Friday, September 09, 2011

Law Commission's recommendations for reform of cohabitation law shelved - again

OK, it all becomes clear now. I confess I didn't entirely understand the Law Society's reference to "the Government’s decision to drop plans to give couples that live together similar rights to married couples" in their cohabitation agreements press release that I mentioned in my News Brief post yesterday. Unfortunately, the Government's decision 'slipped under the radar'.

This is not entirely surprising, however, given that it was contained in a very brief written statement by Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly, announced by Lord McNally on the 6th September (see Hansard - you will need to scroll down to the second statement). The statement reads:
"I wish to make the following Statement to the House announcing the Government's response to the Law Commission's report Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown.

The Law Commission published its report on 31 July 2007, but no action was taken by the previous Administration, who wished to first seek research findings on the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. This Government have now carefully considered the recommendations of this thorough report, together with the outcomes of research on the 2006 Act.

The findings of the research into the Scottish legislation do not provide us with a sufficient basis for a change in the law. Furthermore, the family justice system is in a transitional period, with major reforms already on the horizon. We do not therefore intend to take forward the Law Commission's recommendations for reform of cohabitation law in this parliamentary term."
And that was that. An important and potentially far-reaching piece of legislation shelved (again) in a mere three short paragraphs.

The Law Commission has not, however, entirely given up hope of seeing its reforms come to fruition. In a response to the ministerial statement it said:
"We note the Government’s cautious response to our recommendations, and that reform will not be implemented during the current Parliament. We hope that implementation will not be delayed beyond the early days of the next Parliament, in view of the hardship and injustice caused by the current law. The prevalence of cohabitation, and of the birth of children to couples who live together, means that the need for reform of the law can only become more pressing over time."
Fine words, but I fear that they are likely once again to fall on deaf ears.

(For more information upon the Law Commission's recommendations, see here.)


  1. well they wouldn't want to do anything to encourage immorality, would they...
    djanglywotsit must espouse victorian values. i reckon they need an innovative campaign called oh i don't know.... back to basics?


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