Do we ask our clients enough questions?

Do we ask our clients enough questions?

Recently the media has been full of headlines like ‘Woman sues solicitors because they “did not explain that finalising her divorce would terminate her marriage”’. But what is the reality behind the headlines?

The Court of Appeal dealt with the case of Mulcahy v Castles Solicitors & Anor [2013] EWCA Civ 1686 on 18 December 2013. In his judgment Lord Justice Briggs said:

‘On 11th December 2003, Mrs. Susan Mulcahy reached a negotiated compromise of her claim for ancillary relief from her then husband, outside court, on the first day of a planned two-day final hearing, at which she was represented by experienced counsel.... The District Judge made an order embodying the terms of the settlement on the same day...’ (at para 1)


‘Much the most striking of Mrs. Mulcahy's many allegations of negligence against her solicitors was that, having regard to her Roman Catholic faith, (her solicitor) had failed to give her the advice which was requisite in view of her firmly held belief in the sanctity of marriage, either in terms of the alternative of judicial separation, or about the impossibility of pursuing divorce proceedings to a clean break settlement, without thereby inevitably bringing about the final termination of her marriage, which she wished to avoid. This lay at the heart of the substantive issues which, in paragraph 25 of his reserved judgment, Judge Wood said that he had to decide. Mrs. Mulcahy's grievance at his rejection of that central part of her case formed a major plank in her grounds of appeal which, after amendment with permission from Master Bancroft-Rimmer in August 2012, runs to some 41 paragraphs. Nonetheless, it formed no part of the matters argued before the court on this appeal, because permissio

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About the author:
Tony Roe is a solicitor and family law arbitrator at Tony Roe Solicitors, Berkshire