Monday, September 19, 2005

Legal reforms sought to tackle divorce case surge

Cause for social concern – Neish

Judges and lawyers are pressing to bring about reforms in the way matrimonial disputes are dealt with in Gibraltar.

Their aim is to reduce the “sting” in these proceedings for all involved as well as to reduce the legal aid bill.

Chief Justice Derek Schofield said at Friday’s Opening of the Legal Year that Gibraltar’s Matrimonial Causes Rules are being overhauled but that this had proved more difficult than anticipated. He said that the Judiciary joins in the Government’s concern over the legal aid bill, much of which is spent on matrimonial cases. He believes this will be reduced.

Mr Justice Schofield said that under existing rules the judges become seized of questions relating to the children when proceedings are quite advanced and much venom has been exchanged between the parties.

“The new procedures will be designed to get the judges involved at an early stage with a view to taking as much sting out of the divorce as possible.”

The Chairman of the Bar Council, James Neish also commented that the increase in matrimonial cases must be a cause for social concern and that from a legal perspective, the present adversarial system of deciding matrimonial disputes only results in making situations worse, and “should be replaced by a more constructive system which minimises confrontation, costs and emotional turmoil.”

Related Article:

17 September 2005 - Chief Justice hammers home case for enshrined judicial independence


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