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BMI v BMJ and another matter [2017] SGCA 63

Outcome: Amendment application and appeal dismissed


1 The Husband and Wife entered into and recorded a settlement on the division of matrimonial assets, for the Husband to pay the Wife about $13m (“Consent Order”). In accordance with the Consent Order, the Husband fully paid the Wife. The Wife subsequently filed an appeal against the High Court Judge’s dismissal of her application to set aside the Consent Order (“Setting Aside Application”) on the basis that the Husband fraudulently failed to disclose his interests in various businesses when the Consent Order was made. Before the hearing for the appeal, the Wife also applied to amend her original Setting Aside application to include other grounds (“Amendment Application”) for the setting aside of the Consent Order.

Court’s Decision:

2 The Amendment Application filed at the appeal stage would materially prejudice the Husband as he would not have had the opportunity to address the other grounds in the Setting Aside Application at first instance. The court also has no power to vary a matrimonial order that had been fully implemented, except in the limited case of fraud: at [3].

3 The court can intervene to set aside the Consent Order, even though it had been fully implemented or time has passed, if there was cogent evidence of fraudulent and material non-disclosure by the other party. Fraud is a limited exception to the general principle that the court has no power under s 112(4) of the Women’s Charter to vary a matrimonial order that has been fully implemented. The threshold for establishing fraud is a high one, and cogent and compelling evidence is required: at [5].

4 Generally, where the issue of non-disclosure was discussed and expressly considered in reaching a matrimonial settlement, the courts should be slow to reopen the settlement on the same basis unless there is clear evidence that the non-disclosure was fraudulent, and a substantially different order would have been entered into by parties or made by the court if proper disclosure was made: at [9].

5 Parties cannot reopen settlements at will, or continue to make indefinite claims for benefits received by the other party after division of matrimonial assets has been completed. There is a need for finality, unless fraud is clearly established: at [12].

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.

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