Out with the Old and in with the New!

Next week sees the coming into force of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.  On 16th December 2014 same sex couples will be allowed to marry in Scotland for the first time.  Given the formalities which require to take place before a marriage ceremony can be conducted, the first same-sex marriages will not take place until 31st December 2014.  This will indeed be a happy new year for some!

People in same-sex relationships will now be able to decide if they wish to cohabit, enter into a civil partnership, or enter into marriage.  I am sure it will not be long until some opposite sex couples decide they wish to enter into a  civil partnership! I am for equality, absolutely 100%, but time will tell if the institution of “civil partnership” will stand the test of time, if it will evolve to include heterosexual couples, or if it will be effectively phased out over many years to come.

If you are already in a civil partnership, this civil partnership can effectively be converted into a marriage. It can also be backdated to the date of the civil partnership, either by having a marriage ceremony if you so desire, or simply meeting with the registrar in the appropriate registration district.  This seems a very straight forward and sensible approach if civil partners, previously denied the right to marriage, wish to have the same legal rights and “status” as opposite sex couples.

Congratulations to the new Mr and Mr, and Mrs and Mrs of 2015!


Arbitration for family law – YES!

Shona Templeton in our firm is one of only 29 lawyers in Scotland accredited as an Arbitrator in Scotland. She is a member of the FLAGS organisation (Family Law Arbitration Group Scotland). Details are on the website at www.flagscotland.com.  Shona was recently asked to speak at a conference to other solicitors about the usefulness of arbitration in family law.  It is somewhat bizarre that this method of resolving disputes has not been adopted by family lawyers.  There are however clear advantages for arbitration over other forms of dispute resolution and in particular litigation which has financial and emotional cost.

Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes that does not require parties going to court.  The arbitration process is flexible and can resolve full issues surrounding separation and divorce or indeed is appropriate to address single issues, which are causing a negotiation to falter., for example, disputes over the date of separation or disputes over the value of matrimonial property.  The benefits of arbitration are that it is an adversarial, yet inquisitorial process that has many advantages to a client.  In particular, it is quicker and operates to a fixed time table that is set by the parties and the arbitrator. This means that the process is not open ended and subject to a court time table.

  • The process is confidential which can be a significant benefit to clients of high net worth, who do not wish their business interests to be discussed in open court.
  • The process may be cheaper as the arbitrator will work with the parties to determine what is the appropriate method for the process and can focus the parties to provide relevant information to the issues in dispute.
  • The arbitrator has considerable discretion to tailor the process to the nature of the particular dispute.
  • All of the arbitrators are trained or experienced family lawyers and accredited specialists.  They are experts in their field and can be chosen to address particular disputes that the parties need to address.

Shona is happy to discuss with all of her clients the use of arbitration as a method of resolving disputes and is also able to sit as an arbitrator to resolve the disputes of other parties.