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Modern family, modern values, modern law

Simon Bruce acknowledges the age-defining case of Re B, in which a contemporary Supreme Court tackled international family justice fit for the 21st century

24 May 2016

Once upon a time, the House of Lords, as it was, took hardly any family law cases. This was probably a reflection of the old-fashioned view that family law was an upstart, a variety of law with its own codes and its own way of doing things, and out of kilter with pure justice.

Attempts to modernise family law, for example to recognise the equal contribution of homemaker and breadwinner, failed to attract the attention of the highest court in the land. England and Wales laboured for hundreds of years under the oppressive weight of paternalism, according disrespect to the homemaker and carer of the children when it came to the division of matrimonial assets. And then along came White on 26 October 2000.

As we have emerged into the first decade of the 21st century, however, the Supreme Court has, thankfully, taken many family law appeals: family law is no longer a desert island, but mainstream.

From the first breaths of equality in White to the structuring of pi...

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