Hidden assets and non-disclosure

The Family Courts face many challenges, but one which has received a great deal of media attention over the last year or so is: how to deal with cases where there is non-disclosure and how to enforce any subsequent Orders.

This has been reiterated towards the end of 2015 by the Supreme Court confirming that Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil may both proceed with their appeal against Orders that were made some years ago. Their appeals were made on the basis that their respective husbands were dishonest about the value of their assets. It will be interesting to see what comes of these appeals.

Non-disclosure is where one party to financial remedy proceedings fails to provide the Court with all of the information and/or evidence of their financial position. It was addressed in the case of Young v Young, in which Mrs Young alleged that her husband was hiding (or failing to disclose) many millions of pounds worth of his assets. It was for the Court to, essentially, decide which of the parties they believed. Did Mr Young have next to nothing, as he alleged, or had he hidden huge sums in an attempt to defeat Mrs Young’s claims against him as part of their divorce settlement?

In such cases, a Judge simply has to make a decision based on the parties’ witness evidence and all of the information before them. This is, of course, incredibly difficult to do. Forensic accountants can be instructed to attempt to trace the transfer of assets and establish whether they have been spent or lost, but this is expensive and (as the above case shows) does not guarantee they will be found.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If a Judge believes that assets have been hidden, and makes an Order that one spouse receives a payment from those sums, then it is incredibly difficult for the receiving spouse to enforce this Order if/when the sum is not paid. Once again, this was a difficulty which Mrs Young was confronted with.

The Court has the power to fine, imprison or Order the accused to undergo unpaid work, but this is often not enough to deter non-disclosure, and it leaves the spouse who has been awarded the settlement unpaid.

The Law Commission are considering how to improve this position, but it is unlikely to change unless the Courts begins to take a particularly robust approach to any non-disclosure. Thankfully, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Sharland and Gohil cases suggest that the Court is beginning to get to grips with this.

If you would like further information in relation to non-disclosure or family law generally, please contact one of our family solicitors.

Latest News in

Historical Deeds St Albans

Celebrating St Albans History

Bretherton Law is proud of its association with the city and people of St Albans and its surrounding districts going back over 50 years. The business began operating in 1965, from an office on Romeland Hill with views of St Albans Abbey, the Abbey Gateway and St Albans Boys School, and we have always been
Read more »


Defibrillators in St Albans

Public Access Defibrillators in St Albans and surrounding areas During first aid training undertaken by members of the Bretherton Law team, they were really struck with how critical every second is when someone needs a defibrillator. No one in the training room knew where the closest defibrillator was located yet we know first-hand the importance
Read more »

working from home and property prices

Owning Beats Renting for Long Term Wealth

A report by the Equity Release Council claims that owning your own home makes you considerably better off in the long term compared with renting. In their report called Home Advantage: intergenerational perspectives on property wealth in later life the Council looked at trends in pensions, mortgages and home ownership over the past 30 years.
Read more »


Each year we host a Charity Christmas Quiz and this year our chosen charity was British Heart Foundation. British Heart Foundation fund research into all heart and circulatory diseases and the things that cause them. We would like to thank all our guests who made the quiz a lively and enjoyable evening. Most of all
Read more »

Christmas traditions across the world

Christmas Traditions Around the World

This festive season we are exploring Christmas traditions across the world to see how other countries celebrate. In our research we have included England, Poland, Columbia, Italy, India, Portugal, Germany, Australia and Ukraine. Christmas in England An English Christmas has many traditions. The carols we sing leading up to Christmas tell the story of the
Read more »

  • We recently completed on the sale of a flat and the purchase of a house, with Osman Dervish acting for us. Osman was responsive, professional and commercial to ensure the transaction was done as efficiently as possible. He faced an inexperienced and extremely rude solicitor who acted for our purchaser but always maintained a cool and professional manner notwithstanding how infuriating she was! This really helped to ensure we worked our way through the issues she created. Brethertons were also good value. Highly recommended.

    thumb Sarah Wright

    We are so pleased to have worked again with Osman Dervish at Bretherton Law.
    Osman always goes out of his way to support us when buying or selling and is such an incredibly nice gentleman to converse with.
    Thanks for all your support Osman.

    thumb D Grant
  • My name is Ruth Palmer Cooper. I am posting this review to publicly confirm that this solicitors is simply the best in St Albans. I have had the pleasure of dealing with Mr Osman Dervish and his team for the past 18 months. Throughout the entire process , Mr Dervish has been outstanding. He is a remarkable solicitor who answered various queries and handled all of the ups and downs with great professionalism and clarity. He supported me through so many very tricky moments and explained everything to me in a way that I could understand. He is polite and courteous.I would recommend him highly and the company are very lucky to have such a brilliant solcitor working within their establishment. Many thanks for making this whole episode so much more bearable.

    thumb william palmer cooper

    Sandra Bradley and team, assisted my partner and I through a very difficult time. They guided us through a very complex arena that was completely foreign to us with professional dedication and compassion throughout. I still have them on speed dial and would use Bretherton Law for all my legal needs in the future and have recommended to many family and friends already, who have also had a highly positive experience.

    thumb Richard Saunders
  • I know this law firm cover many different areas which I would use if I ever needed them. I can never thank Sandra Bradley enough for her professionalism and hours of work over the past 6 months in what was a complex family case. Her support was incredible she was always honest and never gave false hope. I have every confidence in recommending this law firm and will go back to them if I ever need further help or advice. Thank you once again. Dawn

    thumb Dawn Brett

    Sandra Bradley and her team were extremely knowledgeable and efficient. Her care, consideration and professionalism were outstanding. I felt totally supported & extremely well represented throughout a very complex & complicated case for nine months. Words cannot express my gratitude for the result she achieved. Highly recommend to everyone.

    thumb Jen Bullock
  • Huge thanks to Lucy Madley and her team. They were friendly, helpful and proactive, keeping us informed at every turn and we have now bought our first house. I would recommend happily to friends and family.

    thumb Jack du Pille

    We recently used Bretherton Law for a sale and purchase. We were really pleased with the service received. The team were responsive and professional at all times. They took the time to answer any queries we had in detail to ensure we fully understood everything. Most importantly, there was a sense or urgency throughout the whole process. We would highly recommend Bretherton Law.

    thumb Adam
  • I have done three conveyancing transactions and handled a Probate via Bretherton Law in the last 6-8 months. Bretherton Law is probably not the cheapest option in either case, but you do get the service and attention you pay for. Both Anne Stockley (Probate) and Isobel Doherty (Conveyancing) were outstanding and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

    thumb Joe Hames
Serving Communities

We have been advising our local communities in the Northern Home Counties and London for over fifty years but now, from our base in St Albans, we also serve clients across England and Wales

Please contact us with any questions – We are here to help

If you telephone us your call will be answered by a real person (no recorded voice saying press this and that) and our friendly receptionist will listen to your needs and transfer you to the person who can help.

If you email us we aim to respond as quickly as possible but always within one working day.


Contact Us Now

Bretherton Law is the trading name of Bretherton Law Ltd. Company registration number 07795500. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Number 612461. Accredited members of the Law Society for child law and conveyancing. Members of Resolution.

© 2018 Bretherton Law

Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy