P v P

[2003] EWHC 2260 (Family Division)

Divorce, financial impropriety and the NCIS

Facts

This was a divorce dispute concerning division of assets. The wife suspected that disclosure by the husband tended to suggest financial impropriety, and may trigger a duty to disclose under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. They made a report to the National Criminal Intelligence Service but were unsure whether they could continue to act.

Issues

What was the correct procedure for making such disclosures, and/or continuing to act?

Decision

This decision did not specifically concern mediators or experts, but it is suggested that it applies equally to them. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the president of the family division of the High Court) held that the wife’s legal team had acted properly in making the report to the NCIS. Where a party’s lawyer suspected financial wrongdoing or impropriety and made such a report, they were entitled to inform their client so long as their intent in informing them was not to further or facilitate that financial wrongdoing. It was providing legal advice. 

This case effectively provides guidelines for the legal profession on the effect of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Comment

A major case on a major statute with major implications. The case should be read in full by anyone involved in the dispute resolution or expert fields. It can be accessed, free of charge, at the website www.bailii.org