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St John’s Chambers Annual One Day Money Conference

Date:9 MAR 2016

At St John’s Chambers Annual One Day Money conference family lawyers gathered to hear expert speakers on a full range of family finance topics.

Christopher Sharp QC led with a review of robust costs decisions in recent financial remedy cases. He noted the increasing judicial displeasure at high costs in big money cases and warned that the reality is that this displeasure will filter down to the more everyday cases, with cost capping becoming more common. On the topic of whether there is an appetite for the return of Calderbank around a third of the conference delegates would vote to reintroduce Calderbank in financial remedy cases. The issue of whether Calderbank should be reintroduced is covered in Calderback to the future [2015] Fam Law 1498 and here. See also Christopher Sharp’s ‘A review of financial remedy cases (October 2015 to February 2016)’.

The next topic was contributions arguments in financial remedy cases, presented by Richard Norman. He looked at the relationship between needs and contributions and the conflicting case law around the topic of matrimonial/non matrimonial property. He also discussed stellar contributions and post-separation accrual in a thorough and interesting presentation.

Zoe Saunders was up next, talking about how to enforce family finance orders. She covered all the available options and gave helpful tips about which methods would be useful in which situations. Her notes also provided useful summaries of the procedures to follow in what can be a complex area of law.

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For the Financial Remedy Update slot, Jody Atkinson did a fine job of making a talk about pensions fun, taking the delegates through the changes to state pension from 6 April 2016 and the implications for family lawyers. His talk included a discussion of the Family Law article ‘Apples or Pears? Pension Offsetting on Divorce’ [2015] Fam Law 1485 and an analysis of the recent pension offsetting case WS v WS [2015] EWHC 3941 (Fam) (see also Gwyn Evans’ article – Pension offsetting: a question for the Family Court, or for an actuary?).

Nick Miller explored the opportunities and threats created by the FPR 2010, warning that whilst once upon a time procedural defects might have been overlooked, that is increasingly no longer the case. He covered seven areas, some pitfalls, some useful-to-know tools contained in the FPR 2010, together with the accompanying case law.

Nick’s valuable presentation was followed by Claire McRea, a chartered tax adviser for Grant Thornton, who covered the tax implications of relationship breakdown, focusing particularly on family businesses.

To finish off the conference Andrew Commins, a contributor to the Red Book, delivered an engaging and informative talk on ToLATA, with an interactive quiz on inference and imputation, and a run through of the relevant case law in this area, including the recent case of Barnes v Phillips [2015] EWCA Civ 1056.

A very enjoyable day of family law, made all the better for the cracking view of Bristol harbour in the sunshine.