The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Ayr solicitor Lauren Fowler welcomes Supreme Court judgement concerning co-habitees

Leading Ayrshire family lawyer Lauren Fowler has welcomed a judgment of the Supreme Court which clarifies the law regarding financial settlement between former co-habitees on the ending of their relationship for reasons other than one or both of their deaths.

The Supreme Court judgement in the case of Gow v. Grant establishes the right of the courts to rectify any financial loss or disadvantage suffered by one party in a live-in relationship that breaks down.

[Pictured: Lauren Fowler, partner at Frazer Coogans Solicitors. Lauren welcomed the Supreme Court judgement saying: “I welcome this judgement, which brings long-awaited and much needed clarity to the legal position of former co-habitees.” Further comment below.]

The appellant in the case of Gow v. Grant, Mrs Gow, was seeking to overturn the decision of the Inner House from March 2011.  The case concerned section 28 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 which provides for cohabitants to seek orders for financial provision following the end of a relationship. The Inner House set out a restrictive approach to the interpretation of section 28.  This had the effect, potentially, of making it more difficult for a former cohabitant to pursue a claim.  It was particularly difficult for an applicant claiming to have suffered an economic disadvantage in the interest of the other party.

The arguments for the appellant were that section 28 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 should be given a less restrictive interpretation. It was not just a statutory form of unjustified enrichment, and where an award depended on showing an economic disadvantage being in the “interests” of the other party that did not mean it had to occur solely in the interests of that party. There was no requirement for there to have been an intention to benefit the other party and equally there was no requirement to establish an actual financial benefit to that party.

It was sufficient in this case that Mrs Gow had given up her home in the interests of her relationship with Mr Grant.  She was entitled to fair compensation for the economic disadvantage she had suffered.  The extent of the award was a matter for the exercise of the sheriff’s discretion.

The Supreme Court have overturned the decision of the Inner House and reinstated the award made in favour of Mrs Gow, by the sheriff at first instance.

Lauren Fowler, a partner in Ayr-based Frazer Coogans Solicitors, commented: “I welcome this judgement, which brings long-awaited and much needed clarity to the legal position of former co-habitees.

“Scottish law does not equate cohabitation with marriage. Rather it gives a limited form of remedy for economic imbalance arising out of the breakdown of a relationship between cohabiting partners. Until now its impact has been narrowly interpreted by the Scottish courts, but this judgement in the case of Gow v Grant should result in more equitable outcomes being achieved more easily in future in this type of domestic dispute.”

Lauren Fowler

Lauren Fowler joined the firm of Frazer Coogans Solicitors in 1998 and is a highly respected family solicitor and Court practitioner in Ayrshire. She holds an Accreditation from the Law Society of Scotland as an accredited specialist in both Family Law and Child Law. Having been in practice since 1988 she deals with all aspects of Court work including family law, civil and criminal court.

Her particular expertise is in Family and Child law dealing with Divorce, Separation and the resolution of family issues. She has been appointed a Safeguarder by the Local Authority in relation to Child Law Matters.

Frazer Coogans Solicitors

Frazer Coogans was originally established in Ayr in 1985. In 1995, the current Senior Director, Norman Geddes, took over the firm. From humble beginnings, Norman Geddes led Frazer Coogans into rapid expansion to be one of the leading and most respected law firms in Ayrshire.

In 2003, Frazer Coogans successfully attained “Investors in People” standard and has since retained this standard. The firm is very proactive in encouraging secretarial staff to advance their roles within the firm and develop within their specialist area. Frazer Coogans now has trained paralegals supporting the solicitors in every department. Experienced and well trained staff are the cornerstone of any business. By encouraging staff to gain their full potential, the firm aims to maximise the talent of the staff, and as a result Frazer Coogans aims to provide a first-class legal service to all clients on all levels.

Frazer Coogans Solicitors
Dalblair House
46 Dalblair Road

Contact: Norman Geddes, Senior Partner
Tel: 01292 280499
Fax: 01292 611645

Frazer Coogans Solicitors is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


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