The Law Commission reports on “financial needs”

28 Feb

A report has been published by the Law Commission which comments on the meaning of “financial needs” in financial remedy cases. The report – which contains submissions from a number of interested parties and organisations – concludes that there should be centralised guidance as to the meaning of needs.

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Financial Needs

A report has been published by the Law Commission which comments on the meaning of “financial needs” in financial remedy cases. The report – which contains submissions from a number of interested parties and organisations – concludes that there should be centralised guidance as to the meaning of needs.

The report acknowledges that the current legislation, based on law published sometimes as far back as 1969, does not need any substantial review. To that end no new legislation is recommended. The Courts have always recognised that the financial orders they make do have far reaching consequences for the individual parties and that financial independence is often achieved many years after the actual divorce is over. The Commission recognises that the objective of independence for the parties post any divorce must remain a primary objective.

The increase in the number of litigants in person and the need to provide clarity to unrepresented parties means that guidelines need to be published. The report recommends that the Government compiles any guidelines based on empirical evidence and publishes them through the Family Justice Council. The guidelines will then be available to Courts, Judges, Lawyers and litigants - whether represented or not. The guidelines would represent a clear statement of the responsibilities and objectives of both the Court, and the parties, in any financial remedy case/divorce. The guidelines should contain calculations to assist, in particular, litigants in person in their understanding - but the recommendations stopped short of suggesting that formulae and calculation tables should be prepared. Compare and contrast the position in the United Kingdom and that of Canada where calculations and formulae are an accepted norm. The calculations should be aimed at providing a range of figures and values to provide a general idea of where a solution or outcome will lie.

The Report will inevitably lead on to many months work in gathering the empirical data and then preparing the guidelines thereafter. It is not anticipated that anything will be published this side of the summer. The report does contain the review of the law at today’s date which to the very busy is a useful aide memoir.

Dylan Morgan

 

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