The case of Sharland v Sharland will be heard by the Supreme Court in June 2015 following permission being granted to Mrs Sharland.
Mr and Mrs Sharland were married for 17 years before they separated. The financial proceedings in their divorce worked its way through to a final hearing in the High Court. They then agreed at Court that Mrs Sharland would receive £10 million and Mr Sharland £5 million from the matrimonial pot of cash and properties. It was further agreed that Mr Sharland would receive a larger share of the profits received upon the sale of his company.
Mr Sharland’s company, AppSense, had been valued at between £31 million and £47 million. However, even before the ink was dry on the agreement, it became clear that the company might be worth up to £600 million and that an initial public offering was being prepared. This was not disclosed by Mr Sharland during the proceedings.
Mrs Sharland immediately applied to have the agreement set aside on the basis that this information had not been disclosed. The Judge, Sir Hugh Bennett, agreed that Mr Sharland had withheld this information and had lied to the Court, but refused to set aside the agreement as it would not have made a substantial difference to the Order made.
In the Court of Appeal, two of the three Judges agreed with Sir Hugh and decided that although Mr Sharland had been dishonest, it would not have substantially changed the agreement. Lord Justice Briggs did not agree and said that Mr Sharland’s dishonesty undermined the whole agreement and that it was a matter of public policy that the court process must be protected from fraud.
We await the decision of the Supreme Court in 2015. Watch this space!