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(Family Division, Coleridge J, 23 November 2012)
During proceedings for financial remedy following divorce the wife sought to obtain from the husband's solicitors a valuation of certain company shareholdings. She received no response. The wife subsequently accepted the husband's offer of a settlement without the approval of her solicitors. No Form E's were exchanged. A Form M1 produced by the husband disclosed a net annual income of £126,000. In respect of one company the husband declared a 20% shareholding but as it had not yet started trading the value was nil. In respect of a second company no interest was disclosed. The husband had in fact formed the company and was the sole owner.
A consent order was made by which the wife received the matrimonial home, worth £1.8m, and waived her right to periodical payments. Thereafter the wife discovered documents in the home which led her to believe the husband had not made full disclosure. The husband refused to supply any further information. The wife sought to re-open the proceedings.
She submitted that the first company had in fact already commenced trading and, therefore, the husband's interest had a value. In respect of the second company the husband had received an income stream of £280,000 gross per annum.
The appeal was allowed. The husband had been guilty of material non-disclosure in failing to provide an accurate Form M1. The fact of the wife failing to seek approval from her solicitor offered the husband no protection. Had the complete picture been presented to the court there was a strong possibility that the court would have arrived at a significantly different result.
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