The Business and Property Court in Wales was officially opened by the Lord Chief Justice on 24th July 2017 at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre. The Court will specialise in business and property work and create a super-highway between courts in London to ensure that international businesses and domestic enterprises are equally supported in the resolution of their disputes.
The Rt Hon Sir Ian Burnett appointed as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales as from 2 October 2017. He will be the youngest ever appointed.
The Court of Appeal held that the Wife was correct to contend that the combination of potentially relevant factors, namely short marriage, no children, dual income and separate finances, was sufficient to justify a departure from the equal sharing principle in order to achieve overall fairness.
A High Court awarded ex wife £453 million, one of the biggest ever divorce settlements in the UK. This reaffirms the high bar that has to be met to justify assets not being split equally.
A 28 day limit on police bail has come into force in England and Wales following criticism of people being kept on police bail for months without charge as a result of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
The case of Owens v Owens 2017 has highlighted the pitfalls of the fact of unreasonable behaviour in divorce proceedings. The Court refused to grant Mrs Owens a decree of divorce. The Petition was issued on the ground that the marriage had broken down irretrievably due to the fact of Mr Owen's behaviour. The Court did not accept the Petition applying the law as it stands. Until there is reform by introducing no fault divorce, there is no choice but to apply the current law. Petitions, therefore need to be completed carefully!
The Government will remove a time limit for evidence for domestic violence. The time limit has already been increased from 2 years to 5 years and this will now be removed completely. Also the types of evidence that can be accepted will be "significantly broadened. This will make it easier for victims of domestic abuse to obtain Legal Aid.
The Ministry of Justice has issued a new Practice Direction PD 36D, as an addition to the Family Procedure Rules 2010 launching a divorce pilot scheme for certain applications to be filed via an online process.
Family Courts are to introduce reforms which will end the presumption of "contact at all costs" when there is evidence of domestic abuse which would put the child or mother at risk.
The Court of Appeal has overturned a financial order after finding "procedural errors". The husband has been excused attendance at an interim hearing but the wife made submissions based on a letter that contained no statement of truth nor was she sworn to give evidence. Sir Ernest Ryder said "had the Court made directions to abide the event of the husband's continuing absence, they could and should have included a warning that inferences of fact might be drawn from his absence". The judge made no reference to the husband's documents and made no analysis of them. He failed to give a formal judgment . The consequence was that the final hearing was "procedurally unfair" and the order was set aside.