legal

Buckland: divorce reform needs to move faster



Work to reform the laws governing finances on divorce needs to move more quickly, a former lord chancellor told family law campaigners this week.

Conservative MP Sir Robert Buckland KC, head of policy and senior counsel at Payne Hicks Beach, said he was proud to have steered through the reforms that created no-fault divorce, which came into force in April 2022 – but ‘unfinished business’ remains.

The Law Commission announced last April that it had begun preliminary work on financial remedies on divorce, with the aim of publishing a scoping paper in November. The announcement came a year after the government promised a review ‘within a matter of weeks’.

With parliamentary time running out and election around the corner, Buckland said: ‘As much as I love the Law Commission – I love them so much I made sure they were funded properly – I’m not sure that will move things along to the pace and scale we want.’

Buckland was speaking at a discussion on divorce law reform that he and Baroness Shackleton (solicitor Fiona Shackleton) were co-hosting alongside Baroness Deech (former Bar Standards Board chair Ruth Deech).

Shackleton wanted to see progress on reforms to make pre-nuptial agreements legally binding. The law, she said, should help people understand their commitments and the consequences of their behaviour if they break the contract.

Deech, who reintroduced a controversial bill in 2019 to reform the way the courts deal with financial settlements, said enacting pre-nuptial agreements into law would save cost, make mediation easier and significantly free up the courts.

Solicitor-now-mediator Helen Adam, chair of the Family Solutions Group, told the event that many clients have come to her ‘terrified’ because of uncertainty and unpredictability in the law.



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