The inequality of civil partnerships

The first opposite-sex civil partnership was celebrated in the Isle of Man recently between Adeline Cosson and Kieran Hodgson. They said they wanted to ‘keep it simple’ rather than have a traditional wedding and that, although they do want to marry one day, it is not what they want now. Whilst the Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency, it is not part of the UK and has different laws. It is the only place in the British Isles which allows and recognises opposite-sex civil partnerships.

The right to enter into opposite-sex civil partnerships has been a hot topic since the introduction of same-sex marriage in the UK in 2014. Civil partnerships for same-sex couples were not abolished when the right to marry was legalised, so whilst same-sex couples can now choose to either marry or enter into a civil partnership, opposite-sex couples do not have the choice.

When same-sex marriage was introduced there was a campaign for a change in the law to allow heterosexual couples to enter in civil partnerships. However, despite a 2012 Government consultation in which 61% of about 200,000 respondents said civil partnerships should be available to opposite-sex couples, the Government said that a subsequent consultation led to no consensus and no change to the law was made.

It is clear that there is an appetite for a change in the law with many opposite-sex couples wanting to enter into civil partnership rather than marrying, or at least have a choice. Many feel they do not want to be labelled a ‘wife’ or ‘husband’ and feel that civil partnership reflects the equality in their relationship. The strength of feeling is so strong for some that one couple have sought a judicial review of the Governments’ decision and, whilst they lost in the High Court, the Court of Appeal is expected to hear the case in November. Another London based couple have been so determined to enter into their own civil partnership that they travelled to the Isle of Man last week to do so. This is despite the fact that their union is unlikely to be recognised in the UK.

Whatever the reason for a couple wanting to enter into a civil partnership rather than marry, from a legal perspective, there is very little difference. A civil partnership carries the same rights and responsibilities as marriage and therefore no additional rights or responsibilities will be conferred on couples who chose to marry rather than enter into a civil partnership, or vice versa if it were possible.

Ironically, perhaps the most significant difference between marriage and civil partnership is one of the bases for dissolving the union. Adultery cannot be the basis for the dissolution of a civil partnership, whereas it can be the basis for divorce in marriage (both opposite- and same-sex). If opposite-sex civil partnerships were to become legal, a question remains as to whether adultery should become a ground for dissolution of opposite-sex partnerships and same-sex partnerships. Parliament would have to consider this and in doing so it may also have the opportunity to review divorce law generally. Many family law practitioners have been advocating for years a ‘no fault’ based divorce law to avoid couples having to apportion blame or wait a number of years before divorcing. Resolution are proponents of this and intend to lobby the Government later this year.

Whatever the future holds, be that the introduction of opposite-sex civil partnership or a complete review of the divorce laws, there are clearly many issues surrounding the formation and dissolution of relationships that have still to be resolved.


Social media: anti-social, criminal but also tolerable

Where once news was obtained from the inky-print of hard copy newspapers and from cracking RP voices over the wireless, today social media is the voice that seems to shout the loudest. And in shouting loudly, or quietly, on social media, those who abuse it and infringe the rights of others may well be acting unlawfully. But when does a tweet become a criminal offence, or a blog merit a spell in prison? Continue reading

What type of parent is Rob Titchener?

Being a family lawyer can be a disadvantage when trying to enjoy a television or radio drama. Family law is easily misunderstood and its realities can get in the way of a good storyline; nobody really wants to watch reasonable and calm lawyers helping parties negotiate sensible solutions in an amicable way. Continue reading

Six points to consider before hiring a live in ‘granny sitter’

News broke over the weekend of a couple who have advertised for a live in ‘granny sitter’ to help them care for an elderly relative.  This looks like a very caring and ideal solution to looking after a relative at home rather than paying for residential care.  However, anyone thinking of taking this approach will need to be careful to avoid legal pitfalls.  Here are six points to consider when employing workers in a home setting. Continue reading

September 26 2016 Corporate News Update: Federal Court Addresses False Rule 13a-14 Certifications; Software License Sales May be Subject to UK Agency Regulations; and CFTC Signs an MOU With Mexican Authorities

by Joseph Morales

This edition of the Corporate News Roundup covers a federal court ruling that the SEC has a cause of action against CEOs and CFOs who sign a false Rule 13a-14 certification, a United Kingdom court’s decision that subjects software license sales to UK agency regulations, and the CFTC entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores and Banco de México:

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Pulling a sickie can be bad for your employment health

A website previously unbeknown to this female media lawyer at least – TheLADbible – came to my attention when one of its stories gained national tabloid currency in the tabloids this weekend. The simple tale features an employee telling his boss he couldn’t make it to the office: ‘I won’t be in today I think I’ve count (sic) kevs 24 hour bug’. The 24 hour bug, however, may in fact have been a bout of 24 hour boozing. And this was brought to the boss’s attention when he spied a pic of a rather delicate looking staff member propped against a smiling fellow reveller. Problem for our boy is that while she included the snap of her with the culprit in his cups in her Snapchat stories, she was also friends with his boss. Continue reading

September 19, 2016 Corporate News Update: SEC Penalizes Advisory Firms; NYSE Revises Equity Compensation Plan FAQs; Delaware Courts Dismiss Fiduciary Duty Claims; and Federal Court Allows Third Parties To Raise “Work for Hire” Defense

by Joseph Morales

This edition of the Corporate news roundup features penalties imposed by the SEC against multiple investment advisory firms, the NYSE revising its Equity Compensation Plan FAQs for the first time in nearly a decade, Delaware courts dismissing stockholders’ claims for post-closing damages, and a federal court’s decision that a third party has standing to raise a “work for hire” defense in connection with a copyright infringement claim:

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September 9, 2016 Corporate News Update: SEC Adopts New Rules For Investment Adviser Disclosures and Private Placement Brokers and Seeks Comments on Public Company Disclosure Requirements, FINRA Proposes Changes to Gifts and Entertainment Rules and Federal Courts Uphold Constitutionality of SEC Administrative Proceedings and Investment Adviser “Compensation” Definition

by Mark Tice

This week’s corporate news roundup includes an overview of new rules requiring investment advisers to disclose more information on Form ADV, as well as new rules easing the regulation of M&A and private placement brokers. The SEC also requested comments on Regulation S-K disclosure obligations, and FINRA proposed amendments to rules that restrict broker-dealer gifts, non-cash compensation and business entertainment. Federal courts also ruled on the constitutionality of the SEC’s administrative judge proceedings and held that commingled investor funds may be considered investment adviser “compensation” under the Investment Advisers Act:

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Trust issues

When it comes to family trusts, it is usually the beneficiaries of the trust who get all the attention, but it is the role of the trustees that interest me.

Trustees have a somewhat strange and difficult job – they own the assets held on trust but they hold them for the benefit of beneficiaries, and so have a duty to act in those beneficiaries’ best interests.  The trustees can control and manage the assets but only within the parameters of the trust.

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NED’s in firing line after collapse of BHS

The collapse of BHS led to the loss of 11,000 jobs and put 20,000 pensions at risk.  Sir Philip Green has been roundly criticised for the fact that he offloaded an ailing BHS with substantial pension deficits to a thrice bankrupt buyer with no retail experience, who ultimately drove it over a cliff.

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