A woman whose millionaire husband lied about the extent of his wealth during their divorce has won the right to take her case to the Supreme Court.
Alison Sharland was married for 17 years to Charles Sharland, the founder of AppSense, a successful software company which was valued at £47.25m at the time of the divorce.
It was agreed that Mrs Sharland would receive half of the husband’s share in the company. This would provide her with a £10m settlement. Mr Sharland would receive £5.64m and retain shares in the company.
Mrs Sharland agreed to the settlement as she believed she was receiving half of her husband’s wealth.
However, the High Court later heard that Mr Sharland had knowingly concealed information and that the company could actually be worth up to £500m. His share of the company was estimated to be worth around £150m.
The court accepted that he had lied and deliberately downplayed his wealth. However, it didn’t set the agreement aside. The judge said the court would not have reached a substantially different order if it had been aware of the true value of the husband’s assets.
At the Court of Appeal, two of the three judges upheld the High Court decision. However, the third judge said that Mr Sharland’s fraud had undermined the original agreement.
Mrs Sharland’s barrister Patrick Chamberlayne, QC, told the Court of Appeal: “She was cheated into an agreement. If someone dupes you into a deal, why should you be held to a deal?
“This was a case of equality. It was a long marriage. All the assets had been acquired during the course of the marriage and each party had made their full contribution.
“Part of the wife’s case was that she was busy making post-separation efforts as well. She had the unusual task of lifelong care of the parties’ disabled child.”
Now the Supreme Court has decided that the case raises a point of law of public interest and has agreed to hear Mrs Sharland’s appeal next year.
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