J v V (Disclosure: Offshore Corporations): FD 2003

A prenuptial agreement had been signed on the eve of marriage without advice or disclosure and without allowance for arrival of children. Coleridge J also considered the use of documents recovered by a party by unauthorised or improper means. He said: ‘The use of Hildebrand documents in English ancillary relief proceedings is perfectly permissible subject to certain conditions as to early revelation to the party who owns the documents. When that general point is added to the fact that, absent these documents, the picture of the husband’s finances would be even more incomplete in a number of crucial respects than it is anyway, I find [the wife’s] conduct entirely understandable, justified and above criticism. I should not have hesitated to criticise her and her lawyers if I had felt they had over-stepped the mark.’
As to costs, Coleridge J said: ‘If clients ‘duck and weave’ over months or years to avoid coming clean they cannot expect much sympathy when it comes to the question of paying the costs of the enquiry which inevitably follows. And that is so whatever the outcome eventually is and whatever offers have been made before final determination. Applicants cannot be properly and fully advised about the merits of offers by their lawyers unless the disclosure is full . . and frank; all the cards must be put on the table face up at the earliest stage if huge costs bills are to be avoided.’
Coleridge J also commented on the readiness of the courts to deal with overcomplicated financial structures: ‘these sophisticated offshore structures are very familiar nowadays to the judiciary who have to try them. They neither impress, intimidate, nor fool any one. The courts have lived with them for years.’
Coleridge J
[2004] 1 FLR 1042, [2003] EWHC 3110 (Fam)
England and Wales
CitedHildebrand v Hildebrand 1992
The parties in ancillary relief proceedings sought orders for discovery. H had been to the wife’s flat surreptitiously on five occasions, and taken photocopies of so many documents obtained by him in the course of those visits (but returned after . .

Cited by:
CitedWhite v Withers Llp and Dearle CA 27-Oct-2009
The claimant was involved in matrimonial ancillary relief proceedings. His wife was advised by the defendants, her solicitors, to remove his private papers. The claimant now sought permission to appeal against a strike out of his claim against the . .
CitedTchenguiz and Others v Imerman CA 29-Jul-2010
Anticipating a refusal by H to disclose assets in ancillary relief proceedings, W’s brothers wrongfully accessed H’s computers to gather information. The court was asked whether the rule in Hildebrand remained correct. W appealed against an order . .
CitedRadmacher (Formerly Granatino) v Granatino SC 20-Oct-2010
The parties, from Germany and France married and lived at first in England. They had signed a pre-nuptial agreement in Germany which would have been valid in either country of origin. H now appealed against a judgment which bound him to it, . .
CitedLykiardopulo v Lykiardopulo CA 19-Nov-2010
The court was asked as to how a Family Division judge might decide whether or not to publish an ancillary relief judgment at the conclusion of a trial during which one of the parties conspired to present a perjured case. H and family members had . .
CitedBen Hashem v Ali Shayif and Another FD 22-Sep-2008
The court was asked to pierce the veil of incorporation of a company in the course of ancillary relief proceedings in a divorce. H had failed to co-operate with the court.
After a comprehensive review of all the authorities, Munby J said: ‘The . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 21 May 2021; Ref: scu.377302