Compensation, sharing and equality
Compensation, sharing and equality

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Compensation, sharing and equality
  • White v White and Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane
  • Needs
  • Compensation
  • Sharing
  • Practice points

The House of Lords' decision in White v White significantly changed the general principles on which ancillary relief (financial order) cases are determined.

Before White, awards in big-money cases were based largely on reasonable requirements. A party would receive such capital and income as was necessary to enable them to meet their reasonable needs. In cases where there was surplus income and capital after such needs had been met, one party could be left with a considerably greater share of the wealth. Significant time and costs were consequently spent arguing over what amounted to reasonable needs in a particular case and many were left with a sense of an unfair outcome.

The judgment in White made fairness the overriding objective in ancillary relief proceedings (now financial order proceedings), judged against what the House of Lords called ‘the yardstick of equality’. This meant that in all future cases the aim was to achieve a fair outcome. To decide if a result was fair, consideration had to be given to the outcome on an equalisation of the resources. The House of Lords' intention was to put an end to discrimination between the breadwinner and homemaker in their respective roles. Claims were no longer to be limited by reasonable need.

White v White and Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane

The House of Lords in