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President of Family Division backs no fault divorce

Sir Nicholas Wall tells Resolution Conference of his concerns over legal aid cuts

The President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, used his keynote speech to the Resolution Conference to support its call for the introduction of no fault divorce.

In a speech to 300 delegates in Leeds, Sir Nicholas said:

"My position is very simple. I am a strong believer in marriage. But I see no good arguments against no fault divorce. At the moment, as it seems to me we have a system – so far as divorce itself is concerned – which is in fact administrative, but which masquerades as judicial. ....  In the nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth, divorce was a matter of social status – it mattered whether you were divorced or not, and if you were, it was important to demonstrate that you were the "innocent" party. All that, I think, has gone."

In a wide-ranging speech, the President expressed concern over Legal Aid cuts and their consequences, in particular, the expected increase in cases involving self-representing litigants. Acknowledging that MIAMs were not working as they should in parts of the country, he said: "What I fear .... is that mediation and even ADR will be for the few, and that most SRLs will litigate." He added: "Cases will take longer and become more difficult."

Sir Nicholas praised the work of Resolution and its members saying:

"I salute you not just because you embody the highest standards of your profession – not just for the innovations you have brought to the practice of family law but also for the fact that you provide sound, sensible and realistic advice to and (where necessary) advocacy for your clients."

The speech can be read in full here.