S v S (Inland Revenue: Tax Evasion): FD 1997

Disclosure of Ancillary Relief Papers to HMRC

Wilson J considered disclosure of materials filed in the course of matrimonial proceedings to the Inland Revenue: ‘Under both r 10.15(6) and r 10.20(3) I have a discretion. In the light of the authorities I propose to exercise it by reference to the following considerations.
It is greatly in the public interest that all tax due should be paid and that in serious cases, pour encourager les autres, evaders of tax should be convicted and sentenced. It feels unseemly that a judge to whose notice tax evasion is brought should turn a blind eye to it by not causing it to be reported to the Revenue. In one sense that would almost cheapen the law.
On the other hand it is greatly in the public interest that in proceedings for ancillary relief the parties should make full and frank disclosure of their resources and thus often of aspects of their financial history. Were it to be understood that candour would be likely to lead – in all but the very rare case – to exposure of under-declarations to the Revenue, the pressure wrongfully to dissemble within the proceedings might be irresistible to a far bigger congregation of litigants than is typified by the husband in these proceedings, who of course resolved not to be candid in any event. False presentations by respondents in ancillary proceedings have two repercussions, both seriously contrary to the public interest:
(a)either the judge remains deceived, in which the case the award is likely to be inaptly low, or he perceives the deception, whereupon he may draw necessarily broad inferences of hidden wealth which, depending on their scale, could make the award inaptly high or indeed leave it still inaptly low; and
(b)applicants are seldom minded to compromise their claims on the basis of presentations which they believe to be materially false and their stance, if justified by the court’s findings, will often be upheld in relation to costs. Yet the family justice system depends upon the compromise of all but a few applications for ancillary relief.
Between these two opposing public interests must the individual circumstances be weighed.’


Wilson J


[1997] 2 FLR 774


Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2012 29.12


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedChurchhouse, Regina (on the Application of) v Inland Revenue Admn 4-Apr-2003
The taxpayer was a revenue informer one whose trade is described by Coke as ‘viperous vermin [who] under the reverend mantle of law and justice instituted for protection of the innocent, and the good of the Commonwealth, did vexe and depauperize the . .
CitedV v W FC 2-Dec-2020
FDR Appointment Must Remain Confidential
XYZ had been appointed to value a family company within financial relief proceedings, but on seeking payment of their fees, and facing a counterclaim alleging negligence, they sought disclosure of the transcript of the Financial Dispute Resolution . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Taxes Management

Updated: 07 May 2022; Ref: scu.194952