Appeal court overturns divorce rule

A new case has overturned a divorce principle that had previously allowed a spouse to obtain financial documents secretly.

Husbands and wives who file for divorce had relied upon the Hildebrand rules that allowed them to secretly obtain, copy and present in court details of their partner's finances.

It meant that the partner could not lie about how much he or she owned or was worth.

But the Court of Appeal has overturned the rule, making it illegal for any documents to be obtained privately in family law proceedings.

Multi-millionaire Vivian Imerman won his case after property tycoons Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, brother's of Mr Imerman's wife, copied documents about his finances from a shared computer, which were then presented in the divorce hearing.

The High Court has now ruled that the documents must be returned to Mr Imerman.

Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger commented on the ruling: "It follows that nothing in the so-called Hildebrand rules can be relied upon in justification of, or as providing a defence to, conduct which would otherwise be criminal or actionable."

Posted by Morag Lyall

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Published on: July 30, 2010

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