Outcome: Appeal allowed in part
1 The Husband appealed against the High Court Judge’s orders on the division of matrimonial assets.
2 The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part, holding that an adverse inference should not have been drawn against the Husband in respect of 19,000 restricted stock units (“RSUs”) transferred by the Husband to his mother, since the RSUs had been disclosed by the Husband, and their value was known and could be split between parties as part of the division exercise. As a result, consequential adjustments were made to the value of the Husband’s direct contributions to the pool of matrimonial assets.
3 The court has the power to give effect to an adverse inference by: (a) including what it finds to be the value of undisclosed assets in the matrimonial pool (“valuation approach”); or (b) ordering that the other party receive a larger part of the known assets (“uplift approach”). The approach taken by the court is a matter of judgment depending on its assessment of what would lead to the most just and equitable result: at .
4 Adverse inferences are not drawn to punish, but rather to further the aim of a fair and equitable distribution of assets by disallowing the spouse who concealed assets from benefitting from his or her improper conduct: at .
5 The values given to indirect contributions such as parenting and homemaking are necessarily a matter of impression and judgment of the court in applying a broad-brush approach, due to the standpoint of the court and the timing at which parties’ accounts of the marriage are given. The court exercises its discretion with particular regard to the facts of the case before it: at .
6 In applying the classification method to divide matrimonial assets, as regards each class of assets, the weightage of indirect contributions must remain constant. Cogent reasons must be given to depart from this norm: at .
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.