Rely on the most comprehensive, up-to-date legal content designed and curated by lawyers for lawyers
Work faster and smarter to improve your drafting productivity without increasing risk
Accelerate the creation and use of high quality and trusted legal documents and forms
Streamline how you manage your legal business with proven tools and processes
Manage risk and compliance in your organisation to reduce your risk profile
Stay up to date and informed with insights from our trusted experts, news and information sources
Access the best content in the industry, effortlessly — confident that your news is trustworthy and up to date.
With over 30 practice areas, we have all bases covered. Find out how we can help
Our trusted tax intelligence solutions, highly-regarded exam training and education materials help guide and tutor Tax professionals
Regulatory, business information and analytics solutions that help professionals make better decisions
A leading provider of software platforms for professional services firms
In-depth analysis, commentary and practical information to help you protect your business
LexisNexis Blogs shed light on topics affecting the legal profession and the issues you're facing
Legal professionals trust us to help navigate change. Find out how we help ensure they exceed expectations
Lex Chat is a LexisNexis current affairs podcast sharing insights on topics for the legal profession
Printer Friendly Version
Family analysis: The Law Commission has issued a report recommending wide-ranging reform of the law of enforcement of family financial orders with the aim of making this area of law more effective, efficient and accessible, and to strike a fairer balance between the interests of both parties. The recommendations include consolidation of the rules regarding enforcement, the introduction of a new Practice Direction, guidance for litigants in person, and the extension of existing methods of enforcement.
Enforcement of Family Financial Orders (Law Com 370)
What is the background to the report?
The project was recommended to the Law Commission by the Family Law Bar Association in 2010 in its response to the consultation on the Law Commission’s 11th Programme of Law Reform. The start of the project was delayed until the completion of the project on Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements, and work began on the enforcement project in April 2014. The consultation paper was published in March 2015 and the consultation closed in July 2015 (see here). The report setting out the Law Commission's recommendations was issued on 15 December 2016.
The Law Commission's recommendations seek to address four key problems:
The Law Commission states that non-compliance with family financial orders is a significant problem, and estimates that on average there are 4,200 enforcement cases in relation to family financial orders each year. Although data on the total amount of money that goes unpaid each year through non-compliance with family financial orders is not routinely collected, the Law Commission estimates that it is approximately £15 - 20m. Further, that those figures are likely to be an underestimate as they do not account for individuals who are not receiving what they are owed under a family financial order, but who may not take action due to:
The Law Commission suggests that the lack of an effective system for enforcing family financial orders impacts most directly on the debtor and their dependents, but also affects the State, the courts, the family justice system and society as a whole.
What are the Law Commission's recommendations?
Key recommendations are in summary:
In addition the Law Commission has recommended a new and more efficient procedure for the general enforcement application, which is often used by litigants in person (see pages 43-63 of the report). A general enforcement application is made under the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), SI 2010/2955, 33.3(2)(b) and involves applying to the court for 'an order for such method of enforcement as the court may consider appropriate'. The Law Commission's recommendations in this regard include:
Few practitioners will not welcome these recommendations. The myriad of legislation and rules that apply to the enforcement of financial orders is challenging for experienced family lawyers, never mind litigants in person. A more effective system and consolidated rules are to be welcomed, but it remains to be seen how long this will take to be put in place.
Geraldine Morris is a solicitor and Head of LexisPSL Family.
This News Analysis was also published in LexisPSL Family. Click here for a free one week trial.
0330 161 1234