The Court of Appeal has taken the unusual step of considering an appeal in a matrimonial case which was settled by agreement before the appeal was heard.
In the High Court, the ex-wife of a wealthy man had failed to obtain an ‘uplift’ to her original settlement. She based her argument on the fact that at the time the settlement was being negotiated, her husband had not disclosed that he was in negotiation for a new position that would make him materially better off. Had he done so, she would not have agreed to the financial settlement. The District Judge had ruled that disclosure of the husband’s true expected future income would not have affected the settlement awarded.
The Court of Appeal decided to examine the facts of the case because it considered that the original judgment raised difficulties for practitioners. It concluded that had there been full and frank disclosure of the imminence of the new contract of employment, it was inconceivable that the wife would not have raised her sights. In the Court’s view, it was also inconceivable that, had it been disclosed, the District Judge would have rejected the information as irrelevant.
Accordingly, the District Judge was wrong to conclude that a full and frank disclosure would have made no difference to the settlement.