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Stale arrears: era of enlightenment?

Date:11 JUN 2018
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Trainee solicitor

In her article for the June 2018 of Family Law ([2018] Fam Law 707), Grace Lawrence considers the circumstances in which the courts will permit the enforcement of arrears of maintenance older than twelve months, with particular focus upon applications for leave brought pursuant to s 32 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.  She notes that historically, the rule of practice against the enforcement of 'stale arrears' has been stubbornly adhered to; the courts have tended only to depart from it where there are 'special circumstances'. However, in recent cases (including Arif v Anwar and others [2014] EWHC 4669 (Fam) and Mann v Mann [2016] EWHC 314 (Fam), [2017] 1 FLR 559) one can arguably identify a greater leniency towards, or perhaps even a readiness to enforce, ‘stale arrears’. Grace suggests that this development should be welcomed. The rule of practice against enforcement (which dates back to the days of the Ecclesiastical Courts) has potential to operate unfairly and is out of touch with modern day financial realities. 

The full version of this article appears in the June 2018 issue of Family Law

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