If the United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union this month it could cause “disruption and confusion” in family law, the Bar Council has suggested.
In a three-part report on the possible consequences of the upcoming referendum the Council claimed that membership of the EU has had “a significant impact” on family law matters which they considered beneficial.
Having “uniform jurisdictional rules in all or most Member States for divorce proceedings and for maintenance proceedings” was an obvious advantage, the report read. It was also positive to have “a system of summary enforcement in the courts of all Member States” in matters of maintenance regulation and contact between parents and children.
EU membership has allowed Britain to “pick and choose” which measures it wishes to adopt, the Council claimed, and those which have been adopted are “generally seen as useful by practitioners in the field”.
If the British public votes to leave it “could be particularly problematic”, especially since “the availability of legal aid has been greatly reduced”, something which has caused “a real increase of litigants who do not have the benefit of legal advice or representation”. The fact that “the family courts are undergoing or adjusting to, major structural changes” could also make the transition more difficult, the report read.
Chairman of the Bar Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said that there had been “a lot of political wrangling over the referendum on EU membership” and that this report was designed to offer a “neutral legal and constitutional analysis of the various options”.
The Bar Council represents barristers across England and Wales. Read their EU report here.