On Thursday last week the Law Commission published its report on the enforcement of family financial orders. The commission took issue with how difficult it is in the current system to recover money owed in financial orders, finding both the complexity of the regulations and the limitations on the family courts to be at fault.
The report’s recommendations included improving accessibility by consolidating procedural rules and offering more guidance to litigants. It also recommended expanding the means and reach of the family courts, including providing the courts with wide powers to obtain information from third parties, and extending their methods of enforcement to assets including funds held in a joint account and against pension assets.
The report also recommended stricter punishments for debtors who are able but refuse to pay, including the powers to disqualify driving licenses and passports until the judgment debt is settled.
Vardags’ Senior Associate Naomi Rainey sat on the panel advising the commission and was fully supportive of the report’s findings:
If implemented the recommendations should make a real difference for those who are struggling to enforce financial orders. The advisory group worked hard with the commission to examine the problems with the current legislation. Solicitors, debt advisors and judges all discussed their experiences in an effort to find neat and practical solutions. I feel strongly that the penalties for non-compliance should be much stricter and whole heartedly support the Law Commission’s recommendations. It is completely unacceptable for someone to be ordered to make a payment and then fail to pay.
The report’s recommendations of wide-ranging reform will be welcome to the family courts for whom non-compliant litigants are something of a bugbear, threatening to undermine the justice system and denying claimants their fair share.
You can read the full report here.