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The implications of a 'Hard' Brexit

Will we witness a 'hard' exit from the EU? Or will Britain go softly, softly?
Now seems to be the time to get thoughtful about the potential implications of the UK voting to leave the EU.  There could be significant repercussions for the way in which commercial counterparties within the European Union choose to contract with each other and for their ability to resolve international disputes. 

In January 2017, the House of Lords’ EU Justice Sub-Committee will hear evidence from two senior UK Judges on the significance of EU legislation designed to facilitate cross-border civil disputes.  However, it cannot be avoided that there is the smell of uncertainty about the detail of the consequences for us for ending the UK/EU relationship, if it ends hard.

For Contracts

At present, EU legislation protects parties’ abilities to choose what governing law there should be for their contractual relationships and the ability to choose forms a fundamental freedom offered by English law.

The current EU framework applicable to contractual and non-contractual obligations is enshrined in the Rome I and Rome II Regulations, respectively. 

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a decision could be taken to leave the rules as set out in the above regulations intact after Brexit.  A possible consequence being that the English Courts would be the final arbiter of how the rules are applied - ultimately a job reserved for the European Court of Justice as things stand.  If that were to happen, then nothing immediate would change, but it is possible that the interpretation of the two regulations could start to differ between the UK and the remaining EU member states over time. 

If the Rome I and Rome II Regulations were no longer to apply following Brexit, then it is possible that the UK would revert back to the rules in force before those regulations became law.  As such, in regards to contractual obligations, the Rome Convention; which applied to the law governing contracts made between April 1991 and 17 December 2009 could apply, which, of itself, would not materially alter the present position as we know it. However, in regard to non-contractual obligations, the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 - which is a regime which is unlike to Rome II - could operate so that the parties would not have an express right to choose the law applicable to non-contractual relations between them. 

However, it’s anticipated that when the UK eventually leaves the EU, the courts of EU member states will continue to respect the parties’ choice as to governing law as before; so that on choosing English law the parties to a contract will still enjoy an application of the rules set out in Rome I and II.

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Partner advises on strategic best practice

Alembic Strategy was delighted to be joined by Catherine Polli for a webinar on strategic planning at the Law Society.

Alembic Strategy was delighted to be joined by Catherine Polli, a Partner at Pinney Talfourd for the second webinar in a series of three at the Law Society. These were aimed at helping Lexcel firms respond effectively to the strategic planning component on the Lexcel Standard (v6).

Catherine explained how the use of strategic planning has been crucial in driving growth and performance over that past few years at Pinney Talfourd. The strategic planning process is driven by the 2020 Business Plan which covers all aspects of the firm’s growth up to 2020, from the number of partners and fee earners, the culture of the firm and fee income growth, with an emphasis on staff focused objectives to allow everyone to play a role in achieving goals set. Good communication of this plan is vital in achieving it.

This strategic planning was proven very effective and Pinney Talfourd has just been recommended in an outstanding ten categories by Legal 500 UK 2016. We are also shortlisted for the Private Client Practice Award at the Law Society’s Legal Excellence Awards.

More Information

If you would like more information please contact us on 01708 229444  (Upminster or Hornchurch), 01277 211755 (Brentwood office) or 01702 418433 (Leigh-on-Sea). 


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Family lawyers set to lobby Parliament

Members of Resolution plan to lobby Parliament on 30th November 2016 to raise awareness of numerous issues within family law.

Resolution is an organisation of 6,500 members, mainly family lawyers but also other professionals in England and Wales who are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. Resolution members promote a sensitive and cost-effective approach to resolving family disputes. The members are trained to come up with solutions that consider the needs of the whole family and resolve the dispute in the least acrimonious way.

The current chair of the organisation is arranging an event for all members to attend at Westminster to lobby Parliament for the day. The lobby day is planned to take place on 30th November 2016 and Resolution are calling for all members country-wide to pledge their support and attend.

The organisation’s aim is to raise awareness of the current issues in family law that Resolution feel need to be addressed by the government. Resolution have for some time been calling for change in the legislation of a number of areas such as; the introduction of no fault divorce, access to justice for vulnerable people and better rights for cohabiting couples.

The lobby day will give members the opportunity to meet with MPs and discuss the issues in detail and hopefully influence the government’s decision to make the policies that Resolution feel are required to move family law forward.

The family lawyers here at Pinney Talfourd are members of Resolution and plan to support their organisation and take part in the lobby day.

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Not such a quicky divorce? Here's why...

The idea of a quick divorce is a thing of the past with the introduction of a new system that can't cope with demand, says family law Partner Catherine Loadman.

In June 2015 the Government set up 11 divorce centres across England and Wales to deal with the issue and administration of new divorces. For London and the South East, a huge geographical area, all divorces begin in Bury St Edmunds divorce centre rather than the local family court. It was thought that, once up and running Bury St Edmunds would deal with 40% of the divorce work in England and Wales.

12 months on, the first statistics have been published and they make worrying reading - indicating that the number of divorces issued in the last 12 months far exceeds the levels that were anticipated or planned for.

By way of example, every day they receive;

  • 250 -300 new divorce petitions
  • 1200 items of post
  • 700 phone calls

It is anticipated the Bury St Edmunds are likely to be issuing between 40,000 to 45,000 new divorce petitions in the 12 months it has been open.

In the wake of these figures, Resolution, the national organisation for family lawyers has stated that the divorce centres are under “significant strain”. 

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School holidays cause stress for separated parents

School holidays for separated parents are not always plain sailing. Courts and law firms see a huge rise in children related enquiries in holidays. 

As the summer holidays were heating up so were disputes between separated parents. September is set to be a busy month for new children matters being issued at the court with the school summer holidays kicking up all kinds of disputes.

Parents often find school holidays, whether it is Summer, Easter or Christmas the most difficult times of the year. During the long summer break parents find themselves arguing about when and for how long each of them should spend with the children and whether or not either parent can travel abroad with their children for the purpose of a holiday.

Despite the court rule changes in 2014 requiring that disputing parents attend mediation prior to issuing any court application, save for urgent or exempt applications, the stats from the Court advisory service (CAFCASS) show that parental disputes are still on the rise.

In July 2016, CAFCASS received 3,468 new cases and the number of new cases received in the first quarter of the current financial year is up by nearly 10% compared to last year. August figures will no doubt be just as high.

Our family law specialists are trained to advise and assist parents in these situations to resolve matters, whether that be by way of negotiation or via the court. The team includes members of the Law Society’s Family Panel and Advanced Family Panel, accredited Resolution specialists and Collaborative Family Lawyers.

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California Dreamin’ - no fault divorce

Sebastian Burrows explains why Resolution is leading the fight for no-fault divorces to be reinstated on the statute books in the Californian irreconcilable differences model.


Time flies. 20 years have passed since a no-fault route to divorce landed on the statute books and was then promptly removed. While divorce is possible after 2 years separation – without blame – there is still the wait. 2 years is a long limbo period. 

Urban myth is rife in the law. The notion of Common Law spouses is just such an example that often requires us to deliver hard advice to clients who have held that belief, often for decades. So too the idea that a couple can divorce on the basis that they simply have irreconcilable differences. We all know what that means, we think, but tough; we can’t use it.

If we can marry without too much trouble while in the delight of love and romance, why can’t it be undone just as simply if the love goes? Financial security is the main answer. The law is there to ensure financial security for a divorcing couple. But is the idea that dissolving a marriage with less distress, exposes people to financial risk? No. The hurdle is the law striking a balance between the religious significance of marriage and ensuring human compassion.

English law is a finely tuned, ever developing machine. But in the field of divorce, it would seem that an increasingly secular society and family is developing faster and we are dealing with outdated technology that risks causing serious animosity between a couple when what they want is help, not (more) heartache.

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