June 29th, 2018
In an interesting article published in the Law Gazette, it has been recently reported that solicitor Mamoon Rashid Chaudhary has recently been struck off as a solicitor. The solicitor misled the Family Court by both submitting a misleading document and by signing the statement of truth on this document knowing that the contents were, in fact, false. The document in question was an (incorrectly) completed Form E, the standard Court document for disclosing a person’s assets during financial proceedings arising from a divorce or separation.
Chaudhary submitted the said Form E on his own behalf during financial relief proceedings upon his divorce from his wife. In what could only be described as a lapse in judgement, he failed to disclose an investment he had made in a property and then later applied to register his beneficial interest in that property – proving that he was fully aware of this as an asset. He later attempted to correct this wrong by filing an amended Form E, making relevant disclosure to the assets he had previously omitted, but only after his wife's solicitors raised questions regarding his previous document. Solicitors are held to a high account where regards their professional duties and thus it could be argued that the subsequent forfeiture of his practicing certificate was justified.
As clients are always advised, financial disclosure must be full, frank and complete, and documentary evidence must be provided in support as far as possible. Warnings are also placed on documents, such as the Form E and the Statement of Information, alerting clients as to the need for information to be complete and accurate.
In the modern climate where assets can be digitalised, with virtual currencies such as Bitcoin or other online resources such as Air Miles, this incident simply highlights the need to be as transparent as possible to bring financial matters to a satisfactory and final conclusion.
Cases such as Sharland v Sharland  and Kremen v Agrest  also demonstrate that where one party has not been open and honest, instead deliberately seeking to portray a false picture of the finances available, any agreement reached based on false disclosure could be set aside. This is far from ideal, causing parties to have to restart the financial process right back from the beginning, or, if the Court is able to isolate the issues to which any non-disclosure relates, these issues will need to be renegotiated at the very least.
Therefore, when the outcome which most parties seek is simply a final resolution of the financial matters between them and their spouse, honesty really is the best policy.
Having recently graduated with her first class honours degree in law from the University of Bedfordshire, Holly is keen to explore her interest in Family Law. She has previously volunteered with public legal advice services and hopes to eventually qualify as a family Solicitor. Holly joined Hawkins Family Law in August 2017.
Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.
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What the team is known for
Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios, including assisting with the handling of assets abroad. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution.
An impressed client says: "The team's personal service and individual care is a great asset,"adding that the lawyers are "always available to assist and understand the occasional need for immediate advice and guidance, providing a very reassuring service."
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