Is it time to change the culture in the UK from adversarial to consensual or collaborative?
We see in every arena an argumentative culture of blame exacerbated by the system which encourages it.
In the family arena, the divorce system encourages conflict and a “blame game” is integral to current fault-based divorce laws. There are more than 110,000 divorces per annum, over half of which are based upon “unreasonable behaviour” but there is no definition of what this constitutes and it is in the discretion of the judge, unless parties have been separated for 5 years without reconciliation. Parties are therefore encouraged to make their partner’s behaviour seem as unreasonable as possible, leading to recriminations.
This is illustrated by the recent case of Tini Owens, the woman recently refused a divorce after 40 years of marriage when judges ruled her husband’s behaviour was not “unreasonable”.
It is inherently unlikely in our view that 50,000 husbands or wives (it is usually husbands who are in the firing line) are behaving unreasonably in relationships.
Min the Civil arena, whilst many are embracing mediation and avoiding Court, many still proceed to Court and incur costs arguing about a matter. Disputes are not always binary in nature yet the system encourages parties to file claims, defences and counterclaims, entrenching their positions. Hopefully the new online Court with its initial triage system and reference to mediation will change this?