Some people going through divorce and separation obtain copies of their ex-partner’s financial documents without permission of their ex in the interest of “self help”.
The justification is that the Family Courts require full financial disclosure in order to do their job properly and there is a genuine suspicion that the other party will seek to mislead the Court by hiding details of their true financial position.
The case of Imerman and Tchenguiz at the Court of Appeal reported in The Evening Standard has sent out a warning bell to all such self helpers. The Tchenguiz brothers shared an office with Mr Imerman, their sister’s soon to be ex-husband. When the warring couple started arguing over a £250,000 Rolls Royce, which Mr Imerman removed from his wife’s possession when it was being serviced, her brothers then copied thousands of Mr Imerman’s documents from his computer. So far, so exciting!
Last year The High Court ordered the information to be returned to Mr Imerman without anyone reading it. Today the Court Of Appeal has confirmed this order. They stated that the practice in Family Courts (Hildebrand – named after a case) cannot be relied upon to protect criminal conduct or conduct which the other party could sue you for.
The case may yet go to the Supreme Court but for now the advice is – do not do anything which leaves you open to a criminal action – interfering with your spouse’s mail, hacking into your spouse’s password protected computer, removing documents. Pretty obvious stuff really….