Cooking up a storm.
A leading Knutsford law firm says celebrity chef Marco Pierre White’s divorce is shedding important light on whether couples can snoop on their partners paper work to establish the value of assets.
Mace & Jones legal 500 top tier rated family law team said the heat is cranking up in the kitchen for both the chef and his wife Mati White who alleges her husband tried to hide the value of his assets. Mati it is alleged has looked at her husband’s post to find evidence of his wealth. To add further spice to the already simmering case the chef has instigated a civil claim against his wife’s law firm. He claims it has retained original documents, taken without his knowledge and which, in some cases, he has not seen. Among the documents, it is claimed are a personal letter from his daughter and a contract requiring his signature.
Mace & Jones family law partner Emma Collins said the case will be heard later this year and highlights the importance of consulting a solicitor before removing original documentation.
“If you suspect your partner is hiding their assets what is to stop you coming home while they are at work and seeing if they’ve left anything lying around that would prove their wealth?” She said. “For example, perhaps there is paperwork showing that they have an investment portfolio they have failed to mention to their solicitor? If the evidence is lying open on the coffee table, what can be wrong in nipping to the photocopier, running off a copy and replacing them?
“However, what if post has arrived and is unopened on the mat? Should you take an original document, unseen by your former partner, away with you, as it is alleged that Mati White did? If you think the information you want will be on the computer, can you, in the interests of justice, copy the hard drive?”
Ms Collins said this is not the first time the Court has been asked to ‘slice and dice’ the law on financial disclosure and examined to what extent a spouse can snoop on documents.
“Providing you are not breaking into the personal property of your ex spouse such as breaking locks on filing cabinets, or briefcases and you are retaining copies of the original documents and returning the originals as soon as possible then this proactive way of protecting your own interests is acceptable,” she said. “There are documents that this does not extend to, in particular, you should not be reading letters of advice from your former partner’s solicitors. You should also be careful in what you are taking. Copying the whole of a hard drive could result in you taking commercially sensitive or highly personal information. This is highly inappropriate and the court will take exception to this, as it will to the retention of documents that impede your former partner from running their business.”
For further information on family law services contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or any member of the Mace & Jones family team in Knutsford: 01565 634 234