Lady Hale criticises proposed legislation in significant departure from convention

Lady Hale
Lady Hale

Lady Hale, president of the UK Supreme Court, has made a significant departure from convention by criticising a piece of proposed legislation currently under consideration by MPs.

In a speech to the International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice this month, Lady Hale said the Divorce (Financial Provisions) Bill is “more threatening” to the “social security system of the family” than moves towards no-fault divorces.

The bill, which was introduced by Baroness Deech in 2017 and cleared the House of Lords in December, provides for pre- and post-nuptial agreements to be made binding in certain conditions; for matrimonial property to be divided equally in most cases; and for spousal maintenance to be limited to five years in most cases.

Lady Hale said: “I can see the attractions of all of this when set against the agony, the uncertainty and the expense of seeking our tailor-made solutions when the parties cannot be helped to agree something sensible.

“But I question how one size fits all can possible meet the justice of the case or fulfil the role of the family in shouldering the burdens which it has created rather than placing them upon the state. I fear that it assumes an equality between the spouses which is simply not there in many, perhaps most, cases.”

Read the full speech