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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

17 NOV 2014

New PracticePlus module provides guidance for practitioners on the issue of enforcement

New PracticePlus module provides guidance for practitioners on the issue of enforcement
The prudent practitioner keeps enforcement of an order in mind when negotiating and drafting a financial settlement order. After all, what use is an order if there is little or no chance of it being complied with, and if options for enforcement are limited?

All practitioners are likely to need to advise on issues of enforcement at some point, even if applications are not being made on a day to day basis. However, as applications are not usually made regularly, it can be difficult to keep abreast of changes to law and practice in this area. Knowing how to deal with a recalcitrant payer, and which method of enforcement to use when, is essential for practitioners.

Family Procedure Rules 2010, Part 37


The raft of changes to family law earlier this year also saw a new FPR 2010 Part 37 come into force on 22 April 2014. Part 37, supplemented by Practice Direction 37, applies to family proceedings where committal to prison is sought for breach of an order made under the provisions of the FPR 2010, such as an order for disclosure or breach of an order made under the Family Law Act 1996. It substantially mirrors the provisions for civil proceedings, contained in Civil Procedure Rules 1998, Part 81 and PD81. Part 37 is split into eight chapters, each chapter dealing with a specific type of contempt.

Recent cases


Practitioners will all be aware of the long running case of Young v Young, where there have been a number of applications before the Court. In Young v Young [2014] 1 FLR 269 Mr Justice Moore sentenced Mr Young to 6 months’ imprisonment for failing to provide full and frank disclosure. However, this case is a clear example of the complexities of enforcement. Mrs Young made a number of applications, at considerable cost, from June 2008 before committal to prison was ultimately ordered in January 2013. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that once committal was ordered Mr Young would ultimately decide to comply with the court order. A suspended committal order had been made earlier in June 2009, but this did not bring about the full disclosure needed.

Similarly well known is the matter of Prest v Petrodel. The application in this high profile case concerning enforcement is reported at Prest v Prest [2014] EWHC 3430 (Fam) and http://www.jordanpublishing.co.uk/practice-areas/family/news_and_comment/mr-prest-given-a-4-week-suspended-sentence-for-not-paying-any-lump-sum-or-maintenance#livefyre-comments, where the husband breached the financial settlement order by failing to make a lump sum payment of £17.5 million, together with periodical payments totalling nearly £300,000 a year, to his wife and their four children. The wife applied for committal by way of judgment summons and, in July 2014, the court imposed a 4-week sentence suspended for three months.

These cases show that the court takes non-compliance with court orders seriously, and that severe consequences can follow. Committal to prison is a last resort, but the court is willing in appropriate circumstances to impose such a penalty to reflect the seriousness of the contempt and to encourage compliance with the terms of the order in the future.

PracticePlus

Our new PracticePlus module: Enforcement will be invaluable for practitioners, enabling them to tackle this thorny area. The module contains 12 substantive Practice Notes which cover all major methods of enforcement, together with 2 helpful overviews to assist practitioners in identifying which method of enforcement to use when. The module incorporates the changes brought about by the introduction of Part 37 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010.

Practice Notes provide practitioners with a practical step-by-step guide to the law and procedure; a one-stop-shop for family lawyers which summarise all of the relevant legislation, rules and case law in a concise and user-friendly way, offering links to all required materials including court forms, precedents and expert commentary. They are authored and maintained by our in house PSLs. An interactive Flow Chart accompanies each Practice Note, providing a useful overview that can be printed on to one A4 page as an aide memoire.

To arrange your FREE 14-day trial to the online service or to find out how PracticePlus will benefit your day-to-day work call our account management team +44 (0)117 918 1555.

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