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LexisNexis, 11 FEB 2019

Nigel Dyer QC's take on divorce in the Supreme Court

Nigel Dyer QC's take on divorce in the Supreme Court

Durham Law School recently hosted leading family law silk Nigel Dyer QC - from 1 Hare Court - who offered his reflections on this significant case of Owens v Owens.

In July 2018 the U.K. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in Owens v Owens [2018] UKSC 41. Attracting extensive media coverage, the judgment saw the Justices unanimously refuse to grant a divorce to Mrs Owens who petitioned on the basis that her husband’s behaviour was such that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him.


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Nigel represented the husband in Owens and, drawing upon his extensive expertise in this area, situated his analysis of that case within the broader landscape of divorce reform. 

Noting that Owens represents a catalyst for reform, Nigel analysed the complexities of rare defended petitions and the often-misunderstood application of the ‘unreasonable behaviour’ fact. He also questioned why Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing the right to respect to private and family life, was under-explored.

Nigel’s presentation was followed by an informative talk by fellow 1 Hare Court barrister, Joshua Viney, who provided advice on securing pupillage and building a successful practice at the family Bar. His reflections on practising family law were incredibly useful for students currently considering that career path.

This was a lively and engaging event on a topical family law issue. Both speakers demystified the process of divorce and offered the audience a unique insight into a key Supreme Court decision. The event was coordinated by Dr Andy Hayward, module convenor for the Law of Family Relationships course at Durham Law School.

Dr Andy Hayward - Assistant Professor in Family Law, Durham Law School