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Co-habitation Claims Update

The most recent reported co-habitation case of W v M (Sheriff Court – Appeal – (North Strathclyde at  Paisley) – 2015 GWD 40-631) sheds some further light on the interpretation of s.28 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. This was a co-habitation of only 9 months. W had made various payments to M, namely £35,000 to renovation works on M’s property which had increased its value, a £714 course fee, £1,500 given pre-cohabitation and £2,000 per month for bills and living costs (total £18,000).  The Sheriff determined she was entitled to return of one-half of this latter sum (£9,000) given that some of the expenditure had been to her benefit in that she was not paying rent and given she would have required to pay for food, heating, council tax and rent or mortgage in any event. She was also entitled to the £35,000, the £714 and the £1,500, thus a total of £46,214. M appealed but this was refused. In particular the Sheriff Principal stated that although the issue of pre-cohabitation payments was not dealt with specifically by the 2006 Act or by the Supreme Court in Gow v Grant (2012) UKSC 29, the relevance of these to the assessment of economic advantage and disadvantage was a matter squarely within the court’s discretion. The case again illustrates the breadth of discretion available to the courts in these cases which can make claims difficult to quantify. The 2006 Act is, however, currently being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee and accordingly it is possible that amendments could be proposed to the section once their Review is complete – watch this space!

For more information, please contact Morven Douglas:

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Tel: 0141 342 2009

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