June 2014 Archive

Mediation becomes compulsory for divorcing couples

In an effort to reduce the number of divorce cases ending up in court, the government started to encourage divorcing couples to use mediation as the first port of call. Since April 2011, any application to issue court proceedings was supposed to be accompanied by a form (FM1) that confirmed that mediation had been considered in all cases involving money and/or children. As it transpired, this requirement appeared to be largely ignored and court proceedings commenced regardless, with no obvious sanctions for non-compliance. Therefore, under the Family and Children Act 2013, attending an initial Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) (which is essentially an introduction to the mediation process, not the process itself) became mandatory in April 2014, except for cases where safety (primarily domestic violence and / or abuse) is an issue.

Changes to the planning regime: permitted development rights

From the outset of this Parliament, the Government has undertaken to streamline and simplify the planning regime and, as such, has made a number of changes in support of this commitment. Since May 2013 a number of permitted development rights (PDRs) have been introduced with the most recent tranche in April 2014. The planning system now rests on a three-tier system: permitted development rights for domestic and small scale changes; prior approval for developments requiring consideration of specific issues such as highways and flooding; and planning permission for larger scale developments which have a major impact on the surrounding area.
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