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Changes on the Horizon?

Dec 1st, 2017

Natalie Wiles, Chartered Legal Executive – Associate

This week has highlighted how society is rapidly changing and the modern family is becoming much more diverse. As cohabiting couples are now the second largest household in the UK, it is vital that laws are modernised to protect couples and their assets.

This week, Jakki Smith won a landmark battle for greater legal recognition for bereaved couples. Her partner of 16 years, John Bulloch, died after contracting an infection as a result of negligence following surgery in 2011. Jakki would have been paid £12,980 had she been married to John but unfortunately the same rules do not apply to unmarried partners. After having fought a long legal battle to challenge this decision, the Court of Appeal have allowed her challenge against a High Court ruling dismissing her claim.

Her legal team argued that the law as it currently stands is a breach of human rights and that it was also discrimination because of her unmarried status.

The landmark ruling has further put pressure on parliament to recognise such relationships and to modernise the law in this regard. Resolution, a family law organisation, are currently campaigning for change to the law in respect of unmarried couples.

Natalie Wiles says “Many cohabiting couples, like Jakki and John, do not realise that they do not have the same rights as married couples. Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing household in the UK and the law desperately needs modernising to properly consider these issues.

This decision brings hope for all unmarried couples that there will be a better way forward in the future.”

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