon divorce by way of the s 25 statutory exercise.

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