Robinson v Robinson (Disclosure) Practice Note: CA 1982

The court considered the duty of parties in finacial relief proceedings to give full disclosure.
Held: In proceedings for ancillary relief, there was a duty, both under the rules and by authority, on the parties to make full and frank disclosure of their property and financial resources; accordingly the power to set aside orders was not limited to cases of fraud or mistake, but extended to cases of material non-disclosure; where it could be said that, on the true facts, the orders should not have been made, then the orders could be set aside.
Templeman LJ said: ‘There is no doubt that both the Court of Appeal and the judge at first instance have jurisdiction in the situation with which we are faced in this case, where the application is to set aside a final order. ‘ After quoting from de Lasala, he continued: ‘There are many references in the books to separate actions to set aside a judgment on the ground of fraud. In the Family Division, as has been said many times, this power to set aside final orders is not limited to cases when fraud or mistake can be alleged. It extends, and has always extended, to cases of material non- disclosure.
A distinction has to be drawn between the restrictions imposed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 on varying lump sum orders or property adjustment orders which cannot be varied, and the power to set aside an order which has been obtained by fraud or mistake, or by material non-disclosure. The essence of the distinction is that the power to vary usually reflects changes of circumstances subsequent to the date of the order, whereas the power to set aside arises where there has been fraud, mistake, or material non-disclosure as to the facts at the time the order was made. From the point of view of convenience, there is a lot to be said for proceedings of this kind taking place before a judge at first instance, because there will usually be serious and often difficult issues of fact to be determined before the power to set aside can be exercised. These can be determined more easily, as a rule, by a judge at first instance. Moreover, he can go on to make the appropriate order which we cannot do in this court. I think that these proceedings should normally be started before a judge at first instance, although there may be special circumstances which make it better to proceed by way of appeal.’
He referred to the principles in Minton before saying.
After referring to the clean break principle in Minton v. Minton, Ormrod LJ went on: ‘It is essential in these cases that the court retains its power to protect both parties against injustice which may arise from failure to comply with their obligations to disclose. In other words there is a lot to be said for the principle of the clean break but I have no doubt that Lord Scarman, when he used the phrase, had in mind that the break should be clean in more senses than one.’
The court of appeal is not the appropriate forum for inquiry into disputed issues of non-disclosure raised in proceedings for the setting aside of a financial order


Templeman LJ, Ormrod LJ, Wood J


(1983) FLR 102, [1982] 1 WLR 786


Matrimonial Causes Act 1973


England and Wales


Citedde Lasala v de Lasala PC 4-Apr-1979
No Revisiting of Capital Claim after Compromise
(Hong Kong) Where capital claims are compromised in a once-for-all court order they cannot be revisited or reissued in the absence of a substantial mistake. Capital orders are ‘once-for-all orders’. The legal effect of the order derives not from the . .
CitedMinton v Minton HL 1979
Establishing Clean Break on Divorce
The House set out the principles for establishing a ‘clean break’ financial settlement on a divorce. Once a capital claim in a divorce has been given effect in a court order, the court does not have jurisdiction to vary it. Lord Scarman said: ‘Once . .
CitedCompagnie Financiere du Pacifique v Peruvian Guano Co CA 1882
Brett LJ defined the test to identify which documents are relevant for disclosure in court proceedings: ‘It seems to me that every document relates to the matters in question in the action, which not only would be evidence upon any issue, but also . .
CitedJ v J FD 1955
Sachs J set out the disclosure required in ancillary relief cases: ‘In cases of this kind, where the duty of disclosure comes to lie upon the husband; where a husband has – and his wife has not – detailed knowledge of his complex affairs; where a . .

Cited by:

CitedJenkins v Livesey (formerly Jenkins) HL 1985
The parties had negotiated through solicitors a compromise of ancillary relief claims on their divorce. They agreed that the house should be transferred to the wife in consideration of her release of all other financial claims. The wife however . .
CitedJudge v Judge and others CA 19-Dec-2008
The wife appealed against an order refusing to set aside an earlier order for ancillary relief in her divorce proeedings, arguing that it had been made under a mistake. The sum available for division had had deducted an expected liabiliity to the . .
CitedGohil v Gohil SC 14-Oct-2015
The Court was asked ‘Do the principles referable to the admissibility of fresh evidence on appeal, as propounded in the decision of the Court of Appeal in Ladd v Marshall [1954] 1 WLR 1489, have any relevance to the determination of a spouse’s . .
CitedBokor-Ingram v Bokor-Ingram CA 4-Mar-2009
W sought to re-open the financial settlement on her divorce. Within a few days of the order, H resigned and took on a new employment at a significant increase in pay. That had not been disclosed. . .
CitedSharland v Sharland SC 14-Oct-2015
The Court considered the impact of fraud upon a financial settlement agreed between divorcing parties where that agreement is later embodied in a court order? Does ‘fraud unravel all’, as is normally the case when agreements are embodied in court . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Family, Litigation Practice

Updated: 07 May 2022; Ref: scu.259836