The cases of fraud and misrepresentation are often thought to be limited to commercial contracts.

 

In a recent UK Supreme Court decision, Sharland (Appellant) v Sharland (Respondent) [2015] UKSC 60 and Gohil (Appellant) v Gohil (Respondent) [2015] UKSC 61 the UK supreme court drew its decision in the family court from the remedies available for misrepresentation and non-disclosure in contract.

 

It held that the family courts are no exception to the general principle that the proof of fraud unravels all. Where a consent order for property settlement has been procured by either dishonesty or fraud of one party, and this has impacted negatively on the financial settlement agreed to by the other spouse, that court order should be set aside and the settlement renegotiated.

 

S79A of the Family Law Act anticipates the circumstances of fraud when it provides a mechanism for setting aside orders in certain circumstances.

 

S79A Setting aside of orders altering property interests:

 

(1) Where, on application by a person affected by an order made by a court under section 79 in property settlement proceedings, the court is satisfied that:

(a) there has been a miscarriage of justice by reason of fraud, duress, suppression of evidence (including failure to disclose relevant information), the giving of false evidence or any other circumstance;or….

 

In matters of fraud, speed is of the essence to apply to the courts for relief. Any delay in acting may ultimately prejudice the preservation and recovery of any assets before they are otherwise concealed.

 

Victims of fraud should seek advice on their position at the earliest possible opportunity.

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