Court of Appeal
Civil Appeal No. 182 of 2015
Lam V-P, Cheung and Chu JJA
30 August 2017

Divorce – ancillary relief – duty to give full and frank disclosure – whether breach by petitioner – whether judge erred in drawing adverse inferences against petitioner

In ancillary relief proceedings, the Judge accepted W’s evidence, based on four Delivery Notes relating to renovation works for two properties in Shenzhen (the “Properties”) that H was the beneficial owner of the Properties. The Judge, rejecting H’s evidence, inter alia, that three of the Delivery Notes were forged by W, found that H had failed to give full and frank disclosure and had concealed his beneficial interests in the Properties, which were worth RMB 2.6 million if not more, to mislead W and the Court. H appealed against the consequent ancillary relief orders made by the Judge.

Held, dismissing the appeal, that:

  • There was no proper basis to interfere with the Judge’s findings on the credibility of the parties. Further, there was nothing to indicate that the Judge was plainly wrong to admit certain hearsay evidence since, inter alia, it only set out the background to W’s case and how she came by the Delivery Notes. In any event, the Judge was entitled to conclude on the other evidence, namely W’s oral evidence and the Delivery Notes, that H had a beneficial interest in the Properties; that he had not been frank about his true financial position; and to draw adverse inferences against him as to the value of the Properties.
  • H’s service of the notice of appeal on W in Shenzhen by ordinary post was irregular. For service of a notice of appeal on a party outside the jurisdiction in mainland China, O. 11 rr. 1 and 5A of the Rules of the High Court (Cap. 4A, Sub. Leg.) applied. Accordingly, leave was required and the procedure prescribed in O. 11 r. 5A must be followed.
  • All litigants and their legal representatives in particular had a duty to follow closely the requirements for preparing appeal bundles in section F of Practice Direction 4.1. Non-compliance could result in costs sanction, including an order disallowing their costs of preparing the bundles not only inter partes but also between solicitors and their clients.

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