Baroness Hale, a member of the UK Supreme Court, has called for cohabiting couples in England and Wales to be given the same legal protection as those in Scotland.
The judge is an admirer of the Scottish law that prevents couples who are unmarried from missing out on the financial and legal benefits of matrimony.
Baroness Hale made the remarks after the Supreme Court recently upheld a ruling by the Edinburgh Court of Session and ordered a man to pay his former cohabiting partner nearly £40,000 after their relationship broke down.
According the Baroness Hale the Scottish law was “both practicable and fair”.
“It does not impose upon unmarried couples the responsibilities of marriage but redresses the gains and losses flowing from their relationship,” she added.The right to compensation was introduced for unmarried couples in Scotland under section eight of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006.
Ministers in Westminster have delayed implementation of reform in England and Wales, which has been recommended by the Law Commission.
With figures revealing that the number of couples cohabiting has nearly doubled in the past seven years, Baroness Hale isn’t the only advocate for a change to English law.
John Randle, partner at UK law firm Lester Aldridge backed the Baroness saying the law in England and Wales “invariably prejudices women who, in the majority of families, care for the parties’ children whilst the man has forged ahead in his career.”
“Under Scottish law cohabitants can apply to the court for financial provision on relationship breakdown to include compensation for the party who has suffered economic disadvantage,” he added.
“The law in England has been changed to provide fairness when civil partners separate. It is now high time that English law should be changed by Parliament to provide a remedy that is practicable and fair for unmarried couples. Such a change would not in any way undermine marriage; rather it would bring our law up to date and not before time.”