A costly failure to disclose

March 3rd 2023

In Goddard-Watts v Goddard-Watts [2023] EWCA Civ 115, the Court of Appeal considered a long running case concerning non disclosure. The husband and wife agreed a consent order back in 2010, before the husband was found to have failed to disclose trusts assets and the court had to reconsider the case, dividing up the newly discovered assets.

In 2020, further assets were discovered of approximately £25 million, with potential for the husband to secure a further £75 million from the sale of shares. The second order was set aside.

The first judge to deal with this simply divided the new assets, he did not start from scratch; the wife appealed, and was successful for 2 reasons.

Firstly, she had continued to support the children who were all estranged from their father.

Secondly, the Court of Appeal determined that the non disclosure was so great that it was unfair to fail to reconsider the whole case. This was section 25(g) conduct, conduct so serious it would be inequitable to disregard it. The whole case needed to be reconsidered.

The court was send a message here, failure to disclose had very serious consequences for the husband; he had attempted to defraud the wife. It would have been unfair not to look at the whole of finances once the true picture of the husband’s finances emerged.