Examination of Witnesses

Part of Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:28 am on 2nd July 2019.

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David Hodson:

Can I deal with that? That is a real concern for the Law Society. There is some doubt about the statistics. It is a particular concern with online divorce. My firm deals with the online divorce process, and there is a real worry that the number of divorces that do not proceed has increased with the online divorce process. There were 13 on Christmas day. We have asked the Ministry of Justice for figures under the new process, which came into effect in April last year, where the public could issue their own divorces. Solicitors came on board in August.

How many members of the public issued their own divorce through the online process? We have asked the Ministry of Justice, which has given us some figures. My firm has done a freedom of information request and we hope to get a reply in about two weeks. I think it will show that there is a higher number in the online process than there was in the “hard” process, when we actually put it in the post, as it were, and actually had to file it.

That brings us on to a concern about the effect. We have to allow a process. If people are going to say that, it is another reason for the three-month cooling-off period. As I say, we have asked the Ministry of Justice, and if the Ministry of Justice can give those figures to all of us around this combined table earlier, it would be very helpful. The suspicion must be that the figure for litigants-in-person through online who do not proceed is higher.