Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
Reported by Anna Flaherty
Update on divorce law: no-fault and digital divorce
Recently, the Nuffield Foundation, having studied nearly 500 divorces, found that many “defended cases are triggered by the law itself” and that the current state of the law ‘is forcing separating couples into unnecessary and unsuccessful courtroom battles’. Divorce on the basis of fault, though it arguably deters divorce and reflects the nature of many separations, is no longer deemed to accurately reflect the social realities of family life. It has been found that many couples lie in order to obtain an earlier divorce, without having to wait 2 years to apply for no-fault divorce. Divorce based on fault also promotes bitterness between the parties, and generally humiliation. Considering the recent move of family law to encourage families to settle disputes outside of court (through alternative dispute resolution), which involves a degree of cooperation, divorce based on fault would seem to undermine this goal. The recent findings of the Nuffield Foundation highlights the consequences of these issues. This report comes in the run-up to the Supreme Court case of Owens v Owens; a case in which the Court of Appeal found that there had indeed been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage, but that the court could not grant the divorce, due to argument based on the husband’s behaviour being too flimsy. The Court of Appeal recognised the need for no-fault divorce. The Supreme Court judgment, if it favours no-fault divorce, will likely lead to a reform in the law.
In other news, as a result of a successful pilot, the Ministry of Justice has launched the digital divorce scheme nationwide. This will make divorce proceedings easier, and more accessible for users (click here for more).
Reported by Paige Waters
Wrongful convictions seeking compensation
Sam Hallam has wrongfully served seven years for murder, as well as Victor Nealon spending seventeen years for attempted rape. Although they have been released from the wrongful imprisonment, both men are yet to receive an apology or compensation.
Hallam was released in 2012 after spending seven years in prison when he was only 17. The charge of murder followed when it was believed he had participated in a gang fight which resulted in one man dying. The original trial is said to have heard conflicting testimonies from witnesses, with evidence also not being examined to prove his alibi.
Nealon was released in 2014. This wrongful conviction was only discovered years later when the Court of Appeal overturned the conviction which found that fresh DNA evidence indicated someone else was the attacker. Nealon spent such a long time in prison and was not released early on parole as he refused to accept his guilt.
They are seeking to receive compensation, therefore, their claims have now become before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court are examining the fairness of the criminal justice system by examining the term “innocent until proven guilty” under the Human Rights Act.
Hallam has commented on the matter, stating, “Money cannot make up for what happened. It is more about recognising the harm done.”
Read more at The Guardian.
Government defeated in the House of Lords on vote over the Single Market
Reported by Nathan Gore
MPs will now likely have a vote on whether or not to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA) – a less strict version of the single market, after a dramatic defeat for Theresa May’s government in the House of Lords. Labour peers defied the party whip in order to back an amendment to the ‘Brexit Bill’, which makes remaining in the EEA a Brexit negotiating objective for the government.
In total, 83 Labour peers defied their party whip, including a former party leader Lord Kinnock, many former ministers and a former chief whip. 17 Conservative peers also backed the amendment. The amendment was backed by a cross-party group led by Waheed Alli for Labour, and included the Conservative peer Sandip Verma and the crossbench peer Karan Bilimoria. Lord Alli stated: “It is the EEA that deals with services, services like retail, tourism, transport, communications, financial services and aerospace [… ] and without an EEA equivalent it will damage our profitable export business and therefore the jobs and livelihoods of many thousands of people. It’s for that reason that we need to ensure that any continuation of the customs union must include a continuation in the EEA or its equivalent.”
It was the third defeat of the afternoon for the government, during a day in which Boris Johnson called the prime minister’s proposal for a customs partnership “crazy”, in an interview with the Daily Mail. All the amendments to this ‘Brexit Bill’ that have been passed in the Lords will have to be considered, and voted on by MPs when the bill returns to the Commons, likely to be sometime next week.