A recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Imerman v Tchenguiz could have serious consequences for couples involved in financial negotiations surrounding their divorce.

It is common practice for each party to be required to provide documentary evidence of their financial position - a process known as financial disclosure. This enables lawyers for both sides to calculate the size of the pot available for division and then to advise as to the settlement their client should be seeking. Not everyone will engage in this process willingly and until the recent decision family courts were tolerant in cases where a party could only obtain evidence of their spouse's financial position by secretly removing and then copying those documents provided that the originals were promptly returned to their spouse or a solicitor acting on his or her behalf. The recent ruling has however made it clear that a court may refuse to admit evidence obtained unlawfully such as by downloading documents from a computer and furthermore a party who obtains information in this way and even his or her solicitor may face legal proceedings. It is possible that it has just become a little easier for an unscrupulous spouse to hide assets. Sound legal advice and where necessary effective representation at court will minimise this risk. Contact the Howes Percival Family Team for their expert advice in relation to this very difficult issue.

The expertise of the Family Law and Private Client Team includes matters relating to wealth management, family businesses, trusts, offshore financial structures, farming businesses, property-related issues and pension arrangements. Highly skilled in their work with individuals and families, the team also advises on a wide range of relationship and family concerns, including child residency and support, other dependents, divorce, and pre and post nuptial arrangements.