Back in December we brought you the worrying news that a glitch in a government-produced divorce form could affect the financial settlements of up to 20,000 couples who had divorce in England and Wales in the past couple of years. http://www.grayfords.co.uk/government-glitch-could-affect-20000-divorce/
In a recent update given to the House of Commons, Shailesh Vara MP, the Minister for Courts, gave further information on the investigation in the error affecting the online version of Form E.
Vara explained that the faulty form, which has fields automatically calculating a person’s net worth, failed to deduct some liabilities, creating a false picture of the resources available to be included in the financial settlement.
Unfortunately the investigation uncovered 36,527 cases which had used Form E during the period April 2011 to January 2012 and then April 2014 to December 2014. However, not all of those cases will be affected. In many cases the divorcing couples, or their solicitors, will have noticed the incorrect calculation and manually corrected the calculation. Happily only 10% of the potential 36,527 cases are affected, and with 1,403 of them still in progress, the issue can be brought to the parties’ attentions and addressed immediately.
On the other hand, 2,235 of the cases have now been completed and may have to be re-opened, leading to further heartache and uncertainty for those affected. It’s worth bearing in mind though, the incorrect calculation may not have had a material effect on the outcome of many cases and even if they were re-opened, the end result may not change.
If you have concerns that you were affected, government advice is to email a dedicated team on formE@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk. By the third week in January only 51 people had come forward to express concern that they had been impacted but all 2,235 closed cases potentially affected will be contacted by letter in due course.
In many of the affected cases the error will have been picked up on or superseded in the course of the proceedings by further valuations for a mutually agreed settlement.
Any proceedings brought to rectify an incorrect financial award caused by the error will not attract a court fee.
If you are seeking a financial settlement, or have any questions about Form E, please call us on 0800 222 9500 or use our contact form to get in touch.