Lots of cheesey pop songs spring to mind when I am thinking about this next case. ‘Rip It Up’ [Orange Juice]; Stuck In the Middle with You [Stealers Wheel]; Oops I Did It Again [Britney Spears].
We are due to have a change in law but it is not effective yet so we are still having to use the ‘old’ law. This gives one ground for divorce – irretrievable breakdown of marriage – and the choice of one of five ‘reasons’. In this case, one of the deputy district judges sitting at the divorce unit in Bury St Edmunds noticed that 28 divorce petitions all had the same allegations/details about the other person’s behaviour. They were identical. Absolutely the same and the court was concerned.
Anyway, all 28 cases ended up before Mr Justice Moor in the Family Court in London. What he said was that whilst the law is going to change, it has not changed and we still have to comply with the current law. The procedure might have changed but the law is still the same and needs to be complied with.
What he said was:
Each case must, of necessity, be different. Different spouses behave in different ways. It is quite impossible for each of 28 respondents to have behaved in exactly the same way as the other 27.
In these twenty-eight cases that I am concerned with the particulars of behaviour were found to be absolutely identical in each petition
Oh dear. All of these people had used one company, iDivorces, to draft their divorce petition to them. The company had used a template form of wording in each of the petitions, which is not right. It has to be on the actual circumstances of each case. Well, what to do? Clearly all of the people wanted a divorce but equally clearly, not all 28 spouses could have acted in the same way so the divorce petitions were not factually correct.
The judge really had very little choice but to dismiss all of the petitions and tell each couple that they had to start again – and no doubt pay the court fee again, which has increased from £550 to £593. The Director of the company came to court to apologise profusely and by doing that, avoided a referral to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a potential charge of perverting the course of justice.
Tricky for me to comment on this one. A solicitor, regulated, insured, trained, would know that this was not acceptable and that this is not the way to do it – and solicitors are not as expensive for this sort of work as you think they are.
 Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020
 Re Yorston and others  EWFC 80