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Family Law Journal: February 2015

Rebecca Dziobon outlines the major pension reforms ahead and key areas of change impacting on family law

In the 2014 budget, the government announced sweeping changes to the UK pension landscape. The majority of the changes are due to come into effect in April 2015 although some have already taken place. The changes will provide retirees (save for those with pension rights under public sector unfunded schemes) with much greater flexibility as to how and when they take their pension benefits. The changes are contained within the Pension Schemes Bill which is currently at committee stage and the Taxation of Pensions Act 2014 (TPA 2014) which received royal assent on 17 December 2014.

In the conclusion to a two-part analysis Julian Bremner suggests a cautious approach to new client enquiries with a focus on risk management

The first part of this article ('A cautionary tale', FLJ142) set out the background and decision in Padden v Bevan Ashford Solicitors [2011] (and the subsequent judgment in 2013). This concluding part will look at the consequences of the decisions for family lawyers and practice points to minimise risk, together with wider issues of professional standards and negligence.

Deborah Levy examines the decision in J v J and looks at solutions to excessive costs in family cases

In October 1999 I wrote an article for Solicitors Journal entitled ‘Out of All Proportion’. I quote from the opening paragraph:

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Michael Gouriet and Natalie O’Shea consider the validity of the compensation argument in financial remedy proceedings

The Court of Appeal judgment in H v H [2014] confirms that ‘compensation’ as one of the three strands of ‘fairness’, first introduced in the House of Lords case of Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane [2006], appears alive and well in the Family Division.

Huw Miles looks at issues arising and procedure when a client may lack capacity to conduct financial proceedings

Liberty is a fundamental human right. As a concept it includes free will, the ability to think for oneself and make decisions accordingly, and to act upon them within the limits of the law. Unsurprisingly, we presume that any person over the age of 18 is able to make their own decision on any issue. We are cautious not to override the autonomy of the individual, save in exceptional circumstances.

Joanne Hall highlights the potential rebirth of maintenance agreements together with practice and procedure

In de Lasala v de Lasala [1980] Lord Diplock summarised that the law in England and Wales recognises that separating couples can choose either one of two main routes to deal with the financial claims arising from their marriage: a maintenance agreement entered into without the intervention of the court, or a periodical payments order. Sections 34-36, Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973) define and regulate marital maintenance agreements, and set out guidance as to when the court can intervene to change them. A neat 30 years following de Lasala, Wilson LJ, at the Court of Appeal stage of the leading pre-nuptial agreement decision of Radmacher v Granatino [2010], made obiter comments on maintenance agreements saying that ss34-35, MCA 1973 had been ‘dead letters for more than 30 years’.

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In the first of a two-part analysis Suzanne Kingston, Stacy Choong, Philippa Hewitt and Natalie O’Shea set out a comparison of family law in England and Wales, Hong Kong and Singapore

It should come as no surprise, given the historical connections between England, Hong Kong and Singapore, that there are significant similarities between the legal systems of the three jurisdictions. Both Hong Kong and Singapore have common law jurisdictions and the terminology contained in their family statutes will be very familiar to practitioners in England and Wales, albeit rather old-fashioned in terminology. For example, both Asian jurisdictions still refer to ‘custody’ and ‘access’ in children proceedings, and in Hong Kong to ‘ancillary relief’ in respect of the finances flowing from divorce.