Emma Hitchings appointed to Law Commission Advisory Group
5 February 2010
Dr Emma Hitchings, Senior Lecturer in the University’s School of Law, has been appointed a member of the Law Commission's Advisory Group on Marital Property Agreements.
The Advisory Group will examine the status and enforceability of agreements made between spouses or civil partners (or those contemplating marriage or civil partnership) concerning their property and finances. The project commenced in October 2009 and a consultation paper will be published in summer 2010, containing provisional proposals. Thereafter, the Law Commission will formulate final policy and prepare a report and draft Bill.
The legal recognition of marital property agreements is of great social importance. Relationship breakdown is a common occurrence and financial and property disputes between separating spouses and civil partners often lead to distress and expense for all involved. There is a view that the fact that pre-nuptial agreements are not currently binding may deter people from marrying or entering into civil partnerships in some cases. The issue may be of particular importance to those who have experienced divorce and wish to protect their assets, however extensive, from a future claim for ancillary relief. It may also be crucial for couples who have entered into marital property agreements in jurisdictions in which such agreements are enforceable.
Dr Hitchings joined the University of Bristol in 2001 and became a senior lecturer in 2007. Since 2003, she has been the case commentaries editor for the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, and in 2007 was appointed to serve as the academic member on the Family Law Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales. Her main research interests lie in the field of family law, although she had been involved in research projects on how judges exercise their discretion in cases where social landlords seek possession against their tenants on the ground of rent arrears and on family solicitors' responses to the impact of leading ancillary relief jurisprudence in the 'everyday case'.
For further information on the Marital Property Agreements project, visit the Law Commission website.