Chair’s Column (Summer 2024)

Published: 01/07/2024 07:00

The FRJ website

I am delighted to see from a perusal of the latest statistics on the use of the range of FRC-related resources on the FRJ website ( that the vision of providing the ‘go to’ place for financial remedies practitioners has become a reality, with 408,847 views of the website in 2023 and, based on the first 5 months, heading towards in excess of 500,000 in 2024. There are also now 6,375 X (formerly Twitter) followers. Amongst the website views are of course a large number of views and downloads of the journal itself, and I am pleased to commend the summer issue as containing some very important contributions on a wide range of topics.

The future of MCA 1973, s 25

All financial remedies lawyers await with interest the report, or ‘scoping paper’, from the Law Commission – due in the months ahead – on the possible reform of s 25, shorthand for the possible reform of the entire way that the court is enjoined to approach the distribution of assets and income on divorce. The Law Commission exercise, from my observation being conducted with great care and skill by Professor Nicholas Hopkins and his team, will no doubt wish to consider the strong and contrary views expressed on this subject in this edition by Baroness Deech (‘Reform of Financial Provision on Divorce’) and Sam Hillas KC (‘A Reply to Baroness Deech’s Argument for Reform’). Does our current structure promote unpredictable exercises of discretion which unacceptably drive up costs to the benefit only of the lawyers involved and thus require urgent and radical reform or have the developments in judge-made case law in recent decades ensured that the law is reasonably settled to enable the vast majority of cases to be dispatched by specialist judges relatively swiftly? This issue includes an excellent interview with Baroness Hale, in which she describes herself as a ‘very good friend’ of Baroness Deech, but expresses real concern about her proposals in this area: ‘it is likely that the people who would be most adversely affected by a much more cut and dried, rigid approach to things would be those people – usually women – who have compromised their place in the [external] workplace … in order to do what on the whole is in everybody’s interests: to look after their homes, their families, to have children, to help to bring them up’. It will be interesting to see what the Law Commission makes of all this, but it will ultimately be a matter for politicians in the autumn and beyond.

Pensions on divorce

The Galbraith Tables, the brainchild of Jonathan Galbraith, the CEO of Mathieson Consulting, were launched some two years ago and made their appearance in the very first issue of the FRJ. The subsequent period has seen their adoption into At A Glance and a gradual familiarisation with what they set out to do. A policy decision was made not to attempt to update the tables every month or every quarter, but they have to accommodate significant long-term financial changes such as the now well-established increased interest rates which have followed events in autumn 2022. Hence the production of the second version of the Galbraith Tables. Those interested in this subject are recommended to look at the article in this issue by Jonathan Galbraith and Chris Goodwin, ‘Galbraith Tables v2: Why they Have Changed’.


I must declare an interest as a former DJ (PRFD), but the history of this institution, its rise and its fall, is very much interwoven with the developments and changes in family law over the decades and thus should be of interest to historians of family law. This issue’s contribution from Sir James Munby and Sir Nicholas Mostyn, ‘The Origin, History and Present Status of the Principal Registry of the Family Division’, charts the developments from 1857 to the present day, explaining and exploring what happened to it when the Family Court was established in 2014. The statutory changes which took effect in 2014 contrived to leave in theoretical place the roles of DJ (PRFD) and the Senior District Judge of the PFRD, such that the FPR continue to include many references to them, even though these species are extinct, apart from a number of holders of the title DDJ (PRFD). This article explains where the vestigial remains of this institution exist in the present day and what has happened in practice to the various records and registers once entrusted to the institution – divided between the RCJ and the CFC. The article intriguingly identifies the ongoing obligation on the PRFD (under FPR 12.38) to maintain a register of wards of court – but, if there ever was such a register kept, nobody seems to know who kept it or where it was kept and certainly nobody is keeping it now. If any reader has any information on what happened to it, please let me know!


Many congratulations to Sam Hillas KC, FRJ Editorial Board member and regular contributor to the FRJ, for her award as Pro Bono King’s Counsel of the Year at the recent Advocate Pro Bono Awards. The judges commented: ‘Your willingness to do whatever is necessary to give pro bono clients the best possible outcome is truly inspiring’. I think we can all agree with this sentiment and note her magnificent contribution in this area. In an era and an area of law where legal aid is fairly non-existent, this is absolutely vital work. Not everybody is prepared to do the work, so it is important to celebrate those who are.

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