Conference updates from Margaret Kelly – Consultant Solicitor (Part 1/2)

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October has certainly been conference month for Margaret Kelly, Consultant Solicitor at Josiah-Lake Gardiner.

Here, she offers her reporting:

First Stop Brisbane Australia

As a solicitor qualified in both the UK and Australia I belong to a group of dual qualified solicitors based in the UK and Australia called the Anglo Australian Family Law Association.  The contingent based in London meet monthly. Members from outside London and Australia will join our meetings when they are in town.

I was delighted when we were invited to make a presentation at the 18th National Family Law Conference in Brisbane in October 2018.

As outcomes for parties can be markedly different depending on whether a case takes place in the UK or in Australia, we decided to call our talk “We speak the same language but say different things”

A great deal of work and discussion (across time zones) resulted in a group of 9, 5 based in the UK and 4 in Australia speaking at the conference to an audience of about 80 lawyers.  There was an enormous amount to cover in one hour, but we managed it – just!

We opened with a quick whistle stop tour through the differences in each jurisdiction in respect of the disclosure of information and documentation in financial remedy proceedings.  Whilst both Australia and the UK have robust ways of ensuring full disclosure, in the UK we tend to require the party to do this with the threat of being sent to prison if they do not, but in Australia the approach is to contact third parties such as banks with an order requiring them to produce documents.

Members of the panel then looked at the differences between the approach in the UK and Australia in the following three key areas:

  • the sale of the family home – even where there are children it is likely that in Australia an order for sale will be made immediately and not deferred as it would in the UK.
  • spousal maintenance after divorce – in Australia, the spouse with the lower income is only likely to receive modest payments for a very limited period.  In the UK, maintenance is likely to be more generous and for a longer period (although the courts in the UK are moving towards the Australian approach and limiting the period of time that maintenance will be paid for).
  • Time limits on issuing financial proceedings after a divorce – the general rule in Australia is that if you don’t make an application within 12 months of the divorce being finalised you need the court’s permission to issue. In contrast, in the UK you will only be debarred from making an application if you have remarried (the Supreme Court in the UK recently deciding that a period of 31 years between the divorce being finalised and an application was not too long!).

To conclude, if you have ties to both the UK and Australia and think that you may have a choice as to which jurisdiction to pursue your case in, please feel free to contact Margaret (margaret@j-lg.com / 020 3709 8975) for an informal no obligation chat.