Family Lawyers – Comply or Face the Circumstances

Family Lawyers – Comply or Face the Circumstances

The decision handed down by the Family Court in the case of WC V HC was an eye-opener for family lawyers.

Why Is The Case Important?

The Family Court warned lawyers who specialize in the area of Family Law that they should do all they reasonably can to comply with the respective Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Proceedings Statement and the Case Management orders as closely as they are possibly able to.

What Warning Did The Judge Send Out?

Judge Peel warned future parties to Family disputes to pay close attention to the size, font type, and how much space is taken up when drafting the content of a Section 25 Statement. The parties had seemingly shut their eyes to a specific instruction given by the court in the Case Management Orders. To put the matter into context the extent of the deficit in the number of pages could not have been starker. The wife had submitted nearly fifteen percent more pages than the husband’s statement. To the untrained eye, this does not sound excessive. However, when Judge Peel discussed the matter in more granular detail he drew the court’s eye to the twenty pages of commentary submitted by the husband and the 27 pages put forward by the wife. Judge Peel commented that this gave the wife an unfair advantage in the claim as evidenced by the fact that the content she had included in her Section 25 Statement amounted to around 33 percent more than her husband. when it came to the number of pages. Judge Peel emphasized the importance of the parties doing all they could to have:

  • a level playing field,
  • equality and
  • the need for a relatively balanced approach.

Violation Of The Efficient Conduct Statement

Another matter which had attracted the unwanted attention of Judge Peel when he reviewed the Section 25 Statement was the fact that the parties had included matters which were not relevant issues. He described these as being:

  • prejudicial,
  • personal,
  • disparaging,
  • insulting and
  • detrimental

characterizations of the other party. Judge Peel appeared to be warning respective future potential parties to take a step back, think through the potential implications, and choose not to include material of this nature. The layperson in the street may wonder why the judge in the matter was making such a song and dance over the contents of the Section 25 Statement, However, Judge Peel was correct in his point of view as Paragraph 11 of the Efficient Conduct Statement helpfully sets out the reasons why he was disgruntled, to say the least. This paragraph of the Statement is very clear in the approach to be taken, The rules state that Section 25 Statements are not to include rhetoric or arguments under any circumstances. It seems apparent that the Family Court is staying true to this principle and enforcing It as shown in this case.

Other issues in the case included the parties’ decisions to submit without notice:

  • new claims
  • over one hundred pages of commentary
  • updated Schedules and
  • financial details.

Due to the late stage of submission and the expiry of the deadline Judge Peel gave the late submissions short sharp shrift and declined to accept them as evidence.

Lessons Learned?

To stay on the right side of the judge’s family lawyers need to be doing all they can to encourage parties to comply with the Efficient Conduct Statement, not to submit late evidence, and not include insulting remarks under any circumstances. Comply with the rules or face the consequences.

The Legists Content Team

ASSESSING FIRMS

WithersLLP #stewartslaw #paynehicksbeachllp #mishcondereya #hughesfowlercarruthers #farrer&co #familylawinpartnership #dawsoncornwell #charlesrussellspeechelysllp #alexioufisherphillips #bindmans #forstersllp #freemans #goodmanray #harbottle&lewis #hunterslaw #kingsleynapley #levisonmeltzerpiggott #miles&partners #penningtonsmanchescooper #russellcooke #internationalfamilylawgroup #vardags #anthonygoldsolicitors #boodlehatfieldllp

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES

[1] WC v HC [2022] EWFC22 - WC v HC (Financial Remedies Agreements) (Rev1) [2022] EWFC 22 (22 March 2022) (bailii.org) and Family Law Week: WC v HC [2022] EWFC 22

[2] G v G [2022] EWHC (Fam) 1339

[3] Charman v Charman [2007] EWCA Civ 503

[4] White v White [2000] 2 FLR 981

[5] Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] 1 FLR 1186

[6] RC v JC [2020] EWHC 466

[7] Scatciffe v Scatliffe [2017] 2 FLR 933

[8] K v L [2011] 2 FLR 980

[9] Hart v Hart [2018] 1 FLR 1283

[10] Section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

[11] BD v FD [2017] 1 FLR 1420

[12] N v F [2011] 2 FLR 533

[13] Radmacher v Granatino [2010] UKSC 42

[14] M v M [2020] EWFC 41

[15] Thomas v Thomas [1995] 2 FLR 668

[16] Luckwell v Luckwell [2014] EWHC 502

[17] Alireza v Radwan [2017] EWCA Civ 1545

[18] TL v ML [2005] EWHC 2860

[19] Murray A – Time Out: Abide By The Rules – or Else! Analysis of WC v HC [2022] EWFC (Peel J) 22.April 2022 – Financial Remedies Journal - Financial Remedies Journal: Time Out: Abide By the Rules – or Else! Analysis of WC v HC [2022] EWFC 22 (Peel J)

[20] Notice from the Financial Remedies Court – Judiciary - 12 January 2022 - Notice from the Financial Remedies Court | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

[21] Reports of the Farquar Committee on the Financial Remedies Courts – Parts 1 & 2 – 20 October 2021 - Reports of the Farquhar Committee on the Financial Remedies Courts – Parts 1&2 | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

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