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Lib Dem Conference calls for enforceable rights for cohabitants

Conference seeks legislation based on Law Commission’s proposals

The Liberal Democrat Conference has passed a motion which calls for "the implementation without delay of proposals giving cohabiting couples fair and reasonable redress upon relationship breakdown and upon intestacy, based upon the proposals made in the Law Commission's 2007 and 2011 reports." It is now official Lib Dem policy.

Welcoming this "landmark vote by one of the coalition parties", Tony Roe of Tony Roe Solicitors, commented:

"The Law Commission published its report, "Cohabitation: the financial consequences of relationship breakdown", on 31 July 2007 but no action was taken by the previous Government which wanted to wait for the outcome of research on new legislation in Scotland. The Commission's report made recommendations regarding the law as it affects cohabitants' property and finances when their relationships end, whether by separation or by death.

"Many still think, wrongly, that they have 'common law rights'. Common law marriage has not existed in England since the eighteenth century."

Mr Roe added:

"National statistics show there were 5.9m people cohabiting in the UK in 2012, up from 2.9m in 1996."

Resolution has reported a survey of Members of Parliament which has revealed that 69% of parliamentarians agree there is a mistaken belief in the existence of "common law marriage" among their constituents, and that 57% believe the law needs to be changed to provide greater protection for unmarried couples upon separation.

17/9/13