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Courts Continuing To Get Tough On Disclosure During Divorce

Legal Experts Call On Couples To Work Together To Agree Separation


By Rob Dixon

Another major family law case has highlighted how judges continue to exercise tough controls over parties involved in divorce litigation who fail to comply with the rules related to disclosure, according to legal specialists at Irwin Mitchell.

Earlier this year, the highly publicised case of Scot Young saw the property tycoon, reported to be worth £400m, jailed for six months by a High Court judge after he disobeyed orders to disclose financial details in what was described as a ‘flagrant’ contempt of court.

The Court of Appeal has reinforced that message, this time in the case of Mr and Mrs Thursfield, when the husband was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment after he consistently failed to provide information ordered by the court until late in the proceedings. Even then, he did not provide all that was required.

It was ruled that such a continuing failure to meet disclosure requirements justified a penalty, with the breaches deemed sufficiently serious enough to justify a custodial sentence.

Commenting on the latest case, Fiona Turner, a specialist family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The Court has again made it plain that no amount of excuses will save a flagrant and persistent offender, and the penalty for not co-operating can be extremely serious.

“The jailing of both Mr Young and now Mr Thursfield for contempt of court, following their failure to provide financial information as ordered by the court should serve as a warning that the courts are getting tougher on this issue.

“Such acts prevent a full enquiry into the parties’ resources, something which is required to assess the scope of a fair financial settlement on divorce. Courts had historically sat back previously in the face of a wilful lack of co-operation, but we expect that the precedents set in these cases will only continue.”

Fiona added: “Going through a divorce can of course be a difficult and emotionally draining process, but examples like this only serve to demonstrate why it is so important for separating couples – where possible – to work together to agree the split of assets in a divorce.

“Such steps can help people avoid the emotionally draining process of court battles and hopefully ensure that others affected by the split, such as children, are protected from the fallout of major disputes.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Divorce and Relationship Breakdown