What is full and frank disclosure in Property Matters?
Full and frank disclosure by both parties to a family law dispute is a legal requirement governed by Reg 13.04 of the Family Law Rules 2004 and Reg 24.03 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001. These rules ensure that both parties are fully aware of the assets and finances that are available for distribution. The Regulations list the disclosures that must be made, but can include all sources of income, any interests in property and any gift or disposition of property made by either party since the separation. The resolution of property disputes is most effective when both parties adhere to these rules at an early stage in the proceedings. The need for either party to make independent enquiries can be costly and cause long delays. In some circumstances lack of disclosure can cause a matter to proceed to court which might have otherwise resolved through negotiations.
What can happen if you do not provide full and frank disclosure?
If you fail to disclose all of the necessary information or sign a document which is false or misleading, the court can impose penalties which can include:
a) Ordering you to pay the legal costs of the other party;
b) Not allowing certain information to be used by you as evidence in your case; or
c) If you are found to be in contempt of court, fines or imprisonment can be imposed.
Most certainly, non-disclosure will result in a loss of credibility for the non-disclosing party. This was made most evident by the comment of Wall LJ:
“It is at this point that the husband’s litigation conduct returns to haunt him. Had he behaved properly during the proceedings, had he given full, frank and clear disclosure, had he not breached his undertakings and dissipated funds, I do not think we would be where we are or that we would be having the current argument”
– M v M  EWCA Civ 1852
For more information on what you are required to disclose during Family Law proceedings, contact one of our experienced Family Law solicitors at CBD Law today.