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Supreme Court ruling could pave the way for new divorce settlements

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The Supreme Court today ruled on a case which could have major implications for future divorce battles.

Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil have successfully argued that their divorce settlements should be reopened, following claims that their ex-husbands had concealed their true wealth from the courts.

The BBC’s legal correspondent, Clive Coleman, said that the UK’s most senior court had been asked to consider how much an individual can lie about assets before a divorce settlement has to be torn up or renegotiated. He described the outcome as “incredibly significant”.

The issue has bedevilled a number of previous divorce battles, but the case brought by the two women was the first time in a generation that Judges have formally scrutinised the problem.

Family solicitors expect that the ruling will open the door to many more people attempting to renegotiate their settlements.

Ms Sharland, from Cheshire, had previously accepted £10million following the breakdown of her marriage to a successful entrepreneur.

She later claimed that her ex-husband Charlie, who had made his fortune in the software industry, had lied about his company’s value and plans to float the firm on the stock market.

Ms Gohil had accepted £270,000 and a car when she divorced her husband in 2002.

When Mr Gohil was subsequently convicted of money laundering eight years later, it emerged at the criminal trial that he had concealed his true wealth during the earlier divorce proceedings.

In both cases, the women had failed to persuade the Court of Appeal that their settlements should be revisited because of details that had since come to light. This prompted the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Lawyers have said it is important that clear guidance is given about the grounds on which a case should be reopened.