back to article Courts bar dodgy documents from divorce cases

People involved in divorce wrangles will no longer be able to use dodgily-obtained documents to prove their spouse is hiding money, following a landmark Court of Appeal ruling. Previously courts would consider information obtained by the poorer party about the other's finances, even if it was secretly copied from a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Admissability rules are stupid

    If someone obtains documents illegally then they should be fined and perhaps go to prison. But there's no reason to deny the truth of what those documents prove. (If they do prove anything. In many cases a document with a dodgy source is also of dubious authenticity.)

    PS. When reporting something like this you should mention more prominently which jurisdiction is involved. To me it's not obvious at a glance which country the article is talking about.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Those admissability rules

      Presumably law-makers are reluctant to provide an incentive to break the law. (And when divorce settlements can run into millions, there might be quite a few petty thieves willing to take the hit in jail, knowing that they'd be handsomely rewarded when they got out.)

      No, the correct solution to hidden documents problem is simply to declare in the settlement that any wealth not declared at the time of the settlement is automatically awarded to the other party (plus a fine or jail term for contempt of court, natch). Those who hide their millions are then obliged to keep it hidden forever, which might make it hard to spend it.

    2. John A Blackley

      Unintended consequences

      And so if evidence obtained by a criminal act is admissable, you'd have no problem if the cops fitted you up with a dodgy handgun and then you got sent down for armed robbery?

      1. Just Thinking


        Bad analogy.

        If the fit up is successful, the defendent can't prove the evidence is dodgy, so there would be no reason for the evidence to be inadmissible. If the evidence is proven to be fabricated, then of course it wouldn't be admitted. Neither case equates to the court considering eveidence which is known to be obtained illegally.

        A better analogy would be the Police finding genuine evidence during an illegal search.

  2. Nick Leaton

    Inland Revenue

    It will also deal with the Inland Revenue buying stolen documents from overseas in tax cases.

    SInce they've bought documents already, and presumably paid for them, its quite funny to find they can't use them.

    1. Chris007

      Unfortunately I don't think so

      this ruling (IANAL) only applies to divorce proceedings.

      1. Daniel 1


        We've gone to war on the basis of flimsier evidence than is now forbidden in divorce cases.

        1. JimmyPage Silver badge

          Wrong icon

          that's not a joke :-(


            Right Icon!

            Sense of humour failure?

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Chain of evidence issues?

    After all if one side *thinks* the other side has been hiding assets and they have a *fairly* good idea where this opens the door (or rather it did) to knocking up something and handing it to their legal team as "I was passed this anonymously."

    Proving it nonsense forces disclosure of the real thing, giving a clearer picture of what to ask for in a settlement. A very tricky problem to contest. with *no* prroff required to prove a document is genuine, how would you prove it false?


    1. PC Paul

      You can't prove nothing...

      What if the document is totally made up - say the other party claims you have a Swiss bank account with £2m in it, when you don't.

      How could you *prove* that you don't?

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Swiss bank accounts

        It's not up to you to prove that you don't. It's up to the accuser to prove that you do.

        Anyway, why would anyone fabricate evidence purporting to a claim on non-existent finances?

  4. John Savard Silver badge

    Simple Solution

    Make it a very serious offence to conceal anything about your financial status in a divorce proceeding, and give the police unlimited search and wiretap powers to investigate that crime. While people getting information illegally is something we don't like, people perjuring themselves about their assets and income isn't exactly legal either.

    1. EvilGav 1

      Divorce . . .

      . . . is a civil matter, not a criminal one. The police have no jurisdiction in divorce proceedings.

  5. TkH11


    I had an ex girl friend whose former husband was an accountant. This was his 3rd divorce, and of course being an accountant he knew how to hide his money.

    He deliberately ran up large debts on credit cards and then presented that as evidence to the court he was close to bankruptcy - who ever heard of a bankrupt accountant!

    He ran an accountancy firm and used to boast he was making £90 per hour.

    And every accountant and a very large number of people who are not - know that you don't run up debts on credit cards where the interest rate is very high. He planned the divorce at least 6 months in advance and set about hiding the money and presenting a picture that he was broke.

    He got away with it, managed to convince the court he was just about flat broke (despite the fact he owned 4 houses), and she ended up with the princely sum of £50K out of which she was obliged to pay £20K in legal costs.

    An accountant's job is to find where people have hidden the money, so he knew the mechanisms used to hide it. And the court had limited powers of investigation, being only a civil case.

    Answer? Never get married. The men nearly always are the ones that come worst off in a divorce case, but this case is one exception.

    Big Brother

    Fruit of the poisoned tree

    Yo Neuberger! Obviously UK law should adopt the US doctrine of fruit of the poisoned tree across all areas of the law. If any evidence is obtained by any criminal or civil law actionable process it should be totally inadmissible and the person(s) obtaining it open to action in either or both courts.

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