This is a book review written by Zoë Saunders, barrister at St John's Chambers. Zoë has extensive experience of cohabitation disputes involving ToLATA and Applications under Schedule 1 of the Children Act, as well as financial remedy cases involving multiple properties, trusts of land, complex pensions and insolvency. Find Zoë on twitter : @zasaunders
Cohabitation Claims – Law, Practice and Procedure (2nd edition)
By John Wilson QC 1 Hare Court
A good book dealing with cohabitation disputes has been a real gap in the market, in particular as more and more couples are choosing to live together without getting married, often having children and pooling resources without any legal advice as to the potential consequences of what they are doing.
I must admit I have been holding off on reviewing this book as I had been waiting for something bad to say about it. The most that I can manage is that when a particularly complex issue about a Quistclose* trust arose in one of my cases I had to ditch this book in favour of Lewin on Trusts; which is hardly fair criticism!
This is a really useful, thorough guide to pretty much any issue that would arise in 90% of cohabitation disputes. On an initial skim read the level of detail can seem intimidating, but it is actually written in a very straightforward way and makes these kind of disputes as accessible as they can be made in one simple book.
The book covers many varied aspects of cohabitation disputes, not just the usual suspects like establishing the existence of beneficial interests but other side-issues which often arise like bankruptcy, sham trusts and illegality, Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, etc.
It also has helpful chapters on the Civil Procedure Rules, tips on issuing and defending proceedings, costs and Part 36 offers, precedents and even advice on dealing with the client (always handy!).
If really pushed to find something to criticise I would only be able to point to the fact that as the case-law and procedure under the CPR is subject to seemingly constant revision, particularly at the moment, a book like this becomes out of date as soon as it is published and a loose leaf format would go a long way to ensuring that the pit-traps of the CPR are easier to avoid. That said, this book provides a really good starting point to all those potential problems.
It is clearly written with lawyers (maybe even family lawyers) in mind and I think it will come in really handy for any solicitor (or barrister) who is finding themselves increasingly asked to stray into the unfamiliar territory of civil litigation in cohabitation disputes, or finds themselves unexpectedly confronted with an intervenor dispute in a financial remedy case.
*If you don’t already know, you probably don’t want to…
You can order John Wilson's book online : Order here