Analysis: As romantic as beige socks – but agreement is much more useful
THIS decision has been keenly awaited among family lawyers in Scotland. It has been difficult until now to give clients clear legal advice about their rights and potential liabilities.
This decision clarifies how such claims should be approached.
The effect of Gow v Grant will be to widen the scope of possible claims at the end of a cohabitation. The interpretation of the Inner House has been too narrow and restrictive. While no floodgates are likely to open, we can predict that there will be many more cohabitation claims in the future – potentially thousands of cases – not because more cohabitations are going to break down, but because more claims will be worth making.
Cohabitants in Scotland should now carefully consider a cohabitation agreement specifying who, if anyone, is going to get what, if anything, in the event of a breakdown.
A cohabitation agreement is about as romantic as a pair of beige polyester bedsocks, but can be even more useful.
The other important thing for cohabitants to remember is that there is a strict time-bar for making a statutory claim. You have to get the case started within 12 months of the end of the cohabitation..
There is a common law claim which remains, but after this Supreme Court decision, you don’t want to be left with only that.
• John Fotheringham and Marjory Blair are family lawyers at Lindsays solicitors.
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