At a Glance Conference
Published: 13/10/2023 11:28
On Wednesday 11 October 2023 financial remedy practitioners from around the country attended the epic Class Legal At A Glance annual conference, sponsored by the fabulous (if I do say so myself!) 3PB Barristers. To say there are some ‘Class’ acts would be an understatement. The quality of the speakers is second to none, and the effort that goes into the preparation and delivery of their talks is exceptional. It is a must go to event for the financial remedy practitioner (this is not a paid blog either!).
During the day we had an update from HHJ Hess about the financial remedies court. It is clear that the portal is here to stay, so please bear with it and work with it. Emails are unlikely to be answered by court staff who are already dealing with staffing cuts and pressures on their work. We need to all help to make this work. The ES1 and ES2 must be properly completed before each hearing – these are the ‘go-to’ documents for FRC judges dealing with very busy lists.
Themes from the conference overall; costs are becoming increasingly important. Judges are not afraid to make costs orders where needed. Conduct – it is plain that there is still a high bar – you should not plead it unless you can demonstrate a causative link between the alleged behaviour and a financial impact. If conduct is pleaded unnecessarily, it can be struck out in the early stages. The court does not want to see unhelpful complaints about the other party in Form E – focus on the real issues in the case. We heard of the importance the Court of Appeal places on retaining discretion in FR cases.
A stellar case law update was provided by Sassa Ann Amaouche – and the resource she provided, a bible for the key cases of the past 12 months. Transparency and anonymity were grappled with in an informative way – keeping attendees up to date with the need to inform the public about what we do in the FRC courts by Alexander Chandler KC and HHJ Farquhar. Michael Horton KC provided a very useful talk on schedule one cases, an area which is growing – and gave us some helpful pointers and strategies, especially when juggling applications which straddle the civil and family jurisdiction.
The work that judges do to help improve the system for court users cannot be underestimated and there was recognition for the huge amount of work that HHJ Hess and HHJ Farquhar do outside of their already busy judicial lists.
An informative look back at the past and how FR proceedings and decisions have been shaped over time was provided by Lord Leggatt in his keynote speech about ‘probability and proof’ and from Thomas Haggie looking at the matrimonial home, with a focus on changes to the wife’s rights over time.
Our President attended remotely – sending the positive messages that he is renowned for, making sure we come together, look out for each other in what is an emotional and difficult area of law.
We had a treat in the afternoon with a review of Radmacher with lots of differing views from those involved in the case. It is the highlight for me of the conference each year – listening to judges we will not be appearing in front of but who gave so much to their careers at the Bar and Bench to shape the work that we do now. The issue of enforceability and how the court deals with pre-nuptial agreements continues to be a thorny area – especially when it comes to dealing with ‘needs’.
What was absolutely clear from the conference was the huge impact that Mr Justice Mostyn has had on the world of financial remedies. Not one talk went by without referring to landmark decisions he had been a part of, decided upon and the practical initiatives and work that he put into the FRC. A legend of the FRC world to say the least.