In the recent case of WC v HC (Financial Remedies Agreement) Mr Justice Peel reinforces the messages that Judges have been consistently giving over the last 12 months about statements in family proceedings and case management generally.
Whilst it may be difficult to resist - parties in litigation should think carefully before making inflammatory or unnecessary comments about their spouse. It is clear that Judges find this approach unhelpful, particularly in financial remedy cases. It can also lead to important evidential points being lost to a Judge so rarely serves the client well.
Mr Justice Peel is also critical of an attempt to dodge the President's recent guidance on case management and indeed the page limit set for the section 25 statement at the pre-trial review. Family law solicitors will also no doubt be pleased to see the Judge's displeasure at lengthy documents being sent the working day before the start of the final hearing. Careful thought should be given at pre-trial review or when agreeing directions at any stage of proceedings on the required length of statements and the time by which all evidence should be filed and served to allow proper preparation.
It will be interesting to see how the conduct of litigation changes in light of these rules and the extent to which Judges will enforce them. Ultimately cost sanctions may be the most powerful deterrent and this may help solicitors give robust advice to clients.