Divorce ruling creates a 'cheat's charter'
Friday 30 July 2010
Feuding couples who do not want their spouses' lawyers finding out how rich they are have won a landmark legal ruling.
The decision yesterday by a Court of Appeal will mean an end to detective work by estranged wives and husbands for evidence of hidden assets.
The court ruled that it was an invasion of privacy for documents or emails obtained by stealth to be admitted as evidence – a judgment promptly condemned by divorce lawyers as a "cheats' charter".
The ruling is the latest episode in a bitter court battle between Vivian Imerman, 53, former owner of the Del Monte fruit company, and his estranged wife, Lisa Tchenguiz, 43. The case has stretched to more than a dozen hearings and is estimated to have cost more than £5m.
They were married in 2001, but the marriage ended in 2008. She is suing him for £100m. In November, she won a court judgment allowing her to use in evidence 20,000 documents downloaded from a computer in the office Mr Imerman shared with her brothers, the property tycoons, Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz.
But Mr Imerman won a ruling that the brothers, two IT staff and a solicitor had no right to retain or use material downloaded without his knowledge. Three appeal court judges, headed by Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, the Master of the Rolls, ordered Ms Tchenguiz to hand the documents over to her ex-husband's solicitors, because keeping them "would give her access to material which was confidential to Mr Imerman and had been unlawfully taken from him by her brothers and supplied to her in circumstances where it is not the court or Mr Imerman but her brothers who selected the documents".
They said that there was "no real doubt" that Mr Imerman's rights of confidence had been breached.
Until this judgment, wives had been allowed produce in court documents obtained secretly, provided force was not used.
Times are so tough in Italy that Mafiosi are considering getting jobs
The man they forgot to lock up: Mike Anderson was sentenced to 13 years in jail, but the police never came
Unbeliebable: The White House offers 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
South Korea ferry disaster: Families watch as remains of Sewol victims returned to shore
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
An open letter to Nigel Farage: you may smile, but I am not seduced
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict
- 1 Disabled people are trapped in assessment 'nightmare' by PIP benefits regime, says Dr Stephen Duckworth
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Queen turns 88: David Bailey captures another side of the Queen in birthday portrait
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...