Family Law News – June 2015

Guidance for lawyers on how to best to support litigants in person

Guidance has been issued on how best to support litigants in person.  The Bar Council, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and the Law Society have combined forces to jointly issue the guidance.  This follows a rise in the number of litigants in person in the family courts primarily due to the cutbacks in legal aid in 2013.  The guidance discusses the relationship between a lawyer’s duty to their client, their duty to the Court and the administration of justice, and the extent to which the latter duty requires a lawyer to assist a litigant in person.

 

A husband who was deceived about child’s paternity has been awarded damages!

In the case of X v Y [2015] EW Misc BIO (CC) the husband (X) and wife (Y) started living together in 1997 and married in 2002.  The child (Z) was born towards the end of their relationship.  He was 7 months old when the parties separated in May 2006.  The husband and wife entered a separation agreement including provision, amongst other things, for the maintenance of Z.

In 2011 X issued an application for contact to Z and it was shortly after this that he was informed that he was not Z’s biological father.  This was supported by the result of a DNA test.

X claimed general damages for distress pain and suffering, consequential on the deceit and its discovery; special damages arising from his loss of work during the period of greatest distress; and special damages for the return of payments made to Y to support Z.

The Court agreed with the findings of fact and awarded £10,000 general damages taking into account a period of six years deception and the resulting effect upon X, plus special damages of £4,000 for loss of earnings.  The final and most substantive claim was for the recovery of money paid to Y for maintenances.  X’s financial contributions had been apportioned as to 50 per cent for Z’s costs and 50 per cent to Y’s house maintenance costs.   The Court came to the same conclusion as in A v B [2007] EWHC 1246 regarding payments for the maintenance of Z, namely that not only should public policy be taken into account, but the fact that A had great enjoyment from his relationship with the child. However, the monies paid by X to Y in respect of maintenance of the property and utilities were not considered subject to the same public policy consideration and consequently a sum of £25,321 was awarded in respect of special damages.

 

The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.