March 7, 2018

Hidden assets case highlights that not even lawyers are above the law

The case of a solicitor who was struck off for failing to declare an interest in a property when undergoing a divorce, reinforces how not even lawyers themselves are exempt from the law.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that the solicitor admitted signing a statement of truth which failed to declare his interest in a property.

He submitted a false explanation relating to the proceeds of the property, which was worth £75,000, claiming he had lost the money in a failed investment.

The law leaves everyone in no doubt about being honest when giving information about income and assets. When divorcing the starting point for sorting out finances is a full disclosure of each person’s assets which include homes, other properties, savings, shareholdings, pensions and trusts – whether in the UK or abroad and details of income from every source.

The court has a wide discretion in applying the law and the family assets are shared to achieve fairness – with the first consideration being the welfare of any children.

Once everyone involved in the divorce is aware of and understands, the extent of the finances involved, it is easier and consequently more cost effective for a fair solution to be achieved.

Hiding assets will invariably be found out and, even if an order has been made when the deceit has been discovered, it can be set aside. This protracted process can incur considerable costs, with the deceitful party usually paying both parties’ costs to rectify the order. The previous order will be “shredded” and a new one drawn up.

The reputational and financial ramifications of such misconduct are long lasting, detrimental to all involved and can result in imprisonment. In this particular case, The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found the lawyer’s misconduct to be ‘seriousness at the highest level’, agreeing he should be struck off and ordered him to pay £29,000 in costs.

Our divorce and separation team at our Leeds and newly opened Harrogate office are experts in helping our clients to ensure a full and frank disclosure to achieve a financial settlement in divorce proceedings. We are adept in dealing with complicated business structures, family firms, trusts (including offshore), and work closely with valuers, forensic accountants and tax experts when required.

Our approach encourages clients to co-operate and reach agreement wherever possible about dividing their assets and securing the future security the family.

To make an appointment or enquiry with one of our divorce and separation team by telephone our Leeds office on 0113 246 0055, our Harrogate office on 01423 276104, visit, email or tweet us @helpwithdivorce