Thanks to Family Law NewsWatch for publishing a letter by Jane Craig, on behalf of the Family Justice Council, criticising the Government's decision to delay acting on the Law Commission’s proposals for the introduction of legal protection for cohabitees, a decision that has already been criticised by Craig on behalf of Resolution. Craig describes the decision as "timid", and points out that concerns over the cost of the reforms to the legal aid budget are largely unfounded, as much of the cost should be recouped by the statutory charge. She concludes:
the Ministry of Justice's refusal to act now will mean that the most vulnerable partner who is very often a woman, and mother of any children of the relationship is left to face injustice and financial hardship. In some situations she is left homeless without any claims at all over the property where she may have lived for many years. If this happens, the tax payer has to fund welfare benefits and public housing to support those who should not be left in this position. It is not at all clear how this fits in with the Government's commitment to equality and protecting the disadvantaged in our society.
I could say something cynical here about the reality of government 'commitments', but I won't.


  1. I have noted that my firm's housing team seems to be doing an increasing number of constructive trust cases for ex-cohabitees, and our family team have a couple of specialists in constructive trust cases as well.

    Until some long-overdue reforms are enacted, I suspect our specialisms will prosper. As these cases tend to be both legally interesting and fairly reliable in terms of securing costs, this is good for the lawyers, but clearly not a satisfactory or adequate state of affairs for the clients. There is no excuse for delaying reform.

  2. Agreed, on all counts. In addition, I find that the law is misunderstood by many lawyers, which is obviously also not satisfactory for clients.


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