This blog explains the various rules governing financial disclosure and how the decision in Imerman v Tchenguiz contradicts the decision of Hildebrand v Hildebrand. The legal maxim stare decisis means to stand by the decided, so when case law is overruled, it is rather interesting and unique news!
Hildebrand v Hildebrand 
Mr Hildebrand obtained copies of documents that were the private property of Mrs Hildebrand. Mr Hildebrand, during proceedings, requested information from Mrs Hildebrand that was contained in the copied documents. The Court did not ask Mrs Hildebrand to disclose this information but did allow Mr Hildebrand to rely on the information contained in his copies throughout the proceedings.
What was the Rule?
The Court will not penalise an individual for taking or copying documents, the evidence, despite being wrongfully obtained, can be submitted as evidence because the parties have an obligation to give full and frank financial disclosure. This decision was problematic because it meant that the Court did nothing to discourage sneaky or underhanded tactics in relation to financial disclosure.
Imerman v Tchenguiz 
Lisa Imerman petitioned for divorce against Vivian Imerman. Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz feared that Vivian Imerman would try to hide his assets, so they accessed a server in an office that they shared with Vivian Imerman and took copies of private documents that had been stored by him. Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz gave copies of these documents to the legal representative of Lisa Imerman.
What was the Rule?
The Court will no longer allow a spouse to take or copy documents, wrongfully obtained evidence must be returned to the aggrieved spouse, the aggrieved spouse must then disclose the document upon there return, but the offending spouse will still be able to rely on their recollection of the document’s contents. If a solicitor accepts these wrongfully obtained documents, then they may be in breach of their professional obligations.
In conclusion, it is better to ask your legal advisor if you are allowed to show them a piece of evidence before sending it to them. If you are worried that your spouse will try to sell or hide their assets, then be sure to voice your concerns to your legal advisor. S37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1975 also referred to as a “freezing injunction” can stop a spouse from trying to do anything with an asset during the course on ongoing proceedings.