Chair's Column

Published: 13/10/2022 12:19

I am delighted to commend to you the third issue of the Financial Remedies Journal (FRJ) which, without doubt, sustains the standards set in the earlier issues for providing information and debate on the big subjects topical in the financial remedies world. Amongst other riches, readers will enjoy a thoughtful piece on Daniels v Walker by Nicholas Allen KC,1 a helpful guide to the sometimes impenetrable world of cryptocurrencies by Ben Fearnley2 and a powerful retort by Baroness Deech3 to the thoughts on menopause issues articulated in the second issue.4

The single lawyer solution

Recent judicial pronouncements by both Peel J and Mostyn J have articulated the dismay felt by many judges, and many other observers of the financial remedies world, at the ongoing and perceptively worsening prevalence of both very high legal costs figures and the hostile and adversarial conduct of cases. These two features are very likely to be linked and are both significantly damaging to the welfare of the litigants involved and, of course, their children. Whether or not this is the fault of the parties themselves or their lawyers, or a mixture of the two, the effect is the same and it is destructive. In the words of Peel J in Crowther v Crowther & Ors [2021] EWFC 88 at [9]:

‘These proceedings have been intensely acrimonious. They, and their lawyers, have adopted a bitterly fought adversarial approach. I asked myself on a number of occasions whether the aggressive approach adopted by each side has achieved anything; it seems to me that it has led to vast costs and reduced scope for settlement. The toll on each party is incalculable … and, from what I have heard, the impact on the children has been highly detrimental.’

The problem of high costs levels is expertly discussed in this issue of the FRJ by Professor David Hodson in his article, ‘The scandal of costs in financial remedy proceedings in English family law’.5 So what is to be done to reverse these unattractive developments? Step forward the single lawyer solution. This is offered by a number of practitioners already, and Resolution has announced a scheme under the title ‘Resolution Together’,6 but this issue of the FRJ contains a major contribution to this subject (‘Someone! Do something about costs! The Single Lawyer Solution’) by Harry Gates and Samantha Woodham,7 the admirable leaders of The Divorce Surgery, which is leading the way in this area, and this piece deserves careful consideration. This does seem to be an idea whose time has come. It has received specific support from the President, Sir Andrew McFarlane, in his recent John Cornwell Lecture to the Family Mediators Association Conference8 and we are pleased to give space to an excellent articulation of an idea which, if suitably developed, might simultaneously reduce costs, prevent adversarial conduct and divert cases away from the courts into the non-court dispute resolution arena.

PAG 2 – the ongoing work of the Pension Advisory Group (PAG)

This issue carries a reminder from Francis J and myself (as co-chairs of PAG) of the work of PAG2.9 The results of a survey run recently, in the context of PAG2, suggest that PAG1 (for which we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to its ‘chief executive’ Hilary Woodward) has had a substantial and welcome impact on the fairness of the distribution of pensions on divorce. PAG2 is not intended to make radical changes to the guidance and information contained in PAG1, rather to revise and update it. Hard work is well under way, with results likely to emerge some time next year and I am sure the FRJ will continue to cover these important developments. One of the pressing matters to be discussed and covered in PAG2 is the emergence of the ‘Galbraith Tables’, seen by many to have gained some good traction in the field of off-setting. I am delighted to recall that the tables were, of course, originally unveiled in the first issue of the FRJ.10

Financial Remedies Court Valete

In this issue the financial remedies world says farewell to Jo Miles, the Cambridge University academic who has played so very significant a role in this area of law for the past decade or so. Jo has decided to leave the world of academic law and re-focus her energy and dynamism on the world of horticulture. That world’s gain is most definitely our loss, but we wish her all the best in her new career and I commend the interview she gave to us in the summer, which appears in this issue of the FRJ.11

©2023 Class Legal
Class Legal


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