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[ 19 Mar 2014 | No Comment ]
Spiralling out of control: can Jackson reforms rein in family fees?

By Pamela Collis 
As set out in my previous two articles, legal fees in family proceedings have caused consternation not only in the legal press (most recently with Shield v Shield where costs exceeding £1m pounds arose simply to resolve preliminary issues), but also in the popular press (with Young v Young hitting the headlines when £6.5m was spent by one side alone).
Despite the strictures of the Family Procedure Rules and subsequent practice directions, disproportionate costs still seem to arise on an all too common basis.
The Jackson reforms did not apply …

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[ 12 Mar 2014 | No Comment ]
Why an inquisitorial system for family courts won’t work

By Lorna Borthwick
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, delivered a speech last week in which he radically called for a judge-led inquisitorial system to be considered for family and civil courts.
He commented that, within the family law arena, the current adversarial method of dealing with cases was ill-suited to both the types of cases seen there and the significant numbers of litigants in person who now make up large numbers of the users of that system.
The rise in unrepresented parties is undoubtedly a significant challenge for courts, particularly in contested …

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[ 11 Mar 2014 | No Comment ]
Statutory backing for pre-nups – a welcome proposal

By Collette Bailey
The Law Commission began in 2009 to examine the status and enforceability of marital property agreements, which we refer to as pre-nups. Pre-nups do not currently have statutory backing, but this may be about to change.
In their report published on 27 February 2014, the Law Commission recommended the introduction of legally binding “qualifying nuptial agreements”. The report, Matrimonial Property Needs and Agreements, includes a draft bill which would bring pre-nups into law.
Whilst many couples resolve their finances without contested court proceedings, for others the court has to decide …

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[ 20 Feb 2014 | No Comment ]
Pre-nuptial agreements – legal endorsement round the corner?

By Collette Bailey
The law in respect of pre-nuptial agreements is developing rapidly.
Parties have always been free to make their own agreements or arrangements in the past, but it has been an established truth that you cannot oust the jurisdiction of the court.
Many people believe that there should be statutory backing for pre-nuptial agreements. The Law Commission is due to report on this issue on the 27 February and is widely expected to recommend legal endorsement of pre-nups.
Clarification as to the possible change in the law is eagerly awaited.
But, what is …

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[ 10 Feb 2014 | 3 Comments ]
“Mandatory” mediation – not mandatory enough!

By Lorna Borthwick
In recent weeks there has been widespread reporting of government measures to introduce “mandatory mediation” for separating couples.
This will be brought in under the Children and Families Bill, which is due to come into force in April.
So, what exactly will the proposals mean? Will they actually result in couples moving away courts, and resolving their disputes through mediation, as the government wants?
The proposals
The measures being introduced are contained within cl 10 of the Bill. They will mean that anyone who wishes to make a “relevant family application” (effectively …