Recent divorcees urged to seek advice after administrative cock-up

Lawyer Angie Brown of Singleton Day
Lawyer Angie Brown of Singleton Day
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WIGAN lawyers have urged recently split couples to seek advice after it was revealed that potentially thousands of people who have reached a financial settlement in divorce over the last 20 months may need to re-open negotiations.

The problem is allegedly due to an error with the online Form E provided by The Ministry of Justice.

It is thought that the online software has been miscalculating assets and it is understood that potentially around 20,000 forms where downloaded in the 20-month period.

It is yet to be confirmed how many people are affected by this but a HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesman said: “We are urgently investigating the issue. Anyone concerned about their own court proceedings should contact formE@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.

At Pemberton-based Singleton Day bosses say its clients have fortunately not been affected by this as it prefers to make calculations using pen and paper, and then to manually check the calculation, rather than using the online system.

But Angie Brown (pictured), specialist family law solicitor at the firm, said: “This could have massive implications for people who believed their divorce settlement was in place. Not only may ongoing payments be incorrect, but lump sum payments that have been ordered may also be wrong.

“The Ministry of Justice and/or the solicitors acting in cases where this mistake has gone unnoticed, may have to pay thousands of pounds in compensation. People who are concerned ought to seek independent legal advice.”

The MoJ is facing calls to pay for additional legal fees which may be incurred by divorcees who have lost out financially as a result of the miscalculation. “The MoJ or court service should cover legal costs incurred by affected couples,” said Thomas Eggar, a family law solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP.

“There might also be some accountability on the part of the solicitors if the couple had representation and their legal advisors failed to notice a significant problem.”