Husband told divorce documents must remain confidential
A divorced husband has been told that he cannot use documents from a financial dispute resolution hearing (FDR) as evidence in a court case against him.
The issue arose after divorce proceedings between the husband and his former wife.
In 2018 a judge made an order providing for the instruction of a firm to value the husband’s company and that he would be responsible for paying the fees of £75,000. The report was drawn up and an FDR hearing took place.
Six months later a clean break order was made requiring the husband to pay a lump sum.
In 2019 the valuers issued a claim against the husband for payment of its fee. His company was by then insolvent. He filed a defence and counterclaim denying liability and alleging that the valuers had been negligent in their valuation.
He asserted that he had settled his claim with his wife on the basis of that report so that he counterclaimed the difference between the sum he was obliged to pay under the order and the amount he would have had to pay if the company had been assessed correctly.
The judge refused his application for a copy of the transcript of the FDR because the law made it clear that non-disclosure of the contents of FDR appointments was vital to the settlement of disputes between divorcing couples.
He appealed saying that he required the disclosure of eight classes of documents, six relating to the FDR and two relating to events following the FDR, to enable him to properly defend the civil proceedings.
The Family Court upheld the judge’s decision. It said it was fundamental that the FDR was a confidential process. The law prevented any attempt by the husband to make use of anything said or done at the FDR in support of his defence and counterclaim in the civil proceedings.
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Case Citations:  EWFC 84 V v W (2020) Fam Ct (Sir James Munby)
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