The Supreme Court has today allowed the appeal in this family law case which considered the existence and scope of the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil as a matter of English law.
The Supreme Court confirmed the existence of a limited doctrine of piercing the corporate veil which applies when a person is under an existing legal obligation or liability or subject to an existing legal restriction which he deliberately evades or whose enforcement he deliberately frustrates by interposing a company under his control. The Supreme Court held that in this case, on the facts, the principle did not apply.
However, the appeal was allowed on the basis that, on the facts, the assets held by the companies (whose corporate veils the wife sought to pierce) were held on resulting trust for the husband and so fell within the definition of property to which he was entitled for the purposes of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. As a result, the Court had power to order that the assets of the companies should be made available to satisfy the claims of the wife.
A more detailed analysis of the case will follow.