M v P [2019] EWFC 14

Janet Bazley QC and Katherine Dunseath, assisted by William Vaudry, represented the respondent wife on a plea by the Queen’s Proctor to set aside decrees of divorce, granted under s.1(2)(d) MCA 1973 (2 years’ separation and consent), despite the parties having only been married for 22 months at the time the petition was issued. Janet and Katherine successfully argued that it was possible to approach the case on the basis that the petitioner had ticked the wrong box on the petition and to correct the decree nisi to show that the divorce had been granted on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, a fact which could be made out on the evidence. In his judgment, Sir James Munby, sitting as a Judge of the High Court, said that the President might wish to consider the extent to which the President’s Guidance (Interim): Defective Divorce Petitions/Decrees might need to be reconsidered in the light of this judgment. He deprecated the absence of funding for the parties, particularly in a case in which they were facing the ‘might of the State’ and thanked Janet, Katherine and their instructing solicitors, Paul Nuttall and Sundeep Budwal of Duncan Lewis & Co for working pro bono on the case.

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