Deborah Leask
Partner, Solicitor & Joint Head of Family
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Date Published:11 Apr 2016 Last Updated:23 Oct 2021

Will Panamanian files result in divorce settlements being set aside?

Family Law

The leak (or hacking) of Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca’s files will have many family lawyers rubbing their hands with glee, as if their Christmases have all come at once. Obtaining a disclosure of complex companies and trusts held offshore in jurisdictions, such as Panama, is notoriously difficult, time consuming and expensive. Many unscrupulous litigants regularly flout Court orders, refusing to comply, hiding behind the cloak of secrecy afforded to them.

This sudden and unexpected disclosure of information may be of great assistance to frustrated parties in trying to pin down substantial funds which are known to exist but which they cannot prove, as they are held behind an impenetrable wall of discretionary trusts, nominees, bearer shares and the like. This will be of considerable interest to those who specialise in this area of family law and also, to those who have failed to secure a fair settlement against their ex in the past. It may well help shine a torch on this dark corner of financial non-disclosure.

This will not just affect current divorces; the recent Supreme Court decisions of Sharland and Gohil has reinforced the law, making it crystal clear that fraud and material non-disclosure will lead to any previously agreed financial settlement (or ones imposed by the Court) being set aside. There is no time limit for this.

Ellis Jones has a number of experienced family lawyers who specialise in this area. If you wish to make an appointment, please contact us on 01202 636223.