Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Brief summary: HMRC v Charman

Mr Justice Coleridge
The report of Revenue and Customs v Charman & Anor [2012] EWHC 1448 (Fam) has now been published on Bailii.

For those unaware of the case, it concerned an application by HM Revenue and Customs for disclosure of documents produced in ancillary relief proceedings (which also happened to be the proceedings in which the highest award was made in a post divorce contested hearing). They documents were sought in connection with a tax appeal by the husband. They were sought from both parties, but only the husband refused to produce them.

The case was heard by Mr Justice Coleridge, who heard the original case. He paraphrased the law simply:
"As a general rule documents and other evidence produced in ancillary relief proceedings (now called financial remedy proceedings) are not disclosable to third parties outside the proceedings save that exceptionally and rarely and for very good reason they can be disclosed with the leave of the court."
Here, he had "no hesitation in finding that there is nothing rare or exceptional about this case which takes it outside the general rule". For example, there was no suggestion that the husband was guilty of tax evasion or criminal conduct in relation to his tax affairs.

Accordingly, the application was dismissed.

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