Mrs Sharland was granted permission last month to take her divorce case to the Supreme Court after it was found that her husband misled both her and the High Court over the value of his company.
Mr and Mrs Sharland separated after 17 years of marriage. During the final hearing in the High Court the parties reached an agreement as to the division of their assets and the hearing was stopped and the agreement (and draft order) approved by the court.
Shortly afterwards (and before the order had been sealed) it emerged that, contrary to Mr Sharland’s evidence in court, he was preparing AppSense (a company in which he was a 2/3 shareholder) to float on the New York stock exchange, and that the company might be worth significantly more than the court and Mrs Sharland had been led to believe. In the end, the IPO never occurred.
Mrs Sharland made an urgent application to court not to progress the Order further and to resume the final hearing. The High Court judge found that, although Mr Sharland had lied to the court, the agreement should not be set aside because the court would not have made a substantially different award to the parties’ agreement if the truth had been known to the court.
Two of the three Court of Appeal judges upheld this decision. They agreed that Mr Sharland’s non-disclosure had been deliberate and dishonest but, because of the unusual circumstances of the case, his dishonesty had not resulted in significantly different outcome for the wife. Lord Justice Briggs took a difference view is his dissenting judgement and was concerned that it was contrary to the most basic principles of justice to uphold an agreement entered into on the basis of a fraudulent misrepresentation.
The Supreme Court has confirmed that the case raises a point of law of general public importance and will hear her appeal against the decision of Court of Appeal.
The Family department at Hunters await the Supreme Court decision in June next year and are following all the developments.
For more information or advice in relation to legal issues on relationship breakdown please contact the partner at Hunters having responsibility for your legal matters, or (for new enquiries) please contact a partner in the Family team.