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Enforceability of 'pre-nups' to be examined by Law Commission

Date:13 JUN 2008

The Law Commission has revealed its plans for the future with the publication of its Tenth Programme of Law Reform.

As part of a series of changes, the Law Commission will examine the status and enforceability of marital property and finance agreements made either before or during the course of marriage or civil partnership.

The Law Commission says that the legal recognition of marital property agreements is of great social importance. It says that the fact that pre-nuptial agreements are not currently binding may deter people from marrying or entering into civil partnerships in some cases.

The Commission will also examine the Intestate Succession and the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This will involve a general review of the law of intestacy and the 1975 Act.

The consideration of intestacy would entail a review of the current rules governing the inheritance of assets where a person dies without leaving a will which disposes of the entirety of his or her estate.

Aspects of the current law that are likely to be examined include the entitlements of different members of the deceased's family, the role of the statutory legacy, the effect of other gifts by the deceased (the "rules of hotchpot"), the rules of bona vacantia and the relevance of various factors not taken into account by the current rules. The review of the 1975 Act will address the classes of person eligible to apply under the Act, the remedies available and the procedure governing the making of applications.

Sir Terence Etherton, Chairman of the Law Commission, said: "We are embarking on many new and complex projects in our Tenth Programme and there has never been a better time to embrace these challenges."

The reform programme is the result of over a year of consultation, including an online web forum where the public could debate law reform with the Commission.

For a copy of the report, visit the The Law Commission's website: www.lawcom.gov.uk .